Age Defying Role Model!

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My name is Shivnandan Ramrao Rao. I am an 86 year young and enthusiastic professional from Thane, Maharashtra. I did M.Sc in Organic Chemistry in 1957 from the Royal Institute of Science, Mumbai. I got 63% marks and missed distinction in 2 subjects by just 1 mark. I started my career in 1957 with a private company, Hickson & Dadajee. Later, I worked in a Multi-National Company, Colour-Chem Ltd. for 33 years from where I retired in 1992. Since then I have been actively working as a consultant in Pigments and Dyes industry and have been providing consulting services to various companies.

Interest and Hobbies

I am passionate about music and keenly follow new developments, news and media coverage related to this field. Cricket and Tennis are my favourite sports. Some of my other favourite activities are reading newspaper, listening to all the TV news, watching TV serials and staying updated with the current happenings.

Nainital with his friends in 1990

I also give priority to staying connected with my friends, as life would be incomplete without them. In my younger days I used to make Ganapati idols as a hobby.

Sri Lal Bahadur Shastri is my favourite historical personality because of his dedication to work and all his deep commitment to the development of our country.

Struggles and Achievements

Being born in a family comprising of six siblings, it was difficult for my father to educate all of us. I being good student, my father was very keen that I complete at least my graduation, something that my father was not able to achieve. My father was very happy that I was not only able to complete my graduation but also my post graduation. But the journey was not easy as my father was the only earning member in a family of 10 members. My eldest brother gave up his education to take a job to support our family. The other siblings didn’t study beyond 12th standard. I was encouraged by my father and elder brother to continue my studies. Since our family was big, there were times when I did not get the quiet environment required to study in the house. I would often stay up in the night and sit under my father’s bed with a candle to study and that hard work paid off.

With his colleagues from Colour Chem listening attentively to his German bossIt was difficult for my father to pay my fees, buy books for me but he managed it somehow so that I could complete my studies. I had the option of going for Medicine, Architecture and Engineering but since it meant spending a lot of money I chose to purse B.Sc. and M.Sc., I completed my graduation in Organic Chemistry and went on to complete my post-graduation in same field. After completing my studies, I took up a job in a British company called Hickson & Dadajee and in about an year and a half was selected for Colour-Chem, a multi-national company which had a German collaboration. There was no looking back after that. I started from being an operator and then slowly learnt all the processes and then handled plants. In two years time I was appointed as the Laboratory Head. In 1969, I was given the charge of starting Intermediate Plant for which I was sent to Germany for a 4 months training and on my return we successfully completed the setup and started the plant. In 1974 I was promoted as Production Manager for Colours. I was also sent to Colour-Chem, Roha from 1978 to 1983 to set up the factory and plant there which I did successfully. Based on my performance I was offered the role of Factory Manager there which I had to decline since my daughters were yet to complete their education. I accepted the post of a Technical Manager so that I could return back to Thane after successfully commencing and running of the factory.

After retiring in May 1992 as Production Manager Colours, I am still doing Consultancy till date which is indeed a very satisfying experience for me. I have been working in the field of my choice from 1957 till date, which is 61 long years. I may think of retirement once my grandson is settled in his job.

Childhood Memories

I remember very vividly one day I needed to buy a notebook. We lived in Girgaum, Mumbai and my father worked in Carnac Bunder. The notebook cost was 6 paise then but yet was difficult for my father to buy it for me. But since it was needed urgently in school, my father walked with me to the bookstore, bought me the book and then went walking to Carnac Bunder since he did not have enough money to travel by tram. That time I realised what hardships my father had to undertake so that I could complete my education. That moment I made up my mind to complete my graduation as education was a very important factor that could get us out of this situation. I wanted my father to experience happy days once I completed my education. That is why I took up a job but unfortunately he didn’t live too long and died soon after I got my first job at Hickson & Dadajee.

Another cherished memory of my childhood I can say is that of my best friend, philosopher and guide who was with me throughout my childhood and youth. He was Bhai Kotkar with whom I could share any of my problems and each time he came up with the most appropriate solution.

My Family

I was born in a large middle class joint family comprising of four brothers, two sisters, parents and grandparents. My Father used to work in a British private firm Metcaff and Hodkinsons, as a Clearing Survey agent. I am the only person in the family who could fulfil my father’s dream of completing Post-graduation.

Mr.S R Rao as he is known with his wife in Kashmir, 1981

I got married at the age of 29 and had a happy married life for 52 years. I lost my wife 2 years ago. My wife was a Commercial Artist from JJ School of Art and worked in a private firm. She had to sacrifice her career for the family as my job at Colour Chem Ltd. required us to stay at the company quarters at Thane, which was far away from the station and in those days modes of transport were very limited. I have two daughters both post graduates, and are actively pursuing their careers. My elder daughter Anarkali started her career with Dignity Foundation, an NGO working towards the cause of elderly, where she worked for 13 years. Currently she is working with Orthofit, a clinic in Foot, Ankle and Biomechanics Care. My younger daughter Aparna was in the US for 8 years where she worked at Bowne Business Communications as Project Lead, till 2006 and now is working with FIGmd as Senior Technical Content Writer. I have two sons like son-in laws, one an Advocate at Mumbai High Court and the other a Post Doctorate in Polymers. I have a grandson who is an IT Engineer and a MBA, he has already secured a job at Deloitte Consulting.

