The members of Nightingales Elders Enrichment Centre (NEEC) in Malleswaram are a merry bunch. While it is their age that brings them together, at NEEC, the age factor is an aspect soon forgotten.
Established by Radha Murthy in 1999, NEEC — a part of the Nightingales Medical Trust — is a place where elders meet and participate in various activities that fulfil their physical and emotional needs. The centre has a daycare for elders whose family members are away during the day. There is also a ‘respite care’ facility, where elders can stay for short periods of time, during which their medical and nutritional needs are taken care of.
Besides being a centre that issues ID cards for seniors, NEEC also conducts regular medical check-ups, workshops and interactive sessions for members.
Their ‘Friday Talks’ are open to the public, and are very popular. The members also celebrate festivals and special events, go on outings, and participate in social service activities. The birthdays of members are celebrated once a month. These are well-attended, and as with all their events, members bond over the food that follows.
Member Chitra Kamath says, “Most of us have children who are settled abroad, and this is a place where we can meet like-minded people and participate in interesting activities.” Gunnu Talgery agrees. “As retired people, there’s not much to do at home. But here, lively things keep happening, and it makes us feel alive. We are exposed to the experience, wisdom and expertise of people from various walks of life.”
As Bhavanishankar Philar sees it, there is no social strata or hierarchy here like in other clubs, in spite of all of them being from different backgrounds. This comfort they share is evident in their interaction.
All the members stress on the support they receive from their peers. “All our dormant talents are surfacing because we are confident that we won’t be judged. And we don’t feel helpless any longer,” says Gunnu.
According to Vanaja Ramaprasad, they are more active than their grandchildren. “We forget our age, our aches and pains when we come here,” she says. They recall how a member, in spite of having had knee-replacement surgery in both legs, danced the Lavani in full costume for their Annual Day! The preparation, rehearsal and performance of the Annual Day is the highlight of their year, and keeps them busy and excited for weeks. Shaila Shanker, the co-ordinator of NEEC, is surprised by their enthusiasm and energy while organising the function. “They do everything on their own,” she says, and that includes teaching themselves dance steps with the help of YouTube!
There is an undercurrent of laughter and good humour in everything they do and say, with little place for boredom in their lives. Nalini Jagannathan feels that it is because of the empathy of other members that helps them stop feeling sorry for themselves. Earlier, I used to feel that I have to play with the cards life has dealt me, but now I deal the cards myself,” she says.
(Nightingales Elders Enrichment Centre is at #149, 11th Main, between 16th and 17th Cross. Call 23342929)
Nightingales Elders Enrichment Centre offers seniors the chance to socialise and discover new talent
Its members have even taught themselves dance steps with the help of YouTube