Thursday, July 02, 2009

Second innings

"Hmmm... Aren't you going to work today?"

"Errr... It's Sunday."

"I know. But why don't you go to work today?"

"Because it's..."

Okay, you get the drift. This is a typical Sunday conversation between Mom and Dad. They are one of those typical Indian couples where the wife pampers the husband to the point where he can't do anything by himself, and then she complains that he can't do anything by himself. So on Sundays, when the whole world is relaxing, Mom's work doubles. Every half an hour, Dad wants either the newspaper, or a glass of water, or his glasses, or his slippers, or the remote control, and so on. And like all men, he is not equipped to see that all the stuff is right there in front of him.

And so the cycle continues, and so do Mom's brave attempts.

"Hmmm... why don't you go out and do some gardening?"

"It's mid-afternoon. It's hot."

"I know. But why don't you go out and do some gardening?"

"Because it's..."

Dad retired on 30th June after spending his entire working life in the same bank (do people do that anymore?). At times I can't believe my Dad has retired. I feel as if this doesn't make him old, this actually makes me old. Dad can never be old, he's always going to be this energetic guy going on his morning walks, and writing his columns, and gardening, and not to forget driving Mom crazy.

I sent him an sms today. "I'm writing a post on your retirement. Do you remember when you joined the bank?" The reply came in 10 seconds flat. "29 Sep 1973."

Holy cow.

1973. I looked it up. The year of Bobby and Zanjeer and Abhimaan and Anamika. (Yeah, this is how I "look up" things.) That sure was a very long time ago. 36 years straight. In the same bank. And we get restless and demand a long service award after completing two years in a company. How did they do that? How did they not get bored?

In a way, I guess it was because of the frequent transfers he had. There was always something happening. When I think of the frequency with which I was yanked out of one school and placed in another, I wonder how I coped. In the early years, I remember crying. I missed my friends, my teachers, my schools. I would write long letters to Grandpa listing all the things I hated about my new schools. He would, in turn, completely overlook the plot and mark up all the grammatical errors I had made with a a red pen and go through it word by word when I met him during the summer holidays. Sheesh.

And just when my letters would start carrying a little less anguish and a little more acceptance of the new place, school, teachers and friends, Dad's transfer order would arrive. Time to pack up. Time to move on. Time to start afresh.

In hindsight, it wasn't that bad. It taught me a lot of things, the most important one being -- nothing is forever. Perhaps, in a way, that also helped me pack my bags and move to a strange land at the age of 18, all by myself, with not a clue whatsoever of what the future held. It was just a natural progression of the change I was very used to.

But I wonder how Dad will cope with the new change in his life now. How will he take to being at home all day? Maybe he'll just fill the house with plants. Now that he's going to his own "I built it with my own hands" house, this green-fingered artist has the whole backyard as his canvas. Aside from the coconut trees growing there, he also has the bonsais he had made himself (yeah, he literally "made" the bonsais, and some of them are decades old). I remember him instructing the truckwala who ferried our stuff from one city to another, "Bhaiya, mere paudhon ko kuchh nahin hona chahiye. Ho sakey toh ek aadmi ko peechhe baitha do, pakadke rakhega." After we reached the new place, Mom would do a stocktake of how many pieces of cutlery she had lost to said Bhaiya's crazy driving, while Dad would do a close inspection of whether any leaf had changed in colour or direction during the arduous journey.

He sure was as devoted to his plants as he was to his bank. I remember one of those annoying uncles who crack really bad jokes (everyone has one of those, don't they?), "Sir, bank toh aapki doosri biwi hai! Heh heh heh!" while Mom and I rolled our eyes at each other and Dad smiled politely. But I'm glad I got that trait from him. That deep regard for work. I have been ridiculed because I truly deeply believe in 'Work is workship'. I know we don't stay in one company all our lives anymore so the sense of loyalty is different. But I have found a workaround. To shift that sense of loyalty from the organisation or the people, to the work itself. The actual work that you do. No matter who you are, no matter where you are, no matter what you do, and no matter how long you have been doing it. To take something up and do a good job of it. To a certain extent, that actually takes care of all the other negativities at the workplace that bog us down on a daily basis.

