‘Happiness’ is on Ravi Patel’s mind
Like a lot of middle-aged men, Ravi Patel has a few things on his mind and he’s made a documentary series to help work them out.
In “Ravi Patel’s Pursuit of Happiness,” which begins streaming Thursday, Aug. 27, on HBO Max, the actor, comedian and writer best known for “Meet the Patels” takes a four-part world tour with a close friend or family member to explore topics he’s been pondering such as work/life balance in South Korea, child-rearing in Japan, the refugee crisis in Denmark and aging and retirement in Mexico.
“I’m not an expert in anything but one thing that I know that I really enjoy is people,” he says. “I love mining relationships and conversations around how to have more fun in life and how to get closer to the people you love. … And I knew I didn’t want to travel alone. If every trip truly is a life-changing adventure with someone who’s in my life, it would be an experience that I would treasure for the rest of my life no matter how the show turns out. And also the show itself ended up being better because it’s happening in earnest.”
That’s certainly borne out in the opening episode “Growing Old in Mexico,” where he and his parents Vasant and Champa check out life in Merida on the northern tip of the Yucatan Peninsula, home to a large, vibrant retirement community of expatriates who have flocked there for their post-work lives.
Scenes in the episode show happy seniors active, laughing and enjoying life and the Patels joined in. Soon, they found themselves seduced.
“They actually went there not thinking it was a possibility and by the end of it they started thinking it seemed pretty great,” Patel says with a laugh. “Oh, they loved it. But … I think the reason why they started thinking this was a possibility is because – retirement used to be this phase in life where you move into some family member’s house or a nursing home and you’re on the runway to the end. And now we all live much longer and so retirement is multiple phases.
“It’s a new, exciting phase and it’s vibrant. … I’ll tell you what, people there seemed pretty happy.”