Many people are content with the treadmill that is everyday life — one track, one career, one frame of reference, one identity. There are others, though, who say 'no' to 'one'. They want a life that is twice as rich, literally. This month, Harmony salutes these multi-tasking silvers who are playing a second innings of sorts, some while still at work, and others after retirement.
"It's good to pursue your passion and make a living out of it," says Mumbai-based doctor Sudhir Patwardhan, 56, whose life had two focuses — medicine and art — until recently. In 2005, he gave up his three-decade long career as radiologist to devote himself to his paintings. Dr M Sambasivan, 70, is a practising neurosurgeon at a hospital in Thiruvananthapuram. When he is out of the OT, he replenishes his inner resources by conducting puja at temples. "There's a method in both science and religion," he believes, "and we should look into the scriptures to find it." His two spheres of living — one firmly rooted to the rational and the other following the spiritual and intangible — is his way to stay connected with this world and beyond.
There are some who have overcome hurdles — physical or otherwise — to continue doing what they love best. Take 66 year-old Ved Sharma from Amritsar. The former employee of the Railways had a sporadic romance with theatre till he was 51. Just when he was ready to focus on his plays, a paralytic stroke left his speech slurred. It didn't stop him, though. With help from his daughter Vandana, a nurse, Sharma got back where he wanted to be — under the spotlights — after two years of recovery.
Indeed, life is not always easy for those bent on pursuing these double lives. Money is often a problem; another is separation from their families. But they take it in their stride. Chandrakant Patel, a 53 year-old bank manager from Baroda, goes on long treks every year and "doesn't really care what it takes in terms of time, money and energy. It is all well spent". Wife Rajeshree had a tough time understanding "this strange kind of passion" in the early years of their marriage. Then, she joined him once on a trek — and understood.
Harmony joins Patel and other spirited men and women like him from 14 cities, who live life two at a time, in order to listen, learn and understand. Join us.
Chandrakant Patel 53, Vadodara
BANKER & TREKKER
For this bank manager, being at one with nature and getting in touch with the inner self is the most rewarding experience
Some say life becomes harder as you climb higher. Chandrakant S Patel wouldn't agree — altitude gives the 53 year-old a sense of freedom. A manager at Bank of Baroda, Patel is an avid trekker.
He went on his first trek in 1978 through Kholi Pass, near Manali, with the Youth Hostels Association of India, and was hooked. From then on, Patel went trekking in the Himalaya. He struck a friendship with five to six trekkers who decided to trek together every year. In 1989, while soaking in the beauty of the snow-clad Himalaya mountains, they decided to start a children's adventure club. They called it Adventure Activities Promoters (AAP). Today, the number of trekkers from Gujarat joining AAP is the highest in the country. So far, Patel has introduced over 10,000 youngsters to the Himalaya.
Patel's man-management skills help him manage trekkers on expeditions, which last for 15 days but take almost a year of planning. "Being at one with nature and getting in touch with your inner self is the most rewarding experience," says Patel, who also takes part in adventure activities in the Himalaya, such as white water rafting, skiing and paragliding. All these require stamina and Patel builds it with a daily game of badminton (he represents Bank of Baroda in the lower leagues of badminton tournaments). He also takes BKS Iyengar yoga classes, and is now an instructor.
But age is catching up with him, and this has pushed him to groom younger leaders to keep the activities going. "Mountaineering is my life," he says. "I don't care what it takes in terms of time, money and energy. It is all well spent." Thankfully, his friends and family — wife Rajeshree and daughters Vidisha and Priyam — share his passion. To his young trekkers, Patel is ‘C S Uncle'. Jahnavi, daughter of gutkha baron Rasiklal Dhariwal, joined Patel on a trek five years ago. She roughed it out just like everyone else — there is no compromise on discipline. "He energises his team mates," says Patel's colleague Rekha Desai, who has gone on more than five treks with him. For his part, Patel says, "Being with enthusiastic kids keeps me youthful too!"
— Sandhya Gajjar
Shankar Melkote 67, Hyderabad
CEO & ACTOR
Both his preoccupations have helped instil discipline and tolerance in himself as well as broadened his perspectives
Shankar Melkote loves acting. He finds it more real than reality, and says it suits his outgoing nature. Melkote, CEO of a marketing company in Hyderabad, has been acting for the past 50 years. "Both preoccupations have instilled discipline and tolerance in me and have helped broaden my perspectives," says Melkote who acted in college plays before bagging comic cameos in Telugu films and television serials. Filmmakers thought he had the talent for Telugu cinema and Melkote thought he had the energy to hold a job and, at the same time, make time to act.
Soon he had blockbusters like Nuvve Kavali, Anand, Santosham and Manmadhudu to speak of. "Though my wife Rama sometimes complains that I don't have the time for running domestic errands," he says, adding that her grudge is justified as, in addition to a regular ‘48 hours a week' job, he spends about eight hours a week shooting and more in theatre-related activities. "But it's light-hearted banter and she understands that if I don't act I will fall apart," says the actor, who is now addicted to the professional recognition his 9-5 job brings and the appreciation he gains from his larger-than-life role.
— S Vani