So, for someone like Dad (and me too), sitting at home doing nothing is not really an option. It's horrifying, in fact. We get too fidgety. In fact, a month ago he had asked me, "Can you go inside the Internet and find me a retiree-level job?" I like how he talks about "going inside the Internet". To him, the Internet is something that people go into and things come out of, like how last year "worms were coming out of his inbox" (virus attack in his office computer).

So Dad, maybe this could be one of the things for you to do -- go inside the Internet and learn more about it. Forget the retiree-level job. For now at least. Stay at home. But don't drive Mom nuts. The remote control is right there in front of you. Where it always is.

And if I could give you one advice on how to make the best of your retirement, it's this.

Start a blog.


Pri said...

My first comment after like years.. Years through which I've followed your blog on a regular basis..It was Clueless who introduced me to ur blog when we were still in school..And ever since, i've loved some of ur posts to bits:) You have been my inspiration to start a blog, Sayesha.. I'm hoping Clueless isn't reading thsi, cuz years back, when she had started hers too, I remember seeing her puppy face when i told her urs was uncomparable:) I still manage to get away saying she dosen't update it often..Shhh..(But, well..tat IS true no?:) ) Anyways, I'm planning to start my own blog next month and i need Bhai's blessings.. Ok, i guess i need to stop before i go overboard.. Lol.. Keep up the awesome work! You continue to bring smiles, and more importantly, life, as we see it..:) I am sooo sorry for such a long comment.. Just couldn't help myself when i read the last line.. And oh, GOLD!!!:):):)

Prasoon said...

Haven't read anything as nice as this in a long while. You talked of "why are you going to work" to how the transfers taught you a lot more in life.
I smiled as I read this post. 36 years - I get bored in 36 hours sometimes and 36 months in a single company seems like an overkill. I am of the kind that I find more that 3 months on a project as boring - need new people, new workspace - not always I get it but yes, this is how restless I am. Contrast that with your dad - damn, I am speechless. Wondering what our kids would write when we retire :)

Thanks for penning this actually. I wish I had similar stuff to say.

Pri said...

Btw.. Could soo relate to the post.. My dad works(still works in the same) in a bank too.. And, I cannot even begin to imagine a situation when he retires... All the best to whatever ur dad chooses to do in this retirement phase.. Life keeps offering new things :) And apt title!! Courtesy:Viv? :p :)

Chaos said...

Bhai bohat sahi baat likhela hai aap.
Especially about devotion to work. My mom is about to leave the school shes been teaching at for past 15 years soon, and though she says she wont be teaching anymore coz shes now tired of it, i know she just wont be able to sit at home all day long. Kucch to karengi hi wahi.:).

Dil se said...

Yeah, that's really a good idea for your Dad. It so resembles the situation of my my father in law. He retired from a bank after some 30+ years in the same bank
And finally after my MIL nuts for about a month, he channeled his energy and time into some other ways.
I think even I'll suggest him your idea.
There is so much for us to learn from the experience and intelligence of such people.

V said...

Good post, I'm in the same boat with dad retiring too.


~Lopa said...

loved loved loved this post....

I miss dad so much now....yeah but i am happy that i am going to meet him in 3 weeks.

He doesn't work at bank though, he is a doctor but he is in govt job and thats kinda same place with few transfers...!
He cant sit homw, he wont take a single leave... i remeber every year all doctors will be on leave on festivals n everytime he will end up doing emergency duties on diwali, new year, holi.. and when we all used to force him to apply in advance and take some leaves so that it dont lapse in new year, still he will visit hospital atleast once in a day.
Today only we were talking that one day when he will be retired what is he going to do... and this is what i was telling Ashu (my husband) that he loves to read and he writes well so i think thats is what he is going to do...
Aaah, i shall stop now...what am i thinking, he has still got years before retiring !!

