A day at Parukh Dharamshala: home for the elderly
Written by Anjum Shaikh, February 8, 2019
Written by Anjum Shaikh, February 8, 2019
The Patang Scholars Program team planned an amazing visit to meet senior residents at a nearby old age home, Parukh Dharamshala, on Sunday, 3rd February. Parukh Dharamshala is an elderly care home which provides full lodging and medical services to its residents. All the students were excited about this visit – not only would they get to interact with the residents, they were also making snacks for them!
The students gathered at our regular center early in the morning and got busy with the preparations. They worked in groups to make sandwiches and fruit salads. Once these were ready, we cleaned the kitchen and were on our way to Parukh Dharamshala. As soon as we entered the Dharamshala, we saw the senior citizens sitting in the dining area. We all greeted them with warm smiles and started introducing ourselves one by one. We then asked the residents their names and interacted with them.
After the short introduction, we asked them if they would be interested in playing a game of Housie. Their faces lit up on hearing this. It seemed that Housie was one of their favorite games to play. The students distributed the tickets to each of the members and offered to help them in the game by sitting besides them. Everyone really enjoyed playing the game and winners were given small gift hampers. After the game, we played soft music. The students started dancing and called out to the residents to join them. Few of the residents joined the students and were excited to shake their legs. They also sang songs and shared jokes and it was wonderful to witness their hidden talents.
The lobby had an information desk for tourists to distribute maps and other information on leaflets. It also had a facility of an audio tour which was available in different languages. The building of the museum was quite large with exhibits displayed on two floors spread across three main sections.
Time flew while we were having a good time, and it was soon time for lunch. Our young students volunteered to serve the snacks that they had prepared along with the residents’ regular lunch. There were a few members who had been unable to come to the dining area due to medical reasons and so we went upstairs to serve them. They were very happy to see the kids and gave them their blessings. Few of them also shared their life experiences and words of wisdom. After serving everyone, it was time to leave. We thanked each of the members for inviting us into their home and promised that we would visit them again soon.
The students were asked to spend at least 10-15 minutes in each section and then spend some more time in their area of interest. As we began our journey, we moved towards the natural history section, which had a collection of birds, fishes, reptiles, mammals and other species. I was amazed to see the different kinds of artifacts that were displayed. All the objects and exhibits had description notes in English, Hindi, and Marathi, which spoke about their history and importance. The students were thrilled to learn that the skins of the birds and mammals were real and were preserved under the art of Taxidermy.
Adjacent to this section was the archaeological section displaying sculptures and artifacts from ancient India. On the first floor, there was the pre-proto history section which had an excavation collection from different civilizations such as Harappa, Indus Valley, Mohenjo Daro, etc. Various decorative artworks of glass, wood, and metals from European and Chinese era were also on display. On the second floor, there was a personal collection of European oil paintings by Sir Ratan Tata and Sir Dorab Tata
The Dharamshala has become another home for these senior residents. The caretakers ensure that they are given the best of attention and care and treat them with kindness and love. The entire experience was memorable for each of us. It showed a different side of life. Upon arrival back to the center, the students were asked to reflect upon their experience and share their learning. They reflected that it was important to look after parents especially when they turn old. They take care of us while we are young, and when they turn old, quite often, they are neglected and abandoned. Meeting the elderly had made them realize that this is the circle of life, and that one day, we all are going to turn old. We must take good care not only of our parents but also of other’s parents.
This visit helped sensitize the youth and gave them an opportunity to experience the true joy of serving and giving back to society.