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Long life

By Nickunj Malik - Jan 24,2018 - Last updated at Jan 24,2018

In this age of anxiety, I am not sure if one really wants to live up to be, a hundred and three. But if that is your wish, start talking to your neighbours immediately. In fact, also speak at great length with your gardener, cook, housemaid, newspaper hawker, vegetable seller, grocer, tailor, hairdresser and all the other people you come in contact with on a daily basis, because latest research reveals that the secret to living longer, is directly proportionate to your social interactions.

In case you missed it, let me repeat. In simple words, the only trick to long life is being talkative, can you believe that? It also means social isolation is the biggest public health risk of our times and when the lyrics of the popular Beatles’ song asks — all the lonely people, where do they all belong? The answer is probably — in an early grave!

So, how does one become a chatterbox? If you ask friends from my errant childhood, they will tell you that jabbering nonstop was a part of my personality. During that phase, I knew everything about everyone because in the process of talking to people I also ended up learning a lot about them. 

But somewhere along the way, as I relocated between nine countries, I found myself becoming reticent and it was no longer easy to start a conversation with strangers. If somebody spoke to me politely, I responded accordingly, but it became too much of an effort to initiate a discussion.

Initially, my husband found it difficult to cope with this turn of events because I was the only source of information in our family. I supplied all the details of what was happening within our circle of friends and acquaintances but when I lost contact, he became completely adrift. We reached a stage where we had to juggle our memory for two days continuously to figure out the name of his first cousin, whose house we had visited a decade ago.

My spouse tried to become talkative, but he complained of a headache each time he spoke more than a dozen sentences. I was beginning to echo the sentiment. We could read one another’s thoughts like any long married couple, and did not need much of verbal communication anyway. In short, we were turning into social outcasts.

This did not bode well for the future of our longevity, if the latest investigations were to be believed. According to it, for outliving everyone else, you did not have to watch your diet, do plenty of exercise, or even live in a pollution free environment. All you had to do was keep your social interactions strong.

Right! It was time to take a leaf out of my past. I decided to talk to the next person who rang the doorbell of my house. As luck would have it, Cyclone Berguitta visited Mauritius and long periods of power failure ensured that neither sound nor light came through my front door. 

Four days later, a garbage truck lined up to pick up the debris. I rushed out and spent fifteen minutes chatting with the truck driver. And then we ran out of conversation.

“What are you doing?” my husband remarked as I walked back. 

“Increasing my lifespan,” I answered. 

“There is this new report you see,” I continued. 

“I read it, you want my suggestion?” he asked. 

“All you have to do is,” he paused. 


“Try harder,” he smirked.

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Finally one gets to know why women, despite being acknowledged to be the oppressed gender and especially in the Indian context, dedicating all available nutrition and healthcare resources to their family members, usually to the detriment of their own, end up outliving their hubbies and in many cases their, you guessed it, male children too.

Wonder what this outliving through chattering can be attributed to? Is it because talking helps release stress or os it a case of talking people to their deaths?

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