Touching post....once again loved it loved it loved it ..! :)

Geeta said...

Happy retired life, uncle.

Here's wishing you the very best for the second innings!

Could relate to most of what you have written, Sash. I went through a similar thought process when my dad retired a few years ago.

chirpy-paaro said...

Nice post... My Dad is also retired...he is now looking for job... He says he get sick and tired of siting at home..After spending 35 years of his life with 75% of day at work I can understand how difficult it is to sit with no work..Its easy to ask them to take rest watch TV...but after a while they dont seem to enjoy...

So all the best to all fathers who are rettired and looking for job!!!

cooldude said...

Very touching post. You know I check my feed reader every morning for your blog post. But with post as nice as this, it is worth it.

My dad has been transfered only once. When I was very young in 4th standard. It was very difficult to make new friends. Earlier I was boy full of life, but after this change in school I turned into a quiet boy not revealing my thoughts to anyone.

OOps.. looks like I have gone too far on memory lane. Keep writing such nice post.

And to Uncle, there are many interesting things to do in life. Just follow your heart and you will know.

Kind Regards,

Anonymous said...

Start a blog, Watch TV, DO gardening. Read books.. kab tak?
My maama got retired, he did all the things for a month or so, got bored, and started working again in a small company. Your dad was so dedicated to his work, I doubt he would hind it easy to spend his time like these things!
Nevertheless, very touching post! My father is also very much dedicated to his work and our garden :-)

Iya said...

loved this post..

Reghu said...

There is an actual illness related to retiring husbands...!


Ashwin said...

Excellent post Sayesha. Best wishes to your Dad for the new phase of his life.

here i 'm said...

It is still about 10 years before my Papa will be retired from his job... but reading your blog has already got me worried about him.. and more worried about Mom. :P
He doesn't ask for remote or glass of water...but the other way round.. when he is home, he keeps poking his nose in every little issue and drive everyone crazy. He is a professor... so no transfers for him.. and still he has been teaching in the same college for more than 24 years now.

Enigma said...

There are times when i just sit back n think about my parents, how they gave up so much to give us watever we've ever wanted, beared all our tantrums n stuff... and now when they r growing old, i feel sad tat i'm so far away from them... i wish i could be there now with them and take care of them just the way they took care of us when we were younger...
Your post moistened my eyes...

anN-series said...

Hey Sayesha, i have been a silent stalker of this blog for over 2 years and boring masters' degree days saw me read through all your posts. The reason i like your blog is the uncanny similarilty of things happening in your life and mine. We are two sisters, my father worked in a bank all his life, we had transfers every few years, i too have a niece and my father retired 2 months back!! (it is another thing that he started working again, 15days after retirement, to not drive my mum crazy and is now too busy to even pick up calls)But the biggest similarity is you always seem to be the always-on-your-toes person, while i am a lazy bum most of the time. But i must say that you have inspired me many a times to get out bed and do something(esp the fitness part)!..keep writing, keep inspiring!!

n.aka.zephyr said...

It's so cute... going inside the internet and worms coming out of it.. I am actually visualizing the scene... caterpillars and slugs emerging from :D

GM said...

Ah, good timing for me. My dad is due to retire soon. Though I doubt he will ever actually 'retire' in the classical sense!
On a side note, I have a Bollywood-related post on my blog. As a great fan of your SSSK posts, I'd like you to check it out :)
Diaries of a Rambler

Anonymous said...

Loved this post and it touched a chord at so many levels.

I hope second innings is equally great.

Shanks_P said...

Loved the post .....
I still wonder how my mom is still working in the same offie for last 33 years and still working there :)

'The year of Bobby and Zanjeer and Abhimaan and Anamika. (Yeah, this is how I "look up" things.) '

Bollywood bhai indeed , LOL

Wish you the very best uncle ...for your second innnings ...:)


venkatesan said...

