A few years ago a New York Times there was an article about the longevity of people in a the small Greek town of Ikaria. In 1976 Stamatis Moraitis, a Greek native living in America was diagnosed with lung cancer and was told he had only 9 months to live. He decided to move back to his hometown island of Ikaria, Greece, instead of undergoing aggressive chemotherapy treatments. Thirty-six years later Moraitis is alive and kicking.
It’s a lovely story. Initially he spent his time in bed. But after a few months he reconnected with his faith and friends and talked for hours every day with his friends over local wine. He began to feel better. He began gardening and worked on the family vineyard, napping, playing dominoes with his friends in the tavern. He got stronger, built a nice life for himself and continues to live happily to this day.
It is the perfect way to live life. Didn’t our grandfathers and their fathers before them live similarly. My grandfather was an advocate and he died writing a legal document on his desk at the age of 86. The pace of life in the town was slow. He used to walk nearly 8-10 kilometers a day to and from the courthouse, his diet consisted of fresh fish, rice and vegetables and every evening he would sing and chat with the neighbours. Most people used to live like this.
Even in cities such as Pune and Belgaum, businesses used to be closed for lunch. But this has changed as naps are a no-no now, everyone is competing with Big Bazaar and Central and can no longer keep their stores closed.
The keys to living a long healthy life are eating well, consistent movement(like gardening and walking), companionship, hobbies, faith and fresh air. In India we may not be able to control the air quality but we have a culture rich in family traditions and faith. We need to make a choice to eat better and be more active. So if you want to live not just a long life, but a quality healthy life, take a time out and look back to your great-grandparents.