Posts Tagged ‘old age’


Reality – the big divide

12 Oktober 2016

How is life at 80 in 2016’s Germany? I come to ask myself this question as I sit in a crowded, delayed train in Autumn. Opposite of me sits an old couple, a woman with short white hair and a gentle expression. She reminds me of my grandmother who passed away three years ago. No make-up, thin lips, wrinkles. A kind face, one of those people who probably never expected as much from life as my generation does today and ended up working hard, getting up early, sacrificing a lot – yet strangely content.
Her husband’s attire is typical of his age group – grey pants, red buttoned sweater, black leather satchel. Their wedding rings are rather modern, as they are broader than the typical old school shiny gold rings my grandparents wore, which makes me think they must be higher educated or at least more “Bildungsbürger” (a kind of Bohemian, often middle class) than I would have thought at first glance.
As I watch them I notice their interaction – there’s communication even though she’s doing a crossword puzzle in a woman’s magazine. When they aren’t talking, he looks around and watches all the people in the compartment. I’m listening to music on my phone while letting my gaze wander myself, the guy next to me writes something on his laptop. The woman and man next to him are busy with their respective phones.
I wonder how it feels to not own a phone, not to use a laptop on a day to day basis. The old man’s expression doesn’t reveal his feelings. No disdain, derision or judgement. At most, he appears to be something between curious and confused. His mouth slightly gaping, he takes in everything, yet at a much slower speed as I do. I wonder if he finds it a pity that people are busy with devices rather than people. I wonder how his generation managed to shut out the outside world when needed or if they just didn’t have the need for it in the back then much slower world. I find myself longing for a time when digital devices had been unheard of. At the same time, I am grateful for all the possibilities to interconnect people across borders and cultures this easily.
He catches my gaze, I’m slightly ashamed having watched him so closely. I smile at him and look away before he has the chance to return the gesture.