My Experience At The Old Age Home

The stone mansion looked huge and stunning when I first saw it after getting down from the auto. What was more stunning was the lush green garden surrounding the mansion. I paid the auto driver and looked at the huge gates made of wrought iron with the name of the old age home embossed on it with golden color in bold letters. The name seemed old fashioned but my doubts were cleared when the security checked my name against the computer confirming my appointment and gave me a swipe card to reach the main entrance. Not so old fashioned after all. I made my way towards the reception through the pathway in between the most beautiful lawn I had ever seen. There were swings, round tables with chairs, many trees and beautiful street lamps along the pathway. I did not see a single elderly man or woman anywhere there. Suddenly I became nervous. I reached the reception after swiping my card on the electronic main door, where a lady with a very beautiful smile greeted me with a Namaste. I told her that I had come for the interview for the post of Assistant Manager – Operations by showing her my interview confirmation letter. She looked at my face again which made me more nervous and told me to wait in the visitors room onto my left. She said she will get back to me soon.

“Shirley” a voice echoed from nowhere. I was startled after hearing my name. I regained my composure and said it’s me and stood up from the chair I was comfortably sitting. It was a different woman this time, tall, slim and elegantly dressed. She also had a beautiful smile on her face. She told me to follow her and lead me to another room. There were already an old woman and a man in his late 40’s sitting on the other side of a table. The lady who took me till there, joined them on the third chair besides them. They told me to take my seat opposite to them. I fiddled with the folder I was carrying and took out my resume and passed it across to them. They took it from me and without looking at it kept it down. I was even more nervous. The old lady who had a bob cut hair and wearing small specs adjusted it and spoke. So you have 2 years of experience in hospital management. Without giving me a gap to respond she continued. ”And you are a graduate in BCom and have a MBA in hospital and healthcare management
“. I nodded. Why did you quit your job at the hospital? I told them that I was looking for a better prospect and career growth like any other MBA grads would say without even thinking when asked this question. What makes you think that working in an old age home would help you achieve career growth? The late 40’s looking man asked me. That was a really good question. The main and the only reason for me applying for this post was not for the job title as Asst manager but the pay part of it which said 9.75 lakhs with additional perks. I was getting only 4.5 lakhs at the hospital doing night shifts and listening to patients crying and cribbing and getting myself screamed at by manager for no apparent reason, who had high BP himself but took no medication. But I very confidently replied saying that I was very much interested in NGO related work and like social welfare work and had taken up hospital management as a major in MBA when all others took marketing and finance. Anyways those marketing guys ended up selling credit cards and insurance or begging US and UK corporates to buy their company’s IT solutions at 2 in the morning. The finance guys ended up approving home loans and bike loans in a basement of some banks. I thought in my head.

The elegantly dressed lady asked me what my job description was at the hospital. I told them that I have done everything possible at the hospital including admission of a patient to settling his bills, taking care of insurance works, consoling the patients before operations (which was not in my job description) to taking care of cremation work as well, ensuring hygienic conditions prevail at all the time and coordinating the nurses working times to ensure availability of the nurses at all times etc etc. I went on for 2 more minutes about my achievements and highlighting situations where I was appreciated by the management blah blah (which was a made up story on the fly). I ended my adventurous stories with a smile and pride on my face.

Seems she knows everything about everything, commented the old women in the panel. A smile spread out on the other two faces. I wondered if that was a sarcastic statement. “Shirley”, spoke the elegantly dressed woman again. Your resume is impressive but what we expect from someone in this post is modesty along with the ability to achieve the goals set forth to them every single day. I did not know what expression I could make to show modesty sparkle on my face so I remained still.

“Our old age home” started the old woman “is the home for hundreds of men and women who have come here from various parts of India and also abroad”. They are people who did not live a simple life but are highly influential people. They are paying hell of lot of money to be taken care of every single minute of the day and it is our duty that we ensure that they are happy and remain with us. It will be your duty if given this job to ensure that they remain with us happily. She stressed on the word happily. I nodded. Your roles and responsibilities will not limit within the job description we have written here but much more than that. But if you can prove that you have the ability to deliver then we ensure that your career may not just grow but fly.

