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30.05.2018

Over a decade ago, a move between cities created the most serious crisis of this writer’s life: there were no longer had any “building friends” our age to play with. In Bangalore, our new home, we were surrounded by bungalows that seemed to house only the elderly. Cue mean-spirited jokes about being the only children in a pensioner’s paradise.

Just as roles have reversed in our thirties, good news arrives from Lahe Lahe, Indiranagar. They’ve just kicked off Salt & Pepper, a weekly meet-up for senior citizens tired of hanging out with silly young people. It’s a departure from their usual schedule of workshops and arty gatherings, where word association games with ‘hip’ don’t usually bring up ‘surgery.’

The space’s founder, Mansee Shah Thard, says the idea for Salt & Pepper came to her when a 65-year-old gentleman rang to inquire if one of her other events would admit him. No age restriction had been mentioned in the event details, but Thard realised that for many seniors, the prospect of going out and kicking back causes some hesitation.

The first event, held on a sleepy Thursday afternoon last week, involved comfortable cane chairs and a rousing round of Housie. What started off ostensibly as a friendly game soon turned into a jam session for the singers in the group, interspersed with jokes flying back and forth. As a result, this week’s theme: Antakshari!

“Most senior citizens meet at a park, sit on the bench, and discuss politics,” says Arun Bhatia, retired journalist, local senior citizen, and inaugural Salt and Pepper attendee. “Often this is the only interaction they have.” Not at Salt and Pepper, where plans are already afoot for the next outing. A new event will be announced every week on Lahe Lahe’s Facebook page, and signing yourself or a loved one up is easy as pie.

These golden-aged adventurers might just be ready to out-cool the cool kids. After all, it isn’t that there is not enough to do in the city; just rare to see people who look like your parents at a gig or a stand up comedy show. These places are so often coded to be young and unwrinkled, it can be off putting to anyone without a septum piercing and rainbow hair.

“Seniors get left out - children move abroad, they are busy with their work and lives. It becomes difficult to meet new people,” Arun muses. “But events like this create some bonding. You meet your neighbours, other seniors. There’s a community.” Having tested the waters and found them satisfactory, these new friends are planning the future with gusto. A potluck? A storytelling session? Maybe some DIY? That’s how you start building friends - for yourself.

Getting there: Salt & Pepper events are usually scheduled for every Thursday afternoon. Follow Lahe Lahe on Facebook and keep an eye out for the next event’s details.

Accessibility: Limited street parking is available. Stairs and a ramp lead to the elevator that takes you up to Lahe Lahe on the third floor.

Sushmita Sundaram writes about funny people, odd things, and anything edible. Follow her on Twitter at @sushmitas.

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