HelpAge India- In support of Project Golden Sunset


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With Mr.Mathew Cherian,CEO,HelpAge India. HelpAge is providing full support for my cycloton in aid of Old Age Care, Project Golden Sunset. HelpAge will support through their branch offices along the route of the cycloton and will also make available mobile medical units at select locations. HelpAge will mobilise the elderly to participate in the cycloton,by cycling short distances, at staging locations across the country.

Udhavi– Companionship for the elderly


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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Udhavi is a Chennai based organisation, set up to help the elderly. Especially those who live alone without their children. They offer companionship by visiting them, to stave off their loneliness and is doing commendable work.
It was founded by Sabita Ramakrishna, a vibrant senior citizen, at the age of 75.
The link takes you to the Udhavi web-site to learn more about them.

http://www.udhavi.net/index.html

Volunteers of Udhavi take up small errands for the elderly, like helping them take a walk to the beach, to the temple, to concerts or an occasional movie. They accompany them on short shopping sprees. To those who are not tech savvy, they explain how to use the mobile phone, how to use the computer, to browse the Net, and to use Skype for talking with their children who live abroad. They help the elders visit the bank, learn some of the functions which might be difficult for them to understand.

Udhavi has a band of committed volunteers ranging from the age of 18-83! Groups of volunteers are personally trained for assisting elders the UDHAVI way.

Sabita Ramakrishna has offered to assist my cycloton in aid of old age care ,Project Golden Sunset, in every way possible.

Volunteers in their 70s assist fellow seniors


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Sundera Gopalan is a super hero of sorts to seniors. She is no caped crusader, but when this 76-year-old grandma receives a distress signal- which in this case comes as a feeble cry for help from a lonely, sometimes suicidal, senior citizen – she swoops in, pallu pinned to save the day.
“I don’t do anything dramatic. I just engage in a conversation, crack a few jokes or take them for a walk in the park. And then I do it again. Twice a week at least for months, until they feel alive again,” says Sundera, who volunteers as a senior helping other seniors at the Dignity Foundation in Chennai, an organization helping the elderly lead active lives.
In the case of 85-year old Vedavalli Srinivasagopalan, it’s whenever she flies in from the US to visit her daughter. Vedavalli spends her day stitching pouches, handbags and handkerchiefs, which she sells to friends and neighbours, donating the proceeds to old-age homes.
For five years now, Chennai based Udhavi, an organization that assists elder, founded by 75 -year old Sabita Radhahrishna, has been working with a group of volunteers, most of who are in their seventies, to help other seniors with everything from a walk on the beach to a temple visit, assistance at the bank, sabha hopping or a shopping spree.

From a very inspiring article in the Times of India by Kamini Mathai.

Time Bank Model for the Elderly


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Photo by Sourabh yadav on Pexels.com

A panel of experts from the NHRC core group on disability and elderly persons at a meeting in Delhi, has recommended that India should adopt the “time bank’ model adopted by Switzerland.

Under the time bank model people save time and volunteer to take care of the elderly who need help. The number of hours they spend time with and take care of senior citizens are deposited into their account of the social security system. When the volunteer himself gets old and needs someone for help, he/she can use the time bank and a volunteer is assigned to take care of him/her.

There are approx. 10 crore senior citizens in India of which around 1.50 crores live alone. Approx. 90% of these are left to fend for themselves. There is urgent need to build over 800 old age care homes across the country.

Neeraj Chauhan in Times of India dated 06 October 2018

Project Golden Sunset


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I have planned an ambitious 4000 kms cyclotron in support of old age care, particularly for the elderly from the disadvantaged sections of society, that will commence in January 2019. This will coincide with my 70th year and I am very keen on contributing to a meaningful and socially relevant cause to mark this milestone.

Briefly, I am planning a cyclotron of approx 4000 kms across the country, starting mid-January of next year and running through the first half of 2019. I plan to cover old age care homes along the route and capture human interest stories of the inmates as well as caregivers and volunteers and showcase these stories and experiences in the social and print media to encourage contributions in monetary terms and volunteer services from the society. Fellow cyclists from cycling clubs and those who support this noble cause will join me at various stages of this endeavour.

I am seeking a partnership in this endeavour with a leading NGO, such as HelpAge India, and some corporate houses.

The principal aim of this venture is to generate concern and empathy for old age care in society at large and corporate houses and to encourage contributions both in monetary terms and through volunteer services.

Any funds mobilised through this project will be directly credited to the bank account of the NGO by donors.

The support that an NGO can provide for this project is the following:
1)Be a nodal point for receiving donations from the public at large and corporate houses.
2)Encourage willing participation by the old age care homes.
3)Provide support at the ground level through their employees and volunteers to engage with the care homes.
4)Provide promotional material that can be used prior to and during the event showcasing the work done by the NGO.

The scale of the event is planned to be ambitious and will depend on the quantum of sponsorship support that will be pledged by the corporate houses.

On International Old Persons Day


Older People - Oct 1
“.. For those who live longer the quality of life may depend entirely on the kind of human support system they have, in terms of family and friends and how they now perceive and treat you, and the kind of facilities and benefits that government and agencies and other institutions may make available to the elderly.
Which is why nurturing human relationships and staying connected is so important, not just for older people, but for younger members as well, who tend to distance themselves from their loved ones, often unintentionally, in the hurry-bury of a working life.
Hence the need to engage in conversation with friends and family, free from distractions of e-gadgets and resist the urge “to keep up with the Joneses.” Because, if you plan to sit down and chat with your ageing parents once you are ‘free’- after you are through with answering your emails and social media updates, getting promotions, buying that car or house and after getting your children ‘settled’- you may have simply missed the bus.”
Narayani Ganesh in the Speaking Tree, Times of India, 1st 0ct. 2018.

