Retirement Apartment Gujarati
Jeevan Dhara - Retirement Apartments for Gujaratis
A Home of Longivity and Happiness
(A Stream of Life)
My dream of a Retirement Home, Village or Apartment Building.
About 60-70 years from now, a man sitting in apartment no. 503 on the fifth floor of the building ‘Jeevan Dhara’ is inviting a friend to join him in the celebration of his first day in the now world famous ‘Jeevan Dhara’ Gujarati Retirement apartments. After the success of the first ‘Jeevan Dhara’ in Melbourne during 2015-2020, similar apartments are built in many cities in Australia, USA, UK, Africa as also in Gujarat in India.
This is what he was saying:
‘On one very auspicious day my Dada (Grandfather) put down a deposit to buy this apartment. I was a little child then and my dada about 75. I had heard our family doctor saying then “His heart is so bad, he hasn’t much time to live. Why does he bother to buy a new apartment, I wonder !’ But my Dada and dadi both seemed to be very happy after moving here and proved the doctors wrong. They found so much joy and happiness and so much new interest in life that their desire to live longer pushed out all the weaknesses from them. Their life was filled with tranquility after moving here. They both lived beyond 95. So my dad and mum, who had opposed my dada when he was buying this apartment, decided to move in here when they inherited it. This place must have an elixir. My mum and dad broke the living record of our family and both lived beyond 100 years age. There are similar stories in most apartments here. I am told not a single apartment has been sold in this building since its first inception. Every apartment is passed in inheritance and has remained owner-occupied.’
Jeevan Dhara (Stream of Life)
This is the retirement home of my dream.
(Only 40 like minded people/couples are needed to make this a reality. If one wants to happily enjoy the rest of the life of retirement, then one must be willing and prepared to downsize – give up the big 40 squares, 10 rooms mansion and come and live in this 8 squares, 2BR apartment in company of the people with similar desires.)
This is not just a retirement home. It is so much full of comfort, happiness and enjoyment that here it feels like being in Heaven without going there. People going in a retirement village sometimes say, ‘This is my last home, I will die here.’ But I would say, ‘I came here to live, I will live here.’
Life in retirement need not be a drab, lonely, tiring, interest-less. Members/occupants are provided with so much entertainment, enjoyment, and encouragement to pursue the hobby of their choice that they all wish they were in a place like this so many years earlier.
Gujaratis are mainly vegetarians. So this is a strictly vegetarian community residence. Occupants are forbidden to cook or even eat take-away non-veg food in their apartment. In Australia the line between veg and non-veg food is blurred. Cakes and icecreams have egg in it. Some frozen items have meat extracts as preservative, etc. The commonsense may prevail.
No More Cooking
When a man retires from active money generating work, he is totally free and at liberty to use his time any which he likes. But when a woman retires, the kitchen work is still hanging around her neck like a ‘mill stone’. In Jeevan Dhara, it is removed. There is no more cooking work for women, unless an individual decides otherwise.
All meals – breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea/snacks and dinner are included in a deposit of sum of money to the JDAOA Fund (Jeevan Dhara Apartments Owners Association).
For Gujaratis, half the pleasure of living is in the food they eat. With diabetes, heart weakness, bowl disorder and many similar age-related degenerating conditions setting in, doctors put a lot of restrictions on their eating. But their food need not be plain and tasteless. Although the management or the committee cannot guarantee perfectness, with the consultation of the Gujarati dieticians and cooking experts from Gujarat they endeavor to make the everyday menu full of tasteful and enjoyable items.
No smoking is allowed anywhere in the building (toilets and garage included).
It is well accepted and understood that in the true tradition of the Hindu Undivided Family the hearts of true Gujaratis are craving for the love and company of their children and specially the grandchildren. In the current atmosphere of nuclear lifestyle, influence of the western culture and the socio-economic conditions, the children do not understand the base of the feelings of their parents and tend to neglect them. At Jeevan Dhara, they endeavor to create an environment to attract the children and the grandchildren to visit them at least on special occasions. The grand children are encouraged to spend a weekend or so with the grandparents and even their birthdays are celebrated here.