I joined a bank in 11/12/1968 and retired on 31/12/2008. I guess it is the same always. However I donot go behind my wife for searching things but it is the otherway. Hope to get some decent work to spend rest of my life!!

rt said...

hey I liked the advice for ur dad!!!
Wish I could give the same to my dad..who got retired in november, and has been busy travelling around staying wid kids and getting the new house ready...
and really good post after so long and so many polls and all...

Sayesha said...

Wow... thanks for the compliments! :) And yes, Clueless has probably read this and will make puppy face at you again! :P
PS: Bhai's blessings for your blog! :)

Thanks. :)

Thanks for the wishes! :)

//And apt title!! Courtesy:Viv? :p :)

Sheesh! It was MY idea! Why does Viv always steal my thunder? :/

Yeah... it would be such a drastic change to just stay at home all day! :O

#Dil se,
//There is so much for us to learn from the experience and intelligence of such people.

Totally agree with you. :)

Thanks. :)

Thank you thank you thank you! :D

Thanks! :)

//So all the best to all fathers who are rettired and looking for job!!!

I second that!! :)

Thank you! :)

Yeah I am pretty sure he will start working soon. For his sanity and Mom's too! :P

Thanks. :)

Trust you to come to the bar after ages and trot after after posting a Wikipedia link!!!!!!!! :|

Thank you. :)

#here i'm,
//but reading your blog has already got me worried about him.. and more worried about Mom. :P

Hehehe! :P

You totally echo my thoughts! :)

A formal welcome to the bar and thank you for commenting finally! :)

Hahahaha! I was also imagining the worms coming out of his inbox! Hahahaha! :D

//Though I doubt he will ever actually 'retire' in the classical sense!

None of them will! :)

Off to check out your Bollywood post!

Thanks. :)

Thank you! :)

//However I donot go behind my wife for searching things but it is the otherway.

Hahahahahaha! :D

//Hope to get some decent work to spend rest of my life!!

All the very best to you! :)

Thanks. :)
PS: You don't like the polls? Waaaa! :'(

t said...

Loved the post Sayesha :) My mom too retired after years and years at the same govt. office. She was baffled as to 'what now?' after her retirement, but now she says she's been more busy than her working years! Howzzat!

PS: No, she didn't start a blog :P

Reghu said...

who said I wasnt at the bar for so long? :P I was always around, in a dark corner, observing, stalking :P

yes, its been ages since I posted a comment! :P

Somya said...

lol..nice dad retired from a naationalised bank after working for "36 years" some five years back...if you ask me how much did he change after that..a we got to spend more time time with him*were less scared of himm* we got to know him more...I guess that was the time I really bonded with my dad...and I can admit it to today to neone that I copy everything that my dad does...I find just the kind books he common love) and I still remember the expression on my sibling's faces when I celebrated being the second one in the family after dad to own a pan card...lovely post..just reminded of so many good things.

Cynic in Wonderland said...

banks and transfers and thirty years? wonder whether the father's worked in the same place.

very heartwarming post this. a coming of age for everyone I think.

The Muser said...

Nice post there!! :) Your dad sounds so much like mine , with the gardening, another job and ofcourse driving my mom nuts :)

Amrita said...

A realllllllllly nice post.. and it was real nice hopping to your blog... this post reminded me of which i had done under similar circumstances last year!

Meira said...

'Start a blog' is a good option :)
My dad's the same, working in the same place for 30 years now. He was beginning to get paranoid about his retirement, when the company gave him an extension of two years! The relief was worth a watch!

Thousif Raza M.B said...

gr8 post yaar as always, but this wa even more sweeter ;)

the advice is gr8 i too give it to my frenz and relatives everytime

take care and keep writing.......

Archana said...

Wow - your dad and my dad could be twins!! My dad has this same Work is Worship attitude (in fact an extra strong version of it).

When they visit me, on the days I work from home, my dad shoos me back to my desk after 2 minutes of any of my breaks and solemnly tells mom, "Archu is working - do not disturb her." (though I would be the one who would have gotten up to ask mom for chai or some such)!!!

Archana said...

And oh, all the best to your dad in his second innings :-)!

R said...

My dad's gotta read this!