Conquering Thamser Pass ( 4704 metres)


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Rajiv, Rahul, Madhav and Hari the fastest four !!!

It was with palpable relief bordering on triumph that we reached the Thamser Pass on 10th Sept, 2017. A couple of days earlier we had traversed the pass as we trekked from Bharpet Got to Upper Marhi but this time it was different as inclement weather, incessant rains and hailstones and the threat of snowfall at the mountain pass could have maroon us in the River Ravi valley until the snow cleared. The Gods were on our side as we cleared the pass and trudged down to our camp site at Bharpet Got albeit in the dead of night.

Our team management underestimated the degree of difficulty on this stage of the trek or the slow pace of the inexperienced trekkers among us compounded by the rarified atmosphere. They had estimated we would reach our campsite at Upper Marhi by 4.00 or 5.00 pm; we actually reached as late as 11.00 pm.  For several torturous hours we trekked on the rocky mountain path with the help of small torch lights. The next days we took a day off and on the following day decided to set off at 5.00am to reach our camp site at Bharpet Got before sun down.  But the rains spoilt our plans and we could leave for our return trek at 8.30am only, predictably to trek the last few hours in darkness once again.

The degree of difficulty and the pain we experienced did not however dampen the sheer joy we experienced at the magnificent landscape all around us.

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For me this was the first time I was trekking over a glazier and that I finally did so gave me immense satisfaction. Perhaps the icing on the cake was that one stretch was considered too slippery and we had to traverse that length with the help of ropes.

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Here are a few more pictures of the natural beauty that was a feast for our eyes.

The trek from Bharpet Got to Panhartu was the shortest and should I say the sweetest of our trekking adventure. It took us just around three hours and after the mental stress and fatigue of the last few days this was exactly what the doctor ordered as balm for our ruffled minds.

Hordes of sheep bleating their guts out greeted us at the camp site almost as if to say, whose site is this any way.  Rams stood watch over the flock at strategic points.

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While the most endearing sight were tiny little lambs being carried in sacks on the back of the mules.

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The trek from Panhartu to Palchak Jori was a mixed bag. On our way up we traversed a glazier and then reached a rocky stretch. We clambered over the large boulders for a while before the lead trekker said we were on the wrong path and had to make a precarious return. The roll of thunder and the first onslaught of rain was the last thing we wanted. Luckily the rains subsided and thankfully returned only after 6.00pm by which time we were safely in our tents.

The return had tricky stretches and some torturous trekking over rocky terrain before we hit more comfortable trekking paths.

A view of the glazier we had to cross on this leg.

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At times we crossed paths with herds of sheep and it was only fair that we gave them right of way.

A Sheppard’s tent along the way also gave us lamb cuddling opportunities.

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The landscape at these heights, around 3000 metres, has a beauty of its own.

At Palchak Jori our cooks made for us a delicious mutton dish cooked over a slow wood fire and this with rotis cooked over a wood fire and dhal and onions was a very special dinner indeed. Most of the food on this trek was simple but wholesome and served hot. There was little to complain on this front although I lost about 5 kilos on this trek.

The trek to Rajgunda was the easiest we encountered. A walk in the park you could say with broad paths and gentle slopes. Nevertheless there was beauty around us. At these altitudes we see more trees and the resultant mist making for magical scenery.

Camp life had a bit of card games and vociferous rounds of antakshri. Some of the members of the group were very good singers with a large repertoire of songs.

Bir is a quaint little town with a couple of Buddhist monasteries places to eat and handicraft and apparel shops. We had a couple of days of relaxation here before we returned to Chandigarh and from there to our respective stations.

Some of the group grabbed a narrow opportunity that the weather permitted to take a para gliding ride from Billing to Bir.

It was a tough trek with moments of intense stress and difficulty but at the end of the day we have loads of memories to take with us and stories to tell our grandchildren.

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Re-visiting Carbery Acres


The high point of our visit was the meeting with the last survivors of truly illustrious Anglo Indian families of the zamindari era. We met with Dr. Jimmy Skinner, at 91, the last male survivor of Col James (Sikander Sahib) Skinner’s family and Jennifer Mann, now 76, who along with her sister Maureen are the survivors of the Carbery family, inheritors of the Powell estates.

Greg tells us of the days when Jennifer shot a leopard with a .22 hunting rifle the one she is displaying to us in the photo. The only addition to the rifle is an infrared sight. Jimmy  was excited as a school boy as he recollected shooting a deer in the days when hunting was an open sport .

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Jimmy Skinner taking us through albums of treasured memories. The ones he liked best where those with catches of huge fish measuring several feet long.

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Jennifer and son Gregory Mann. Gregory has followed in the footsteps of his mother and is an educationist and social worker. He is likely to be the representative of the Anglo Indian community in the Uttarakhand Assembly.

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Jennifer lives in the farm house at Carbery Acres, a hunting lodge built by the Carberys over a century ago.The old hunting lodge has been left largely untouched and still has heritage furniture.The walls are splattered with the Carbery and Mann family photos.

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An old smithy located on the Carbery Acres resort is still run by  Shyamlal, a third generation employee with the Carberys.

Carbery Acres continues to be a beautiful location for a week end getaway. It’s early April and the mango season is around the corner. The trees are in full bloom and a bumper crop of mangoes  expected this year.

Bright pink bougainvillea flowers over look the splash pool where we spent over an hour before leisurely drinking glasses of hot tea and eating delicious pakodas.

A view of the tree house and the cottages at the resort.

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With my wife Deepa

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With Pat Kerr, JVR, Saraswati, Col. Raj Sehgal and Deepa.

We thoroughly enjoyed our stay once again due largely to our gracious host Pat Kerr.