Post 50, women in Chandigarh proving to be perfect role models | chandigarh | Hindustan Times
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Post 50, women in Chandigarh proving to be perfect role models

Neelam Dhamija, 76, is on her way to a government school in Chandigarh on an assignment to talk to children on various issues when her friend calls: “So you’re on your mission again but believe me nothing is going to change. At your age you might as well stay at home.” Giving a short reply and a dismissing smile, Neelam moves on.

chandigarh Updated: Aug 25, 2015 14:41 IST
Aishwarya S Iyer
Aishwarya S Iyer
Hindustan Times
Tricity,Sangeeta Bansal Diwan,Harmeet Kaur
(Clockwise) Sangeeta Bansal Diwan, Neelam Dhamija and Harmeet Kaur. (Sant Arora/HT)

Neelam Dhamija, 76, is on her way to a government school in Chandigarh on an assignment to talk to children on various issues when her friend calls: “So you’re on your mission again but believe me nothing is going to change. At your age you might as well stay at home.” Giving a short reply and a dismissing smile, Neelam moves on.

She belongs to a tribe of women who feel it is never too late to start afresh. Her involvement with the children is so much that she is also asked to help school counsellors. “My granny-like image helps children to open up to me. They share their social and personal doubts and confusions with me.”

Even after her retirement from a teaching job at MCM DAV College for Women, Chandigarh, she says she always wanted to work with the young and it is the best utilisation of her time now. Inspiring real-life stories show how age is just a number and no barrier to growth and passion, women from the tricity of Chandigarh, Panchkula and Mohali have shown how they’re rocking post the age of 50 in spite of taunts from friends, and sometimes family.

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Neelam Dhamija, 76, retired from a teaching job at MCM DAV College for Women, Chandigarh. She belongs to a tribe of women who feel it is never too late to start afresh. She is involved with children of government schools and counsels them on various issues such as bullying, peer pressure, suicidal tendencies, among others. (Gurminder Singh/HT)


From strength to strength

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Harmeet Kaur, 61, had cancer in 1994-95 which was temporarily dealt with. After recovery, in the midst of exhaustion and pain, she went back to yoga and now teaches yoga and attends workshops to deepen her knowledge. (Karun Sharma/HT)

Harmeet Kaur, 61, had cancer in 1994-95 which was temporarily dealt with. It returned with vengeance in 2005, pushing her into coma. After recovery, in the midst of exhaustion and pain, she went back to yoga. “It was remarkable that how I gained in strength. The tests showed considerable improvement. Yoga helps in reducing the side-effects of chemotherapy.”

Now she teaches yoga and attends workshops to deepen her knowledge. “I’m a cancer survivor. Yoga ensures my body is fitter.”Keen to share her expertise on yoga with people of all age groups she can be contacted on 9815094482 (between 10am to 11am).


On the learning curve

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Sangeeta Bansal Diwan’s curiosity encouraged her to undertake a PhD at 55. She is a professor at Government Home Science College, Sector 10, Chandigarh. (Sant Arora/HT)

There are also powerhouse women who are pursuing research in offbeat subjects. Sangeeta Bansal Diwan’s intriguing curiosity has encouraged her to undertake a Ph.D at 55. She is a professor at Government Home Science College, Sector 10, Chandigarh, and is simultaneously researching on ‘Dynamics of branded clothing choices among employees of multinational companies’ from the anthropology department of Panjab University.

As part of her research, she has travelled to Bangalore and Delhi besides interacting with brand-conscious youngsters of Chandigarh. “My generation was not exposed to so many brands. I wanted to know the point in buying branded wear and see how people associate brands with image, confidence and self-esteem.”

She has the support of her working daughter and son and says, “I don’t feel age is a barrier to learning.”


Overcoming fear

Jyoti Jitender Dewan, 65, is an example of the inexhaustible desire to grow. At 58, she met with an accident on her two-wheeler and a screw was inserted in her right ankle. “I had developed road fear. Once I paid a rickshaw-puller to drop me across the road as it wasn’t easy to cross.” In spite of this, she learned to drive a car so that it would be a safer way to go to work. Five years after retirement as deputy registrar from Panjab University, she utilises her time doing courses in yoga, naturopathy and food and nutrition.

She has another surprise up her sleeve as she reveals, “Now I am doing a creative writing course from Indira Gandhi National Open University to hone my skills. With a desk job all my life, articulation was lacking. Creative writing would help me improve my expression.”

Over time, she has learnt to keep her desire to learn to herself, “I don’t tell people about my courses as I don’t want negative reactions from them. I do this for myself and my family,” she says.


Lighting up lives

Yes, they are aging. Their bodies are not as flexible and their memories might be fading. However, one thing common in these gritty women is the desire to keep learning and doing with a sense of pride and self-reliance.

They laugh and speak with so much passion about their interests, almost like curious little kids. Hats off to them for they are lighting up the path of the evening of life.