My eyes widened on hearing that statement. How difficult is to take care of old people. Anyways they have one leg inside the grave and the other on quick sand. I replied that I will do everything to ensure that I will do my duties to the best of my capabilities. Cliché. I was waiting for the next question but there were none; instead the man dialed an extension on the phone and called for someone named Shweta. As he kept the phone he told me to accompany Shweta and discuss the roles and responsibilities and also take a look at the building and come back and meet them again in half an hour. I again nodded. Did that mean I got the job, I wondered.

There was a knock and an even more beautiful lady entered. I looked at her from head to toe. The way she wore her saree amazed me. It had no wrinkle, every pleat measured, blouse stitched to perfect measurements. What was most striking for me was that the saree was tucked deep down way below the navel, almost around the hip bone. It did not look sexy unless you stand outside and a powerful wind blows, it might reveal a lot of skin from just below her bosom till her waist. But currently the pallu was in place and covered her perfectly without revealing any skin. Shweta smiled at me when she was asked to take me around. Does the motto of this institution says “Smile no matter what” or something I wondered. I followed her silently as she walked in brisk pace across the hall to another room. She told me that the old age home was spread across 20 acres of land and has 3 buildings in total. Before she went ahead with the architecture of these buildings I interrupted her by asking I don’t see a single resident anywhere. She smiled again and told me that it was 11:30 am now and it time for afternoon meditations before lunch so everyone is gathered at the main hall now. She told me that there is timing for everything here and people take things seriously if something is late. I swallowed hard. I had no respect for time and I run around everywhere like a headless chicken to get things done at the last minute.

She then continued nonstop about the history of the place, heritage etc etc. I did not care less but I learnt that the old women on the interview panel was the chairman of the place and elegantly dressed woman was her daughter and the late 40’s man was elegantly dressed woman’s husband. They are very important people that I should worry about she told me. What was more interesting was that Shweta had resigned as she was getting married and I was her probable replacement. The tour ended and she took me back to the interview room. Before letting me in she told me to think very carefully before I accept the offer as satisfying the residents requires extra skills.

I was very happy with everything I saw. Everything was so modern here in terms of electronics and other facilities. Just like a 5 star hotel. The 3 smiling faces greeted me again. For some reason even I had a stupid smile on my face which I don’t know how it appeared. Before they asked something, I replied that I love the place. Good, replied the late 40’s man. Would you want to work for us? I replied yes even without negotiating the package. Don’t you want to know your remuneration? Asked the elegantly dressed lady? I nodded embarrassed. They extended a paper which looked like the breakup of my salary. I quickly scanned the numbers to the bottom of the page which had a magic number after adding up some other numbers. My jaw dropped. 11,42,091. More than what they had mentioned on job portal. From 4.5 lakhs to 11.5 lakhs. I had the biggest hike in the history of my college. I quickly divided it by 12 to know what could be my take home every month which is the most stupidest thing to do as I have realized over time that the final take home is far far less than that of the magic number we get after we divide total salary by 12. Nevertheless 4.5 divided by 12 is less that 11.5 divided by 12. So I nodded happily.

When can you join? I told them that I will join next week. The elegantly dressed lady asked me if I knew that there was a dress code. I nodded. They told me to go take the measurements before leaving as they will only provide the saree and the blouse which was the uniform here. Shweta will guide me on the required formalities with the HR. After signing on various forms even without looking I was eager to go home and shop. I had a credit card with a credit limit of 45 K. I had reached 38 K on it already. I decided to max it today. After signing about 40 forms I was tired. Shweta then took me to the tailors department where a woman was sitting stitching something. Before she smiled at me I smiled at her. Her smile was even wider than mine. Shweta mentioned the word blouse. So she took the tape to start measuring me. I was wearing a slightly loose salwar. She told me to come inside and take it off as she wanted perfect measurements. I then remembered about Shweta’s perfectly tailored blouse. I wondered if I could tell this tailor to stitch some other blouses of mine also if I made friends with her. I was taken inside a well lit room. Shweta followed us. Since the tailor was also a lady, I swiftly removed by salwar top. The tailor looked at me in amazement, so did Shweta. I was suddenly conscious of myself. I did not look all that bad myself. I had taken care of myself well. I also had perfectly sized breasts and had a flat stomach. The tailor lady took all the measurements and I saw her writing 34 for the size of my breasts. She asked me if I wear cupped bra’s. I told her that I don’t need to. It was done and I wore my salwar top again. Shweta told me that she was here for another 2 more weeks and I will need to learn everything that she was doing here. I told her bye and started for the gates. As I reached the hall, I saw a crowd now. There were some 200 people gathering around and standing in line for lunch. The men were not as told as I thought they would be. Some were still well built. I wondered if they crossed 60 or something. They were eying me as I passed by them as I felt that feeling of something piercing on my backbone when you know someone is staring at your back. I was again nervous.

