The trouble began when I started to see some slight blur in vision and double of everything specially the neon signs on the roadside when I drove past late evenings. Just in case anyone has funny ideas, no please, I do not drink!
It must be just a change of power in my spectacles, I assured myself after some unwarranted self diagnosis.
So was I in for a rude shock when the eye doc after the mandatory testing told me that I had cataract in both eyes, the right eye was particularly bad and needed surgery! “Nonsense” yelled my inner voice “only buddimas ( old hags ) need catarct surgery! Not me!”
Then I heard my counter inner voice yell even louder ” You’re no young chick either, you silly delusional old woman! Go deal with it! “
So there was I at the eye hospital, well before the crack of dawn, eye drops being put in the eye to ready it for surgery at 6 am in the morning! Tried hard not to show the little nervousness setting in as I was lead into the operation theatre. But my surgeon gently coaxed me into position and assured me that it would be a very short process and I’d feel no pain , just a little discomfort perhaps for a few minutes.
I could perceive something like a mask placed on my face with an opening for the eye presumably. And then the doctors worked their skills. In the minutes that followed, a kaleidoscope of colors and flashes danced before my eyes! Wow! That was some awesome display that kept me rivetted! Three flashing balls that seemed to wobble and bounce around until it all merged into one flash. Waves of a warm feeling swept over my eye, amidst the soft murmer of the doc and his team. And in the blink of an eye ( er….or rather in the unblink of an eye! ) it all seemed over. “That’s it , Mam, you’re done. You will rest in the room and we will shortly explain to you the post operative care” . A pair of dark glasses placed gently over my eyes and I was led out to the recovery room.
A short 10 minute rest later, I was handed my file with instructions and schedule and explanation for the eye drops. I was Ok enough to actually walk unaided to the waiting car and was back home by 7 am, much to my families surprise!
So thats how simple it all was.
Whatever would we do without the latest technology in our lives! The quick simple procedure uses the laser method to remove the blur causing cataract and an interocular lens is implanted over the retina. Minimum fuss, even less bother! I was contrasting this with the conventional procedure my dad went thru about 30 years ago – heavily bandaged eye, confined rigidly to sitting and sleeping positions keeping head absolutely still, no reading or TV for almost a month.
As for the most irritating part of it all….remembering to put the given trio of eye drops every few hours for the next 5 weeks…..here comes technology to the rescue once again! I set up my smart phone alarm to ring every two hours the first few days, even spacing out the drops at 5 min intervals. The gradually tapering off 5 week schedule went like a dream with not a single missed or late drop administering!
So for the next few days, with my dark glasses on ( at home and particularly outdoors to avoid dust) I was watching TV, reading in moderation and doing my daily duties with not an iota of discomfort.
A Cataract CoolCat, that’s what I was!
Blog written by our very own Silver Member, Bhanu R.
“In a book is a dream that you hold in your hands”.
In it, is an infinite world of magic, where the writer waves the magic pen to lead us through a journey of impossible possibilities. Tightly compressed between the pages and amidst a myriad of words, is a vast plethora of knowledge, information, and stories of countless writers from times immemorial, from every realm of the earth. Such an overabundance of information and intelligence in which our pea-sized brain can get lost and transported beyond time and space, into that region which we cannot even begin to fathom, visualize, or comprehend. And somewhere from the outermost periphery of this vastness, this is me, Sita, reporting from the desk of TSS Book club, an offshoot of the parent body- The Silver Surfers Club. “The body may age, but the mind will age only as far as you will allow it to” is central theme and motto of the SSC members, who sport silver streaks in their hair. The club has diversified into varied activities for the benefit, as also to cater to the Interests of its many members. It imbibes in everyone the importance of active Social Responsibility. Here is sharing with everyone my sheer joys and pleasures of being a member of a Book Club.
I have been a reader of books for long. A book lover. Lover of reading. To read anything was to get lost in it, much to the ire of many. I have sat on the benches of bus-stands, airports, footpaths, and roadsides of M.G. Road, Bangalore, waiting for buses, reading a book. And on occasion, missing the bus too. But time passed, things change, circumstances alter, lifestyle changes happen, with passing years and for other personal reasons of life’s ups and downs, I had sort of taken a sabbatical from reading and in the last 3 years, just confined myself to reading magazines and newspapers.
