A Senior Moment

Another one from my journals written on Thursday, June 9, 2011. As I read it, I realized that things are more or less the same, if not worse, when it comes to the impatience of the younger generation towards their predecessors. Though people of an older generation have advanced in their learning and application of new technical skills, and they’re better than they were in 2011, a majority will still not be at par with the existing skills of youngsters. And if they aren’t, it’s all right.

These seniors have learned to drive today’s modern cars. They’ve learned to navigate their way through crowded roads; roads more crowded with vehicular traffic than they were in their day. They’re keeping up with the constant development of mobile phones with new apps, new technology in photography, communication, and a fast-changing world, in general. Change is not easy. In fact, it is hard for most. Yet, the seniors adapt and adjust to the new. 

Do these young ones appreciate the effort senior citizens make? Do they understand that learning new things at an advanced age is more difficult? Could they be more appreciative and patient with the seniors?

It’s the same as it was earlier; the percentage of those who are appreciative of seniors’ efforts to catch up is much lower than that of those who don’t.

And, in case you’re wondering; I’m not yet a ‘senior’! 🙂 But as the previous post suggests, I’ve always held these views about the treatment of our seniors: old parents, grandparents or neighbors in terms of their adjustment problems or learning issues. If you can’t help in any way, don’t berate or act like an arrogant know-all, and definitely, don’t think they are stupid.

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The old was once a new invention! The seniors have seen a lot of new inventions and changes. They have changed and moved with the times. But with age, things slow down for many. Instead of being arrogant and uppity with the older generation, help them or better, teach them with patience if they can learn even a little bit. And if they can’t just appreciate them. They’ve got a big experience behind them. (Pic: Matt Artz on Unsplash)

 

A Senior Moment

This post was prompted by a forward I found in my inbox. It was an illustration of how a member of the younger generation (a college freshman) perceives the people of the older one as primitive beings.

While I haven’t run into many youngsters like the obnoxious one mentioned here, I can safely say, they exist with all their pompous arrogance. I’ve seen it as road rage and disparaging remarks thrown at senior citizens driving on the road. I fully understand that at times they can do things wrong while driving and, at times, cause an accident, but then so can you, my young one. If they’ve still got their driving license they have as much right on the road as you have. At least the traffic authorities deem so!

I have noted the frustration of young drivers honking madly as an old person laboriously crosses the road. I’ve heard and seen enough to wonder from where all this comes. On the brighter side, I have heard and seen a great number of young people being kind, gentle, and patient with their elders. These are the ones you will not find airing their disapproval of the older folk they encounter, outside their families and homes.

Generally, one can say youngsters, these days, are becoming quite impatient and intolerant of older people who have not kept abreast of the times. Having been born in a world where everything has to be super fast, almost instant, they adopt arrogance and condescension with those they perceive as stupid and slow.

They fail to see that the fruits of progress they are enjoying today didn’t happen overnight. These senior citizens have been a part of the process; they have moved through the stages of development. Each has seen an improvement on a previous generation in terms of innovations and discoveries.

As children, we grew up with some new inventions that our parents never knew in their childhood. We also enjoyed improvements on existing devices which made them faster, quicker and more efficient. But I don’t recall being impatient, intolerant or arrogant with senior citizens who hadn’t seen these things at their time.

Instead, we would be keen to explain about new gadgets, and even try to convince them that the new device worked better and was good to use. I know how difficult it was to sell pressure cookers to housewives in small towns back in the tail end of the 50s and early 60s. The general fear being; it would burst! My mom, though a bit apprehensive, went ahead and bought one in 1963, and I thought she was brave!

It was the same when kerosene stoves entered the kitchen to replace coal and firewood. Later on, when they introduced LPG for cooking, it found the same initial resistance. Yet, I wasn’t intolerant with my grandmother who still used firewood and coal to cook and heat the house in winter. In fact, I enjoyed sitting in her kitchen.

Computers are still a #challenge for the older generation in my country. Some have learned or taught themselves the basics so they can surf the net and stay in contact through emails.