I stopped worrying now as I reached home. Forget about it till next week which was by the way only 3 days away. I shopped lavishly for 5 K (highest I have spent on a single day for my clothes), saw a stupid Hollywood 3D movie with my friends. Popcorn and Pepsi along with a burger cost me a fortune. But thanks to the wonderful job that I had now, 450 Rs for a popcorn tub combo did not bother me anymore. Yippee! No more guilty feeling inside that I could buy tastier popcorn for 15 rs and 10 rs pepsi from the roadside shops as I am worth more now. I reached home and tried to get some sleep. I had nightmares instead of dreams for reasons I cannot fathom. The weekend passed at the same speed at which I spend my remaining savings lavishly.

The day came and I was nervous instead of excited. Butterflies were doing drunk driving inside my stomach. I got down from the auto. The security identified me and handed me a new ID with my photo on it. I had submitted my photo to HR before. I walked to the reception and was asked to wait. Shweta came in from somewhere and told me to follow her. I was taken to the same tailor lady. She was ready with my blouse. She then handed me my blouse and saree and a petticoat. This saree looked different than what Shweta was wearing. This saree was of thinner material. I was not an expert in draping sari’s. I asked them for help. They took me inside the same room. I was asked to remove the salwar I was wearing. I gladly removed it. I was happy as I was wearing new lingerie now. I stood in my bra and panty now. I then wore my petticoat. I wore it above my navel. Shweta immediately came forward and told me to stop. I had a feeling why it was for. She told me that we tie it below and untied the knot. She then lowered it to the level which I had earlier noticed she had tied up to. It would be called obscene if I wear it like that in my parents’ house. Meanwhile the tailor lady came forward and slightly pulled down my panty a bit. I decided not to create a scene. Shweta then tied the petticoat which was just above my private part. I wore the blouse and it was actually tight or stitched in a way to bring out the exact shape of my breasts. The blouse ended just below my breasts and there was a lot of exposed skin between my blouse and my petticoat. They then starting draping the sari around me so that only one layer of pallu was left to cover my entire front part. I was looking at myself in a full length mirror and I realized that this sari was a bit transparent. I asked why I was wearing a different sari than Shweta and she replied that the management was changing the uniform now. That was believable. I asked her if there are other ladies here who would wear this. She told me everybody had different sari’s as per their role. After they were done I realized that I looked sexy in this saree. In the sun light everyone could see my stomach. I was scared to create a fuss on the first day itself. Once they were done with my makeup, I followed Shweta to another room. She asked me to sit and listen to her carefully as she was going to explain my daily responsibilities to me.

I took out a book and pen from my handbag to note it. She told me it’s not required. She told me that she was in charge of managing the needs of 20 elderly people. Some of them are highly qualified and served in very high posts before retiring. For e.g one guy was an IAS officer, another guy was a minister, army general, painter so on and so forth. She told me that they all have different likings and it was my duty to ensure that these people are all happy in here. There will be nurses to take care of personal needs for them but I ll be the main point of contact for any grievance they are having. I have to ensure that they lead a healthy life style and don’t fall sick ever. She told me that I might have to do night duty in case of need and I ll be paid extra for it. She told me that she will introduce me to everyone later on.

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