Friday, April 06, 2007

Anandashram....Old Age home

Ever since Tejas (my old company ) moved to Bannergatta road, everyday while passing by that road, I used to see this board "Anand Aashram, Old age Home". This was like Aug 2005. And since then I had always wanted to go inside it once. But as idiotic as I am, who wants to do 100 things in life and hardly manages to do four or five of them, I could never make it there.

Until but yesterday one friend of mine, showed similar interest and immediately off we went, yesterday evening after office. Actually you are supposed to take permissions to visit there, but when we reached at round about 6 the office had already closed, so we just walked in to the gate and there were couple of old man sitting there and yups minutes later we were talking to them, about weather, about our natives, about Bangalore city changing, and so on.

Later on one of the guy, took us to his quarters. His wife was watching TV. The quarter was just one single room about 10x10 feet, with attached bathroom. He said that he paid about 1.2 lakhs for that (it seems they have to pay to construct the room, which remains theirs till they are alive and then goes to aashram), and he was paying about 3k per month (for both of them) for other facilities (like food and water and all).

He was telling us about his job, he was a retired railway employee and had a pension, so in a way he was like self dependent. He had two kids, son in mysore and a daughter in Bangalore. He said that he spent most of the time doing, actually doing nothing.

The place was very nice, and green and silent. But there was this feeling of abandonment there, feeling of being cut out from the world, which was very sad. This is bang on Bannergatta road but I wonder how many people walk into those gates.

Listening to him, I kept wondering how it would be to live without a aim or aspirations, when sunday is just like monday and everyday is just like any other day, when I think about myself, I always have this small things in life which i keep looking forward to, like am going to bombay next week (for some customer meet) and there is this film that I have to make as a part of Film making course at CFD.

You might get the feeling that I am talking like a Buddha, a spoiled brat who goes out for the first time goes out to see the sufferings. Not it is not like that. These people are living very comfortably, good food, resonably decent medical facitlity, good atmosphere, but I guess it is a quite a different thing to be lonely, and the feeling that you cant do much about it.

Ok coming back, we spent about an hour there, talking to couple of people, could not talk with others because most of them knew only kanada, (and I was ashamed to admit that I have not learnt a word of kannada even after close to five years in Bangalore)

I came out feeling little weird. Wondering if I could do something about it. They had everything there, carrom, library, chess etc. But somehow they had lost enthu to do anything. They just want do nothing. I dont think I can blame them, because I guess sometimes circumtances, the feeling of hurt, the feeling of being left out, might just kill your spirit, and it would take a lot to rekindle that.

16 comments:

Alistair D'souza said...

well some of them feel totally depressed with life cause their close family has abandoned them.... they fell let down cause that is one thing that was driving them.... from the people I've spoken to I feel that its just miscommunication of feelings and emotions... they were too caught up with their work and let their children on their own althought they did everything for them....

there are some of them who fall back on their hobbies to keep them going... I've seen them smile when they talk about what they really enjoy doing.... and I've seen them hurt when they talk about their loved ones and feel that they have let them down... its something that can kill you and make you senile and loose interest in things that at one point in time kept you going...

there is a reason why they show lack of emotion for everything... they want to block everything out and want to forget the good times that they depended on and which now cause them a lot of anguish.... and in the bargain of trying to forget they loose interest in present things and lack emotions for the everyday things of life.... maybe you should talk to them more often...

try to talk to them about things they like.... not about family and stuff... just their hobbies, your hobbies and how things keep you going.... one small conversation can make a big difference to them and to you too...

PritS said...

Alistair wrote everything I had to comment. I visited a similar place in Kormangala in my college days. Exactly the same experiences and feelings.

What can/could I/we do about it. Nothing much, just spent some good time with them. Bring some smiles on their faces. Cheer them up.

And I will make sure that my parents never become one amongst them. And I will do that at any cost.

Anonymous said...

Well ! I am guilty of being one of those kids who leave their hometown and parents in pursuit of greener pasture. To wash away my guilt I think on the lines of "my parents are better off without me being unemployed and draining their limited resources".
Uprooting them will be another crime, I can't promise them all my time and attention, which they will need in absence of their circle of friends.

They are lonely and I am selfish.

