Many senior citizens by pursuing their hobbies and adopting new professions are demystifying the myth that age is numbers, finds out Vibha Singh.
Betty Friedan very well said “Aging is not ‘lost youth’ but a new stage of opportunity and strength”.
Music is his passion. His ringtone “Tere mere sapne ek rang hain” makes you feel nostalgic. Filled with enthusiasm of a 21-year old young man, N.R.Venkitachalam, 73, has brought happiness in the life of thousands of people. After retiring from the post of senior marketing professional at the age of 61. He decided to work for differently-abled and street children and found out that how difficult was it to get funds for different projects for them. It was then he got the idea of using singing for the purpose and he formed Klub Nostalgia which is run by group of professional senior citizen. Till date the club has supported many NGOs. Venkat says, “I am enjoying my golden years of life. As my expertise as manager and hobby have come together to given a new meaning not only to my life but support to thousands who were searching for a meaning to their life. I work 21 hours a day to make my shows a success.”
Never too late to dream
Similar is the experience of Harendra Bengali, 71, who after retiring as vigilance officer from a nationalized bank got a new purpose in life. He became the member of senior citizen club in dada-dadi park in Borivali in 2001 and was doing many social activities. To applaud them of their efforts the group was invited at the Mayor’s bunglow. It was here he saw a Karoke artist performing and there he got the idea of forming a Karoke group. He consulted his group members and they all got ready and everyday they practice on old song tunes. Now the group has 5000 members and has the laurels of being the biggest Karoke group in the world. Bengali says, “I am more busy post-retirement. Everyday half of my day is spent on downloading songs from internet and learning new techniques to bring more professionalism.”
Not only music but for some dance has been a source of keeping themselves engaged and fulfilling their dreams. Navanita Parmar, 69, teaches Bharatnatyam, folk and semi-classical dance to children and adults. Navanita says, “I am still young at heart. I learnt dancing at the age of 44 along with my daughter and completed full course of eight years. After retiring from my job I started teaching dancing to differently-abled children.”
Many of the members have participated in the realty shows on the television.
Some others like Surendra Kothari started teaching computers to his friends and then now holds regular classes for senior citizens and making all of them technology-friendly to handle their –day to day life.
Health is wealth
Not only mentally but keeping healthy is the goal of many of them. It was found that they were more food and health-conscious than the earlier generations. Vidya Bajaj,72, yoga and chiropractic exponent conducts regular yoga classes in Mumbai. After the death of her husband, she did not close herself her in the house and did not let anybody pity her but strongly she took control of the situation. Bajaj says, “Most of the women feel helpless when one of the partner passes away. This is the time when we have to show our potential and come out of the grief state. Now I have hundreds of well-wishers as they feel that because of my guidance they have been able to get relief from pain. Now I am a pain-killer and not a bearer.”
Bajaj is curing people through her treatments but there are some others like Dr S S Bhandare, 80, medical practitioner who pursued her hobby of gardening to reduce the pollution and maintain greenery in her neighbourhood. For past three consecutive years she has won the first prize for her beautiful home garden by Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC)’s in Chembur. One can hear the birds chirping and butterflies hovering around the flowers in her garden. Many residents in the area come to her house to take tips on her expertise of home gardening so that they can get relief in the polluted air of Chembur. At this age she every day keeps on shifting the pots from end to the other so that all the plants get the requisite sunlight to grow. ‘I am very happy,’ said Dr Bhandare who has been living alone in the bunglow after her daughters got married, adding that for past thirty year she has been maintaining this garden and picking out the flowers and plants. Also I keep on adding lot’s of waste household material to add beauty to the garden.” Now she planning to utilize her garden recreation activities of senior citizens of the area where they all could sit together and play indoor games and get themselves involved in some creative activity.
Giving back to the society
For Dilip Joshi it was time for connecting with people and impart them the skills which he had learned for past 40 years. He takes classes on communication skills, karaoke singing, echo friendly awareness, anchoring classes and spoken english. His students are all senior citizens. Joshi feels, “It is very important for senior citizens to come together. Not only for developing their skills but to give back to society what they have learned in all these years.”
Some of them are fighting for civic and social issues to bring relief to the residents of the city. P R Vijayraghvan,72 for past 20-years has been raising civic issues in Mumbai and has become a via-media between the civic activist, journalist and government authorities. Not even a single day has gone when he has not sent complaint letters to Brihanmumbai Corporation and MMRDA. Many of the issues of utmost importance like the issue of broken footpath, neglected subways have been resolved because of his efforts.
For the civic officials of Mulund also it is the senior citizens group which keeps them on their toes. The group came together under the NGO VOICE and have been actively involved socially in the area. “We visit the civic and police department every month to keep them updated about the problems in our area. Also the group arranges picnics and health awareness camps for the senior citizens. Also the group has been an inspiration for many youngsters of the area,” says Sanjay Porwal, member of the group and a senior architect. The edge these people have is that they are people with great knowledge and experience, officials and resident take them very seriously and hence join them in big numbers for campaigns and creating awareness on social issues.
Sailesh Mishra, founder president,Silver Innings Group,founder A1 Snehanjali, assisted living elder care home, says “ Today in 21st century the term ‘Senior Citizens’ ‘old age’ has different dimension, earlier it was considered ‘ill’delry now its ‘well’delry . There is life beyond 60, we are living longer and you just can’t be ‘retired’ from life at 60, we need to be rewired to live meaningful life.”