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New Kind of Retirement Community: A Little India in Silicon Valley 


Indian Retirees Maintain Independence, Fun and Freedom Later in Life
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Young people come from around the world to work in Silicon Valley, California. As these workers build a life away from home, many struggle to bring their aging parents to their new community. But what happens to foreign parents entering their later years in a new country? VOA's Deana Mitchell visits a unique community in Silicon Valley that caters to retirees from India.

With people coming from around the world to work in Silicon Valley, some struggle with the best ways to care for their aging parents.

Increasingly, the solution is an “affinity” retirement community, where older people from places like India and China can live near — but not with — their adult children. These communities break from traditional custom that parents and children live together.

“The children are so busy these days, they are all the time working, taking care of their kids, so we do not want to interfere in their lives,” said Asha RaoRane, an Indian national who wanted to move to the U.S. to be near her three daughters who had immigrated to San Francisco.

Her daughters started exploring the idea of a traditional senior retirement community, but were having trouble finding an American community they thought their mother would fit into.

In July, RaoRane, 70, moved into Priya Living, an affinity-living community, meaning it caters to people with similar interests, such as yoga and meditation.

Arun Paul founded Priya Living as a place for his parents to live. The couple moved from Los Angeles four years ago and are still in a ground floor apartment.

“In living here in America, as the son of immigrants, I’ve realized that there’s very unique needs that immigrants have,” said Paul, a real-estate developer.

“That old system was based on a different time when women were in the house, really taking care, in many cultures, of their husband’s parents,” Paul said. “Obviously the role of women in society has changed globally.”

New friends

For Bhagyashree RaoRane, 38, finding Priya Living for her mother has been a dream come true.

“We walked in and instantly it was like walking into an Indian community in India,” said RaoRane, a filmmaker. “Even the building is painted the same color as so many of the buildings in India are painted.”

This type of independent senior community came as a shock to Nagendra Prasad, 62, and Manjula Neelakantaiah, 53, who came to Priya on a two-month visit from Bangalore, India, to see their daughter, an intern at Google.

“Really, in the beginning we were surprised,” Neelakantaiah said. “In India the younger people, they definitely take care of the aged people.”

Not always a good fit

For a few residents, Priya is not the perfect fit. Dr. Byravan Viswanathan and his wife, Lakshmi, were born and raised in India but spent much of their adult lives in a small town in Pennsylvania.

“We had oodles and oodles of good friends and they were not Indians — regular Americans,” he said. “We had become so Westernized, we have to adapt to Indian living again. Look around. There are six different Indian languages spoken right now at this table, languages I have never spoken or haven’t spoken in decades.” Viswanathan’s daughter is looking into finding a more American community for them.

All are welcome

While the vast majority of residents are from India, Paul stressed that Priya Living welcomes people of all backgrounds. There are a few non-Indians who call Priya home.

Carlos McCann, an 89-year-old WW II veteran, has been living in the complex for almost 20 years, long before it was purchased and remodeled to become the primarily Indian community.

“Everything has sort of come together at this location it’s like it’s the center of the world,” he said.

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