With Renewed Zest



cared for Smiling faces at Nightingales Elders Enrichment Centre, Bengaluru;

It is said that a well meaning gift given with warmth has the penchant to grow on you.  Namma Bengaluru received one such Christmas gift in circa 1999. Dr Radha Murthy realized the need for Home Health Services when she had to straddle between tending to her sick husband and attend to her thriving medical career. She decided to take a leaf off her personal necessity to provide a common ground for the aging people of our metropolis. Mr Prem Kumar Raja joined hands with her towards this noble cause and Nightingale Elder Enrichment Center –NEEC was born.

This nonprofit organization was very focused about its approach towards eldercare not to be misinterpreted as an old age home. On the one hand NEEC decided to provide home healthcare facilities where warranted and on the other hand they decided to redeem the elderly from ennui and detrimental preoccupations. A group of earnest volunteers who chose to support the idea worked hard on the concept and decided that they would steer clear from the club culture. As a result, NEEC is doing a splendid job in joining hands with loving families who are constantly on the lookout to keep the elders of their homes entertained, socially involved. The organisation sometimes takes up the responsibility of taking care of them if the family is away on a vacation or is unable to take care of a convalescing senior citizen for some reason.  Nevertheless, its main focus revolves around making it an elevating experience for the elderly on a day to day basis.

What started as a pilot venture in Malleswaram (1999) has blossomed as a vibrant teenager, all of sixteen years with aged members who can give a stiff competition to real life teenagers in terms of verve and a zeal for life. Members meet just about on all working days, sometimes twice a day, not merely to hobnob but to participate in the various activities charted out for them. They listen to varied genres of music, share their thoughts and cast their rebuttals when they listen to lectures on a spectrum of subjects from experts, have chat sessions on happenings around the world, play a round of carom or chess, work on crafts and projects, exercise themselves through Yoga or Tai Chi, bounce a ball around besides sharing their experiences and concerns with one another.

Celebration of Raksha Bandhan, Diwali and Pongal help to bring out the integrated flavour of the festivals including the special features across India. Celebrations of birthdays and wedding anniversaries pep up the elders to have fun with their peer group. An occasional picnic, movie or a play, rejuvenate them to tackle with routine life with renewed vigour. Attending a wedding or a function together help them bond better. Comforting fellow members and their families during illnesses and consoling them when in bereavement improve their empathy factor.

Vasantha Murthy, retired principal of Government college in Andhra Pradesh, says, “Ever since I joined nightingales, 16 years ago, it has been a great support for me emotionally.  I have had many downfalls but the fact that I am what I am today is because of Nightingales.  The physical space or the ambience may not be attractive but sharing our feelings and nostalgic moments with people of my generation makes me feel good.”

Shaila Shanker, one of the center managers say that her hands are always full and happily so when she is working for NEEC for she ends up learning so many things even while casually chatting up the members.

The fact that many of them have been able to overcome depression and detrimental diseases like Dementia and Alzheimers almost as a side effect of their enriching exposure speaks in volumes about the success of NEEC.

Constant additions of branches speaks in volumes about the validity of its existence. Kasturi Nagar welcomed NEEC with open arms in 2000 and Sanjay Nagar refused to be left behind and started   its own branch in 2013. Each branch has its own flavour, favourite pastimes and friends’ groups who manage and run the center on a very modest monthly contribution of Rs 250.

NEEC has so much to offer, yet is finding it difficult to cope with the rising demand for trained caretakers. A mix of locals and relocated senior citizens happens to be another challenge because there are so few centers and too many takers. Lack of space, accessibility and mobility has thrown in a wet towel to a promising initiative.

The need of the hour is to encourage the elders in the house to go out and interact with people who belong to their age group. This exercise will help them let off steam, exchange and compare notes, enjoy and help one another, and most of all make them realize the constraints of the changing world. NEEC has made all this possible, if we expect the yeoman services blossom and continue to spread its good work we must address the need of the hour. Hear Ye! Hear all! We need trained care givers and dedicated volunteers to run the show, and yes some space please!
For more details, visit http://www.nightingaleseldercare.com or call 080-42426565.

The Need To Overcome Rivalry


Rat race is the order of the day. Everyone is rushing headlong to achieve the best in life in terms of money, power and materialistic assets. 

It is interesting to note that there is a certain pattern in which people compete with one another. People invariably tend to compare and contend with those close to them in terms of age, abilities and achievements. This syndrome of rivalry seems to be rampant in just about every conceivable field under the sun across time and space. People are always very conscious about someone who is a few notches higher them in their range of ability. In fact, this universal negative quality is what keeps the world going the way it is.

