My niece told me that I have become a cranky old man and a perpetual bore.I read somewhere that Sir Alfred Nobel, the man behind the Nobel Prize, was a very lonely man in his later years. He would be seen walking alone, with no one to keep him company.

While I cannot claim to be anywhere near him in brilliance or accomplishment, I am also a loner like him. I cannot help thinking so when I see people avoiding me. Some even change route the moment they see me walking towards them. Some introspection is called for to find out the cause.

One reason could be, I am not a cricket fan. A very serious drawback indeed. Not that I was always like this. My heroes were Vijay Merchant, Hazare, Mankad and the likes of them who played the game for the love of it. The match fixing scandal put an end to all that. When friends ask me excitedly, ‘What’s the score?,’ I answer ‘Who is playing ? Where?’ Now that is not being in sync with the rest. But surely, this cannot be the only reason?  

Then, I cannot stand anything loud, be it music or conversation. A party is arranged to meet friends. With the loud background music, you have to shout rather than converse. I walk across to the person fiddling with the knobs of the sound system and tell him to reduce the volume. He does it, but increases it again the moment I am out of sight. I give up, but my intentions are applauded.

I am convinced that smoking and alcohol are the biggest enemies to health. The warning on the cigarette pack says so. Newspaper articles tell you to avoid them. Now, is it not my duty to spread awareness of this? In parties, I tell this to my friends at the bar. I never miss an opportunity to barge into a group of smokers and warn them about lung cancer. I am glad that my advice is well taken. After all I mean well. So this too cannot be the reason for people avoiding me?

We all know that there is no substitute for experience. As a senior citizen I can look at all things from a mature perspective. After all age and wisdom go hand in hand. If the discussion is about politics, I draw similarities with our great uncorrupted freedom fighters.

If it is about movies, I tell them about the golden age of the film industry where the hero hardly touched the heroine and true love was expressed through dialogue and songs. In sartorial matters, I draw their attention to the graceful sari which is now replaced by all those scanty dresses. I am really glad that everyone agrees with me.

Yet, why do people avoid me? I sought the opinion of my niece who is known for her outspokenness. ‘Uncle,’ she said after thinking for some time, ‘you have become a cranky old man and a perpetual bore. Who wants your company?’

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