#AgeNoBar with Snehlata Bhatnagar

I look up the latest trends on the internet along with my grand daughters and make clothes for them — I feel like a designer!”

She was married into a progressive family, where moved around quite a bit due to her husband’s work. An age-old skill that her mother had taught her came in handy and she would make clothes for her family to save money for the future. Time and health didn’t allow her to pursue it further but as her heart and universe would will it, at the age of 86, she has become the designer to her grand children.

Her Story: “I was born in Lahore before the partition and grew up in Delhi after, with not only my parents and siblings but also my uncles and their families. It was always a full house and I enjoyed being the youngest of the lot! If I was up to mischief, I always got some sort of bribe with sweets so that I would behave. Those were some of the happiest days of my life. Education amongst women at the time was scarce, but my family held the perfect combination of traditional values and contemporary thinking. All of us were encouraged to go to school, and everyone was involved in our studies. Even my mother and aunt who were not formally educated learned to read and educate themselves. Getting married young was also quite normal, but I didn’t get married until I was 21. Although my marriage was arranged, the choice made by my family was spot on —my husband and in-laws were progressive and held the same values. We moved to Bombay after we got married and initially my husband was unemployed, but freshly graduated with an engineering degree. Soon, he got appointed to a job in a hydroelectric branch with the Tata Group. These plants were placed in remote areas so there were camps set up for the workers at the plant. Besides the set up within the camp, we were surrounded by jungles and rural villages. It was a secluded life— but as long as we were together, we were happy. The ladies living in camp were all very active and we played many sports together including badminton and tennis. I learned to swim there which became one of my favourite activities. My husband made 100 rupees a month and I was to run the house on that amount— he didn’t believe in taking loans — it was tight. My mother had taught all the girls in the family how to knit and stitch. This skill came handy — I decided to use my skills to make clothes for my husband and children and to save that money for the future. Although stitching was more out of necessity, knitting was my true passion. I am a ferocious reader so knitting and reading were my favorite things to do at home. Because I would do both for hours on end, my eyes began to get very weak and prone to infections because of the wool particles — I had no choice but to give it up — for 15 long years! Every passion has its up and downs, and I did move on after losing that part of me. But recently I was given an unexpected gift. Along with the aches and pains of growing old, your blood circulation also gets affected. A couple of years ago, now as an old grandma, I picked up my needles just because I missed them and started knitting and guess what? My hands were too cold to pick up on the wool particles. I could knit again! At 86, I found a new purpose. I look up the latest trends on the internet along with my grand daughters and make clothes for them — I feel like a designer! I recently made a pink sweater for one and a stylish short dress for the other — they were thrilled! They’ve started calling me ‘cool Dadi!”  

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