I knew I was missing something. But I just could not bring myself to get my hands and mind to hold up a book. I would barely pick up one, read some, lose interest, get lost in thoughts (negative), and eventually abort the attempt. I needed a push, a shove, a catalyst. And then I encountered this wonderful group of book worms, some like me, who for some reason or other had taken a break from reading. And some who had continued reading. From this chance meeting of like-minded group, evolved our Book Club. A joyful meeting indeed. You know, the Creator has endowed mankind with some great redeeming merits. Whenever a group of compatible people gathers with a common purpose, there emerges a natural leader. Nowadays called a Group Leader!!! And such a front-runner, we found in Bhanu Ramaswamy!! She has with her expertise and patience, put us on course. God bless her generous heart.
On this note, I have dusted off the cobwebs that were beginning to form in my mind, the lethargy was almost beginning to spread to the body. You see, the two go together. A healthy body requires a healthy mind and vice- versa. The Book Club has rekindled in me the desire to feel the ruffle of paper through my fingers again. To listen to the sound of the pages flying past my thumb as I flip through the book. Like a gambler, flipping through a pack of cards. To hold the book, close to my nose and smell the newness of it. I close my eyes, freeing the mind in a flight of fancy on what the book will unfold. And finally, hold the book, turn it over to keenly study the artwork on the sleeves which may allow me to get a sneak peek into the content.
Then again, this is the era of e-books. The great trailblazer Kindle. Amazing Amazon. A book at the click of a mouse. The lightest touch of a finger. No dog marks. No remembering the page number. The Kindle is a handy tool. I like it. But at times I like a book better. For a few Dollars More(!) I can always pass it on to some other booky)
I am eager to see what the book will uncover. New stories, exciting characters, thrilling adventures, sensational explorations, and discoveries, new places, exciting foods, stimulating ideas, thought-provoking ideologies, inspiring and dynamic world of science and technology, art, religion, music, dance, thrillers, and killers. Love and hate. Old and new. It is infinite. There is a treasure hidden in that deep ocean there. We can, but experience a drop from its depth, if we embark on a treasure hunt. I have hopped on this trail again and hope to pursue for as long as I can. And as I do that, memories come flooding back.
Along with new understandings and experiences at the Book Club. It evokes childhood memories of carefree, happy-go-lucky readings. Under trees, in hammocks, on swings, under staircases, under blankets, hidden away from disturbing calls. The very first book you read, the first book that had an impact on you, the characters you identified with, the authors you read and liked most. Now again, we are like children. Excited both for the reading and the companionship, the gleefulness, the shared laughter, the hot cup of coffee, the divvied pizza, the very pleasant afternoons, the mutual respect for each other’s opinions, casting a lazy glance at the young crowd at the coffee places, where we meet, their cheery, youthful and high-pitched laughter and conversations. The loud music. It gets louder as the crowds get denser. A sea of black, shiny, lustrous hair, laughing eyes, and happy sounds. I find it a heady mix. And on the 100ft road at Indiranagar, Namma Bengaluru, the general air is quite intoxicating. Amidst this commotion, we, a small group of happy, contented, peaceful and enthusiastic grey- haired SS, try to find a quiet spot!!!! To talk about our book. When the youthful laughter reaches a really high decibel, I look at the wired generation and send out a silent prayer. God let them be young and happy for long times. Life has many turns and twists. Strangely, the young are wiser these days.
