Today, 21 August, is Senior Citizen’s Day. These days the calendar is replete with several such days – Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Women’s Day, Children’s Day, Friendship Day… or, in terms of health, World Aids Day, World TB Day…

As seniors in our apartment complex in Bangalore, there are ways more than one for us to be together and make a day of it. We have the Vedic Group where we spend ten days in a month spending one hour a day reciting and brush up our memory on vedic chants – nine of them so far – Rudram, Chamakam, Purusha Sooktam, Sree Sooktam, Durga Sooktam, etc. In the evenings we meet in the gated community park for about an hour and a half for a chat. Sometimes the laughter that unwittingly emerges from the group diverts the attention of others –  the ladies group, the IT group, the middle age group, or the college group – to turn towards us and wonder what the old guard have so much in store to make them laugh their lungs out.  

Once or twice a year we engage an 18- or more seater vehicle for a day long trip. Our trusted restaurant owner takes special care to pack for us garam garam Idli, Vada, Sambar and thick chutney in individual packets for the morning, and separately lunch and evening snacks packets. Some of the enterprising ladies prepare murukku, or thatai and distribute in small packets to munch in between. Then follows Antaakshari (marked by friendly fights), tid bits, or anecdotes, and a pro tem dose- off in sync with the tilt of the bus. A fifteen-minute stop to freshen up, sip a cup of coffee or tea from the wayside stall. He is happy he made his two hours’ earnings in ten minutes. Then, back to bus, but everyone changes seats by design so that each is able to interact with as many as possible. An hour or two later it is time for lunch. Here again, apart from the restaurant-packets, the ladies distribute their home-made sweets for dessert. Then follows a darshan at the temple on the way after dipping one’s feet at the sparkling water flowing in the river. You cool off your face with sprinkling it liberally and almost get to gargle, but the fear of diseases of all kinds desists you. Plucked fresh from their fields at the back, the small-time farmers display their products putting up temporary jute-cloth top to protect both them and their products from sun. There is a now or never rush from the group members. Yes, they know a little too well how much the Department Store guy in the complex charges for each of these.

The places of interest to be seen now takes a back seat. The victorious feeling on the veg and fruits front is at the helm. Before the last fortress, dam or the boat-ride comes about, the group is already in the home-bound mode. The return journey commences, with yet another round of tea from a roadside stall. It is now that you get a taste of how fast the driver is capable of driving his vehicle for the return journey. Yes he too wants to reach home quick, probably to hit the bed early and have sufficient sleep before he takes up his next morning trip.

Alas, we are now in USA, and such a seniors’ day out would just be a wishful thinking. Around this time Sunita, our d-in-l, gets a call from her friend, Sumathy. “Arey Sunita, it is about two months since my parents are here from India. How about you drop your parents-in-law for a while for a chat with them.” Sunita dropped us.

In the two hours we spent there, each of us knew if our blood pressure or sugar level was better or worse than theirs, whether we were a shade better than them in spending a little more time in our morning walks,  or if we should adopt their food regimen…and ever so many things. There was a knock at the door. It was Sunita to pick us up. On way back home, we confided to Sunita that we had mutually agreed that the two families, five of them, and five of us, would book for the first day first show of Mani Ratnam’s Ponniyan Selvan when it opens in the local theatre on 30 September.