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Helping single seniors in Pune find soulmates

Madhav Damle of Senior Citizen Live-in relationship mandal, has been helping single seniors find a companion and live happily

pune Updated: Dec 30, 2018 15:38 IST
Anjali Shetty
Anjali Shetty
HindustanTimes, Pune
Pune,single seniors,find soulmates
Madhav Damle (Centre) founder of Senior Citizen Live-in relationship mandal works in his office in Pune.(Pratham Gokhale/HT Photo)

Everyone yearns for a companion and senior citizens are no different. When publisher and writer Madhav Damle, got to know that Pune houses over 17,000 single senior citizens, he was distraught. The 63-year-old wanted to help them out in some way. This feeling grew stronger when he attended to senior citizens in an old age home in Wai. “It was disturbing to see how they would feel lost and lonely for days to come. They had nothing to hold on to or fall back on. This is when I arranged for a few of them to meet and interact. I managed to get two couples married. However, the third marriage fell through when groom’s son intervened and created a ruckus,” says Madhav, who founded Senior Citizen Live-in relationship mandal in 2012.

Finding a companion

The idea was to find companions for single senior citizens. He wanted to be able to take away their loneliness and help them live a happy life. “The debacle of the third marriage got me worried and that’s when I read the Supreme Court’s study of live in relationships. I got thinking, young people have much at stake in a live-in, however a senior citizen doesn’t have much to lose. That’s how we started conducting monthly get-togethers and quarterly picnics/trips for senior citizens,” adds Damle.

Till date, the mandal has brought together 32 couples, out of which some are married and some are in a live-in. The mandal works towards getting them together and introducing them, beyond that they don’t interfere. “If a couple expresses interest, then we get them to sign an agreement contract, in which the financial conditions of both parties, and other nitty-gritty are discussed. Like who will move into whose home and what happens if one dies.”

Damle adds “The single seniors are divided into three age-groups, 55 to 64 are Bal Jyeshtha (child-like old), 65 to 80 are Tarun Jyeshtha (young old), and 80 plus Khare Jyeshtha (really old). “This way, we ensure we are not pairing up two really diverse ages because then it increases complexities.”

The mandal organises monthly get-togethers and quartery picnics and short trips for senior citizens. ( HT/PHOTO )

Obstacles and hinderance

Damle recalls that the first couple to have met through the trip was in their first year itself. “It was a trip to Menavali, after that it kept increasing every year. I would put up a listings in daily newspapers and people would come for the monthly meetings. Last year, I took a break because of some personal issues. But this year on, we are looking at helping and assisting as many senior singles as possible.”

So, what are the obstacles that he faces on a regular basis when it comes to such relationships.Damle says, “To be very honest, most of them are often worried about what society will say, or what will relatives say or what will their children say. Mostly, the kids are worried about having an extra member in the property share. Property is one of the most common bone of contention between single seniors and their kids”.

One day picnic of single seniors

Where: Wai, Menavali and doom

When: January 6, Pick up 7.30am (Ravi Building, Alka Talkies)

Senior couples who did not let society dictate their lives

Anil Yardi and Asawari Kulkarni will complete four years of living together in February. ( HT/PHOTO )

Transparency and honesty are the key for a live in: Anil Yardi and Asawari Kulkarni (67)

In February 2019, Asawari Kulkarni and Anil Yardi will complete four years of living together. The couple admits that they would not want it in any other way. Kulkarni shares, “It has been a great experience and a fun-filled four years. I am not saying it is an easy process but that also depends on how transparent you have been with your partner. For me, I had a lot of me time when we moved in together, as he runs his own office as a consultant. He would leave home at 9.30 am and come back by 7pm. So, we gave each other the required space initially and that was important too.”

Though they have had a great experience over the years,Kulkarni suggests that other senior couples should first spend enough time with respective partners before taking any step. “We were lucky that our wavelengths and thoughts matched and have continued to match. However the same cannot be said about every relationship. So, I would suggest even before living together couples should understand the basic nature and behaviour of the partner. This way, it will make things smoother once they move in. Transparency and honesty are the key for a live-in. You have to be honest and crystal clear about your past, finances and other relevant issues.”

She adds that despite being in a relationship, partners need to learn to be strong and independent. “You must not enforce or interfere too much or at all. Also, don’t let society or people around dictate your life. Be your own decision maker and don’t get bogged down on what people will say.”

Acceptance and patience is a must: Arun Deo, 70 and Meena Deo, 59

When senior citizen Arun met Meena in 2012, they bonded over many topics. The couple went on to spend time together at events and like-minded activities. Meena however was not keen on getting married and wanted to experience a live-in relationship. But, Arun managed to explain to her the pros and cons and they got married on December 28, 2013. Meena says, “To be very honest, I wasn’t keen on marriage. In fact, my advice to all the senior couples out there would be to go in for a live-in experience before marriage. It helps understand the opposite person better as the mask comes off.”

Having said that, Meena shares that a companion in your life does make a difference. “I lived along for 25 years after I lost my husband. The adjustment has not been easy and I am not going to make it sound like a smooth affair. As you age, your attitude and approach towards life gets rigid. However, it’s all about patience and acceptance, both of which I don’t have (smiles),” adds Meena

Arun, on the other hand, was keen on marriage for reasons he calmly explained to Meena. “Being a banking professional, I understood the technicalities and legalities involved in relationships, did not have the stamp of a marriage. Hence, I insisted on a legal marriage and we have completed five years on December 28. I wont say it is a glorious one but it has been a roller coaster ride”, said Arun.

He adds that the definition of having a companion changes at different ages and he is glad he found one. “Your priorities change over the years and adjustment becomes a major part of your being. And, that is what I have been following. We do have our differences but we enjoy ourselves too. We have been on trips to Europe, Kenya and Australia together.”

First Published: Dec 30, 2018 15:37 IST