Saturday, November 29, 2008

Book review: Spirituality Bytes – A guide to understanding and managing the journey called life

Spirituality Bytes – A guide to understanding and managing the journey called life.

Dr. PV Vaidyanathan. Readworthy, New Delhi 2009 pp170. Price: Rs 195.00

Available from the publisher at: 4662/21 Ansari Road, Daryagunj, New Delhi 110002

Phone: 011-43549197

(Book Review by


Spirituality is a device that helps you understand and accept life as it exists. This easy to read book comprises of ten chapters of varying lengths (Just one page to forty five  pages), the longest one on "Life" and the shortest one on  "Spirituality in a nutshell".


While dealing with Life the author touches upon a series of apparently unconnected issues such as: Search for Identity, choosing the middle path, Letting go, quitting the comfort zone, Essence of NOW, Awareness, Freewill, Desire or Deserve, Money and its role etc.


The book is purposely designed to be a collection of different topics such as GOD, fear, greed, anger, present moment awareness, the art of listening, how not to take anything or anybody for granted, mind, meditation etc. The very structure of loosely connected topics makes it easy for anyone to start at any chapter and read the sub sections that are only a few pages. The author spells out his views clearly and asks readers to accept or reject them freely. The selection of topics mostly justifies the subtitle.


However, one teaching that stares in your face all thorough the book is "to take the middle path". Don't be a control freak and don't let yourself be totally laid back – follow the middle path, he says. While taking decisions, 'balance is the key' – again the middle path approach. While talking about Stress handling ( a subject on which he has written another book) he opines: Don't take much more than you can chew; avoid multi tasking and have a balanced view of life. Allocate your time suitably among family and work


Love is all about freedom – allowing the person you love to be free. It is more of giving than of taking.  One of the observations of the author which made me gasp aloud: "How true!" was on 'boredom': "children say they are bored when all that they need is parents' attention".  Who, other than a pediatrician, can know better?!


He advises you to celebrate Death everyday. Live today as if there is no tomorrow. Life gives you a second chance but death gives you none. These seemingly simple utterances have a profound meaning for senior citizens in their twilight years. He even says you should cry. Tears cleanse your system of accumulated toxins. Only if you can experience extreme sorrow, you can experience extreme happiness, he says. I too agree that extremes of happiness and sorrow are at the end of a circular spectrum and if you look at it in another way they are close to each other!


I will recommend this book to anyone who would like to take his life easy rather than to the one who would like to make it easy going. If you accept life as it is, there is nothing else you need to do specially. Read the book and be your own judge.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

How can you help lonely senior citizens?

How can we help lonely Senior Citizens?

Have you seen senior citizens lonely and forlorn in parks? Their vacant staring into nothing in particular betrays a number of sad stories. May be they are thinking of their hazy past or insipid future, mulling over the ever gnawing problem – how to keep oneself occupied and getting rid of perpetual boredom haunting them all the time. Instead of just pitying them, can we do something to alleviate their loneliness? Top three tips that come off the cuff are given below:

If the senior citizens you know of are computer savvy having a PC and Internet connection at home, you may enthuse them to become members of some discussion group or the other. There are some Internet spaces where senior citizens can meet and discuss their problems virtually, just remaining in their own houses. They can share a joke, tell a story, read news, get advice on personal issues, find a safe bank scheme to invest money – the list of things they may discuss is endless. One such group on Yahoo is called ‘sss-global’ and to enroll as member (free of course) you may suggest they may contact the author.

Do they prefer to have company of an escort? Such an escort may keep company and take them out for shopping, cinema, restaurant, theater, concert or some exhibition. Membership in clubs organized by Harmony Foundation or the Dignity Foundation in Mumbai or the Heritage seniors Club in Hyderabad are good examples offering such services. This may involve annual subscription and payment of ad-hoc fees.

Senior citizens want to talk. But they get no one to listen to them. This is utterly pathetic. How about entertaining them over phone and offer to listen to them patiently? I am talking of passive listening. No advice or counseling. Just simply listen to what the old man has to say. Say for about an hour on the phone. He may simply want to say how he likes the Cricket match or how his DIL quarreled. Lend him your ears, patience, understanding and some time. You will make him happy and he may sleep peacefully. Society for Serving Seniors, a Hyderabad based NGO has a list of volunteer listeners who listen to seniors for free.

Do you have any suggestions of your own to fight loneliness of oldies? Let me hear from you.


Monday, November 24, 2008

Book Review: Wellness of Elderly

HelpAge India and VLCC: Wellness of Elderly. No Date.pages 24.
No price mentioned. Presumably free.