Professional Facilities(In House)
Gujaraticommunity has many professionals of various fields. There are doctors, accountants, solicitors, pharmacists, professors, teachers, nurses, builders, etc. and many of them have come to live at Jeevan Dhara. Their services, free or at cost, are available to the members.
It is a multi-story (may be 10 stories) apartment building, comprising 32, 40 0r 48 apartments. Less than 32 will be uneconomical, larger than 48 may have management or social difficulties)
31/39/47 apartments are for owner-occupiers and one apartment for the cook/servant.
These apartments are not for investment. The apartment has to be owner-occupied and cannot be rented.
If ever needed to be sold, it can be sold only to a retired Gujarati, approved by the management committee and who agrees to abide by the rules of Jeevan Dhara Apartments.
Every apartment is of same size. It has two bedrooms, one bathroom, open living lounge/dining/kitchen and a balcony. One car space per apartment. When only one or two persons are living in an apartment there is no need for an ‘ensuite’ or additional bathroom. This reduces the cost of construction and maintenance.
The roof has a ‘roof garden’ for lounging in the sunshine (or romantically walking in the rain !).
It is a secured building with double door entrance to the foyer.
There are two automatic lifts.
A secured car garage. One car space per apartment plus a small storage space.
Entrance foyer and dining room with kitchen. The morning tea, breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner, which are included in the deposit to the JDAOA Fund, are served here. Additional tea/coffee can be had from the coin operated vending machine in the dining room. A special sub-committee of occupiers is formed to supervise the meals time and manage the procurement of the provisions and deciding the menu. The menu is decided for a month in advance and ensures varieties of delicious food items.
(L & G Toilets included on the floor)
It is very convenient to move around in the building. The residents are totally immune from the effects of the outside weather. One can go to dining room (ground floor), meeting/satsang room (first floor) or the roof garden using the lift. So do not have to walk outside in unpredictable weather. Wheelchair excess is from car park to anywhere in the building
Every Sunday there is a birthday party to celebrate the birthday of the person/persons whose birthday falls during that week. With 32 apartments – 64 occupants – there is always somebody’s birthday during a week. The birthday person’s grandchildren are admitted free on that day. A cake is provided by the management. It is a feast day and a sweet and a farsan are included in the menu for that day in Gujarati style. If anybody wish to provide additional item he/she can do so at own expense. Help for the procurement may be provided where possible.)
Library (Self served) – Gujarati books and magazines of the choice of the occupants are procured and kept here for reading in the library only. The room has necessary tables and chairs.
Meeting/Play room – sofas, chairs and coffee/card tables are here. Playing cards, dart, chess, carrem and other board games are procured and made available.
Satsang/meeting room – for informal get together, satsang or adhyatmic discussions, bhajans, chanting etc. Participants may bring idols or photos of their choice at the time of the meeting but nothing of that kind is allowed to be left permanently in this room.
Prayer room - Non-religious, multi-faith, prayer room has soft light and music. No idol or photograph is allowed to be placed in this room. It is for meditation and silent prayer of who the member believes in. Chanting is also not allowed in prayer room.
(L & G toilets included on the first floor)
Every weekend there is something interesting in the first floor hall. It may be discourse on spiritual or health related subject by an invited expert or some entertainment program. Sometimes an old movie or a Gujarati drama is also screened on the big screen.
The worst condition a person suffers in the old age is Dementia. It happens mostly when a person is very lonely and has nobody to talk to. Even in a family environment it can happen to a senior who is neglected. Whereas there is no cure for it, it can be delayed or prevented by keeping the mind constantly occupied and active. In Jeevan Dhara a member is surrounded by so many friends that there is rarely an idle moment for the mind.