However, with the introduction of mobile phones and iPads and such hand-held devices, many more have crossed that line of doubt and fear and ventured into the world of internet and Wi-Fi. Their knowledge might be basic but they know enough to get on and keep in touch with the progress and that includes me too. I’m not a tech person, but I manage. The younger generation is impatient with this too. If you can’t keep pace with them, you’re not worth their time.

The progress in the past two decades has happened at a faster pace than earlier years. This could be a reason why not many who carry the #seniorcitizen tag have been able to catch up with recent developments. I’m sure that is no reason to view them as stupid or inefficient.

 

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They’re not dinosaurs; they are survivors. They are the people who have adopted new ways of living and adapted to more life-changing inventions and developments than you younger people have. But that’s just me. Tell it to an impatient generation that has grown up on #instant gratification.

(Reposting with a few additions and more editing!)

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Chile Diary- 12

“I go to sleep alone and wake up alone. I take walks. I work until I’m tired. I watch the wind play with the trash that’s been under the snow all winter. Everything seems simple until you think about it. Why is love intensified by absence?”-Audrey Niffenegger

Volcan Mocho-Choshuenco and Lake Panguipulli, on the way to Huilo-Huilo National reserve.

Volcan Mocho-Choshuenco and Lake Panguipulli, on the way to Huilo-Huilo National reserve. The visible volcano is Mocho, the second one Choshuenco isn’t in the frame.

I’m back from my ‘workation’. I was away in my home country visiting friends and family. I did a bit of blogging on the side, whenever I found some spare time. But this story was on hold! I’m back now and trying to catch up with my blogs.

This chapter carries on from the previous one and surprises me. Click the link to read an introduction to the mom’s guests in Chile Diary-11.

The Mom’s Guests

I set up my computer on the dining table and began to write. If I was looking for common sense to guide the mom and her guests, I was disappointed. Common sense was conspicuous by its absence.

They continued to sit around the table and chat in the high-pitched, sing-song tone most Chilean women use. My head was beginning to ache. Just as I thought I should pack shop, the whole jingbang got up and left; mom included.

Hallelujah! I broke into a happy song. It was a premature celebration!

About half an hour later, they trooped in and the women began setting the table for tea. It was past 7.00 p.m. OMGosh! I moaned, not again.

The gossiping, laughing, and chomping went on and on. I glared at them from time to time but it was useless. Their total concentration was in the cake, bread, ham; the paltas (avocado), crackers, butter, and the tea and cold drinks they were walloping as they kept up the steady high-pitched conversation.

By then, my head was throbbing. I held my temples and looked directly at each one. I saw their mouths open and close but I couldn’t hear them talk! It was that bad. It was time for me to get up and leave. I wasn’t in good shape and if I stayed longer, I knew I’d say something and it wouldn’t be anything very nice.

I’m over that rant. It’s over. The day’s ended and with it the mood.

Or is it? The next day didn’t help. Looks like I’m in a mood these past two days! I discovered today that Indian beauticians are way ahead of their Chilean counterparts. Besides, they charge so little for the amount of work they do. I needed to give some attention to my feet so Manu took me to a salon nearby. I got a less than satisfactory pedicure. I’d have paid this amount for more and better quality of work back home.

If it weren’t for my back and knees that prevent me from cleaning my feet thoroughly and cutting my toenails, I’d skip a pedicure in Chile. Thank God, Roxanna colored my hair at her place! I’m glad Manu warned me not to even try the manicure. After the pedicure, I wouldn’t have anyway!

So, thus went my day into the dumps.

No more to write so I’ll wind up. Then what? As usual, I’ll stare at the walls and then lie on my bed and try not to think sad thoughts. For some reason, these words of an old Hindi song pop up in my mind. I’ve written it in the Roman script and I’ve tried to give you the best translation of the song. The lyrics are beautiful though melancholy!

 

“Aye mere dil-e-nadaan,

tu gham se na ghabrana.