25th Anniversary celebrations of his daughter Anarkali & Son-in-law Advocate Sandeep Velkar

Fitness Mantra

My day begins at 6 am sharp. The first thing I do is Pranayam followed by Yoga every day. I have also been doing Jala Neti for 30 years which helps keeps my sinus clear, no headaches and mental stress as it benefits us by removing the excess heat out of our brain.

My house is at 3rd floor and I need to climb at least 3 to 4 times a day. We do not have a lift. Every morning I go for a walk of 3 km. I prefer to walk as it is faster in the traffic and it helps me keep active. Besides exercising I feel a good and balanced diet is very essential for anyone to keep fit.

I have been suffering from Diabetes since 1976 but due to exercise and controlled diet and leading a disciplined routine, I have been able to keep my sugar level under control. I feel that to lead a Healthy and Active life one must eat everything in moderation, exercise regularly, think positive and must go for regular health checkups.

Guiding the people at Ahemadabad plant

When I retired at the age of 61 from Colour Chem, I had thought of continuing to work for few more years. But didn’t realised that I would be working even today at the age of 86. I will continue to do so as long as my health permits and I can travel alone. My consultancy work also requires travel outside Mumbai 4 to 5 days in a month.

My wife passed away in March 2012 and since then I live alone at Thane. Both my daughters wanted me to come and live with them but since my health permits and all my friends, my bank related work etc is all based in Thane I decided to continue living here. Living alone means maintaining the house which is a full time job. I am enjoying this new role though I do miss my wife and other family members.

I am a very social person and have lots of friends and most of my friends have been there with me in all stages of my life. I still meet my school, college and Colour Chem friends and often go out for picnics with them.

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Earlier I was not very fond of the new technology maybe because I thought I would not be able to cope with it but since the time I have been using the smart phone, I have been able to keep in touch with family and friends through WhatsApp. I surf the internet for interesting news articles, and work related material. All this keeps me socially and mentally active.

Active Ageing

An active senior citizen according to me is someone who continues to live life the way he has been doing for years depending upon health status. Once you retire, you must decide what you want to do post retirement. Whether you want to work or do social work, plan your finance properly, keeping in mind the inflation rate etc. Your spouse and you should be well equipped to live alone especially because till then your children would be married, maybe living abroad or in a different city. It is important to continue exercising and have a controlled diet. Learning new things, new technology (like smart phones and computers) can be a great way to keep oneself engaged and connected.

Mobility and Independence are of utmost importance as one age and hence it is essential that one continues to work as long as possible, this will keep mind utilised constructively.

I think I would rate myself as 3.5 on a 5 point rating scale of active ageing. Though I am active but there’s so much scope for improvement, doing newer things, learning new things. There’s so much to be done in life and age cannot be a bar.

Secret to Happiness

There’s no secret formula as such to happiness as happiness is a relative term. I may find happiness in a certain thing but the same may not be a source of happiness for someone else.

For me a peaceful and happy married life, being honest and loyal to each other is a key to happiness in life. And I am indeed lucky to have shared 52 years of togetherness with my wife and I was able to fulfil many of her wishes and desires. Unfortunately she had to sacrifice her career for the family and was always there with us whenever we wanted her and that too with a smiling face. She was an artist, a culinary artist as well and she derived happiness from cooking the most wonderful dishes for us and presenting it nicely.

I also believe that one should never lie, learn to accept mistakes and work hard. These are the qualities I learnt from my German colleagues at Colour-Chem. Another important point I would like to make is that everyone needs money to lead a comfortable life, agreed but money cannot be the only criteria for happiness. It is love and understanding amongst family members and the willingness to sacrifice for one another which are ingredients of a happy life.

Wishlist

On the top of my Wishlist, I want to see my grandson Pranav who’s an IT Engineer and an MBA in Marketing & Operations from NMIMS Mumbai, become the CEO or partner of a company. Hope this dream of mine is fulfilled. I also wish to actively participate in organising his wedding function whenever it happens.

One thing that I was not able to do though I really wanted to was to do Ph.D as I had to take up a job to support my family. Given an opportunity I would like to fulfill this wish too.

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Above all, I always want my family to enjoy their lives to the fullest and I wish to remain healthy and fit, independent and mobile as long as I can.

My Message

Based on my personal and professional experience I have learned that hard work, honesty, perseverance and determination are the key to success.

Enjoy life but at the same time follow a disciplined life. Do not criticise or judge others easily as we do not know what they are going through.

Life is short, stay connected to family and friends. There can be a time in everyone’s life at some time when he or she has to live alone, if you have good friends, you will not feel lonely.

I believe that one should work and not expect much in return. The pleasure of doing work and enjoying it should be the main motto.


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Comments
  • A.N. PANDEY

    Hello dear young Shivnandan Ji,

    I was very much encouraged by reading your mini autobiography which is really wonderful, encouraging and a capsule for young senior citizens like me. Though you are about 10 years elder to me but your expression is still very committed, dedicated and enthusiastic manner which will make a person alive even if one is half dead. I appreciate your all endeavour what you had so far and living a healthy and peaceful life but i do not agree with you related to your wishlist. Though, you may not like this and i am also not supposed to advise you, but remaining period of life you may enjoy the better phase of supreme creation if you start looking everything being a witness but not wishful.

    You may publish your mini autobiography in the book form for others source of inspiration. If you need any help for publication, you may contact me through my website http://www.yogicconcepts.in or through senior express.

    With kind Personal Regards,
    A.N.Pandey

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