Discover why they’ve decided to bow out of the daily grind.
By Tom Mclean
For many of us, retirement signals the light at the end of the tunnel. After decades of labour and striving towards lofty goals, a life free from career headaches is seen as a highly-anticipated reward. Taking that first step, however, and diving headfirst into a new and unfamiliar routine can be an unnerving proposition. With that in mind, Masala has spoken to two retired members of the Thai-Indian community about their experiences in dealing with retirement and their thoughts on employment-free life.
Mr. Diwakar G. Kaveeshwar (image featured above)
Born in 1946, Diwakar G. Kaveeshwar enjoyed a peaceful childhood in Indore, Madhya Pradesh. Following an idyllic youth filled with sports, education, and Indore’s jovial and colourful culture, Diwakar set off to pursue a degree in chemical engineering at the National Institute of Technology, Raipur, one of the oldest and most renowned research and engineering institutions in Chhattisgarh.
Diwakar’s long and illustrious career took off in 1973 when he joined textile company Grasim Industries Ltd’s manufacturing plant in Nagda, Madhya Pradesh. A flagship company of the global conglomerate, the Aditya Birla Group, Grasim is a world-renowned manufacturer of specialty materials, fibres and textiles, which gave Diwakar ample opportunity to practice his skills in chemical engineering. With his career mounting and his talents in high demand, Diwakar was eventually sent to Angthong Province in Thailand to work at the Birla Group’s Thai Rayon Facility.
Diwakar continued to work for various Aditya Birla Group companies throughout his career before joining Rayong-based KLJ Organic (Thailand) Ltd in 2016. Eventually moving to Bangkok, Diwakar formed his own small company in the city before settling into a life of retirement.
Why did you choose to remain in Thailand following your retirement?
Thailand is a beautiful place to live. From its friendly, welcoming people to its natural scenery, the country is a wonderful place to call home. Having spent so many years working here, I have been left with strong cross-cultural management skills. This has made living and working here simple and easy.
What would you say is the best aspect of retired life?
I would say the best part is having so much more flexibility. I am now able to manage my time much better and use the extra freedom I’m afforded to improve my personal wellbeing. Getting in that morning walk or other daily exercise is crucial for maintaining good health.
What advice would you give to prospective retirees to prepare them for the change in lifestyle?
For those in the process of retiring, I would say the most important thing is not considering all your business to be finished. Keep a schedule. You still have things to take care of – your health being number one! And not just physical health. Mental exercises and stimulation are an absolute must if you want to live out the rest of your days in happiness.
What’s your take on the journey of life?
I am a firm believer in destiny. As far as I’m concerned, I’m a positive soul on a charter flight piloted by divine intervention.
Mr. Navneet Sethi
Born and raised in New Delhi, 63-year- old Navneet Sethi is a semi-retired chartered accountant. Having spent 10 years working in India and two years working in Baghdad, Iraq, Navneet moved to Thailand at the age of 35, along with his family, where he found work at Sunflag Thailand Ltd, a polyester manufacturing company.
After working with the company for 15 years, Navneet was struck by a series of hardships in 2008 which caused him to re-evaluate his lifestyle and career. No longer interested in working in stressful environments, Navneet took the plunge and retired from day-to-day work.
Since his retirement, Navneet continues to work periodically for various companies around the city but no longer prioritises work over his health and home life. In his own words, Navneet states, “If something comes my way, I’ll take it. But I’m not chasing jobs anymore.”
What prompted your retirement?
As I only have one child and she had recently graduated from university in the United States, I no longer had the financial responsibility of providing for her education. My wife also had her own business which continues to provide a steady flow of income. If I had three children to look after, I likely wouldn’t have been able to retire. Ease of retirement really depends on the responsibilities you have to manage – especially if you’re the head of a family.
How did your family react to your retirement?
As I retired quite early – around 50 years old – my family was actually a bit resentful at the start. They weren’t exactly happy with my new routine of sitting around at home, staying up late, having lots of lie-ins, and not really having a schedule. Over time they became okay with it because they saw how much I enjoy my day-to-day life.
What aspect of working life do you miss?
At work, your time feels valuable. It’s measured and rewarded. When you’re retired, it’s up to you how you invest your time. The challenges are different and you set your own goalposts.
What hobbies have you discovered since retiring?
I’ve always been a bit of a movie buff so I watch a lot of films when I’m home. I always make it a point to walk for at least one to two hours every day. I also play golf. Retirement is a slower pace of life but once you get the hang of it, you’ll start loving it.
What advice would you give to prospective retirees?
It’s crucial that retirees try to keep their health insurance policies going. Many companies provide health insurance for their workers but if you leave your job, the policy is cancelled. If you have existing ailments, it can be almost impossible to regain the same level of insurance coverage. If possible, try to stay with the same insurance policy post-retirement. Medical costs without insurance can be astronomical and if you’re on the wrong side of 60, anything can happen.