Age. Retirement. Dignity. These words are often used and associated with each other. Meaning, that to age is to retire with dignity. Accept the inevitable decline of one’s role in society, make way for the dynamic young blood and watch television. However, there are some who march to the beat of a different drum. They may see nothing dignified about hanging around waiting for a little visit from their busy children or have the evening serial on TV become the highlight of their day. These rebellious folks demand more from their sunset years than oblivion. And they usually get it.

One such is Mr. Murthy, my father’s oldest friend. The course of his career could not have been more traditional. A banker for five decades, this 72-year-old had been working since he was 17. Finally, when forced to retire from his beloved job and go back home with a golden pen to show for his five decades of honest, proud service, he was at a complete loss. His wife was as happy to have him to herself for morning walks finally, as she was worried about having an energetic man interfere in her household matters all day long.

 Mr. Murthy tried everything. He tried gardening, which he knew was what all good retired people should do. But the plants did not appreciate the precision of his banker’s hands and promptly wilted. He tried to learn cooking from his wife, but her patience ran out as soon as he started introducing a better way to manage her kitchen efficiency. He even tried to gamely take part in the card sessions that his friends met for. It was not enough.

When it became abundantly clear to all around him that this man was not ready to enjoy his free time, indeed he wanted no free time. Mr. Murthy and his wife started asking around about work that he could do. He did the usual rounds, meeting up with recommended contacts and sending his brushed up CV after many decades. The jobs available either paid too little or demanded up-skilling.

Known among his friends and family for his passion and reliability, he soon found a part-time job consulting with a start-up financial CA firm, who could use his advice as they scaled up. He was happy to give advice and be paid for it, and his wife was delighted to have him focus elsewhere out of her domain.

This ideal solution is unavailable to most retired folks. There are professors who yearn for a great part-time teaching job; advertising personnel who miss the brainstorming; nurses who want to be needed; and software experts who are lost without the deadlines.

What happens to the hordes of experienced, skilled manpower that are suddenly expected to step aside for the next generation? Look around you, and you will find many examples of men and women over 60 who have reinvented themselves, brushed up their skills and upgraded their technology awareness to fit in with the relentless pace of the world. Here are a few options that may work for you though the final analysis, the inspiration is within you.

  1. Social work: Cliché acute perhaps but after a lifetime of parenthood and saving and a self-absorbed life, contributing to society may be just the occupation you are looking for.
  2. Writing: There are blogs today that need a constant feed of content on almost any subject & depending on your experience, be it finances or technology. Just search online for Blog writers and let the word be known in your network.
  3. Librarian: A half-day stint in your local library could be the most satisfying job for a book lover. You get to interact with the neighbourhood youth too.
  4. Business: Start your own business. Invest in a couple of cars for hire, or prepare dabbas for the young office-goers. Start small and do not invest all your money, and build on the customer feedback.
  5. Networking: Pyramid schemes, insurance schemes; there are many networking schemes that not only keep one engaged but also bring in some money if one is consistent and an effective communicator.
  6. Real estate: Start by talking to the neighbourhood brokers, and engaging with them to sell to your network of friends and business relations who may be looking for a house to buy or sell.
  7. Consultancy: Financial, advertising, copy-writing; depending on your experience, start a consultancy. Get some visiting cards printed, pass it around, get on the phone and email; get in the game. Look for start-ups that could use your experience. Yes, be realistic and be prepared to settle for a lower income than you deserve as you begin.

Also, do have fun.