And meanwhile, we are learning, unlearning. Learning to read with a purpose. With more mindfulness. Disciplined reading. Reading with a commitment. Reading with responsibility. And enjoying the whole involvement. Interacting in a group, each member has a self- imposed onus to participate in a meaningful and self- rewarding exercise. I recently read, “stupidity is like a bra. No matter how much you try to hide, it peeps out”. I try not to show my bra. Not too hard, though. I don’t mind if it peeps out occasionally. Because you see it matches (my dress)!!! I like to laugh at myself. No one here is a judge. No one Jury. No questions asked whether you have read the book or not. You owe to yourself. The freedom to be yourself. To express yourself. Everyone by turns. The others are there to listen. And honestly, these days, I am so grateful that someone truly wants to listen and be interested to hear what I say. Just imagine? Some vintage recollections of lessons learned in another era surface from deep under the brink of decaying grey matter, back into the active memory region. Characterization, critical appreciation, summarising, comprehensions!! I don’t believe I am writing these words. My mind is playing tricks! The fact that I can recollect better reassures me that I am not in any danger of a slow march towards Alzheimer’s! At least, not for the time being. Hope and pray never. Heavens forbid. I have gotten over the habit of turning back pages to remember people, places, and incidents. Memory recall is getting better. I am more aware of what I read. In those moments, I am again lost and drowned in another world in another odyssey
The words in the books when juxtaposed with the imaginations of one’s mind can be an incredible and indescribable joyful expedition. There is no one way to describe the thrill of reading books. “After dogs, books are a man’s best friend.” Amidst their pages, I have lived a hundred different lives. I have emoted with the characters. I have laughed with them. I have cried with them. I have traveled with them. I have been angry with some. I am in love with some. But never have I been disappointed with them. I am in awe of the writer and his penmanship. He entertains. He is a skilled artist. And so, I say, in his prose and poetry I have lived a hundred lives. I must remember to tell my children—-,” please, when I am gone, throw in a book with me.”
“Today’s society, across the globe — whether driven by genuine altruism or mere political correctness — has evolved less judgmental ways of referring to and dealing with fellow-humans who have one or other form of disability. Take, for instance, terms like ‘specially abled’ or ‘differently abled’.
But long before such terms came into vogue, and at a time when societal understanding or resources in these matters was nowhere like what it is today, a young Parsi girl envisioned a school for children who, like her, were fated to face life with perhaps the most cruel disability of all – that of being cut off from one’s fellow beings by an impregnable wall of silence.”
Presenting to you our Guest Silver for the week – Aban Unvalla, sister of our very own Silver Surfer – Yezdi Unvalla
Down Memory Lane –
“Aban Unvalla initially studied at the Little Flower Convent in (then) Madras from the time she was five-years-old. Aban was all of 17 when she went to the United States in 1960 as a Rotary Exchange Student with the help of the late Behramsha Sidhwa. She spent three years studying at the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf and a year at Gallaudet College in Washington and, on her return, worked with hearing-impaired
children at the Little Flower Convent.
Though she was qualified as a trained teacher for the deaf, the government
refused to recognize that a deaf person could teach another deaf person.
This was in spite of the fact that her school made a representation to the government that it is a unique understanding that deaf persons have amongst themselves.
It was during her American sojourn that a deep desire to open a school for
similarly disadvantaged children in Bangalore started to take shape in
Aban’s mind. Her parents, Dasturji Nadirshah and Manijeh, set the ball rolling and,
with the support of some like-minded friends, the Deaf Aid Society was established on September 12, 1967. In a notable endorsement of the moral force of the initiative, Bangalore’s very own classical violinist par excellence, Philomena Thumboo Chetty (whose daughter was hearing-impaired), was a founding member of the Society.
Help, either as donations of cash or teaching aids, was not long in com-
ing. Among the several who chipped in were Aban’s Pennsylvania school headmaster, John Nace, her American guardians Mr. and Mrs. Gordon Leech, a family friend of the Unvallas, Mrs. Cariappa, who offered the use of her house for the proposed school, and
an Australian lady, Pat Pengilley, who provided valuable pedagogic inputs.
Most crucially, the Little Flower Convent deputed one of its own trained staff, Sister Rachel, as the very first teacher. The school, which started functioning on June 5, 1967, passed another milestone when it was christened the Sheila Kothavala Institute for the
Deaf (SKID) after the late Mr. and Mrs. Zal Kothavala offered a plot of land for
Cut to 2017, a whole half-century later, and SKID – an affectionate acronym among alumni, parents and well-wishers alike – marked its Golden Jubilee, in September. At an early bird function organized by the old students on July 30 this year, and attended by former principals Margaret Joseph, Asha Dey and P.J. Christopher, and incumbent principal Jessy Samuel, the audience was treated to performances and presentations, which would have been the envy of many ‘normal’ participants!
