The Perseverance of Dream Catchers

Veena Baruah
Veena Baruah

The golden years… When life has become a blurry montage of experiences, often tempered by patience in the face of obstacles and compromise in the midst of complexities, a different breed of senior citizens decides that it’s time to chase unfulfilled dreams. Veena Baruah’s retirement from her teaching job at Juhu’s Maneckji Cooper School got her thinking, “What is my unfulfilled dream, what can I do, what will give me satisfaction?” For many, retiring after decades of working years brings about a lifestyle change combined with elderly ailments. The routine likely maintained daily for decades of professional life suddenly requires re-scheduling.

Surjit Kaur
Surjit Kaur

Surjit Kaur joined Terence Lewis Dance Academy’s senior citizen classes, “I really wanted to learn dancing, you know, properly.” Among her proudest moments among various public performances is an appearance in Shah Rukh Khan’s Happy New Year promotional TV show. Since retiring, Surjit has begun participating in marathons such as Mumbai-Pune marathon, and in talent shows such as Umang.

 

 

 

Sailesh Mishra
Sailesh Mishra

The Silver Innings foundation and its annual talent festival for senior citizens, Umang, has helped many to shirk their inhibitions and perform in front of a cheering audience. Silver Innings founder Sailesh Mishra says, “Since 2008, we found many seniors who have left their careers, or lived their lives for their families, their society or nation… But they did not get a chance to explore their talents, their skills, their hobbies. That’s why we started Umang.”

Sailesh’s “social keeda” prompted him to leave behind 17 years as a corporate marketing executive and volunteer for the Dignity Foundation. As he realised the paucity of social welfare organisations “working for seniors”, Sailesh founded Silver Innings for elderly support and services. Silver Innings’ Umang, the Senior Citizens Stage Talent Show, has “people from 60 to 92 years participating.” Among participants, Navanita Parmar (78) has moved on to professional choreography for other senior citizens and children with disabilities.

 

Vaishali Joshi
Vaishali Joshi

For someone like Vaishali Joshi, dreams re-surface before retirement. A classical singer and an ex-Senior Accounts Officer with the Central Government, Vaishali, “passed Visharad in Hindustani Classical Music in 2004, when I was working only.” With retirement, personal goals emerge out of the shadows, put aside earlier for the hum-drum of monotonous work routines. Vaishali, who joined organisations such as “Senior Sobati and bhajan classes” post-retirement, found that senior citizen forums also provide the opportunity to explore hidden talents and unfulfilled interests. And the silver lining appears…Time to finally focus on personal goals and dreams, without the baggage of family or children.

 

 

 

Shibani Bagchi
Shibani Bagchi

 

For Shibani Bagchi, it means having the time to pursue her Masters in Social Welfare towards her PhD dream: “I want to work for children and women from the disadvantaged communities, and try to contribute towards bettering their lives in whichever way I can.”

Those who are not yet ready to part ways with their careers often search for job opportunities with service providers such as HUM Communities and NotRetired.in. Familial pressure, which extends to being the family’s primary care giver, often drives life choices for many, and retirement offers the perfect spark to re-ignite unfulfilled dreams. As Veena reminisced about her youthful desire to act, she was reminded that “my parents, my father especially, wouldn’t allow it.” When she finally decided to send a few photographs to a model coordinator, it took nearly 6-8 months to receive a callback, and the offers began pouring in. Of course, she hasn’t looked back since.

According to the United Nations Population Fund’s “India Ageing Report” (2017), the global elderly population will be approximately 2 billion, accounting for 20% of India’s population. While organisations such as the Dignity Foundation have been working for elderly care since the 1990s, a recent spurt of senior citizen forums include community-driven platforms like Parikrama and Silver Surfers. With the support of social welfare professionals, retirees such as Ramgopal Cancherla (69) find new avenues to spend their time. The former Head Sales & Marketing at Sanofi-Aventis, Ramgopal, has become a laughter coach.

 

Hira Mehta
Hira Mehta

Spare time in post-work years trigger unexplored hobbies. Since retirement, podcaster and former Corporate Communications manager at ICICI Bank, Hira Mehta has already authored “Twisted Tales and More…” in her 50s, made short films like The Selfless Soldier, and even pursued her acting dream in short films including The Blue Helmet.