This booklet on Healthy Aging provides health, fitness, Nutrition and diet related information for Senior Citizens. This will help them lead a healthy independent life.

Topics covered include:

1. Information of the human body's nutrition requirements (elders),
2. Common eating problems and their management,
3. medical conditions associated with old age (Diabetes, Hypertension,  Cardiovascular afflictions, arthritis, osteoporosis)
4. Aging and Exercises - how to choose safe activities,
5. Mental and social well being,

Annexure gives a Sample Diet Plan for Elders


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Newsletters that Senior citizens may read for free

Newsletters that Senior citizens may read for free.

There are a good number of Senior Citizens Associations in every city. Many of them bring out regular newsletters. Most of them are free to members. Even others can get free copies if a polite request is made on your decent letterhead. The trick to ensure getting it free is to assure that news from such newsletter will be disseminated to larger population in your locality or association. Alternately your Senior citizen association can get this in exchange. Following are some newsletters that I know of:

1. Abhilash. Senior Citizens Forum, Secunderabad. Quarterly Newsletter. Free to members.6 to 8 pages. Covers Events (like lectures , Activities, Donations, New Members, obituaries, jokes and tidbits. I like it for its regularity of publication. Contact Editor: Sri VK Narasimhan 040-27894001

2. Newsletter : Association of Senior Citizens Hyderabad and Lions Club of Twin Cities GS Binjajka Trust Day Care Centre for Elders. Monthly. 4 pages. Covers Advocacy news, Past events, Future program for the next month, Birthday & Wedding Anniversaries, Donations, New Members, news about members achievements. I like it for the advocacy content. Contact: Office: 040-27898835

3. Vision of Senior Citizens..Jnanajyothi, BSKII Stage Bangalore: Monthly. 4 pages. Forthcoming meetings, Projects, Achievement of members, Birthday greetings, Tours, trips & visits, Month's events, Detailed profile of a (couple) member, Advertisements, Kannada section. I like it as it shows what seniors may do to community. Contact: Sri Rangaswamy 080-26714434 mobile 9972331947

4. Tarnaka Times. Standing Committee of Tarnaka Resident Welfare Associations (SCOTRWA) Monthly. 6-8 pages. articles, past event reporting, Advertisements, Photographs. Devotes substantial portion to information of Interest to senior citizens, SCAs etc. I like it for its citizen-centric approach and advocacy dealings. Contact: Dr Rao VBJ Chelikani 040-64504993, 040-65214993

5. Cyberhood - For the Common good of all neighbourhood.
Printed Tabloid. Local news about Alwal, Kapra, Malkajgiri, Cantonment areas. 8 pages. Weekly. Regularly covers items of Elders' interests. I like it for its variety, professionalism. Available for picking up in Mediplus & Super bazaars.

4. Walkers International. Dist 301. Newsletter Masab Tank, Hyderabad Phone: 040-23301175 Mobile: 9949970823 As most walkers club members are senior citizens, news about Senior Citizens social activities are plenty. I like it as it deals a lot of Walking the Talk!!

5. The Golden Years. Newletter of Chandigarh Senior Citizens Association. 4 pages. Presidents remarks, News like meetings, tours picnics, training programs, Chapter news, future events, Election results, Donations, Service Providers offering Concessions / discounts are covered. I like it for the variety of news it covers. Contact: 0172-2748611 email:

6. Probuzz... Monthly Newsletter of Probus Club of Chennai. 8 pages.
Editorial, Presidents column, Events & activities, felicitation to Older Old seniors, birthdays, wedding Anniversaries, Obituaries, Donations, Services, Forthcoming Events. This is one newsletter that acknowledges that making mistakes is common and provides a section for corrections. I like it for the standardized way of presentation involving editorial inputs. Contact: Editor: 044-24995290

7. Dementia News. Quarterly Newsletter of Alzheimer's and Related Disorders Scociety of India. Very useful as the disease affects Senior citizens. Printed. Multicolor. 16 pages. I like it because it is unique in content. Contact: ARDSI, cochin, Kerala. Contact: 04885-223801/ 222939

8. Elders - Monthly Journal of Tamilnadu Senior Citizens Association.
(V95 Anna Nagar, Chennai 600040). 8 pages. Details about new members, Donations, News & events, Health Notes, Letters to Editor, Advertisements, Tamil Section are all found regularly. I like it for the tours & travels info provided here. Editor D Rajasekaran. Ph 044-26213908