I don't even want to think what will happen when I grow old. We don't have good old age homes in India. The existing ones, with proper medical care and activities to keep you amused/engaged are by far few and expensive.

Reema Banerjee said...

u knw, i have always thot of this one thing, if they cud combine old age homes and orphanages in some way, it wud help both the old people n he kids...but nowhere have i seen this happen yet...maybe i havent looked hard enough...

Goli said...

@alice... So true alice, they do want to block everything... we plan to go there one more time, just to keep it going.

@prits..Great prits, same thing I wanted to do as well, bring some smiles.

@anonymous..I dont think leaving hometown is same as leaving parents. I also dont say in my hometown, but I guess I still manage to have quite a good time with parents.

@Reema... I really think that is a cool idea... I was thinking all this while what can be done to increase their activity level.. but never thought of getting kids :D.

Yshesha said...

Guess you have portrayed the experience beautifully - I would like to point out here that our desperate attempts to make some difference in their lives were falling on deaf ears. We tried asking what changes they would like to have around that place to know if we could organise a music thing or yoga for them was met with a very pessimistic and childish defiance. The reason they gave was something like depleting physical strength and weakness - However I feel this pessimism is not because of the age but because the feeling of betrayal and agony because there children have not been responsible enough to take care of them due to various circumstances.The reason might be different for all of them - but the common feeling was definitely of hopelessness and despair. I have interacted with a lot of elderly people in my apartment - and I can clearly see the difference in the attitude. The folks here who live with their families are anyday more optimistic and take retirement as a phase for relaxation.
My mom herself actively participates in all the activities organised in mantri - be it tt, kannada classes or just about anything. And otherwise also all the aunties get together for the Satsang and bhajans. My dad finds peace in reading in the common room and chatting with the uncles in the elder's association.
Guess there is a this feeling of abandonment in the old age homes and sooner or later it gets you if you are there. However I guess breaking the ice with them and actually making them meet people of there age who are into various activities can help make life better for them.
Next time I would love to go with my own dad there - guess it will have an impact.

Very well written Goli!!!

Gaurav said...

It's ironic the name is Anandashram, infact there's an orphanage in Nagpur by the same name.The purpose is to bring happiness in their lives, and as everyone has pointed out there are various possible reasons that they feel lost in spite of having the material comforts.
I think the way we lead our lives a majority of people from our older generation either did not have the time or the resources to cultivate a hobby . Many came from a background where they needed to put in alltheir efforts to build a career, then got busy making sure the kids got the best of the education. Now when the kids out of the nest exploring the world, they have all the time but again constraints either in terms of location or other and they can't be with the family. At times even those living with their families can't just figure out what they can do. It's like someone getting tired of rest !

Goli said...

@Yshesha... Thanks for the compliment, true I guess have to go there more often to break the ice..

@gaurav... Absolutely correct, even my parents as such dont have hobbies, but now I am trying to get them interested in something, like gardening, baking etc.

Sathya said...

Goli,

am a greenhorn to blogging and happened to see your blogs in NGO post. have almost read all your blogs here and should say you've got this wonderful talent of expressing beautifully what you think / experience.

coming back to this blog - wanted to share one observation I made while in Japan (lived there for a few years). Japan probably has the most no. of old ppl >90yrs mainly due to the long life expectancy there. These guys form groups based on their interests. Some travel around, hiking mountains at this age (should admit that some of them put us to shame while trekking), some clean up the roads, parks in their neighbourhood (are very proud of it) and some others organize social events for kids. Conversing with some of these old ppl, with my limited Japanese skills, understood that most of them lived in old age homes. Was really amazed to see their spirit. The best part I noticed is that they arrange all these games for kids, make 'hand-made' gifts for them, wrap them nicely and when the games are over, give the gifts to the kids' parents to hand it over to their kids (this way they feel that the kids will have better bonding with their parents, unlike their own children). Probably not everyone there is like that but these are definitely things that we can learn from other cultures. My parents were very impressed with these when they visited me. Hope I spend my old age living life to the fullest and sharing whatever little I have :)

vrajakunj said...

