E-treat and retreat

It was a bright sunny morning. I received an e-mail from my sister inviting me to her housewarming ceremony in California, US, that day itself. Well, I live in Belgium and how could have travelled that far in a few hours?! Welcome to the world of technology! She’d arranged for an e-housewarming. She’d e-invited her close family members to this auspicious event. She’d opted for services of an e-vendor who streamed the event for the select invitees. The buying and setting up of the dream home happened at a hectic pace thanks to the fact that she and her hubby are a working couple. Their way of saying “we care for our families and their wishes” was through live streaming of the event.

It was 2 pm local time. Plop! At the click of a mouse, I expected to witness the entire event, but that was not to be. The Internet cooperated for a couple of minutes only and then the connection disappeared into thin air. Jinxed that I was, I did all that I could to restore the connection, but in vain. Finally I set out on a mission to somehow get a glimpse of the e-event. It was a telephone company right opposite our home that I first went to. They didn’t have any browsing plans to meet my urgent requirement. I then went to a university where I had engaged a few lectures in the recent past. I met a kind-hearted soul who connected me to the Internet using his login credentials. I thanked him, breathed a sigh of relief and began witnessing the live proceedings. It was a neat ceremony over there with a priest performing the rituals. Sister and her hubby (draped in traditional Indian attires) were seen in their pious moods.

All the while I was excited to partake of a family event, physical distance notwithstanding. It also left me on a path of retreat as I began to think how dependent we are on technology -based communication with our dear ones, especially when we live in different parts of the globe. Its very presence has shrunk the world into a global village. Technology enables or disables connections, forms or breaks relationships. Boy, such is its overwhelming power! Still photographs could have summed up the event, but the live streaming (albeit with a few glitches) was like a perfect visual treat. Well, in this era, it’s all about how one taps into the potential of technology and makes best use of it.

 

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Adding Light to Twilight Years

Last afternoon, I’d been to an old-age home as a photographer for a volunteering organization called Serve the City in Leuven, Belgium. Glad to share some scenes I witnessed there.

Scene 1: A few high school students had volunteered to make pancakes for the old people of the Home <old people referred to as zestful people in my account below> and also to serve them at the dining table. It was nice to see a bunch of zestful people having their meal – some of whom had to be fed. Most of them wore an expression of hope. One of the zestful ladies was really keen on communicating with us youngsters. Unfortunately, she spoke only Dutch. I exchanged a smile with her, took a picture and showed it to her. She seemed happy.

Scene 2: I went around the Home. The common areas like the living room and dining room looked plush. I got an opportunity to take a peek into one of the bedrooms, as the door was wide open. Wow, it looked like a room of a five-star hotel! That room had framed photographs and flowers around, with a cot in the centre.

The Home - exterior look

The Home – exterior look

Scene 3: I met an official from the Home in the living room. I greeted him and asked him a few questions to whet my curiosity. He happened to be R, an occupational therapist, working with the Home since eight years. In all, there were about 75 zestful people living there with their average age being 80 years. There were three divisions (housing 25 each) in the Home, two of which were closed to the outside world and one open. In the “open” division, the zestful people were free to walk in and out of the Home as they pleased. The criterion for admission into the Home? They should have nobody to care for them on a full-time basis. Well, were they all happy in the Home? Can’t say so for all. Some of them missed their loved ones while some of them suffered from physical/mental ailments. Who treated them? An in-house doctor of course. They had visiting physicians, psychologists, physiotherapists, etc. Beauticians too visited them on need basis!!! Well, I did see a zestful woman (perhaps in her mid-80’s) on a wheel-chair neatly decked up with mascara, lipstick and matching accessories. I could see that “never-say-die” attitude in her. (A salute to her!)  How much did one have to pay to live in the Home? Well, it was a mighty sum of money. You needed to add the expenses of the doctors and beauticians to this! Phew!

One portion of the Home's garden

One portion of the Home’s garden

Scene 4: My Polish friend thanked me for the “interview” I conducted with R.  I appreciated the cleanliness of the Home and the friendliness of the staff. I only hoped all those zestful people lived there happily in their twilight years. All they needed was love and care with a personal touch. I then went to the garden to take a glimpse of it before bidding adieu to the Home.

A meaningful afternoon that was! Hope to go there again. I was reminded of my visit to one such Home in my country long ago.