by Raja
(Pune, India.)

Going by its technical meaning, I never faced the day I retired. In fact, much before I attained age of superannuation, I had opted for voluntary retirement from my job with a multinational bank that called for more overall responsibility than physical strain. I remained thoroughly immersed in my job demands for some 23 years. It’s a fact, however, that I would have retired on attaining requisite age in 2006.

A question naturally arises as to what I did during this long period of time. I remained quite busy with my family business in foreign trade; my family needed my expertise and I needed work to engage myself, albeit with no strings of a formal employment.

Keeping a mental note of the date I would have retired from banking, I carried out my family responsibilities well in time. This I imagined would give me utmost freedom to do what I had always dreamt of - staying at a place that was close to sea, quiet but not quite deserted.

I found one in the islands of Maldives. A school friend of mine owned a big resort there which I had vacationed at a couple of times with my wife and kids. I guess he sensed my liking. The astute businessman in him perhaps realized I would be of a good help by my mere presence even if I talked to his large clientele of foreign tourists.

It’s another matter that initially I was there to refresh myself now that I had no professional or family commitments; I could just laze about or travel around using short distance ferry and cruise services. This I really enjoyed even more when my friend asked me to help him with my communication skills to welcome tourist guests. This he said would make me stay there as long as I desired for which he was too eager to remunerate me too.

I did hesitate initially thinking this was bound to take the shape of employment sooner or later. The excellent personal rapport I had with my friend, however, was reassuring enough that I would be free to choose the day I would like move out.

I did stay on and soon asked my wife to join me. Now I was enjoying life as I would have liked, putting in some hours of sincere work more or less each day to really earn my remuneration and becoming a sort of tourist for the remaining time.

In due course, I negotiated with a bank financial assistance for developing small and big resort adjuncts in the cluster of islands more favorite with the tourists who had started arriving in much larger numbers now.

In particular, I devoted my personal energies to designing and maintaining landscape gardens which I had a flair for. My wife too chipped in with her special recipes gaining in confidence as some got the acclaim she had never thought they would.

It’s our fourth year at the islands. I am enjoying my work that fulfills the need for new hobbies as well. Of course, I have resumed watercolors that I had always found quite de-stressing. My wife guides tourists practice yoga. This keeps her fit as a fiddle! As for passing spare time, where it is anyway!

Being at such a tourist destination day in and day out keeps bringing back memories of the first vacation I indulged shortly after marriage. Was it our honeymoon outing?

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