9. LinkAge. Monthly Journal of Senior Citizens Bureau, Chennai.
N B30 1st Floor Anna Nagar East Chennai 600102. 16 to 20 pages. Announcements about meetings and events, Advertisements, new members, Birthdays, donations, are all covered. I like it for multitude of activities covered. Annual subscription Rs 100/-)
(Registered as a newspaper for bulk posting on 7th or 8th of every month)
Contact: LINKAGE, C/O SR CITIZENS BUREAU, 90, RAMA NAICKEN ST, NUNGAMBAKKAM, CHENNAI - 600 034 publisher and EDITOR: ER CAPT M SINGARAJA, ph: 91(44)28231388, (91)94441 27704 email:,

10. Aasara Newsletter (Equal Rights and Dignity for Elders).
Quarterly Newsletter of GHMC Elders Helpline and DCC managed by HelpAge, Hyderabad. 4 pages. News about helpline activities, setting up of Day Care centers, Health camps for Seniors are covered. I like it because it contains loads of information in each issue. Phone: 1253 Helpline. Project Director : 040-23226982 / 9704456522

11. Happy Old Age. Quarterly magazine for Senior Citizens.Started in Jan 2008.M174 vikaspuri New Delhi 110018 Why I like it, I have written a whole article!! email or Online version:
Good Quality printed multicolor with photos. Good number of articles of interest to seniors community. Free.

12. Blazing Twilight. Monthly Newsletter of Andhra Pradesh Senior Citizens Confederation. 8 pages. English & Telugu. It will contain information about the activities of different SCA's in Andhra Pradesh, news of interest to Senior Citizens and Second Career Opportunities etc Subscription Rs 50 per year Rs 1000/- life. Contact: Managing Editor: Dr. TVS Rao , Vizag.Tel: 9866085363, EMail:

(For more details: (Updated on 24th November 2008)

Senior Citizens and their frivolous demands

Senior Citizens and their frivolous demands

Serious Issues

(Relatively) Frivolous Demands

Senior Citizens must get maximum tax concession.

Derogatory and disrespectful acts against Senior Citizens must be made a penal offence

They must get free or subsidized health insurance.

There should be separate queues in Temples, Post offices, Banks, bus stops.

Government must provide sufficient pension to poor senior citizens

Reserved seats for seniors in buses

Government must build Old age Homes

Separate pathways to walk in parks should be provided.

Train & Bus Transport must be subsidized for old people.

Free pick up and drop back facility for shopping & entertainment.

Safety & security of Seniors living alone must be ensured by the Police.

Ensure noiseless zones for older people

Seniors must be protected against abuse or cheating.

Children must be taught to look after elders with care affection and love

You will observe that column one by and large talks of serious issues and column two illustrates silly or frivolous demands. During the past few years I have read umpteen resolutions of Conferences, seminars, symposia and such other events connected with senior citizens. They invariably contain a long list of demands on the government, industry, the police and other sections of the society. The above is just a small sample of varied demands. There is nothing wrong in asking for the moon. Neither will the moon come to you nor everyone be offered a free space travel ticket to reach the moon. This IS the reality. Persistent asking may get us something at least, if not all that we want. So far, so good.

Having said that, what I find amusing is that in ANY group in the society anywhere in the world the group thinks only of itself in total isolation. This is a societal phenomenon. I have attended hundreds of librarians meetings in the past. Everything best in terms of money, prestige, facilities, privileges must be given to the librarian. Listen to physicians’ community. Same: We are the life savers, we are the most important gifted persons, the govt. is treating us badly, we are at the risk of anti social elements, our pay scales are poor, our working hours are irregular etc. Are the groups not a part of the whole? I have read hundreds of seminar papers on various topics. Many of them are lists of their demands that other sections of the society should fulfill. Many other papers turn out to be mere imaginary grandiose plans for their own future expansion -- "Every one in the world must be connected by computers whether he is in the huts or Himalayas" type.

Coming back to senior citizens, they claim that they are a mature lot. After all when one becomes older, it is a fact that your contribution to society diminishes. You are more at the receiving end rather than at the giving end. Naturally the treatment meted out by others change from 'respect' to 'contempt'. What is wrong? Merely because of one's age should anyone be respected and treated with all honors? Those days are gone. Senior citizenship is just ageing -- Is it like a government job where one 'works' for 40 years and gets paid pension for the rest of his life, in some cases it is twice the number of years of 'work'?

If we seniors gain any maturity as we age, this should result in tolerance, acceptance of reality of life, and setting practicable targets or demands. Should the community of senior citizens behave just as other sections of the society -- thinking only about themselves all the time in total isolation? Is there anything that we can by ourselves do in tackling the problems faced by us?

(This article is addressed to senior citizens by a senior citizen)