Needless to say, the young girl whose vision started it all was the cynosure of
all eyes at the function. All of 75 today, and unfortunately beset with a Parkinson’s-related disorder since some months, Aban was ferried to the venue
by her close-knit and caring family –her brothers Adil and Yezdi, sister-in-
law Kamal and niece Kainaz.
It was a moment to savour as all those in attendance, her own contemporaries and the younger lot, gave her a standing ovation and milled around her.
The palpable sense of devotion and indebtedness was hardly surprising, considering that over the years virtually all the alumni have gone on to make successful careers for themselves in various occupations.
Indeed, one can say with conviction that Aban, who was the first hearing-disabled person to get a job in Canara Bank and earned her employer’s praise for her hard work and diligence throughout her long innings, was instrumental in opening the eyes of the banking sector to the intrinsic employability of others with a similar handicap.
Today, SKID’s journey has come full circle, as it were. In 2001, the school got its first hearing-impaired teacher, Srinivas M.N., who has a Master’s in History and Economics from Mysore University and a B.Ed from Lucknow University.
At her recent felicitation, old friends of Aban were visibly dismayed at having
to see her cope with another cruel twist of fate in her life. But they can, and
should, lift up their hearts and rejoice in the knowledge that their fellow-in-
disability planted a seed that has, over the course of half a century, blossomed
into a source of hope and opportunity for the hundreds of hearing-impaired
children who have passed through its portals.
And in the stillness of her spirit – untrammeled by the cruel caprices of nature, guarded over by the ruwans of her beloved parents, and safe in the all encompassing bosom of Ahura Mazda – Aban Unvalla will have found a way to smile along with them.”
Who hasn’t connected walking tours with boredoms and yawns? We all have.
With the Interpretive Strategy, wherein you provoke the attention or curiosity of a tour participant – Walking Tours has evolved from the boring guided walks they were to quirky and fun adventures on foot. Oh and with Walking Tour Guides having left their drab voices at home and having had it replaced with fun and excitement, Walking Tours has a whole new face now. Whether you want the focus to be on history, art, food, or culture, there’s always a tour for you.
A Walk Down Memory Lane – With all of us living in a fast-paced world, we have to agree hands down that “There’s no better way to explore a new city than on foot, where you can take in the sights, sounds, scents, and scenery first-hand.”
Each one of our best walking tours hasn’t been the predictable landmarks around the city — instead, they have been neighbourhoods we chanced on and swore to come back, parks and alleys where our most fascinating stories spun a yarn to hidden and secretive discoveries that we couldn’t wait to share with the world to a food hopping tour which gave us a gastronomic high. “After all, to understand a city, you must walk the paths of its nonconformist residents.”
What we would love? – The world is “full of such discoveries and little-known trivia, all of which you can learn when you take a walking tour.” As avid pedestrians, we’d love to hear what your favourite walking tours in and around Bangalore are and we would love for you to share a part of what made your history. Who better to share history with than with a bunch of super Silvers.
We’ve all heard of dream catchers. With winter drawing near, it would just be sensible to catch a bit of the sun. Yes, I have been told that my jokes/ puns are not crafty but jump right in and tickle your crafty bone.
Our chosen DIY for the Weekend is a Suncatcher.
Age limit no bar – Silvers can do it with other Silvers, Grandparents can do it with Grandchildren, the permutations and combinations around the age limit are just limitless.
Material availability no bar – We have gone straight ahead and ensured that these items are available on Amazon.in (links have been provided) and we have even checked on the availability of the same in some of the stores in and around Bangalore.
Difficulty – Minimum, Number of Steps – 5
Safety – We ensure that all DIY’s are child and adult friendly alike.
The How to Do and the What to do Question – We felt that our answers were best answered by Amy Sue and we had a wonderful variation coming not too behind in terms of difficulty but a little behind in terms of safety from Courtney.