Sailesh says, “Life doesn’t end at 60! After 60, you just get retired from your job, not your life.” Many dream catchers will agree.

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Waiting for Godot

A lifetime is spent to find the actual meaning of happiness. People procrastinate their means of joy, just to have a better means someday. In search of that ‘someday’ they lose their glorious present. This vicious circle keeps moving till one day the end arrives and realisation and remorse does no good. It is imperative to live a fulfilled life day by day as it comes to us. We cannot postpone smiling and dancing to a tomorrow that never arrives. This realistic circumstance of life reminds me of a classic book ‘Waiting for Godot’ by Samuel Beckett. The protagonist is a foolish person who spends his life doing nothing because he has to wait for ‘Godot’ who apparently will get happiness for him. Seasons pass and he grows old, but his insanity and fixation of Godot does not let him live his life. Godot, obviously doesn’t exist. The protagonist of the story departs from this world in vain, without living a single day.

 

We tangle ourselves in wires and threads of emotions and judgements. So much so, that it is impossible to get out after a while. We want to live a life on our terms; the terms may be good or bad but our ego presumes they are the best for our soul. These terms are based on experiences, which are a consequence of these threads of judgements and emotions. No one but us can take us out of this paranoia. This state of anxiety and haste builds a labyrinth around us which eventually becomes a way of our life. Each of us has a personal labyrinth designed and customised personally by our thoughts and decisions taken over a period of a time. The morass therefore, gets complicated with increase of our age. We spend the rest of our lives living in the self constructed confinement going round and round in circles trying to resolve our delusions. The more we judge actions of our own and of those around us, the higher the walls of the labyrinth become. The process goes on till we die one day dissatisfied and lonely.

 

Only if like an efficient gardener, we keep trimming the hedges of our labyrinth and plant more trees of happiness instead,,we can get a lot of sunlight in our lives. Instead of an unattended ruckus we can live in a well groomed haven. The choice is ours and the way we choose to live defines the boundaries we build around ourselves. The ethereal question that rises is how at all we can trim these overbearing walls to have a hold of our lives?

 

Sadhguru says, “…it’s important to grow trees in people’s minds. It is important to acknowledge that we inhale what these trees exhale.” Once we are able to connect with these trees, we will realise that we absorb whatever life gives us and similarly the world absorbs what we exude. Gradually, we will be more aware of what we spread in this world because as a part of life cycle we will receive what we give. Therefore,the hedges of the labyrinth will be short lived and will disappear with time, giving way to a beautiful garden of openness, joy and non judgement. There shall be no labyrinth at all and it will become a way of life. There will be pleasantness and positivity around us which shall spread contagiously.

Let us all learn to live a life sans labyrinth for god has given us a life sans confinement and boundaries. Let our prejudices, envy and wrath not multiply and grow its roots to form a puzzle. Let the human inner beauty and sanity take over this antagonism hence giving us a garden of freedom that has flowers of love and spreads jubilance.

 

Fair is lovely & Africa is cannibal!

I was taking a break at my cousin’s place at Mumbai before starting for the onward journey to home. My niece was about 10 years old then. It was evening and we were talking of studies, sports, music and every other activity she was involved in. At one point, she made a comment – “Chachu, aap chaai bahut peete ho kya? Chai peene se hi aapka rang aisa ho gaya hai.” (Uncle, do you take tea often? Your color has turned into this because of this.). Her mom who was sitting in a corner, feeling embarrassed cut her short and told me – “We have told her that she would become dark if she drank tea, just to keep her away from it. Please don’t mind.”  I couldn’t say much. Here was a kid who had been taught that dark people didn’t exist in the world. People became dark only because they overdrank tea.

Continue reading “Fair is lovely & Africa is cannibal!”

Irom Sharmila & the thick lines between activism and politics.

 Irom Sharmila (Iron Lady) has decided to quit politics after her poor performance in the assembly elections of Manipur. She got a meagre 90 votes which is sad but what is sadder is that she has decided to call it quits! After this, many media outlets are projecting her loss as the elegy of Indian democracy.