When one contemplates on this inevitable curse on human society, it is not difficult to see that nature has ordained it so in the scheme of things. Darwin’s theory of survival of the fittest revolves around this concept. A trip down our mythology reveals that the personality of the lord of gods, Indra, is no different. Devendra had it all. He was the king of very heavens and had power, wealth and influence over the cosmos. Yet, Indra never stopped feeling insecure about his position.

He always found ways and means to abort the penances and efforts of Rishis and mortal kings to excel themselves. A Vedic dictum says that any person who completed 100 Ashwamedha Yagnas successfully could claim the status of Indra.  The Yagna demanded discipline, consistent effort, military prowess and an undiluted sense of purpose in order to qualify for the highest post in creation. Apparently, Indra must have completed the arduous criteria to gain this coveted throne. Yet, these factors do not deter him from resorting to cheap tactics and guile to upset the endeavours of his potential adversary to safeguard his post.

If one hopes to rise above these petty feelings and stop feeling short-changed and jealous, he or she must adopt the attitude of working sincerely towards the goal from respective stations in life without fear or favour as suggested by lord Krishna. If each of us does our bit, the big picture will materialise magnificently.

Deconstructing Clever Signs


Radha Prathi, Aug 14, 2016,


The smart man had zeroed in on the real culprits who could be blamed for the inflation.

The written word has a charm of its own. It is not merely what is available on the Internet and in media and books. Sign posts, menu cards, brochures, pamphlets and billboards, bloopers and unintended puns have the power to lighten many a heart with their original content and humour. However, I would like to dwell on another genre of writing that has grabbed my attention on and off. Though I have come across many such nuggets, the following take the cake…

A Xerox shop had put up a new price list. Alongside was another sheet of paper that read, ‘We are not responsible for the pricing. If you have any complaints, please approach the CM or PM.’ The smart man had zeroed in on the real culprits who could be blamed for the inflation. The writing on the wall discreetly encouraged the customer to give the matter some thought while discouraging the potential customer from questioning the cost.

Then there was this message on a sheet of paper stuck on the front glass of a large car: ‘Kindly park your car properly or we will punkcher your tyre.’ The car was not moved. Overnight there was an addendum to the note: ‘I mean puncture,’ in block letters. I could sense the despair of the scribe who felt that there was no response to the memo because he had misspelt his threat. I also observed the change in the use of the first-person pronoun from plural to singular. In the coming days, the car was parked ‘properly’, without inviting more such nag notes.

Another time, a sheet of paper stuck on the elevator door read, ‘Please don’t press 2, dead end.’ I could not figure out the import. A staff member explained that the general entrance to the second floor had been sealed off because it had an internal lift that connected the first and the second floors. Therefore, if people did stop at the second floor, the door, which was still operable, would open to a wall that sealed the entrance. I understood the good intention and the dark humour behind the cautionary words.

I cannot forget another such piece of writing taped over a young neem tree. ‘You will not prosper if you use the leaves of this tree.’ According to the grapevine, the sapling had been planted by a green enthusiast only the previous year. The locals had helped themselves to every leaf that sprouted, for medicinal purposes. The tree had survived the onslaught and had unfurled its green umbrella the following spring. It was Ugadi and there was every chance of the neighbours stripping the sapling to its scrawny branches, hence the warning. The tree lover had cashed in on the power of curse to play mind games on the people who may be tempted to relieve the tree of its leaves.

These and many such memoranda that are laced with humour happen to be insightful. They reflect the genuine intent to communicate effectively and honestly. They mirror the feelings of disgust, anxiety or disapproval. They also testify the fact that the scribes of these notes have possibly failed to express their thoughts orally. They could have been timid, may have wanted to avoid open confrontation resulting in embarrassment or unpleasantness, or, they may have believed more in the power of the written word. Yet, the fact remains that they are generally put up with the expectation of seeing desired results. Oftentimes, these gems of prudence are written in English, albeit with some creative liberties taken with the Queen’s language, with the hope of reaching out to a larger number of people.

If it has not been already done, these cryptic notes can be compiled, analysed and studied. They will throw light on the human mindset, lifestyle, and thought processes of our contemporary society.

As You Sow So You Reap


The best among us pray and crave for our well being and that of our near and dear ones. There is really nothing wrong in doing so. Nevertheless, we must be careful about not encroaching on other people’s path to progress or being detrimental to their agenda which could be of a similar nature. When we do lose sight of equanimity and become selfish, things may work out the way we want it to but may not really fetch us genuine satisfaction or lasting happiness.

