Mon, 18 Nov, 2019

A happy new beginning in life

Started by Raja Melvani, this warm and vibrant recreation centre for senior citizens at downtown Panaji is a platform where the elderly gather on a daily basis and engage into various activities that keep them cheerful and active, physically as well as mentally

27th October 2019, 03:19 Hrs

BHARATI PAWASKAR 

They are all 60 plus and 90 in number, and their bucket list is  endless. Every day is a new day for them and hence, it is spent as if  there’s no tomorrow. Life does not end after retirement and 60 is just a  number for the members at the B N Melvani Recreation Centre for Senior  Citizens at Mala in the downtown Fontainhas area in Panaji. The members  look forward to various activities that keep them busy in their retired  life. It is a cheerful, bright and well-ventilated space open from 10 am  to 7 pm Monday to Saturday. They do not carry any baggage of past  identities and are known by their first names.They believe in living one  day at a time. 

And the catalysts who bind them are Saloni and Suri, a retired  couple who has become the foot-soldiers to organise activities for these  elderly. “It’s a wonderful platform to foster camaraderie and bonhomie  amongst senior citizens. It is also a great opportunity for young  professionals to share their relevant knowledge and expertise and  thereby enrich themselves with blessings from senior citizens,” states  Saloni, 59, who is a member along with her husband Suri who is 69. Fond  of budgeted but unchartered travelling, the couple has sketched road  maps for their ‘Incredible India’ road travels. The couple has been  travelling for the past 20 years and that has kept both fit. Whenever  they are in Goa, they organise these events at the centre and make  necessary arrangements for the indoor and outdoor activities so that the  place comes alive.  

Likewise there are others who are retired and free. Some live with  their families, some alone. “All of us need open conversations and  ever-evolving roles. It is for this reason that we script our roles and  contributions, making our journey more important than the destination,”  states Saloni who agrees that herself and Suri have left behind their  identities at this juncture of life. 

Activities and events keep adding. Apart from health related  activities, there are also heritage walks, yoga classes, medical camps,  movie screenings, Hindi musical karaoke sessions and guest talks on diet  and nutrition and various other topics relevant to second innings of  senior citizens. Once every month a ‘social’ get-together is organised  to celebrate birthdays of members. The oldest member is 90 years old,  more than half the members are in their 60s and rest are in their 70s  and 80s. Recent birthday celebrations had all the seniors on their feet,  rocking, singing, dancing and even learning to play the ukulele,  courtesy energetic and musical Kadence team from Panaji. Well equipped  with WiFi, computer, TV, mini-library, daily newspapers in English and  Marathi, drawing and colouring sheets for creative outlet, and board  games like carom and chess keep the members engaged. For the safety and   security of the senior citizens, CCTV cameras are also installed. 

One room is equipped with medical examination bed earmarked for  medical camps and also has devices like electronic BP monitor, digital  weighing machine and SPO2 device. Another room is equipped with  physiotherapy equipment for light ‘arms and legs’ exercises. In nine  months the membership has touched 90 and this include people from all  walks of life – teachers, doctors, engineers, chartered accountants etc.  who come from Mala, Panaji, Campal, St Inez, Caranzalem, Tonca, Dona  Paula, Bambolim, Miramar, Vasco, Porvorim, Merces, Britonna, Thivim,  Mapusa and Siolim – just to spend time and participate in various events  that are organised from time to time. 

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