Ek din toh samajh legi, duniya tera afsana.

(Oh, my naive heart,

don’t let sorrow worry you,

one day this world will understand your story.)

Armaan bhare dil mein,

zakhmon ko jagah dede,

Bhadke huye sholon ko,

kuch aur hawaa dede.

Banti hai toh ban jaye, yeh zindagi afsana.

(In a heart full of dreams and expectations,

allow a bit of space for hurt and pain.

The embers have burst into flame,

fan them a bit more.

If your life has become a story; let it be so.)

Faryad se kya hasil,

rone se natija kya?

Bekaar hain yeh baatein,

in baaton se hoga kya?

Apna bhi ghari bhar mein,

ban jaata hai begaana.

(Nothing comes from complaining,

and tears bring no results.

These are useless things

and nothing is achieved by it.

In a split second,

even our own become strangers.)

Aye mere dil-e-nadaan, tu gham se na ghabrana.

Ek din toh samajh legi, duniya tera afsana.

(Oh, my naive heart, don’t let sorrow worry you.

One day this world will understand your story.)

 

“I began to understand that suffering and disappointments and melancholy are there not to vex us or cheapen us or deprive us of our dignity but to mature and transfigure us.” -Hermann Hesse

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Chile Diary- 11

“Patience is power. Patience is not an absence of action; rather it is “timing,” it waits on the right time to act; for the right principles and in the right way.”-Fulton J. Sheen

Chapter 11 brought back the mixed feelings of that time when all plans began to fall apart. Hopelessness enshrouded me and I was at an all-time low. It also brings home the truth that although the plans were right, the timing was not! That’s why I had been not just nervous but “scared” too about moving.

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The building in the background is where the Company Guesthouse was.

 

The Chile Diary Chapter 11

Hitches and Glitches

I had many apprehensions about coming to live in Chile. I even recall repeating that I was scared. Unfortunately, the people I spoke to think in narrow grooves or are eager for fresh gossip. So everyone, without exception, wanted to know why I was “scared” to live with my son. I had not mentioned my son! The inference was wrong and born of deliberate misinterpretations.

I shook my head and smiled wondering how could they dig for gossip and create mountains out of non-existent mole-hills endlessly; year after year. But many people thrive on malicious, irresponsible natter.

I wanted to answer their queries but I could not understand why I was using such a strong term for my apprehensions. I wasn’t able to put my finger on the reason for my fear.

Why was I scared?

It isn’t in my nature to be scared of traveling to a new, unknown territory. Nervous, perhaps, but frightened? No! It was definitely too strong a word to describe what I was feeling about my pending travel.

I made sure to shoot down the insinuations and gave all the practical reasons I had to feel nervous about.

I was closing home in India. Everything I had worked for and built laboriously and lovingly through the years was gone. I would have no home to return to. No place to call my own. I had left myself bereft of all options. Wasn’t that a scary situation? It certainly did sound like one to some who agreed while others directed their minds elsewhere. But here’s the thing… I still wasn’t sure if this was the reason why I was scared!

One month later, with the benefit of hindsight, I realized it must have been intuition. (You can read about it here.) I had been begging Ranjit to let me stay in India for three or four months more. I wasn’t comfortable with the haste. There were many questions that were either not being answered to my satisfaction or answered too soon.

Four weeks later, of which three I’ve spent being in a refugee status, stressed and in nervous tension, I know why I was positively scared to come here. I’m isolated; physically, emotionally, spiritually… I cannot get through to my own.

But, surprisingly, the Chileans can feel my anxiety. They have been warm and supportive. Friends and strangers alike have extended encouraging moral support. Yet, Chile has been scary and terrifying in spite of the warmth and help extended by the hospitable people in Viña del Mar.

I want to fly out to Canada where my other son lives! That had been a part of my travel plans. In fact, I wanted to stay back longer in India to apply for my visa.

The latest information that was conveyed to me yesterday was that I wouldn’t be able to go to Canada from here. My return ticket had been booked by the company. So if I did not use it, my son would have to bear the cost of the same! He asked if the destination could be changed to Canada. They said it couldn’t.