Continue reading “Irom Sharmila & the thick lines between activism and politics.”

वैलेंटाइन’स डे, अम्मा, और हमारा प्यार।

फिल्म डॉन में अमिताभ बच्चन ने दो भूमिकाएँ निभायी हैं। उनमें से पहला किरदार नकारात्मक है। डॉन एक बहुत खतरनाक अपराधी है और उसके ही शब्दों में ११ मुल्कों की पुलिस उसका पीछा कर रहीं होतीं हैं। फिल्म शोले में जय और वीरू टुच्चे चोर हैं। फिल्म डर में शाहरुख़ खान ने एक बेहद संगीन और जुनूनी आशिक़ का किरदार निभाया है। फिल्म स्पेशल छब्बीस में अक्षय कुमार ने एक ठग का किरदार निभाया।

ये सब मैं आपको क्यूँ बता रहा हूँ? इस से पहले कि मैं उसका जवाब दूँ, मैं एक बात और बता देता हूँ। अभिनेता प्राण शायद अब तक के सबसे हरफनमौला कलाकार रहे हैं। कहा जाता है कि उनके नकारात्मक किरदारों को इतनी नफरत मिली कि एक वक़्त पर दर्शकों को यकीन हो गया कि प्राण निजी ज़िन्दगी में भी वही हाथ में चाबुक लेकर घूमने वाले पूंजीवादी हैवान हैं जो गरीब किसानों का खून पीता है। लोगों ने अपने बच्चों का नाम प्राण रखना बंद कर दिया। Continue reading “वैलेंटाइन’स डे, अम्मा, और हमारा प्यार।”

Concept of value based governance and administration for a strong and prosperous India (Thoughts in 2015)

15th August, 1947 – When India achieved its political freedom, it was based on relentless discharge of a value called ‘Social Responsibility’ by each and every profession of our nation. The lawyers, doctors, teachers, scientists, writers irrespective of their functional identity realized their real state of existence – the identity of an Indian citizen. Afterwards, though we understood the meaning of the functional designations, we could never understand the meaning of the word ‘Citizen’ and its associated values. 

Continue reading “Concept of value based governance and administration for a strong and prosperous India (Thoughts in 2015)”

पिलपिलाते हुए आम लोग।

ज़िन्दगी है, ज़िन्दगी में मुलाकातें भी होती रहतीं हैं। मुलाकातें होतीं हैं तो बातें भी चल पड़तीं हैं। हम हिन्दुस्तानी राय रखने में ऐसे भी बड़े आगे हैं। राजनीति, क्रिकेट, मज़हब, चलचित्र- आप बस मुद्दा उठाइये और चार पाँच विशेषज्ञ तो आपको राह चलते मिल जाएंगे। पान थूकते, तम्बाकू चुनाते, ताश खेलते विशेषज्ञ से शायद पाठक का भी पाला पड़ा ही होगा। तेंदुलकर को किस बॉल पर क्या मारना चाहिए, ये मेरे कॉलोनी के गार्ड से बेहतर शायद ब्रैडमैन को भी ना मालूम हो। Continue reading “पिलपिलाते हुए आम लोग।”

Are we a forgiving species?

Scene – 1 : 2016 – India beats Pakistan on 27th February. While the match is largely remembered for Virat Kohli’s skillful 49 in a difficult situation, the true-blue fans of cricket also remember this match for a brilliant spell of blitzkrieg bowling by Mohammad Amir.

Scene – 2 : 2009 – One of the most successful captains ever for Indian cricket team – Mohammad Azharuddin gets elected as Member of Parliament from Moradabad.  Continue reading “Are we a forgiving species?”

Year End Read – Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

The world that a child walks into is ripe with parents,teachers, and relatives who are ever ready to impart their share of knowledge. This world is ever so full with innumerable guides, inexhaustible chicken-soups, volumes of encyclopedia, armies of life-coaches. In simple terms, we should have turned out into a perfect world, a super-harmonious civilization by now. After all when we consider the abundance of knowledge through our history and present as a planet, the awe just grows deeper and deeper.

So the questions that arise are Continue reading “Year End Read – Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse”