Saturday, August 10, 2013

the genki obaachans and ojiichans

Every now and then, I (and some former students and lecturers) would get an email from my former lecturer back in MMU. He was a visiting professor sent by NTT from Japan. I still keep in touch with him after he and his wife returned to Japan. I had the pleasure of being hosted by them at their retirement home some years back.

He showed me pictures of the plants, vegetables and flowers he had grown in his garden. Some of these pumpkins, onions, sweet peppers and yam would be their food; some would be exchanged with neighbours for milk or other necessities.

Recently his wife started a baking business; though it was difficult but it seemed to provide them with some form of income. They have found a suitable place to open shop and are now renovating it.

In my reply, I said it was great to know that they had activities to keep a sustainable lifestyle, and have something to keep them occupied. This was something I admire about the Japanese. I notice many elderly people still work in supermarkets, cleaning services and at bus terminals.

In Malaysia, these are regarded as "lower ranking" jobs which most young people shun away, and hence we end up having to hire foreigners to do these jobs. However, it seems the Japanese do not mind at all, and take it as any other jobs.

It's even more admirable they look more genki than me! It's not surprising that during mountain climbing season, many elderly people bypass younger people when going up the slopes. These senior citizens also seem to have more energy going about their work.

There was even a special programme which featured this 80+ year old granny who does her exercise at the local playground. She has been going there faithfully almost everyday, climbing up what looks like a monkey bar. Instead of rails that you need to hold on to with your hands, this is like horizontal abseiling where you hold on to the hoop and use your might to swing yourself across to the other side.

I shudder to think what kind of senior citizen I would be if I continue with my sedentary lifestyle. Fat, lazy and unhealthy?!

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