Uday Jhaveri worked as foreman at a Siemens factory in Thane, Maharashtra for 35 years. He retired in 2000 at the age of 60. The following year, he joined our housing Society as a managing committee member and participated in the meetings and activities with a relentless zest and vigor.
A couple of years later, I stepped down from the post of Secretary, but he continued with a determined fervor. He had contributed immensely in organizing various events as well as in overseeing maintenance of the buildings and premises.
Many times, I noticed him sitting on a bench in the Society grounds, surrounded by half a dozen boys and girls in their early teens.
One evening, he joined me for a drink. Unable to contain my curiosity, I mentioned about his involvement in the Society matters and also about his evening sessions with the children.
He took a sip, looked towards me like a school going child full of enthusiasm and said,
“I had been a sincere and hard worker at the plant all the years during my employment, without even a day’s leave. I learnt a lot in my interaction with the company’s management, my colleagues, the junior staff, with people during commuting to and from work and also with friends, family and relatives.
“After retirement, I found myself without anything to do and sitting idle at home the whole day and it took on my nerves. I started drinking afternoon and evening, day in and day out against the earlier practice of only Saturday evenings. Then before the annual general meeting, you invited me to join the managing committee.
“For a few days, I spent sleepless nights, wondering why this young man is asking me, a low-level foreman of an industry to be in the company of exalted stalwarts like a retired College Principal and an Administrative Tribunal Registrar in the state government. However, on your persistence I relented and I must confess that I am indeed enjoying so much constructive work. Besides, I have gone back to my once-a-week booze session.
“I realized that irrespective of where I had been employed earlier, my experiences throughout my working life came in good stead while identifying problem areas in the Society, discussing and debating their solutions with other committee members, which eventually help improve living conditions for all the residents here.
“Once I saw a couple of boys having a heated argument, which soon snowballed into fisticuffs. I immediately intervened, instilled a sense of camaraderie among them and I am happy that today they are the best of friends. Ever since that day, I made it a point to spend at least an hour with the children, talking about the nation’s history, politics, civic sense, environment, global warming, biodiversity and so on.
“My effort is to teach them about the duties and responsibilities of a citizen of the country, because they are the nation’s future.”
“That’s fantastic, Uday; you are doing wonderful work in your capacity as a senior citizen by constructively utilizing your retirement days. Our Housing Society is like a microcosm of the nation at large. If every housing complex has a dedicated person like you, it would help tremendously in nation building.”
Akshay Shroff has been a successful advertising sales consultant of domestic and international media, spanning almost four decades, first in New Delhi followed by Mumbai.
He has been associated with Voluntary Organizations like the Lions Club and the Junior Chamber International in senior positions and also with trade bodies viz. the Delhi Advertising Club and the Press Club of India.
His debut novel, THE MONK was first published in June 2016 and it had sold several thousand copies within a month of launch, earning the National Bestseller tag. It is currently being published in the Croatian language for distribution in Croatia.
After the phenomenal success of the same, he has converted his passion for writing into a full time engagement resulting in this second novel, a sequel to the first, THE MONK RETURNS.