Waking Hours.

“The eternal problem of the human being is how to structure his waking hours. In this existential sense, the function of all social living is to lend mutual assistance to this project.”

~ Eric Berne.

A classmate of mine who was in his own business till age finally caught up with him handed over the business to his son and retired some six months ago. He however kept going to the office till his son finally told him to either stop or take the management back from him. He finally stopped going to work and came to find out from me how I manage to pass my time in retirement.

Yakob has been part of my family’s life since December 1990 when he came in as our gardener and handy man.   Yakob was working as a peon in an establishment near our home and his employment with us was for before office hours.

Yakob hit the age of sixty by the end of February this year and had to retire from his position from the establishment where he was working.  Since then, he has visibly deteriorated from a cheerful and happy go lucky fellow to a listless and cheerless individual.  No amount of my trying to cheer him up helps.

Both these cases are typical of many retired people who do not know what to do with themselves during their waking hours.

To the former, I explained how I occupy myself with so many things that I find little time to do other non routine things. He just could not understand how I could read so much, solve crossword puzzles, blog, WhatsApp and so on as he never had the time to develop such or other interests during his working days. He left as disheartened as he was when he came in.

To the latter, I am trying to find some re-employment through other friends and hope to find something soon.

Retirement can be brutal if one had not developed some interests other than career related ones while still working.

Are You Enjoying What You Are Doing?

Today’s topic or rather question has been posed by weekly Friday LBC blogger Pravin. Apart from he and me, Shcakman is likely to write on the same topic at his blog. Do visit both to get a drift of their thinking on this topic.

The answer to that question dear Pravin, is yes.

I am in my retirement after a fairly long and eventful corporate and personal life where I don’t have to watch the clock or do things that I don’t like to do.

I am in that enviable position of doing just what gives me pleasure like reading, solving crossword puzzles, blogging and watching movies;  and avoiding those that don’t.  Except some obligatory things like family matters, I don’t have to do anything that I don’t want to do.

I also have a wide circle of friends and loving family who are regularly in touch either personally or through modern methods of communication and what more can a man ask for?

I therefore reiterate that the answer to the question is a very big “yes.”

Major Life Changes.

In the hustle and bustle of leaving for my sabbatical this LBC post was scheduled wrongly and did not get posted on Friday the 5th inst. when I left home for Chennai. I offer my LBC colleagues my sincere apologies and take remedial action by publishing it on my return today.

“All changes …. have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.”
~ Anatole France.

I am not surprised that having recently experienced a major life change, Shackman thought of this topic for the weekly Friday LBC blog posts. His life change has been quite a major one and I eagerly look forward to reading his take on this.

Lin, the other regular LBC blogger on the other hand, to the best of my knowledge has not had any major life changes in the recent past and hers therefore should be different and I look forward to that too.

I restrict my own major life changes to the most important turning points from my middle ages. The first one was my quitting an employer with who I had worked for half my then life in 1990. We moved to a permanent home for the first time since our marriage in 1968 and putting down such roots with financial commitment was a major change.

I retired from active employment in 1995 to enjoy retirement all but briefly as my attempts at being a Consultant took me to full employment with three different organisations on three different periods of my later life and each had its own challenges and dislocations. So, four more major life changes to which both my late wife and I had to adjust. We came out of all those challenges stronger and better equipped to handle life except that multiple cerebral and cardiac infarcts felled my wife who became semi invalid and I became a full time caregiver for seven years.

Towards the end of those seven years, my late father became homeless and I took him in too to provide care for him too for four more years. Within a short time of his moving in with us, my wife died leaving me to cope with a home of three bachelors as my divorced from his first wife son also was then living with us.

If I had to pinpoint one particular period of stress during a major life change situation, it was the four years that my father lived with me. I survived that successfully and since his death in 2012 have lived a relatively peaceful life.

Another major life change was when my son got married again two and a half years ago and after a long time a lady of the house came in to take charge of the household which was an experience that I thoroughly enjoyed and continue to do so.

Recently I have had some health issues and for the first time ever, have been put on a regime of daily medications which is taking some time to get used to. My friend and physician cheerfully explains the change as part of the aging process and suggests that I now understand that I am now a very senior citizen. And that, friends, is a major life change by itself!


Story 20. Risk Taking.

This story has been on the editing board for a mighty long time as I could not make up my mind about posting it. I finally decided to post it after reading Wisewebwoman’s blog post on Risk Taking.

The reason I hesitated so long will become obvious as you read through the post. This will set the record straight for all those who have wondered as to why I took what was then perceived by them to be a very foolish risk. I never explained to them as to why I took it and today I can as, almost a quarter century has passed and most people involved have most likely either forgotten or would not be bothered any more.

For some new readers to my post, some background information is available on my post on Ambition.

After I was recruited straight off the campus in 1967, I worked for the same employer for 23 years and rose quite high there. During that period, I was part of a very dynamic team of people who built one division of that company into a highly successful market leader which attracted the best employees possible. During that period, a merger of two compnanies of disparate cultures also took place and that resulted in some very peculiar cross divisional postings of people. One such was posted as my direct boss who did not simply have a clue as to what our division was all about and thought that the route to increased profitability was to form a cartel with our competitors. He either could not or would not understand what it meant for people like me who by that time had put in around or more than half our life times in the process of building that organisation.

By this time, I also had access to the strategic approach that our parent company in the UK had developed which too was different to my idea of what it should be for the Indian arm. My attempts at trying to change their minds failed and it was another disappointment.

I was unhappy for the first time in that company with the immdediate and even long term prospects looking bleak and started to look our for other employment. I confided in just three persons about that decision. One was my late wife who encouraged me to do what I wanted to do, and one was my mentor from who I had taken over at his superannuation and other other a long standing friend from Mumbai / Pune. I secured two offers by late 1989, one for a position in London and one in Singapore, both with multinational responsibilities. When my friend came to know that I had made up mind, he and his elder brother who I had a great respect for visited me at Bangalore and made me an offer that I could not refuse and which made Urmeela happy too. They offered me a contract for five years which not only bettered what I had been offered by the overseas employers but also a chance to continue living in India which would have helped my son’s education.

By early 1990, I had lined up three options and had to make up my mind about leaving what by then was my second home and a whole lot of people who I had enjoyed working and growing up with. The risks were enormous and I was unable to take the final plunge and submit my resignation. When my annual appraisal exercise was concluded in January 1990, and I saw that my immediate superior did not have the same opinion of my performance as I did, I went back to my mentor for a consultation. We met a few times and when my prospective Indian employers sweetened the offer further, I took the plunge and submitted my resignation.

It was heart breaking and many of my well wishers were of the opinion that I was being irrational and stupid for taking such a big risk. I can still feel the unease that I felt for the first few months with the new employers, but I settled down comfortably in the new environment and successfully completed my contract and retired. I have no doubts that had I continued in the earlier company, I would have been able to retire when I did at an age when most Managers were hitting the home stretch.

Since I had a safety net built, my son had finished his studies and had started on his own career, I was able to take a few more risks with other employers without compromising on my integrity or self respect and continued as either a Consultant or a hands on Manager on and off till 2002 when I finally stopped such work due to having to take on care giving responsibilities. I was again dragged into corporate life with some Board level appointments for two years but they were in Pune itself and did not take much time away from my primary focus of giving care to my late wife.

To paraphrase Wisewebwoman, I never would have known about my own ability to adjust to different corporate cultures, if I hadn’t taken the chance on breaking off with a 23 year old relationship with my first post MBA employer. In retirement, I have no regrets whatsoever now. I however wonder often as to what would have happened had I not taken that big risk in 1990!