Anything else – Let us know what you think and also show us your fun variations. You could even join our fun Silver Crafts Group to get together to do some fun crafts together. Also, if you have some fun and quirky crafts that you have tried and been successful or you would like to try with a fun set of people. Holler back!
She called me up during a busy workday only to say she had made a will.
I was annoyed, not cause it was a busy workday but because she was focussing on something as negative as death.
She said it was important and that she wanted to inform me.
The importance was lost amidst the chaos of emotions that overwhelmed me.
Growing up in India and the fascination around drama, I try to relate to where the melodrama is coming from. The case where there is always a hero and a villain, the greed overpowering the love and the light being shone on the implications surrounding it right from forgery to invalid wills – the list is endless.
I sit here with a cup of hot chocolate on a rainy day, look around my house and ponder, “What would happen to all these things I own if I die?” It was a far cry from being negative. All this hard work being put in creating wealth and investing in antiques and there was no claimant to absolutely anything if anything befell me! I reason with myself – Wills are written when winter time seems evident, wills are modified when the winter winds seemed harsh and right now Autumn isn’t even in sight.
Being an optimist, I most definitely would not want my brother having my priced Bone Chinaware as I can just imagine the disapproval that would spread across his face if it all belonged to him. The keyword here being “MY WISH”.
“A Will is a document which ensures that “your” wishes with respect to your assets and property are followed after your death.”
Absolutely anything of value can be listed under a will.
With a lot of knowledge lacking in this field, we at the Silver Surfers have decided to host a session on Will Writing. The session is open to absolutely anyone. Send us a message if you would like to be part of a group to know the legalities around forming a will and hear your Who, Why, When, What questions being answered.
Down Memory Lane – “I’m a simple Bangalore hudugi who grew up studying in the city, then went away wherever marriage and life took me – to Bombay, Chennai and Calcutta, thenMuscat,Bahrain and Al Khobar. Decades later, Ashok and I have returned to this city (Bangalore) to roost! What a livable, lovable city this was during my school and college days. Cool and verdant, sedate and gracious, there was a bit of Anglo India left yet in those early days of a post-Raj hangover.”
Careerwise, Bhanu is one of the “very lucky” to choose to do whatever she fancied, even changing professions on a whim! “With Ashok’s very successful career graph on an upwardly mobile track, I took whatever opportunity came my way at each city we were posted in. I initially taught kindergarten kids in Bombay (while settling in as a young bride and awaiting the first of our two girls). Years later in Calcutta, as a lecturer in home economicsat the JD Birla Institute of Home Science” – Bhanu is an MSc Home Science Silver Medalist from Bangalore University.
“Thereafter followed a decade in the Gulf where I gave up academics to put my love for wordplay to creative use, as a copywriter in an advertising agency. Writing copy for sticky British and Arab clients was challenging but so worthwhile and fun!”
“Craftyness” runs in Bhanu’s blood – “I have craft itchy fingers that love to do anything creative and don’t mind getting my hands dirty even, literally. I’ve dabbled in mosaics, made large wall murals as well as smaller artefacts. I have been painting since my college days, and I still do – mostly acrylics on canvas and have participated in group shows and exhibitions in different cities over the years. A fair bit of crochet and knitting fills up those spare times and the latest interest I’ve revived is sewing – So thrilled to be making cutesy clothes for my little dollykins granddaughter!Our 2 daughters are happily settled abroad and nothing gives us more joy than travelling to be with our 4 grandkids. Both Ashok and I simply love to travel (we’ve seen quite a bit of the world) and meet interesting people.”
“Reading and writing are my other hobbies I’m passionate about. I’ve been a prolific freelance feature and travel writer right through the decades, for magazines and newspapers both in India and the Gulf. But that short story eludes me yet! Give me a good book to curl up with and I’m in paper heaven! I meet up with my 10 avidbookaholic friends once a month to brainstorm over a mutually selected bestseller fiction title. Eclectic music tastes too, everything from Carnatic music to Bollywood to contemporary jazz.”
Bhanu is a trained Carnatic singer. She doesn’t sing anymore but she enjoys a good concert. Her 15-minute claim to fame? Singing a popular Irish ditty solo to a crowd of cheering Irish drinkers at Murphys Pub near Limerick!
