Last week, I attended a very special event organized by Hindustan Times in Mumbai. The newspaper celebrated ‘The Spirit of Mumbai’ by honouring people who quietly and relentlessly make a difference to India’s grimiest, sexiest, speediest city. The only Indian city with a real skyline, as I love to point out to anyone who wants to compare notes. And frankly, the only Indian city worth living in for women, as one invitee pointed out.
So there they were, 15 nominees, up on the stage. And six of them were senior citizens or “silvers”, as Tina Ambani likes to call this group. There was Bhagvanji Raiyani, the 70-year-old who has filed 80 public interest petitions, forcing authorities to clear illegal slums and constructions; Bhaskar Pawar, 83, formerly a soldier in the army who invested his life’s savings to build a home for senior citizens; Mangesh Dalvi, 92, who formed an investors’ forum in his late 80s; Pierre Pean, 78, who teaches slum children to read and write; Kewal Semlani, 71, the city’s oldest, and most dogged, Right to Information activist; and Manohar Godse, 67, who organizes badminton tournaments for players who don’t have access to courts.
It felt good to clap hard for them.
Sixty plus: Six of Hindustan Times’ spirited 15 in Mumbai are senior citizens
After all, as we juggle our so-important 14-hour workdays in offices fullof young people, communicate with our friends all over the world on theInternet, manage our two children andour multiple GSM connections, run our houses, go global roaming, prioritize and mechanize, do we really haveany time left over to think about our senior citizens?
Most of us do think about our parents, right? If you’re in your 40s, your parents are really the first bunch of seniors in this country who have access to professionally-run, beautifully designed, assisted community living apartments. Thanks to telecom reforms, they are the first set of parents who can call you regularly in any part of the world without spending a fortune. They’re the first set of Indian parents who have participated in the seniors’ marathons that are now common in our cities. The first set who own cellphones and know how to see YouTube videos of their grandchildren singing Jana Gana Mana. The first group of senior citizens who are fans of Shah Rukh Khan. Of course, technology or not, like all the other generations of parents before them, they are growing older.
So, in a whirring world where you often don’t even have the time to tuck your son into bed or have sex with your spouse more than twice a month, where do you find time to visit/spend time with your parents? Have you ever considered living with them? Can you pull it off? This week, our cover story explores these questions.
(Hindustan Times is published by HT Media Ltd, which also publishes Mint and Lounge.)
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