A tale from the Ramayana sensitises us to this philosophy. King Sagara ruled over Ayodhya. He was childless. He took his two wives Keshini and Sumathi and performed severe austerities in the Himalayas. Sage Bhrigu appreciated the earnestness of the king. The sage offered him two options as solution.

One of the wives could bear one son who would facilitate the royal lineage to flourish and the other could bear sixty thousand warrior sons. Keshini opted to have one son. She was eager to be the queen mother which would also give her superior power and also an edge over her co-wife. Accordingly, she gave birth to prince Asamanjas. Her joy was short lived as the infant grew up to be a tyrant. He became a public nuisance. He threw children into the river by way of amusement. In his youth, he terrorised the very people he was supposed to govern and care for. The people and the king his father conceded that they had no choice except to exile the crown prince. The ambitious Keshini could have little say in the matter in the face of such flagrant truth.

Thereon, Anshuman the virtuous son of Asamanjas assumed the position of the crown prince. King Sagara went on to perform the prestigious Ashwamedha Yajna with the able support of his grandson. That the Yajna had a twist in the tale is a different story. However, the fact remains that Keshini’s dearest wish, albeit fulfilled to the last letter gave her little happiness because the spirit that guided her to make the choice was not quite right.

When we forget the essence of the principle as you sow, so you reap, the results of our actions have a tendency to remind us of the same sooner or later.

Constants and Variables of Life


It is a fact that human behaviour, habits and social behaviour always alter according to the venue, circumstances and other basic needs. Hence, it will be highly unfair to determine whether an individual, community or race isright or wrong, on the basis of what we consider to be correct.

For instance, people who went hunting in the past and dared the feral aspects of wilderness and triumphed over a carcass of a dead feline or an elephant were celebrated as heroes of sorts.

Nevertheless, if someone were to copy the feat today, he or she is likely to be booked by the law for perpetrating a serious offence. For those of you who think that citing an example that spans across ages is obsolete, let us examine a real time reality.

In certain countries it is considered highly sinful for a woman to even get her clothes tailored by a male sartorial professional. On the other hand there are countries that encourage sunbathing with minimal or no clothing to its people to ward off hazards like melanoma.

The two cases have been cited to clarify that most aspects of human life are variables. What we eat or wear, how we speak or function, the language and the culture and the habits that we adopt among millions of other such trivia can vary from place to place or time to time. One cannot really fault  or eulogise them because, we as a society figure out the best practices that will work for us as a unit.

Change in culture

Once we find the practices redundant, we have the knack of shedding them entirely or very simply salvage the core value of the custom and reinvent the same to suit our needs. Right from Paleolithic times, man has realised the need for food, clothing and shelter and he has worked on his necessities and come up with practical and economical solutions that can cater to him at the given point of time.

The food that was cooked using fire is now processed through a plethora of new age equipments. The animal skins and barks that constituted our clothing have come a long way now, as they come in a spectrum of colours, materials and designs.

Caves that sheltered man through the vagaries of nature have given way to varied housing from chalets to skyscrapers and everything in between. Everything else that we use or possess happens to be ancillaries to our basic needs. Therefore, mankind as a race must realise that there is really no point in nitpicking, categorising or even on contemplating on sticking on to anything at all.

It is mandatory to remember that the only constant is change. Besides, are we not constantly reinventing the proverbial wheel by working out solutions to the same requirements?

Physics and mathematics explain the conceptual difference between variables and constants and the subtle but irrevocable relationship between the two factors. One cannot exist or function without another.

To put it more simply, we need a constant to evaluate the variable. So also, in life we need constants and variables. We must understand that constants remain invariable across time and space whereas variables always undergo modifications.

It is interesting to note that science, religion, psychology and psychiatry have surprisingly come up with a constant — Truth. The truth they speak of does not subscribe to any region, religion, cult or culture. It is a human truth that is woven around integrity, responsibility, reliability and intrinsic goodness punctuated with a generous dollop of compassion.

The person who adheres to this kind of truth need not feel obligated or answerable to anyone except his own conscience. And as the bard said, if one is true to oneself, the night shall follow the day.

The ability to go through life as an onlooker without getting involved or critical about matters that do not concern us or understand will make it happier, simpler and straightforward. But, as they say, “It is simple to be happy but very difficult to be simple.”
Truth can never become outdated because we need the north star to navigate through the sea of life.

If each one of us strives to sort out and differentiate between variables and constants, we will find ourselves becoming less and less judgemental. Bonhomie and harmony will seep through seamlessly through the newfound maturity and make the world a better place to live in.