Kids Corner


The Interview





After graduating with a Masters in Economic Development, I nevertheless found it difficult to land a job. 

Luckily I managed to undertake some voluntary research work, requiring me to study homecare agencies. I then applied for a job in Geriatric Medicine at a top University here in the United Kingdom.

I was delighted when I finally got an interview.

I remember it well.

The job entailed research by interviewing elderly Asian diabetics. The Healthcare professor and his two assistants interviewing me were looking at me and appeared unsure as to whether I was up to the task. I was young and to be honest the thought of working in a hospital filled me with dread: hospitals are places where people are ill and sometimes even die, and I did not at all feel qualified to deal with these issues of life and death. 

Anyway, I remained positive and had to show that I was capable of doing the job.

I was asked if I had ever communicated with the elderly. The answer was ‘yes. Indeed, I loved to be with the elderly Sikh women in the gurdwara. In fact, I pointed out, I always made a special effort to work with them because they were senior members of the community and often lead the congregation in prayers and kirtan. 

Privately, I wondered whether it was merely convenient for me to align myself with them or was it because I felt safe and protected with them. Silently, I mused, it was probably the latter.

Well, I got the job even though I had absolutely no qualifications for, or experience with, working with the elderly. Only that I liked to be with the Sikh women at the gurdwara.

The job opened up a whole new world for me. I had no idea of the courage and strength that elderly diabetics showed, making their way through each day.

For nearly two years I sat and listened to hundreds of stories of pain, poverty and
loneliness. Loneliness in particular was a massive issue not so much for the elderly immigrants but also for the local-born British community. The loss of a partner, for example, had a devastating emotional impact on the elderly.

I saw many men in tears and women just resigned to waiting for death.

Dealing with all of these challenges, it was only my faith that allowed me to continue in the post. I did not have the knowledge -- then being in my mid-twenties -- to be a lay chaplain. All I could do was ask a set of research questions and then listen to and record their stories. 

Their being able to tell their stories, I discovered, was in itself healing in some ways … to have someone, that is, to just listen and make time for them. It meant a lot to them.

I felt very privileged to be that person.

Though it was, after all, a ‘job‘, I was very grateful.

*   *   *   *   *

It is estimated that in the foreseeable future, young people will change jobs approximately 20 times in the course of their career. Even jobs in professions such as dentistry and accounting are no longer secure and safe. Those with permanent jobs are seeing rapid changes, both locally and globally.

It is sometimes difficult to find stability and a sense of continuity.

But we can find it in our Guide and Teacher, Guru Granth Sahib, where the message is eternal and universal. It is with this as our core that we must align ourselves to help us deal with the rapid changes in society.  Otherwise we risk getting swept along by the ocean of changes. 

And then, we must prepare for the ultimate ‘interview’ with Dharamraj and his two assistants, Chitra and Gupta. There will be an assessment. The criteria by which they will allow us to move on to the next stage will be our actions and how well we have prepared for our marriage with The One.

That is the interview for which we must all prepare for in our 'parents’ home' before we move on to the world of limitless beauty, joy, opportunities of eternal peace and bliss that can be found with our ultimate Master.

January 29, 2015

Conversation about this article

1: Sangat Singh (Kuala Lunpur, Malaysia), January 29, 2015, 4:46 PM.

Gurmit ji, steeped in gurbani when you stepped in this apparently mundane job, your inner voice was invoked. Gurbani shows us the way: "Naa ko bairee nahee biganna sagal sang ham ka-o ban aa-ee" -- "There are no enemies, no strangers; we treat all of humanity alike." Bhai Kanhayyia showed us the way. In the course of your 'sewa', there must have been a lot of elderly Sikhs who found themselves alone and destitute with distant memories of bygone days. Unfortunately most of these transplanted elders are the most isolated ones as most of them speak no English and do not drive. Most of them devote themselves to grandchildren, picking them up from school and ferrying them for their games' practice. I trust, Gurmit ji, that in addition to medicare, listening to them in itself is the therapy they need most. Their own sons and daughters are too busy chasing their own tails. Also, I do hope you have been introducing Sukhmani Sahib to your Sikh clientele.

2: Gurmit Kaur (United Kingdom), January 30, 2015, 3:00 AM.

Fateh, S. Sangat Singh ji. I went to a Sikh Senior Day Care Centre on Monday this week. The elderly ladies were having a blast, doing giddha, exercise and eating pokoaras. I had the most amazing time listening to songs of the joys of independence, songs of losing loved ones in war and even some silly songs by the elderly ladies. Although the job was mundane, I did get the opportunity to do presentations to the professors. The interview was a long time ago, although my personal circumstances have changed. I am still looking for a fulfilling job, that utilizes all of my skills. I have had no support from anyone, which is sad. The elderly ladies do Sukhmani Sahib weekly, but the young need also to get together.

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