Hello all,

as am planning to start an Old age home soon,would welcome various thoughts & ideas so that it will help me whilst doing so.Pls send me thoughts & ideas & definitely even your wishlist,as even we will go through the same in a while if not now which is reality.Most welcome for critics of my thoughts too.

Goli said...

@vrajakunj,
hey good idea to set up an old age home. I guess if you want to visit the existing ones you can get some contacts from this post http://ngopost.org/story.php?title=Old_age_homes_in_Bangalore

Why dont you post your idea on how you want to set it up on www.ngopost.org, am sure you would get quite a bit of feedback.

My experience with old age home is mostly only with anand aashram, hence probably I can only give you inputs on what I see there. :)

Usha said...

I will sucide then live like that for many years. Death is far more better than old age. Death is nothing but to sleep peacefully permenanetly. So why be afraid of death

pandurengan said...

Last year I had been to Coimbatore. One of our family friends, rather my wife's collegue and her husband are living in a senior citizens' home called "Vanaprastham" in Coimbatore in the area "Vadavalli". I gathered information about this place from the husband of my wife's collegue. They are very welf off people. Having own house in Bangalore and getting good rent. The lady gets handsome pension having been taken VRS from a Bank. In short they are welltodo people. The reason for staying in a Senior Citizen home is that the only daughter is married and settled in States. They wanted to havea secured and comfortable life. The life is comfortable in the Vanaprastham. Tdhey paid Rs.5 lakhs for a cottage which contains a hall varandah, small kitchen and attached toilet. Two people can stay there. Guests are alloowed for a short while against nominal payment i.e. if kith and kin visit them they can stay there. Food is being served in the common dining hall. Prayer hall, library, community room etc. available. The atmosphere is very pleasant with greenary. Opposite there is another similar Home run by Shankar Mutt of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam. All are full. Medical attention is provided. Outing to the City is also arranged with escorts. In this Home most of the occupants are well todo people with their kith and kin staying abroad and no one to take care of them in India. The food expenditure is shared by equal dividing system which works around Rs.2500/- p.m. In case anyone wants to surrender the cottage 9% of the amount is paid back and it will be allotted to other needy couple. If possible kindly visit the same and have a knowledge about the oldage home. If such a Home is established in Bangalore many old parents will be happy to spend their last part oftheir life in company of similar couples and the children would also feel that their parents are living a comfortable life.

N. Pandurengan
Bangalore

pandurengan said...

Last year I had been to Coimbatore. One of our family friends, rather my wife's collegue and her husband are living in a senior citizens' home called "Vanaprastham" in Coimbatore in the area "Vadavalli". I gathered information about this place from the husband of my wife's collegue. They are very welf off people. . The reason for staying in a Senior Citizen home is that the only daughter is married and settled in States. They wanted to have secured and comfortable life. The life is comfortable in the Vanaprastham. They paid Rs.5 lakhs for a cottage which contains a hall varandah, small kitchen and attached toilet. Two people can stay there. If kith and kin visit them they can stay there. Food is being served in the common dining hall. Prayer hall, library, community room etc. available. The atmosphere is very pleasant with greenary. Opposite there is another similar Home run by Shankar Mutt of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam. Medical attention is provided. Outing to the City is also arranged with escorts. In this Home most of the occupants are well todo people with their kith and kin staying abroad and no one to take care of them in India. The food expenditure is shared by equal dividing system which works around Rs.2500/- p.m. In case anyone wants to surrender the cottage 90% of the amount is paid back and it will be allotted to other needy couple. If possible kindly visit the same and have a knowledge about the oldage home. If such a Home is established in Bangalore many old parents will be happy to spend their last part oftheir life in company of similar couples and the children would also feel that their parents are living a comfortable life.

N. Pandurengan
Bangalore

GVK said...

Wonder if it occurred to you to do a film on life of this retired rail employee, as part of your film-making course. Maybe, folks with film-maker connection could arrange to hold weekly documentary shows for the residents . If it can be made a regular eature, they would have something to look forward to,
Presumably, you have done this already during youe association with this home.
Found your post interesting enough to be shared with my FB friends - http://www.facebook.com/#!/profile.php?id=1355527123

Goli said...

Dear GVK,
Thanks a lot for sharing this post on facebook. But where are you located sir. We can figure out if we can arrange something of that sort.