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Wisdom Stories Ep.22: Neelima Dalmia Adhar

Cultural expectations surrounding the elderly are being challenged today, and with good reason!

While it was the norm to slow down and retreat into a quieter life post-retirement, more men and women are finding purpose and joy in doing the opposite.

WisdomCircle honours such men and women by shining light on their journey through an inspiring series called “Wisdom Stories”. These people have successfully smashed stereotypes, and their stories remind us that life should be lived to the fullest, no matter what age or stage. 

have always been deeply interested in arts, literature, languages, Indian heritage, and culture. My mother, Dinesh Nandini Dalmia, was an eminent Hindi writer and a Padma Bhushan awardee, who wrote over 40 books, and imbibed in me the love for art and literature. My father was the first Indian owner of The Times of India, the renowned Marwari industrialist, Ramkrishna Dalmia. He was a gifted entrepreneur with a complicated personal life. My mother had to totally reinvent herself to deal with the challenges of the unorthodoxy of her marriage to a staunchly orthodox man, who incidentally had five other wives and eighteen children. I grew up in an atypical Marwari home with six siblings, in New Delhi.

When my first book “Father Dearest: The Life and Times of R. K. Dalmia” was published in 2003, it scaled the bestseller list. This was the most defining moment of my life. I felt I had been given a new lease of life, perhaps because I had rid myself of all my demons. This book explored my complicated relationship with my father, and I was appreciated for my candour and courage.

WS21_Neelima Dalmia Adhar

With a sense of accomplishment, I forged ahead with my second book, a novel, Merchants of Death published in 2007. The Secret Diary of Kasturba is my third book that was launched in New York in October 2016 and in Delhi in November 2016. My fourth book based on the life of Radha, is in publication.

Over the years, I have come to realise that the best thing about ‘being me’ is that I’m a limited edition and there are no other copies. I cannot please everyone, so I don’t kill myself trying or feel guilty if I fail. My husband, children and grandchildren have given me a solid grounding, and continue to spur me on. I take inspiration from the younger generation and greedily absorb their youthful energy which I feel is the best antidote to ageing.

Staying engaged keeps me mentally and physically agile and ‘forever twenty-one’. I enjoy supporting art and artists through various platforms and continue to write my truth.

Neelima Dalmia Adhar

Photo and Interview Credits: Saonli Sen Choudhury of WisdomCircle

Read more stories of inspirational seniors embarking on new journeys in their golden years on WisdomCircle

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