So? What you will do after retirement?

Two timely questions.  The second one very personal, yet so universal. Like trying to figure out belatedly, “Who Am I”? The one word question “So?” is more disturbing. Guys surreptitiously conveying “what are you sleeping about, wake up”? Or implying, “How come we don’t know”?

Where will you settle? I reply that actually I was well settled all this time. It is retirement that is unsettling. When will you vacate the gorment house? No hurry I say to myself.

Then urgently apply to retain the accommodation for another 4 months; only to be told that for 4 months you can keep it anyway. No need to ask or apply to anybody. You can retain your gorment house even longer, if you can come up with a good, false excuse.

That you knew all your life when you will retire doesn’t matter at all. Same people also ask, “Have your children settled”?

Aren’t you going to buy a car, the wife reminds, more alarmingly as the D-day approaches. How do you expect me to move around?

Knowing that there will be no gorment car anymore and not trusting me to drive, she chips in “We can keep a driver, so much unemployment”!

There are then the fellows who have hanged around your office, changing yet unchanged, your steno and the Class IV you eventually come to like or have gotten used to.

It is the withdrawal of their constant services, from paying bills to getting your passport or driving licence or frequently getting your dead telephone line live again; that is probably dreaded the most, post retirement.

What many may lack in competence, they make up in servitude, and flattery: “Janab jaise uffser nahin dekha”, leaving you to sometimes wonder what they actually mean, since they said the same thing to the guy before you and will probably to the one after you.

Yes, but after retirement what will I do without them?

Nobody asked, “How will you handle that creeping yet inevitable loneliness”? Not that I have not been lonely yet. I will start playing cards and watching soaps.

Reading gives me a headache (from reading too many nonsensical files while in service), but I will now listen to music and all my favourite songs and others which I missed, even when they might make me more lonely.

Some earnest friends had years earlier hinted that “spreetual” pursuits in old age or senior citizenship anyway, are a sure and tested way out. “Don’t remain wayward even if gorment gives 50 % off on train (and air?) tickets to all those temptations” they cautioned.

They knew that on being reminded of my advancing years and unchanging ways would make me break into “Abhi to main jawan hoon” but that would not deter them from veering me away from a sinful past into a reformed retirement.

An intelligent option would be to go gourmet. But by the time you’re sixty, doctors, diabetes, dodgy disorders, sudden death and so forth have foreclosed that option.

Vegetarianism and the fitness delusion have further blocked exploring any worthwhile gastronomic avenues for the old and open minded. What do you expect me to do in retirement?

What I have observed, however, is that with passing years, misbehaving kidneys and failing livers (not to mention having to pay for your drinks in a lonely planet), it takes much less booze to either be on Cloud Nine or to pass out.

In both cases the state (or statelessness) of mind is perhaps nearest to the enlightenment my well wishing friends had wanted me to at least realize in retirement!


Nodnat - is a pen name that the writer with deep knowledge of Himalayan flora and fauna and a keen environmentalist has adopted. He hails from Kotgarh, in Shimla Hills and retired as Principal Chief Conservator of Forests from Himachal Pradesh forest department.

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  1. says: lkkapoor

    Whatever written, is true. Thanks for reminding as I am also a retired Govt. servant and understand the retiring experience.

  2. says: Raja

    Humorous!!! Quote “ Jo jaa key na aaye woh jawani dekhi, Jo aa key na jaaye who budhapa dekha “ N’ joy life ……

  3. says: Pankaj Khullar

    Every retiring ‘gorment’ servant, particularly at a senior level, carries the misconception that he has substantial literary skills. So, the first thing he or she promises themselves is to pen down their experiences or write a technical treatise or a work of fiction. But first one wants to catch up with all the rest and the sleep that the last days of ‘service’ had deprived them of. The first month after retirement, particularly for a workaholic, are the most difficult. He really does not know whether to get up early and dress up for office, or to sleep the sleep of the just after a job well done.

