The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

I am a sucker for a sub genre of movies that I like to call, Learning to Love Again. The first time I noticed this theme was in the brilliant movie, Shadowlands. And now there’s an even better one — The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

Each of these retiring English characters — a civil servant, judge, housewife, grandmother — heads to India as if they were put out to pasture. What they find is life and love and one another.

Walking out onto 57th Street after seeing the movie on Monday, I felt uplifted — as if I just had a deep, funny and meaningful conversation with a best friend. As I commented on my friend’s Facebook status, “The movie is cheaper and more effective than therapy.” The movie made me feel that all things are possible. Just because I’m ageing doesn’t mean my life’s over. Adventure still lies ahead.

Each character is transformed in some way. From their transformations, I offer you these life lessons.

  1. Quit with the negativity — one character sees only what’s wrong and drives everyone away. Stay optimistic.
  2. Forgive yourself — the Tom Wilkinson character believes he has ruined someone’s life, but think again. Don’t hold yourself hostage to events of your past.
  3. Work — the character played by Judi Dench gets a job for the first time in her life. Work adds purpose and a bounce to her step.
  4. Embrace your enthusiasm — the character played by Dev Patel has a big dream. And you need a big dream to infect those around you to make big things happen.
  5. Life is a privilege, not a right — there are beautiful, wise, struggling people everywhere. Notice where you are and treasure your life. Carpe diem.
  6. You can still have sex when you’re old — this is refreshing.
  7. Age naturally — what a thrill to see movie stars like Maggie Smith with furrows, wrinkles, smile lines. Thank God, she looks real, not botox-ed, nipped and tucked and fake.
  8. Travel — immerse yourself in a new culture. See your world anew. Forfeit old stereotypes.
  9. Remain open — the thing you think will be extraordinary may not be; but the thing or person you don’t expect to change your life will change you for good.

If you see the movie, and I hope you do — it opens May 4th — what life lessons did you take away?

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