June 1, 2010

INDIA: Lonely silvers have a go at speed dating in Mumbai

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MUMBAI, Maharashtra / Daily News & Analysis / Report / June 1, 2010

By Humaira Ansari / DNA

No mushy music playing in the background, no candlelight dinner and an ambience that’s anything but romantic. However, for more than 500 silvers, who attended a matchmaking event on Sunday, which was more like a speed date, none of this mattered. These lonely seniors were driven to the venue more in search of companionship than anything else.

The daylong event at Malad, Senior Citizens Parichay Mela, organised on May 30 by the Rotary Club of Northwest Mumbai in association with an Ahmedabad-based organisation, aimed at introducing an assorted group of senior citizens to the idea of companionship and marriage.

The participants, a mixed bag of divorcees, widows, bachelors and spinsters, all of them 50 and above, some even in their 70s, were accompanied by their children and grandchildren. Besides city-based elderly, some silvers travelled from neighbouring Karnataka, Gujarat and other parts of Maharashtra in search of their soulmates.

“Children get busy with their lives, grandchildren who grow up on granny tales get busy with careers. This leaves the silvers with an extremely lonely life. Life in old age homes is hardly a happy affair. An event like this helps them find company, which is what they crave the most at this age” says Mahendra Joshi, president, Rotary Club, Mumbai North West.

They may have experienced the highs and lows of marital life before, but these young-at-heart seniors did exhibit the trepidation and reservation of a kind that a romantic liaison demands. This especially held true for the elderly women who participated in the event.

“Women still face the social stigma of remarriage and for senior women it is obviously more difficult,” says NathuBhai Shah, founder of Vina Mulya Amulya Seva, the organisation which approached the Rotary club with the event proposal.

“While 300 men showed up for the event, there were only 75 women,” says Shah.

To elicit more participation from women, Shah says the orgnaisation provides for their travelling and even gives them token gifts.

“This was our first event in Maharashtra. We have held silver matchmaking events in Bangalore, Surat, Baroda, Kota and Ahmedabad in the past,” says Shah, a former government official from Gujarat, who started the organisation in 2002 after the Kutch earthquake, for the benefit of those silvers who lost their life partners in the tragic calamity.

Joshi admits that the idea of holding a silver match making event did face hiccups. “But then we thought, why not? For the silvers it’s not much about physical attraction. They just need someone to talk to, to share their feelings with. Companionship knows no age,” he says.

So all participants were given number coupons and were asked to briefly introduce themselves. Those, whose preferences matched, were later given the opportunity to talk at length.

“I am hoping that at least 10 couples will take their date further,” says Shah. He claims that his organisation has brought 27 silver couples together in the past eight years.

The date is followed by meetings by both families and involves the usual family background and income checks and even discussions on medical conditions of the prospective partner. “Once, the formalities are through, the silvers can enjoy each other’s company,” says Shah.

Post the event, Joshi informs that one couple has already decided to tie the knot. “They have also earned a sponsored honeymoon trip to Mahableshwar.”

© 2005-2010 Diligent Media Corporation Ltd.

Photos by courtesy of Rotary Club of Bombay Northwest