Being a member of the Inner Wheel Club and the Tangent club gives her the opportunity to give back to society through meaningful social work. And now as members of The Silver Surfers Club, “we’ve added a whole new dimension to enjoying life. What an amazing inspiring set of folks we’ve met,we are sure to have more than our share of both and look forward to some wholly enriching times!”
Golden Words of Advice to the Millenials – “Do different things and do things differently” – that’s my mantra for getting the most out of my life and the time I’ve left in this beautiful world of ours!For today’s young – Fly high, go ahead, grab today’s wonderful opportunities and challenges and seize the day! But do stay grounded too, don’t lose sight of those traditional good old fashioned human values of compassion, altruism, empathy and caring.”
Khurshid was born in Bangalore. Finished her schooling and college in Hyderabad and lived in Pune until marriage.
Khurshid starts by reminiscing, “School and College was great fun.” She quickly adds, “I was a good student. I took part in all forms of extracurricular activities. I was an NCC cadet in college and represented my college at the Republic Day Parade, New Delhi. This was indeed an exhilarating experience that I will never forget. It was tough and it made me a stronger person.”
Khurshid has the experience of many professions backing her, “I started working as a teacher right out of college, filling in for a friend who needed to take a year off for maternity. With absolutely no teaching experience or degree, I was put in charge of teaching Class 8. Some of the students especially boys were much bigger in build and height than me. I had to dress in a Saree to look big. That was fun and a big joke, as I could hardly take care of it throughout the day. My stint with teaching continued for not that one year it was supposed to, but for the next three years.”
Her next stint came as a Dental Assistant, not being a person to back down from something new to learn and do. She went ahead and dived straight into her new job. “Unfortunately, it did not last for more than two months or so. The doctor was a dental surgeon, and it was then that I learnt that I could not stand the smell and sight of blood. I fainted twice on different times on a patient while assisting the doctor. That was the end for me as a dental assistant. Extremely embarrassed and sick at the stomach I quit.”
When Khurshid’s life took its first major turn – “It was then that I joined a tailoring school, which was a turning point in my life. I took to it like fish to water. Thus, began my passion for making clothes for babies and little girls. I learnt cooking, knitting, embroidery, smocking, patchwork, cross stitch, and toy making around the same time.”
Her passion for the art of making clothes continued even after marriage. “I have two beautiful daughters for whom I have made dresses, knitted and smocked, till they grew up and told me to stop making clothes for them. That’s when I started making dresses for others. I got a lot of orders. I opened a boutique with a friend which did very well for about five years. At that same time, I continued to make dresses on my own and having exhibitions not only in Bangalore but in Pune and Hyderabad, which again was a big success over the years.”
But that was not all, our ever vibrant Khurshid also ventured into the food business, “I sold grilled chicken under the brand name ‘Golden Delight’ through Indiana (a famous burger joint in Bangalore before the McD and KFC craze kicked in) on Brigade Road in the early 90’s. A great success it was till it lasted. I had to shut it down due to a serious back problem which had cropped up by this time. Then came an opening for me to work at Hotel Harsha as a PRO. It was a great learning experience and I enjoyed every moment of working at the hotel.”
When Khurshid’s life took its second major turn – A life-changing experience for Khurshid was losing her father to cancer. “Not able to come to terms with the loss I went for counselling. That was the turning point of my new career. After gaining enough self-control and going through the grieving cycle I decided to become a therapist. I joined a course and trained to become a clinical counsellor. Did further studies in Transactional Analysis and later joined hands with like-minded colleagues and opened Sparsh Foundation-our counselling and training center, which is functional at Charles Campbell Road, Cox Town since the year 2000.”
When hobbies turned to businesses – Khurshid had started writing short stories, something which she wanted to do from her college days and had kept at it just as a hobby. Writing continued after she lost her father. She joined a writers group, learnt a lot about writing here from other writers. “I made friends, and a few of us got together and formed our own women writers of Bangalore group called Inklinks. We have self-published three books of short stories so far; as a group, our books read by a small niche of people mainly known to the group members and their friends and families, have been appreciated and done well. Our books are even available on Amazon. Not too long after, came my love for beading by chance. I started making beaded jewellery. And this is the time that I came to know of The Silver Surfers Club, I took part in the ‘Under the Sky’ exhibition – This was indeed a wonderful experience.