Both my boys were okay with that thinking they would get my visa and I could meet my first and only grandchild in Canada. So bearing the cost of the cancellation didn’t seem to matter.

Before they conveyed their decision to the company, we found out that a particular document, necessary for my Canadian visa, was in the vernacular. We had to translate it in English and get it notarized by a government-certified notary. As luck would have it, I hadn’t submitted my visa application, yet. Thank God for that!

Getting a document translated from Hindi to English in Chile would have been impossible. At least now, I can think of returning to India! I’ll present my documents to the embassy there.

Many important details were not checked earlier making things difficult not only for me but the others too! I was to come here to settle for good as a dependent. Now, my son finds out that will not be possible as birth certificates of both mother and child must prove the biological relationship. This means that both the certificates must have the child’s name too.

Well, at the time of my birth and that of my sons, birth certificates did not carry the name of the child. Children, in India, were named formally only after a month or two. So it would mention a girl child or boy child born to so-and-so at such-and-such place, on such-and-such date and time. And this is how ours were too!

I’m sure I’ve made my point clear about my intuition of “scary” situations turning up with all the haste. I remember telling my son that they were “jumping to X, Y, Z before going through A, B, C.” Well, short-sightedness has taken its toll.

Granted the earthquake of this magnitude could not have been anticipated, but the quakes and tremors situation is constant. Problems coming up concerning me being left alone almost all the time should have been anticipated. The problem of language and communication should have been considered. My need for entertainment and company is real and should have been thought about. That I’d be a part of their outings, if not all the time, then quite often until I settled in properly was also an obvious given; a situation that should have been anticipated. These are predictable situations. Previous knowledge grants that this isn’t the best place to leave me alone at this time.

That’s the mood Saturday sees me in; despondent and disappointed. But one must go with the flow… always. I’m in God’s hands and though I might feel let down at times, that’s not the permanent attitude. My sons are trying to do the best they can and I appreciate all that they are doing. It’s just that they are too headstrong to listen to reason at times. I still have hope. God will show us the way where there seems to be no way… it’s only ten past one in the afternoon. I have a long day ahead of me!

That’s me venting and I’m done.

Early morning, Ranjit and I went to see the house on 15 Norte. It is beautiful. The houses here are on a rocky hill and made in the terraced style where the houses are built along the slope of the hill and do not rise up in one perpendicular block. So it seems to be a hill of jutting terraces and the terrace gardens add to the beauty.

Although it is smaller than the present apartment, it is well-planned to provide sufficient space for a neat living-dining room, a small but adequately-planned kitchen, two bedrooms, bathrooms, and a good-sized walk-in wardrobe. They have selected the furniture with taste keeping the limited space in mind. The best part of the house is the terrace in front. Location is also great; sea-facing, the view is simply amazing. But there are some hitches.

Like most rented apartments in this area, the apartment is on rent for only ten months; from March to December. This means another change of house at the end of the year. That’s the minor snag.

The major issue is, it’s on the 4th level. Being built on an incline, each level has more steps and more flights of stairs than the previous one, according to the floor they’re on; less on level one and more added as you progress to the higher levels. So this one is ruled out.

Back in the guesthouse, the other mom staying here was trying to ask me something. The only word I could comprehend was “problema.” 

What now, I thought while I threw up my hands and shook my head and smiled a helpless smile, hoping she’d understand that the only problem was that I couldn’t get a word of what she was saying.

She caught on and indicated that I should wait until she got her son, Mauricio, on the phone. Now I was sure she had a major problem and was keen to know if it involved me.

As it turned out, she was getting her friends over for lunch and wanted to know if that would be a problem for me. And, if necessary, she would call off the lunch. How considerate and kind of her to make that offer!

