Surupasree Sarmmah, March 22, 2016, DHNS 23:40 IST
There aren’t many tour operators that cater to the comfort levels and the various needs of senior citizens in the City, which is why Sangita Bhattacharya started ‘50+ Voyagers Travel and Adventure’. Launched in 2014, there are currently 600 members, of which at least 80 are active members.
“It is a travel club where we not only concentrate on travel but deal with other activities too.The activities are categorised into 3 — first, we organise various workshops and events on gardening, social media and Tai Chi. Secondly, we have various day tours like visits to vineyards, sight-seeing nearby and have picnics. And thirdly, we organise tours both, domestic and international,” explains Sangita.
This club is for people who are 50 and above in age. She says this is the age when people are relieved from all their family responsibilities and take an early retirement and wish to live a less stressful life. She says, “There are members in the club who are either single or widowed and often feel lonely. Also, at this age people have different health issues and travel helps them stay healthy.” The club gives these senior citizens an opportunity to make new friends and celebrate life.
“There are many tour operators but most of them cater to people of different ages which doesn’t appeal to senior citizens because of their various health issues,” adds Sangita.
Sagari Devyya, an active member of the club says, “I have always loved travelling and this club has come as a blessing to me. I have been a part of this club for more than a year now and have gone on 2 trips with Sangita to Kashmir and Goa. These experiences were absolutely beautiful. The best part of the club is we get to meet new people and see a lot of places. I am looking forward to visiting Singapore, Malaysia and the Golden Temple in Amritsar again this year.”
Sangita says that senior citizens are looking forward to more tours especially international destinations and workshops. They are highly appreciative of the younger generation for taking such a step in creating the club. “At present, we organise 1 trip and a workshop per month. Before I started the club, I met few of my friends’ parents and realised that there is a need to give senior citizens a platform where they can collaborate and communicate with one another.”
It’s not just the trips but also the workshops that are unique. Kasturi Nandagopal says that these have empowered senior citizens to a great level. “Most of us are in our 50s and we don’t know how to use a computer, so we requested Sangita to organise a workshop. Today, I have a Facebook account, I can download and also send pictures to my friends.” She emphasises that Sangita travelling with the group for almost all trips has been encouraging.
The club follows a membership pattern, and there are forms that should be filled by those who are interested to join them. “Once they fill these forms, we try and understand their interest and how active they will be in the club, after which we keep them updated on the various trips and events,” says Sangita. So far, they have visited the Hornbill Festival in Nagaland, Leh-Ladakh, southern India, Rann of Kutch, Malaysia, Singapore, Maldives and Sri Lanka.
Arun Barman, another member, says that the concept of ‘50+ Voyagers Travel and Adventure Club’ is a unique one. He says, “The motive of the club is that a single person can go on a tour without feeling lonely. I am still in touch with all my new friends. I would like to go to Canada, the US, Ladakh and to the Northeast India with this club.” About their future plans, Sangita says, “We definitely want to increase the membership base so that we can serve more people. We also want to make our organisation more quality-centric and expand our presence in different cities.”