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How We Change — And Not

Einstein was so unlucky. He never saw Koffee With Karan. Or the wonderful strokemaking by the Sehwags, Tendulkars and Yuvrajs.

But we are all lucky. We have spent countless hours and hundreds of hours watching celebrities and cricket on television. I suspect our interest in these activities wanes as our age (and waistline) increases.

May be we realize that these are futile, time-wasting activities — or, may be we encumber ourselves with various responsibilities such as kids and we get busy making a living and buying groceries, masalas and vegetables and do not find time in our long commutes to watch celebrity talk shows.

Some people — say, Feynman, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs — perhaps get lucky and never spend time watching TV shows or cricket. But everybody cannot be geniuses like them.

Every new generation in India reliably grows to become cricket aficionados and becomes celebrity-crazed. Is there a cure for this? Is there a way to wean adolescents from adolescent-like activities and put them on to 'serious' stuff?

Luckily, most people out-grow adolescent habits. Though some people may retain a love for TV saas-bahu soaps throughout their lives. Some retired persons still watch and vigorously debate cricketing affairs.

So, we change. Our interests change.

Take sex. In childhood or when in school, kids of one sex typically tend to be 'anti' the other sex. The interest in the opposite sex develops later on. But once the interest is there, does it stay at a high level throughout one's life? How does it vary between men and women? From culture to culture? Is it that 'traditional' cultures are repressive and people learn to repress their innate sexuality?

Clearly, marriage is a wrong way to take care of humans' interest in sex. Animals — including humans — are typically interested in getting as much sex as possible. The idea of marriage is a recent human invention designed to make sure that paternity of children could be known for sure. Probably men want to be possessive of their wives and want to make sure 'only' they have access to their wives sexually and make sure that the kid is his. Women, it appears, agree to the idea of life-long relationships as it comes with an implicit promise that the man will provide for the woman throughout life.

In terms of change, perhaps interest in sex is also variable and declines in old age.

Kids are the most inquisitive creatures around. They ask questions incessantly to the point where parents feel harassed and ask the kids to 'STOP!' though that is the wrong way to deal with questions.

Kids learn and absorb new information all through school and college. But new learning probably declines with age as well. A school teacher or a college lecturer/professor or a police constable probably does not learn much new stuff from week to week or year to year. After a certain age, people probably just get by based on their skills and knowledge which they may have acquired years earlier. In ancient societies where people were farmers and carpenters and so on, this would have been even more emphatically the case.

In the ever-changing technological world that we inhabit, new learning is more essential. Those who are keen to acquire new knowledge and skills probably travel further than others in their careers. The really inquisitive ones are the people who make inventions and are the leaders in research institutions and so on.

But for most people, sadly, curiosity too is a non-renewable resource.

So what aspect of human nature is the one thing which stays the same throughout one's life?

Is it, perhaps, food? Eating?

we seem to derive pleasure from eating food from an early age and this continues non-stop throughout adulthood and old age. Some indulge in food more than others. Some learn to cook a variety of items but most people don't. It's a matter of economic circumstance and affordability as well.

But whether you are an amateur chef who can conjure Thai dishes and Konkan dishes and Bengality fish curry and some European stuff too — or just a dal-roti kind of guy, people tend to love food throughout their lives and this interest remains at a pretty high level throughout.

Of course, the body's capacity to digest food goes down with the advancing years and people have to limit or cut back on their calorie intake as they grow older. As Jug Suraiya once wrote, when you are young, you have to capacity to eat and digest everything but you don't have the money and in old age when you have the money, your digestive system has deteriorated and you need Hajmola and Eno and more to digest food stuff if you are adventurous enough to try out buffets at a family wedding or somewhere.

But it seems food is the one hobby most of us have and we cultivate it with some passion. It's perhaps not a surprise that 'animals' who need food for the energy to make their bodily machine run should a deep and abiding interest in food and eating.

Perhaps this is an evolutionary trait.


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