I told her son that since I was, at the time of speaking, a permanent fixture at the dining table, I’d be the problem to his mother and her friends. And since I was in the mood to write, I had no time limits. I could close shop in ten minutes or continue till the evening. So, if the group could carry on around me, it was fine with me. This brought an overly demonstrative response of gratitude from the mom who hugged and kissed me profusely!

Anyway, neither of us had to bother about it. The Indian group, comprising us, had a lunch of rajma-chawal and after a short nap left to pick up my track pants and buy some stuff for the house. The other mom’s guests hadn’t arrived until then! That’s when I learned that lunch ‘parties’ in Chile started very late… late afternoon; actually early evening! By the time I returned to the guesthouse at six in the evening the guests were leaving. What a relief!

I thought it had worked out fine for all concerned. But that was the forethought. Once again I have to remind you that ‘relief’ isn’t a long-term companion in Chile. I walked into the apartment to find there were still more people in the house and although I hoped against hope they would leave, they didn’t. 🙂 

But I didn’t mind that… much! (Read more about that here Chile Diary-12)

 

Glossary

Rajma…………… Rajma is red kidney beans. It’s cooked with spices and tomatoes to make a thick gravy dish which is usually eaten with rice.

Chawal………… rice.

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Glossary 

Rajma-chawal………….Rajma is red kidney beans cooked with spices and tomatoes to make a thick gravy which is usually eaten with rice (Chawal)

Chile Diary- 10

As I read this entry, I realize how awful it was for me; hampered by not only my physical problems but also with my own feelings of not wanting to be a burden on anyone and dependent too, for each little thing.
 

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The beautiful streets of Viña del Mar

The everyday activities we take for granted were either very difficult and painful for me to accomplish or then impossible and not advisable that I even try to do so. I learned this the hard and excruciatingly painful way when I ruptured a disc or developed tears in them.

I would get irritated and often angry with myself. My inability to perform the simple, normal day-to-day things or even walk at a normal pace and for a good distance frustrated me.

My fastest pace was ‘tortoise’ and I had to stop after every 10-15 steps to catch my breath and get relief from the pain. Osteoporosis and osteoarthritis aren’t great companions. I am so grateful and thankful that I am so much better now.

By the grace of God, I found an orthopedic surgeon in 2007 who helped me get back to a normal life. It took a long time, 8 years, for the quality of my life to improve, but it did. And then a doctor of alternative medicine in Chile,  one who prescribed diets and herbal medicines, took it further and all I can say is, “Thank you, Lord, for leading me to them.”

I also understand how difficult it must have been for my son and DIL. I needed assistance in everything and in the kind of situation we were in at this time, it could be trying; very trying.

March 20th, 2010

The Fishbone In The Throat

Yesterday marked one month of my stay to the day. I landed in Santiago on a Friday, the 19th of February. Yesterday was also a Friday. The bonus was… Ranjit had taken leave and we had lunch at SixBar, a restaurant specializing in Peruvian and Japanese cuisine. It’s close-by so we walked down.

It took longer than it should have but I needed to exercise my legs; my body, even if it was a tortoise walk! And I must have looked like one with this rather big lumbar support belt. It has three rods in it and wrapped around my lower back and waist it looked like protective armor!

It was a celebration of sorts. We munched on starters; roasted crunchy maize and salmon tempura as we waited for the camarone (shrimp) tempura to arrive. Delicious! We walloped it down and waited patiently for the main course of roast pork accompanied by ‘terrine papa y chutney de mango’. I enjoyed it with two glasses of fresh ‘pina’ juice.

Terrine papa is a dish made with slices of potato (papa) wrapped in bacon rashers and baked. This is eaten with a mango chutney. Now it was time for dessert.

Ranjit chose one that translated to ‘Volcano of Chocolate’ but changed the order when they informed him that it would take fifteen minutes and opted for the trilogy of chocolate. What no one told him was that this would take twenty minutes!! I asked for a plate of fresh fruits. Boy! That was a meal!

