“What the place really resonates with is the untold stories waiting to be heard,” write Sonali and Arun Bhatia.
Before turning into a metropolitan city with 1.3 million residents, Bengaluru was a paradise for retired seniors. Thanks to its new-age assisted living facilities, the city continues to cater to the needs of seniors, giving them the life and leisure they deserve.
We walk through the landscaped garden and wide courtyard to the glass elevator which takes us to our second floor studio apartment. We are at Primus Eden, 45 km down Kanakapura Road, and the security guards and staff have been expecting us and have kept the apartment ready.
In a rather large room, we have a double bed, a sofa, closet and shelf space as also a pantry and an attached bathroom. Primus Eden is an assisted living facility for seniors aged above 75, comprising fifty studio apartments and twenty two one BHK flats. All furniture walkways, elevators and other facilities are senior friendly, enabling those using walkers or wheelchairs to get by independently and comfortably.
Having won an overnight stay at this posh residential facility, our first encounter with the permanent residents occurs at dinner. Dinner comprises either a south Indian thali or north Indian a la carte… all wholesome, tasty, vegetarian and appropriate for elders.
As we leave the dining hall, we are waylaid, albeit cheerfully, by seventy, eighty and even ninety year old men and women who then proceed to give us a brief history of each of their lives and families. We are enthralled by each life story coherently and animatedly narrated by the protagonists. A sprightly eighty six year old had spent fifty three years in Frankfurt. He relates some anecdotes of life in Germany, how he sold his house in Chennai and came here to spend the evening of his life. He dresses nattily in a bright red t-shirt and a red hat at a rakish angle. The next day he is in another striking attire, showing his zest for life. A retired 76 year-old doctor uses a walker and relates how she ran a hospital for 47 years. After such an active, even gruelling career, this laid back existence needs mental acceptance and adjustment.
The following day, we take a tour of the entire campus. There is a meditation hall, gym, four bed clinic, movie theatre, game room, library, swimming pool, spa, and a temple, each with genial atmosphere and meticulously maintained. Our tour however, is delayed at the start, because we are again waylaid by a resident who had apparently positioned herself strategically on a comfortable chair at the reception area. She wanted to ensure that we had to walk past her so that she could complete the details of the story she had begun to tell us the previous night.
The place is luxurious, the staff including full time doctors, nurses, and a physiotherapist, are efficient, cheerful, caring and helpful. There are activities and celebrations aplenty. But what the place really resonates with is the untold stories waiting to be heard.
Sonali Bhatia is a Bengaluru based writer and storyteller.