    I have seen several of my seniors, soon after their retirement, call out in the morning for their bed tea – not realising that the khalasi/peon/khansama is no longer around. The lady of the house obliges for a few days, serving the newly retired ‘sahib’ tea in bed. This soon wears off and the LOH minces no words in telling the Sahib that he had better come to grips with reality and either do without his morning ‘cuppa’ or learn how to fix it himself.

    Then there are others who have an early shave and shower, dress up for office (complete with tie and coat) and then sit around wondering where to go to. For a couple of days they go to their old office on the pretext of finishing some paperwork, but are soon disheartened when they realise that they are no longer welcome there. In fact, the most pathetic sight is that of a retired ‘sahib’ wandering the corridors of his old office, peeping through doors to see if any of his erstwhile juniors is in. He pops into an office, expecting to be offered a seat and a cup of tea, but often gets short shrift. Sorry sight indeed!

    The most difficult realisation that hits one right in the eyes post retirement is that now one has to settle one’s own telephone and electricity bills, apply for and obtain a ration card (to serve as one’s ‘proof of address’), buy stamps and post letters. Shopping for vegetables and grocery is another chore. Often, a major task is also driving and maintaining one’s car, particularly the washing and polishing.

    Some may find these chores unpleasant and unappealing – a burden from which there is no escape. On the other hand one can think of it as a new post-retirement job. These so called chores or tasks help one pass the day, besides helping the LOH in running the house and the kitchen. I find all this running around an opportunity of meeting new people and making new friends. After three years of retirement, my best acquaintances are my car mechanic and the postman. The lady at the electricity office now greets me with a bright smile and the vegetable seller gives me a discount every time I visit him. What I like best is the way people treat me at my bank, giving me priority service – not because of my position and rank but because of my grey (rapidly turning white) hair.

    Now I have time to read the newspaper in detail, try to solve the Times crossword puzzle, update my Facebook page, respond to my emails, and catch a nap in the afternoon. I have time to chat with my children and grandchildren, read books and learn how to fix cocktails. I also have the time and inclination to fix breakfast every now and then, and help my wife clean the dishes whenever our maid gives us the ditch! I have learnt to enjoy comedies on BBC and catch up with the History Channel on Tatasky. I can now recognise the Indian cricket and movie personalities and can even follow the storyline in the soaps that my wife watches every afternoon.

    Retirement has brought me peace and tranquility and a greater realisation of how wonderful life is. As I saunter around my little backyard and admire the newly emerging flowers, I find that life is to be take one sip at a time, like a good scotch – not in a gulp! enjoy every flavour, savour every sip and appreciate how better off you are now.

    Have a great retired life!

    1. says: Kamal Thakur

      Excellent =)

      In the beginning paragraphs, I thought it was someone whining tirelessly about his post-retirement life. But by looking at the way you end it, I’m sure you’re really having good time now.


    1. says: vijay k verma

      We continue to identify ourselves with the covers of positions that we have acquired during the entire service life. It is like the cover of clothes on our body. Ask some of those who have been changing employment very frequently. The more higher levels that we attain, the more difficult is the pain that we feel when we have to relinquish them.

      During these better productive years of life, we fail to identlfy ourselves. Who are we and what was our given role in this life. What we were supposed to do by the creater. We may have ended up amassing wealth by any scruplous or unscruplous means, we fail to realise that all this is like the cover of our body that we had been adoring, and one day we have to leave it behind. Have we ever tried to realise the goal of our soul….beyond the goal of our body. This life has been just a spec in the timeless life of the soul.

      Just try to realise the goal of the soul. Close your eyes and question your consciousness, you will get the reply. All this material wealth is not going to take you anywhere. Just a tremor may crumble your hard earned multistorey house, just a prolonged illness may squeeze your purse, just a blow of wind may render you lifeless.

      It is high time that you come to devote your time in realising yourself. And try to fulfil the tasks for which you could not find time. Introspections, meditation, and spirituality will guide you towards your goal.

      Bon voyage!

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