The cab had arrived and was waiting. We drove to Lider, a huge market which would be called a mall in India. It’s a lot like Spencer’s in Gurgaon, only three times the size. The only reason we made the trip was to get my track pants altered and that got done quick enough. We had nothing else to do but window shopping which I couldn’t do much of as my back and legs didn’t hold up and I needed to sit. There was nowhere I could sit so I leaned against a pillar and waited for Ranjit to finish his window shopping. Then it was back to the guesthouse.

I was tired and lay down. Ranjit, promptly went off to sleep. The rest of the evening went off dozing and waking till I got quite fed-up with staring at the ceiling and walls.

It was 10.30 pm when Manu walked in with the dinner she had prepared at the apartment. We ate. We talked a bit. At about midnight, she felt like eating ice cream. Since it meant a long walk, for me, to 5 Norte, I was obviously not included in the midnight jaunt. But I was too nervous to be left alone at the guesthouse for two reasons; first, I wasn’t sleepy and with no TV or internet, I had nothing to take my mind off tremors and quakes. The second, the other mom ( Mauricio’s) wasn’t in and I didn’t want to be alone.

This didn’t please one, evidently, so I suggested they drop me at Manchester where I could drink some coffee, plug-in the laptop and check my mail and chat with some friends. This didn’t please the other!

Anyway, with no alternative being decided on, I was hovering in the living room wondering how I was going to deal with the situation when both of them herded me out of the house. I tagged along.

To cut a long story short, I couldn’t walk the distance. Manu was upset, and I can understand that. She walked yards ahead in a silent protest. Ranjit had to bear the brunt indirectly while I felt as unwanted as a fishbone in the throat. I don’t blame either for feeling the way they felt about me at that moment.

The day ended on a sour note and it doesn’t make me happy because I know it was I and not my son who was the irritant.

 

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I Forgot The Sugar!

This morning I forgot the sugar!

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I went through the routine of making myself a cup of ginger tea but forgot to add the important ingredient that adds the sweet flavor that I like in my tea…sugar. No big deal really!

I’m absent-minded and many things are left undone or half-done when I’m elsewhere in my mind than where I should be. But what makes this particular thing a point of focus is that I had put someone in the dock and was sitting in judgment and criticizing, not constructively, but to let off some emotions that were festering within due to the person’s overbearing nature, bad attitude and arrogance.

Letting off steam is alright. I believe it’s necessary too, to talk about it and let it out as long as you are not stuck in one place and over-talking the issue to smithereens! However, putting someone in the dock and being the judge & jury all in one, pronouncing a judgment and then hanging name tags…unkind ones…around their necks is another issue altogether that has less to do with the person in the dock and more to do with you.

One has to release the pressure, but definitely not as soon as one’s feet hit the floor in the morning. I mean, I was shocked that I was (unconsciously) carrying malignant feelings about someone, somewhere, who did not influence my life in a major way or play even a minor role in my development and growth. And yet, here I was allowing negative emotions to give freeway to the person to steal my joy…take away the sweet enjoyment of my everyday life. In other words, I was focussing on the person and not the act. Now that’s a no-no where I’m concerned. To learn, I confine my thoughts to what (the act or the words) rather than who (person), as focussing on the person doesn’t benefit in any way. And this was highlighted by my own run-away emotions. My unbridled mind and a cup of unsweetened tea taught me a valuable lesson that day.

Life Point:
When you allow bitterness from resentment to poison your mind and heart, you forget the sugar. You lose your sweetness; in your nature, in your thoughts, in your actions and life in general. You lose your joy and peace. Like the ginger tea without sugar, my thoughts were sharp, pungent and not me. The ‘I’ or ‘what about me’ attitude had overpowered my heart and almost succeeded in poisoning my day.

Another lesson was re-enforced too: “Take it to the Lord in prayer.” By taking it to His throne, I was given insight. I saw how I could forget to add sugar when I concentrated on being offended. I had shifted to – resenting a person rather than learning a positive lesson from a negative action or attitude.

On a lighter note I also learned that when life throws you lemons, add a slice or two to your sweet tea, it makes a delectable blend of flavor!