Society

Millennial operates ‘flat’ remotely for his aged parents in Chennai

Amit Shah with his parents  

The pandemic requires the world to live and work differently. That is ludicrously obvious. However, in any scenario, a part of the obvious would sit cross-legged smack in the middle of the room, waving its trunk, yet be rudely ignored.

Remote-living is that part, elephantine and ignored. In its simplest form, it is about reducing the regular in-person touch points, particularly cutting out non-essential encounters. A small number of the world’s population have it down to a fine art, practising it for their safety, their kin’s or both.

Twenty-nine-year-old Amit Shah, a delivery manager in a data and analytics startup in Bengaluru, practises it for his parents’ well-being, remotely participating in the daily rhythms of a small corner of Chennai, watching it with his eyes peeled back.

His parents — Rajnikant Shah (74) and Sarala Shah (72) — are residents of Prince Manor, a gated community in Purasawalkam. Through technology, he operates their ‘flat’ remotely, minimising the senior Shahs’ touch points with the outside world. In an odd sense, he has smuggled this flat into his pad at Whitefield.

Firstly, he uses all the tech props — read apps — at his disposal to meet his parents’ day-to-day needs.

“Under usual circumstances, my parents would head to the pharmacy to buy medicine. Both are diabetic and have high blood pressure; and my mother is a cancer survivor. Between the two of them, they require a lot of medicine. Since the pandemic, I use Swiggy Genie and Dunzo to have medicine delivered to them. Of course, I also use a variety of other apps to order food and many other essentials for them,” discloses Amit.

The major challenge however lies in controlling the variables around the senior Shahs’ living space. It is a responsibility he shares with one of his three sisters — Deepali Shah, employed with a tech company in Hyderabad.

“Having used MyGate app at my community — Brigade Metropolis in Whitefield — for some time, I was familiar with the use of its features,” begins Amit. With Purasawalkam’s Prince Manor also using the app, he had something right up his alley.

“Through one phone, I control my parents’ flat at Prince Manor, signing in as a resident. Through another, I control my Whitefield flat,” explains Amit.

Having similarly logged in to the app, his Hyderabad-based sister is also, to all intents and purposes, a resident of Prince Manor in Purasawalkam.

“This way, I get to see everything that is happening at the apartment complex in Purasawalkam, and I clear all the approvals. Our work schedules being demanding, between me and my sister, we divide this work. When I am busy, my sister does the approvals.”

Amit underscores that the remote-engagement extends far beyond predictable approvals. It factors in events that would seem ridiculously mundane, except on days defined by a pandemic.

“Through the app, we track who is coming, so that before they reach the door, we call up mom and dad and say, ‘Hey, this person is coming. Be ready, wear a mask.’ Every day, deliveries would be made — food, package or groceries.”

With the Coronavirus cases surging again — “in fact, there are six cases at Prince Manor now,” states Amit — brother and sister are on greater alert for ‘maskless encounters” in Purasawalkam.

“As I make the flat maintenance payment through the app, my parents are spared that touch point with the society. Earlier, my dad would go to the ATM to withdraw money to make the maintenance payment. He would pay the person in-charge in person and take the receipt from them.”

Knowing which flats in the community are quarantined is a relief for Amit.

“In the app, all the domestic help are tagged to a flat, and you know what their free hours are. So, some days when mom is not well and the maid is on leave, that one day I can arrange for her to be helped by another maid very easily,” explains Amit, adding that “only now I will avoid seeking help of this nature from domestic help who would have associated recently with a floor where a house has been quarantined now.” Amit’s experience shows that dire necessity is the mother of efficient tech-use.

He illustrates: “One afternoon, both mom and dad put the air-conditioning on, left the phones in the hall, and took a nap. With the door shut, they could not hear their phones ringing. As I was not able to reach them, I was distraught. Every house is listed on the app, and one can do an app-to-app call, by just choosing the number assigned to the flat. I tried that option, settling on the flat number closest to my parents’. I spoke to a neighbour, who was kind enough to ring the bell and check on my parents.”

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Printable version | May 6, 2021 9:12:23 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/millennial-operates-flat-remotely-for-his-aged-parents-in-chennai/article34288880.ece

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