Khurshid’s take on The Silver Surfers Club – I would love to be an active member of the club but due to health issues with my husband and myself, I am unable to take part in the activities organized by Dipti and the club. I hope to become more active and get to know the members, old and new. And of course, all the travelling to the wonderful and exciting places the Silver Surfers visit.
Golden Words of Advice to the Millenials – Khurshid is a Parsi Zoroastrian by birth. She has walked on this planet for 69 summers, accumulating experiences and lessons which has guided her on her onward journey, weaving her life’s lessons into a colourful tapestry of joyful and sometimes not so joyful moments. Khurshid doesn’t shy away from saying that she has gained a lot of experience doing different things over the years.
Be Grateful – “Life has been good and I am very thankful for everything that the Almighty has bestowed on me over the years.”
Multiply your interests and Never Stop Learning – My interests are many. Being in the prime of my life, my experiences, knowledge, and interests have multiplied over the years. I like to read and write. I write short-stories, articles, and occasionally poetry. Music fills me with peace and harmony.
Try to add value in all that you do – I am a Trained Professional Counselor/Psychotherapist and I am one of the Trustee founder members of a counselling centre run by me and my colleagues here in Bangalore, called Sparsh Foundation, Sparsh meaning, to touch, to connect.
When The Silver Surfers Club had their first walkathon challenging ageism and bringing about a positive twist to it. We couldn’t help but reach out to Joyce as a fellow blogger to want to know her thoughts on “The International Day for Older Persons.”
Why we reached out to Joyce Williams? – Joyce Williams has travelled the world, written books, been a physical therapist and TV Presenter. She is a grandmother and was once a technophobe. At the age of 80, she took up blogging about being “ancient in a modern world” and experiencing everyday ageism.
Down Memory Lane – Grandma Williams as she is popularly known reminisces the day she decided to take up blogging with pride. “I noticed that a class calledBlogging for Beginners was about to start. I doubt they expected an 80-year-old to turn up. Clutching the rail, as you do at 80+ I hesitantly descended to be greeted warmly by a cheerful bearded young man. He turned out to be Paul. I think he was shocked by what his advert had turned up. I asked if it was Ok for me to come in. ”Of course!” was the answer.”
“Their patience was superb even when my first question was, “Could you please explain what a blog actually is?”” After her first couple of posts, her glass began to overflow and Joyce had found her niche. “I wanted to write about what it was like being old.” Hastening to reassure everyone, Joyce adds, “Much to my surprise and delight, being ancient is proving to be a great time of my life. Really!I found I wanted to challenge the unthinking ageism in today’s world.” She’s also got a big fan in her husband, who dotingly reads what she writes and corrects statements when needed.
With ageism seeing an all-time high, we speak about “Why we should celebrate Old Age?” Read on to find out what Joyce has to say.
“Let’s begin with that word “we”. Who are “we”? Interesting question! The word can have two meanings: we the people of the world, and us, we the people who are old. A look at success and achievement from the two angles and we realise both have every reason to celebrate. Old age has become one of the world’s success stories.
Since 1950, we have added 26 years to UK Life Expectancy. UK Life expectancy at birth is now 79.2 for a boy and 82.9 for a girl. 100 years ago it was 54 and 57. Celebration due indeed!
Never have we had such a large healthy active group of older people, thoroughly enjoying bonus years and yet significantly contributing to society and the economy.
It isn’t just that many continue to work as reliable, skilled and enthusiastic employees, but of serious significance is their grandparent babysitting role in allowing younger women to pursue their careers. Have a look around Museums, Heritage sites and Parks during school holidays. Full of joyous granddads playing and cherishing grandmas patiently explaining. Everyone, all generations, happy!
And such benefit to children. Older people are living history aren’t they? Have you ever thought about it? I am 82. My grandmother, who could talk to me about her grandmother’s life, was born in 1870! The ability to view life on that scale provides both children and modern society with a wonderful balance.
