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Feisty at Fifty: How I Stay Fabulous at Fifty-Plus by Sudha Menon promises to be an interesting read going by the cover page and title. Does it deliver?
When Sudha Menon asked if we would like to review her recent book Feisty at Fifty: How I Stay Fabulous at Fifty-Plus, I jumped at the chance. I turned 50 last year, and this seemed like just the book to read.
So it arrived, and sat on my desk for quite a few days, as I struggled through some crazy days of my life, some post-menopausal stuff, some the mundane, and some the unexpected. It sat there, beckoning me with its luscious looking red cover and the promise of Sudha Menon’s usual glittering prose. I was sure it would lift me out of the doldrums I found myself in at the time, so we made a date. Sunday afternoon, post lunch.
And ladies, lift it did! She had me hooked from page one, and I did not realise when it was evening. There I was, chuckling my way through chapters very tantalisingly named ‘There’s A Chill In My Bedroom’ (eh, what?!), ‘My Big Fat FOMO’ (that would be me), ‘Hair on the Chin’ (right, ho!), ‘The Spectacle Conundrum’ (verrryyyy familiar), and more.
What I share here with you is not quite a review, but what I felt and thought through my reading of this memoir, as a fellow woman, and a fellow 50 year old.
There is no doubt that here’s a woman of the world who knows what she wants, is even the cool socialite, glamorous celebrity, a Diva, yet under all that is a simple, warm, smart, talented human being, who is certainly an extrovert, yet knows how to connect with the quiet people in her life. The chapters I loved the most are where she speaks honestly and lovingly about her family members. Through her words, we come to know them too, and are pulled into their daily lives effortlessly.
We are introduced to her family pretty early. Amma, her recalcitrant and very vocal mother, Aachan, her father who passed away a while ago leaving an un-fillable hole in everyone’s heart, the the cool young chef who is her (long-suffering) daughter (the fledgeling, as she is referred to), her two sisters, and of course, Hassled Harry, whom she speaks of as the grumpy half (who it’s very clear loves her with a quiet love).
And the words make me wish I wrote half as well. Let me share a few examples.
By the time I have cleared security and arrived in the magical land of the departure area, my hair is dishevelled, my clothes are in disarray with the dupatta trailing after me like Kate Middleton’s wedding gown, and my eyes are darting around wildly in search of a place to rest my butt and get the heavy bag off my shoulder. I have seen fellow travellers sneak suspicious looks at me from the corner of their eyes as I frantically search for something or the other in my bag. I am a chronic searcher of things at airports – I misplace the boarding pass at least half a dozen times and then find it right under my nose.
(My favourite) would be Shah Rukh Khan and I would give more than an arm and a leg to get up, close and personal with him. Am I embarrassed to be declaring this in public at this stage in life? Hell no! The last time I checked there was nothing in the law that prohibits fifty-year-olds from having a king-sized crush on a star.
Of late, there has been a chill in the bedroom. And I am not talking about the old, cranky air conditioner that works with deadly efficiency in peak winter and moans and groans when it has to perform in the summer. I am talking about Hassled Harry, moi, and the decided lack of any heat between the sheets. The only moans and shudders are that of the Acs. And when the two occupants of the room moan and shudder, it is largely because of arthritic joints or a touch of indigestion.
My cup of tea lay forgotten that evening as the memory of my father transported me to the early days with my own fledgeling. To the first time I held her close to me, when she’d spent all of five minutes in this world. When the kind nurse thrust my baby into my arms, I was too tired after a marathon thirty-two-hour labour to want anything to do with anyone else. I simply wanted to be left alone to sleep and I did, almost immediately after I had held the slippery bundle for a minute and noticed her enormous eyes. maybe my memory is playing games with me, but I remember looking into a pair of the most rusting eyes ever and forging a bond with her that has stayed with us through a lot of ups and downs in my lives…
I hope I have conveyed what I loved about the book. What I did I not like? The chapter on her dislike of pets. Hm. Not a happy chapter for a dog-lover like me.
Read it from cover to cover like me, or dip into it at will and read a chapter at a time, Sudha Menon’s memoir on turning the big 5-O is a must read for anyone approaching it, or having crossed it, and maybe also for the younger ones who may recognise a bit of themselves in there. As I did.
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Book cover via Amazon
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In her role as the Senior Editor & Community Manager at Women's Web, Sandhya
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