The members are encouraged to take up a hobby. A hobby increases the interest in life and adds to happiness. Other than reading and writing, there are hundreds of hobbies suitable for the seniors. Some may need to spend money, some may be free and some can even generate an income.
Not a Nursing Home
This is not a nursing home or aged care center. This is the home of a very friendly community and they live like a family. In the true tradition of a Hindu undivided family, they look after each other in sickness and comfort in sad or unhappy situation.
Safety and Security
The apartment building is safe and secure. So for those who become so fragile that they find it difficult to open the door when some friend is visiting, it is safe to leave the front door unlocked.
There is a knock on the door of every apartment three times a day – morning, afternoon and evening – to ensure that occupants are safe.
Each occupant has a necklace carrying an emergency button, which can be pressed in case of need of ‘Help’, like having fallen down or rolled out of bed and can’t get up, or have hurt, or having heart pain, etc. The help comes immediately. There is a special emergency alarm (other than the fire alarm) which goes on to let everybody in the building know that somebody is in trouble and needs help.
The caretaker has the master key for all apartments.
Payment and cost structure:
1 The market rate of a two bedroom apartment.
2 Every resident owner deposited a sum of money, per person in the ‘Jeevan Dhara Apartments Owners Association’ Fund. These moneys are invested or placed in a fixed deposit with a bank. The income from the fund, and where necessary a part of the fund, is used to provide the member with all the necessary services as agreed by all occupants. The amount of this deposit has been decided by calculating it to last for 20 years.
3 The expenses to be paid from the JDAOA fund:
A - Canteen expenses – Morning tea, Breakfast, Lunch, afternoon Tea/snacks and
B – Cook and servant
C – Maintenance of the library, games, general toilets, etc.
D – Every apartment cleaned once a week.
E – Cleaning of common area.
F – Maintaining the standard of the building, repair/replacement of the furniture, repainting, etc.
G – Maintenance of the Roof garden.
H – Bus trips to Shopping centers, Restaurants, Cinemas, Clubs, Casino, etc.
I – Manager, accountant, if required.
4 Any surplus/deficit is adjusted to the trust fund.
5 The cost goes up every year. To maintain the capability of the fund to finance all the services, the management committee may ask the owners to contribute additional money as required from time to time.
6 Other expenses(Directly paid by Owners):
A – The Body corp fees (Annual)
B – The council rates (Annual)
C – Water, Gas and Electricity
D – Personal expenses.
A Co-operative Society Constitution
After the required number of members have registered to accept Jeevan Dhara as their Retirement Home, they themselves may get together and make arrangement to draw up and register the required constitution. The outline of rules and facilities mentioned here may or may not be a part of that constitution.
India, A Multicultural Nation
India has many major languages. Each state is based on a language. Although majority of people follow Hinduism and their life is influenced by the teachings and philosophy of Gita and other ancient Hindu scripts, every linguistic state in turn has developed its own unique culture, customs and food habits. So effectively India is a True Multicultural Nation. Indians have taken their language, culture, customs and food habits to whichever country they have gone and settled. Therefore it makes sense that if the people speaking the same language and having a common cultural base live together then more harmony and tolerance is maintained amongst them. The core pillar of Jeevan Dhara is just that. Occupants of each Jeevan Dhara speak a common language and have same cultural base. Vegetarians and non-vegetarians will be living in separate buildings. Thus this concept can be followed by any language and cultural group.
In retirement, first thing you have to decide is what type of life style you wish to have. Every retirement village may offer different facilities and lifestyle. Outside India they are mostly based on western culture. Hindus and specially vegetarians may need to make too many compromises to fit in there. In the end, everything depends upon your financial capability. After all, you get what you pay for.
When you come to a point of retirement, you need to decide what kind of lifestyle you want to have for the remainder of your life. You should decide and make arrangements while bodily and mentally you are still capable of make necessary changes around you. Leaving it too late you may end up in the grip of the proverb "Digging the well for water after the fire has started". Take action now.
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