He may have retired more than a year ago as general manager of the Port Klang Authority, but Datuk David Padman is as busy as ever.
In many ways, he personifies the third-ager – officially retired but leading very active lives.
He was recently appointed as chairman of Sealand Marine Group of Companies, a consultancy which he admits doesn’t take up too much of his time.
But Padman is also chairman of the World Association of Dredging Associations and an honorary board member of the International Association of Ports and Harbours – roles which require him to travel all over the world for conferences and events.
Next month, he’s off to Azerbaijan.
“Do you know where that is? There’s a conference for five days which I have been invited to attend and so I’m going with my wife. I enjoy the travel because most of the time it allows me to catch up with old colleagues.
“My wife tells me that I have become more busy since retirement. The only difference is that now, there is no pressure. Travelling these days is also more relaxed as I can be away without having to worry about the children at home or work at the office,” says the 63-year-old who lives in Klang.
When not “working”, Padman is occupied with his life’s greatest passion: music. Craddling his latest acquisition – a custom Sadowsky bass guitar – the father of three says that one of the best things about retirement is that he can spend more time on his music.
“I’ve been playing music since the 1970s, just for fun. Currently, I play in a band and we’re called ‘Young Once’. There are eight of us in the band and I’m one of the youngest! Our drummer is about 70. We mostly play music we grew up with like the Shadows, Beatles, Latin American Jazz and some old favourites you never hear other bands playing these days,” he shares, adding that the group recently played at a Lion’s Club function at the Royal Selangor Club, Kuala Lumpur.
Padman plays the bass in the band, but at family gatherings, he tinkles the ivories for their regular sing-a-long sessions.
It isn’t hard to see where David gets both his musicality and vitality from.
Living with him and his wife, Serene, is his 91-year-old mother Lily, a retired teacher who still plays the piano daily – she even has a piano teacher teaching her every week.
She also reads voraciously. And unlike many youngsters who lie down or slouch while they read, Lily sits in her chair, her five-foot-nine frame upright as she reads everything from romance novels to all manner of fiction.
“We almost lost her last year. She had a fall and she’d lost her memory … she could not speak or write and was in the hospital for five months. But with physiotherapy, she’s fully recovered now, very alert and has a healthy appetite. She just needs a little help getting up,” shares Padman.
Age, he reckons, is really just a number and definitely doesn’t dictate what a person can do.
“When I was a teenager, 60 was old … we’d think of old men and women with walking sticks. People retired at 55 in those days. But I’m 64 and I am still so active.
“My uncle is a retired judge and at 85, he is still travelling and arbitrating cases. So, really, physical age doesn’t mean anything.
“As long as I’m fit and able, I’ll go on. Music is a great form of relaxation and it keeps the brain very active, especially when figuring out chords and harmonies. It’s brought our group of semi-retired professionals and our spouses closer together as we meet every two weeks. I’ll play music until I drop,” he says.
To keep himself fit, Padman works out at the gym four times a week and watches what he eats.
“I wasn’t always health conscious. Working on a ship, we had access to cigarrettes, alcohol and really good food. I was careless and had a (heart) bypass when I was 38. After that, I changed my lifestyle and I’m very careful now. I do, however, enjoy my glass of red wine but I don’t indulge,” he shares his healthy living tips.