If the British had hailed Coimbatore as the “Manchester of India” for its textile industry, the city has added another feather to its cap: Paradise for Senior Citizens Home. Like Kerala is replete with tea shops, Kolkata with rasogolla shops, Delhi with samosa shops, or Mumbai with Paav Bhaji, Coimbatore has senior citizens homes in every nook and corner.

Lord Tennyson said in his poem that I read in my matriculation: the old order changeth yielding place to the new.  Similarly, from another builder, until recently synonymous with senior citizens home with buildings mushrooming from left, right and centre, the current rage would seem Gujan Builders’ Paripalana, Phase 2.

Each resident of course had his own reason to move in. One gentleman in his early-sixties stays with his 89-year-old mother, on rent. How come he did not own one? I wondered. “I have my own house in Chennai where my wife and daughter live. “Well, your mother too could live with you in Chennai,” I quipped. “Yes, but my wife’s mother is bed-ridden for years and needs attention 24×7. My wife and daughter take care of her there; and I my mother here.” What a discharge of bounden duties.

Here is this man who owns an independent house in Bangalore. He is here is to get a feel of what it is like to be in a retirement home before moving in permanently. He was the Dean of … University in Bangalore. “You must then be knowing Mr Harihara Subramanian?” I asked. “Not just know him, we were classmates too in Trivandrum. “But, how do you know Hari” he quipped in return. “Well, we live in the same floor in the apartment complex in Bangalore.”

Yet another person, accompanied by his wife, was walking with the help of a stick. During the chat, I said we were on a visit from Bangalore. “My son too stays in Bangalore in Sobha apartments,” his wife said. “Which Sobha apartment,” I asked getting a bit curious. “Sobha Forest View,” “We too live there,” I said, getting a little impatient. “He is in Maple building,” she added. “So do we.” It turned they are my next-door Anant’s parents. Placing me by now, the lady reminded her husband “I say, he is that same Palakkad Mama who used to have a brief chat with you on your morning walks during your visits to Bangalore.”  With masks on we could not recognize each other.”

This time we met a couple who were in the academic line. It transpired that he is from the same village as I am, and his elder sister is married to my cousin. And the lady? She retired as the Headmistress of a school in Kolkata where Aunty and all her siblings studied. “I remember Srinath and know very well his parents Kamala (your elder sister) and Flute Hari”, she said to confirm that she has got it right.

Yes, it is a small world. Such stories abound if only you care for a chat while waiting outside the dining hall

A walk along the parking lot revealed two things: one, people from what all states have moved in – Pondicherry, Kerala, Andhra, Telengana, Karnataka (from car registrations); two, that Paripalana houses a socialistic pattern of society with cars ranging from Nano to Mercedes lined up. (As an aside, it was equally heartening to note the writing on the back of the Nano adjacent to Mercedes: “When I grow, I will become Mercedes.”)

The residents seem a happy and contended lot. Their sole worry, if anything, would seem that their 5-star cook should not seek greener pastures.

Short but lasting pleasures, to sum up.

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Sundaram Venkatesh

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