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Silver streak

Retirement is not the end of the road for many senior citizens. Driven by passions old and new, they find great joy in their second careers. Joydeepa Sarma writes.

mumbai Updated: Nov 01, 2009 01:35 IST
Joydeepa Sarma

One might think flying an Indian Air Force jet and navigating a number of wars in a 26-year career with the Armed Forces would be reason enough for a man to put his boots up and enjoy the good life.

Well, Wing commander (Retd) KM Narayanan, 82, has put his boots up. But has taken up paintbrush and easel instead, making art a full-time occupation for him. It’s not about the money; it’s about pursuing a passion for this retired Armed Forces man.

Having always led an extremely active and challenging life, he decided to keep himself occupied after his retirement by learning an art form that presented him with a challenge of a different kind. “I had always been interested in art, so, after I retired, I use the time on my hands to visit art galleries. I keenly observed various kinds of art and craftwork and if I found something interesting, I would enquire about the process of making it, the materials used etc. and then try it out at home,” he recalls.

Eventually, he took up batik and glass painting. Then he moved on to experiment with various other mediums and finally created his own kind of art by using special carving knives to make intricate cutwork pieces with felt paper and mounting the work on tiles. Although he is not keen on selling his artworks, Narayanan went public with his first solo exhibition in March this year.

Animal instinct

Like Narayanan, many senior citizens find that being liberated from the demands of a regular job frees them to finally find the time to devote to passions and interests that have often been put on the back burner.

Take Vivian Choudhury, who retired in 2004 from a career that she considered her first love — teaching. As an English teacher and later, Vice Principal of the junior college, she spent a good 23 years at the VG Vaze College, Mulund. She derived immense satisfaction from her work, but her love of animals saw her put in time three days a week at an animal care center, In Defence of Animals (IDA) at Deonar.

Today, she is a full time member and Vice President of the centre. “Now that I have the time, I can make daily visits. I have also started a blog on the IDA website, and have received a wonderful response to it,” she beams.

Besides, she also functions as the Secretary of the Young Environmentalists Programme Trust. Wait, there’s more. “I also work on the quarterly newsletter for the NGO, so whenever I am at home I am busy writing or editing articles,” Choudhury adds. For sure, there are some time-management tips to be picked up here.

New jobs, new clients

Another multi-tasker is fifty-nine-year-old Usha Ubale, who had a satisfying career spanning 32 productive years as an Assistant Health Officer at the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation. “I retired last year, and did not want to sit at home doing nothing. So I joined an HIV project at Nair hospital, which is supported by UNICEF,” she says. As Project Manager, she works to spread awareness about HIV and AIDS in Mumbai slums. Besides being associated with many other NGOs, Ubale also does English-Marathi translation work.

Narayan Chatpar, however, is focused on his vaastu and feng shui consultancy after retiring from a public sector bank. This 65-year old works from home for a variety of clients, and loves every moment of his new job. “I am enjoying this freedom to indulge in my interest full time, and I intend to carry on with my work for as long as possible,” he says.
As Wing commander (Retd) KM Narayanan, puts it, “Retirement is not the end but a beginning.”

This weekly column examines the diversity of urban communities