All about peer pressure ‘I am the most misunderstood man in this part of the world’, I told myself with a lump in my throat. I have been trying to comb my hair for the last half an hour but I was not getting it right. Just then my daughter entered the room and asked me why I was scratching my head with a comb for the last half an hour. ‘Your head has already turned sore and it may start bleeding any moment’, she warned me. I told her that it was the unkindest cut of all and pointed out to her that I was not scratching my head but combing. She was evidently in a belligerent mood. ‘Imaginary hair cannot be combed, dad. You need real ones for it’, she pointed out in a voice suggestive of utter mockery. ‘How much longer it would take you to comb your imaginary hair?’, she asked me. I threw the comb on the table in utter disgust and left the room. Why is my lock of hair visible to me but invisible to others? I remembered something that I read a decade back. It was about a popular magazine interviewing a centenarian. The reporters from the magazine asked the 104-year-old woman, “And what do you think is the best thing about being 104?" She simply replied, "No peer pressure." Even a decade back, this made a lot of sense to me. I have been suffering from high BP from 1966. I was going through a training programme in the Bank at Hyderabad at that point of time. One day I was feeling a bit dizzy and the Bank medico who checked my BP predicted that I would be a patient any doctor would love to have. ‘Your medical bill will be more than the salary that the Bank pays you’, he predicted. I asked him why had I contracted BP so early in life and he replied that it could be due to some over-zealous peers in the Bank. He was an excellent diagnostician I should say. What he diagnosed about my peer pressure was absolutely true. As you know, in the training centres where officers from all over the country congregated, there was bound to be some one-upmanship. Some trainees would try to get close to the faculty members and I had no objection to it. I was under no pressure to prove my worth to anybody and the Training Programme was a paid holiday with excellent dwelling place and lavish food specially to equip us to face the ordeal of handling some stupid assignment or other years later. What possibly caused me the initial stages of BP was the way the over-zealous trainees bragging about how they were praised by the faculty. One fellow would go to the extent of saying that the faculty appealed to him to advise me to desist from my eternal slumber in the post lunch sessions. This self styled emissary from the faculty would ask me what made me doze in the post lunch cession. He would diagnose the reason as over-eating and tell me that eating too much at lunch made us extremely sleepy but the same at dinner would make us sleepless. And he would add that he would not blame me as very few of us could get such gastronomic delights at home and it was quite natural for us to indulge ourselves! As he would go on lecturing to me, I would feel a slight palpitation and would decide to call the medico in the evening. I started telling you about peer pressure and I got carried away. I merely wanted to mention that peer pressure is like an inverted parabola. At the start of our life, much of our differences are with our siblings which taper off over a period of time. Peer pressure starts somewhere during our schooling days and reaches its peak in the middle age when we are under pressure to prove our worth through performance. Those who cannot handle it resort to dubious ways to overcome peer pressure. As we age, this pressure takes a dive downwards and at certain stage in our life, we get freed from this pressure. It happens at the time when we do not have to prove anything to anybody. Like that 104 year old lady who I mentioned in the beginning! Eventually you will reach a point in your life when you stop lying about your age and start bragging about it. I reached that stage a few years back. But I still see that people get bored hearing you talk of how young or how old you are! Understandably so! Why would anyone be interested in our age? It has taken me this long to realise that nobody could stay young forever but we could be immature all our life. Senility is all about that immaturity and rambling is how you express it effectively.