Those retirement blues

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What the watershed event typically brings to your life
Superannuation or retirement is the time when you reach the ‘golden age’ and are given a handshake and a warm send-off from your workplace, anytime from age 55. It, one may realise upon retiring, creates quite a buzz.
First come messages of congratulations on having served a long career and ‘survived’. This is followed by the usual query, doesn’t your company grant an extension of tenure? Or the next one: aren’t you taking a post-retirement position elsewhere? If that were the case, you wouldn’t declare retirement, would you? Lastly, you must be reaching out to your contacts and ‘consulting’?
The next question will relate to “working from home”. You nod sheepishly and move on. The Indian nod being ambiguous, the questioner doesn’t understand if the response is yes or no. But most don’t care; these were rhetorical anyway.
Then we have the smart reminder. At last you will have time of your own. You can do what you like and always wanted to! Ahoy, don’t fall for this. Remember, you are retiring only from work. Family and allied responsibilities remain. In fact, they become increased priorities now.
If you still do think you control your own life, you will soon find it is a mirage and realise your folly. This is just to forewarn those on the threshold of retirement.
People, especially near and dear ones, take your availability for granted. It is almost as if they were waiting for this. Lists appear from nowhere and very soon you are flooded with chores. As you run errands, you tend to err and are pulled up for it. You are constantly reminded how forgetful you are!
Be warned: these lists don’t end. After some time it is even expected that you will prompt and ask if there is something more to be done.
The flip side is that while your availability is assumed, your “being around on weekdays” isn’t. This strikes you upon answering the land phone. “Is today a holiday? Are you not well? Oh, you have retired, really? Didn’t realise you are that old…” Then the usual questions discussed previously follow. Even if you don’t answer the phone but happen to just speak in the vicinity, be aware that from peripheral pick-up the calling party (Oh my! Aren’t they sharp!) could realise your presence. Now it will be your family responding and explaining this almost embarrassing presence. Remember in the golden age the adage: when the phone rings speech is silver, silence golden.
It is a similar story when the doorbell rings. Every time you answer to let the maid or a vendor in, they almost look askance at you! What is this chap doing here? Over time they get used to it. But there is a wisp of a smile always.
Vendors and service providers are more than just surprised by your presence. Often they say, please call madam. Our laundry chap even queried about why there was a reduction in the number of pieces of gentleman’s dresses given for pressing. It took him some time to get used to this.
Everyone in your immediate circle, including relatives, have a word for you. Some have an amused look as they address this topic. Most ask, “how is retired life treating you?”, or “how do you spend time?” Smile and shrug, one quickly learns, is the response. You are bound to get loads of advice. Easy to give than follow! Some tips: Develop a hobby: A bit late in the day, one would think. By now your hobbies and habits are in place.
Have a schedule: To a bloke hung by the clock from high school, God has given this break. Not anymore please. Investments: Especially if the well-meaning person is a financial adviser or a close relative. Some will be in the pattern of dos and don’ts. Very often it will be the latter.
The inevitable plan for a holiday comes on board. This is of course welcome.
But there is a lot to like, too. Getting up at will, not having any target, watching cricket live, going with blokes for a chill-out, an afternoon snooze, being socially active by attending weddings. Catching up on reading is a bonus. As with most things in life, this builds on you. And soon you are a veteran retiree!

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