A visit to APAN GHAR (Own home) May 30, 2014
An old age home in southern suburb of Kolkata
Story written by Dibyendu Bhattacharya
A representative group of New Alipore Ladies Forum members undertakes an annual day long visit to the old age home on regular basis. The home has around 15 inmates and primarily depends on charities for running. The purpose of the visit is to extend a helping hand to the authorities by handing over provisions collected from the members and the local residents and also to spend time with the inmates to break their monotony due to detachment from family life.
Encouraged by Raymond O Brien, Priti Bhattacharya (Anwesha’s mother) organized an additional special visit to the old age home accompanied by her two friends namely Ruma Roy and Chandra Guha. The program consisted of handing over certain provisions required by the home for its regular consumption and to offer a special lunch to the inmates and in the process to spend the day with them.
Priti offered some of her friends to accompany her to the home, Ruma and Chandra responded, the date was finalised. The evening before the day of visit was hectic, the local market was visited to procure grocery and provisions for the home. As desired by the home authorities, a gas oven was included in the list of purchases. A detailed list of the provisions is enclosed with this write up. Things to be carried were packed, the 5 walking sticks for the aged that Ray OBrien had sent before his India visit last November were included in the cargo.
Around 11 in the morning Ruma and Chandra arrived at Priti’s house to commence the journey to the home located around 15 miles south of New Alipore. A taxi cab was booked, provisions were loaded and the 3 together set out for the day. In a little more than half an hour around 12 noon they reached the home, all were eagerly waiting for the visitors and extended them a warm reception. The 2 maids who look after the inmates helped in the hand over ceremony of the materials to the incharge of the home.
The inmates were ready for extending a warm welcome to Priti’s team, most of the inmates are 60 plus and the eldest is 92 years old and are staying in the home for not less than last 15 years. As a routine practice Priti and her associates met all of them in their rooms, wished them and enquired about their well being. All reported to be happy and praised the home authority and the 2 maids who look after them all the time. Some narrated the tale of their landing in the home, which were not always happy stories. Majority of inmates are from economically weaker section of the society and are not capable of making adequate contribution for their stay at the home.
Mrs. Nana Roy, designated as the Secretary cum Treasurer, the person in charge of the home accompanied Priti and her friends and expressed gratitude for organising the provisions and the special lunch. She also narrated the various difficulties faced in running the home. It was not difficult for Priti and her friends to realise how difficult it is to manage everything in the home. By the time the interaction was completed, the cook called all for the much awaited lunch.
The cook served the lunch comprising Rice, pulse, fried brinjal, vegetable curry, paneer curry, fish, chicken and mango pickle. The entire lunch were in house prepared at the home. Priti carried the sweet dish containing curd and sandesh (A popular sweet of Kolkata). All relished the sumptuous lunch.
The inmates and the in charge saw off the visitors at the home gate with a request to visit again. The day was well spent and the aged inmates had a short distraction from the daily grinding. Priti and her friends commenced the journey back home discussing among them whether the inmates are really happy at the home leaving behind their family members!
1. Gas Oven 1 INR 2000
2. Grocery (As per Arambag Food Mart Bill) 1 lot (20 items) INR 1503
3. Sweets (As per Hindustan Sweets Bill) 1 lot INR 628
4. Lunch Expenses ( 18 dishes ) & tips. 1 lot INR 2200
Total INR 6331 about $105. USD