Though perhaps the key contribution of older people in the West is in the world of volunteering. Thousands and thousands of hours, thousands of hours, worth millions of pounds, are put in by older people in every aspect of community life. Some are formal, Oxfam, Marie Curie, Befriending, Fundraising, National Trust, RSPB, Age UK, Friends of Museums etc. And none of these institutions could run without them. But the unsung, often unnoticed and certainly undervalued millions of hours Older People provide are as Carers, Good Neighbours (and even as local litter pickers! Met one the other day who does a half day per week ensuring a beautiful public space stays that way) are crucial to the economy and today’s society.
Take a trip back into the life of most of the UKs 80 year olds. They are the ultimate survivors! Born just as war broke out, their future was indeed dodgy. Fathers, relatives and homes were lost. If you survived the bombs and the Blitz, you had to get through a childhood of measles (it was really serious back then), chicken pox and diphtheria, polio, and TB. It was of course before the world acquired penicillin. Post War, the NHS and modern medicine improved life chances. But we lived with nightmare housing shortage, food rationing and clothing coupons for years. That’s what probably toughened us! But we did it. Brought up our families and with them created this amazing modern world we are all now exploring.
We made it! We got through! Three score years and ten, plus bonus years. And now to enjoy them. This wonderful creation of a long healthy active old age as part of normal life is a credit to everyone to our society. So yes, these are not ‘rubbish, dustbin years’. They are quality life years. Quite right that we should be celebrating, us, we the Oldies.”
Golden Nuggets of Wisdom to the Millenials – “There is nothing much left to die of! You, youngsters, have got it really easy. Go out there and make the difference, if I can start blogging at the age of 80 and change the views of a few people on ageism. What you do and how you make a difference with so many more years is all up to you.”
Reach out to Grandma Joyce and add to her long list of unthinking everyday ageisms –
After the post on Sandeep, we decided to interview Nupur. Their friends have empathetically called the dream couple wonderful and inspiring. Sandeep and Nupur seemed to have been each other’s backbone. And in this day and age, we personally think that it is indeed one hell of a deal to have each other’s back in sickness and in good health, in joy and in sorrow.
Down Memory Lane – Nupur chose to be an educator because “I felt I could enrich and make a difference in the lives of all the children I have been a part of in some way or another.” Nupur has been in the field of education for over 3 decades.
Nupur started her career in Kolkata at La Martiniere for Girls School as an English teacher. Nupur continued in this capacity at Bishop Cotton Boys’ School (BCBS), Bangalore and went on to become the Academic Co-ordinator at BCBS. Her stint with BCBS went on for long twenty-two years. After which Nupur joined Ebenezer International School as HOD – English and Senior Coordinator, where she went on to work for 10 years.
Nupur reminisces with her famous smile sweeping her face and goes on to say, “It has been a wonderful and fulfilling journey guiding and nurturing young minds. I am very proud of the responsible way most of them have grown and feel extremely honoured when now as adults and some parents themselves, call or message to wish me ‘Happy Teachers Day’.”
What Nupur’s Silver Years call for – “I consider the Silver Stage as the best phase of my life. This is the time when I plan to ‘celebrate’ life in all its glory, taking all the opportunities to fulfil desires and interests which had remained incomplete due to life’s various responsibilities.”
Nupur is a creative and passionate person. She is passionate about any creative pursuit, where art holds the topmost position. Learning from her travels, bonding with various kinds of people and ethnicity is something which is very important for Nupur. “I would love to find a place in the sun as an artist cum educator, a writer and much more. The list goes on forever.”
Nupur’s take on The Silver Surfers Club – “TSSC has opened many doors for me. A platform for meeting like-minded people some of whom have become lifelong friends. It has broadened the field of social work – a special mention to Dipti here for nurturing the idea of Silver Surfers and for creating opportunities for us Silvers to continue living our dreams.”
Golden Nuggets of Wisdom to the Millennials – “I would advise every age group but especially the young to take life by the horns and turn it around your way if you don’t like the cards life has dealt you.”