Li'l Musings: Why This Kolaveri, Dear Parents?
On Feb 28, 2015
Let me start with a story. This is about a friend of mine – let’s call him John. He is a year older to me and now a very successful executive with one of the leading credit card/travel companies of the world. Life was not so rosy till about a few years back.
John was the elder of two children. His younger sister was a good six years younger and a studious student. He was anything but that. His father, a mechanical engineer, was a very intelligent contractor and a wealthy man.
John never understood science. He was wired differently. He could not even figure out which hemisphere the Indian sub-continent was in! That is not to say that he had any learning issues. No. He just didn’t care about things like that. But he could dole out statistics about cars, bikes, trucks, trains, planes… basically anything on wheels!
And he was a great (and I mean insanely great) salesman! He could show you a rickety auto rickshaw and sell it to you as the latest Benz S Class! I am kidding you not!
Anyway, the point is, John was never meant to be an engineer like his father. He was of a different breed. But sadly, no one gave a damn about his feelings or about what he wanted to do in life.
He was forced to opt for Science so that he could take up engineering. To make matters worse, while he was in his Grade 12, his father passed away quite suddenly.
This put a huge strain on John and his family. It took a lot of effort to rally around him when almost everyone gave up deeming him a failure and a virtually making him a social outcast.
John was eventually whisked away to Bangalore by his maternal uncle and enrolled for the commerce stream. By this time, he had developed a fiercely independent nature and except for his college fees, he earned his pocket money. Times were tough, but he prevailed and earned more than money... he earned our respect as well.
After completing his B.Com, he took a great risk, much to the amazement, frustration and disagreement of all the family elders. He took up his IATA studies. The only people to stand by him were us–his friends. By then, we had begun to trust and admire his free spirited will and judgement.
After successfully completing his first stage of the IATA course and working for the mandatory six months in a travel firm, he migrated to a Dubai based travel firm, for 2 years, where he did so exceptionally well in customer service and sales that the company promised to send him for the further 2 stages of IATA studies, provided he give them an assurance - a gentleman’s word -that he would stay with them a further 3 years after the course.
John knew that without the training he was stuck at a certain stage in his career, but if he agreed to the training he would be morally obliged to the company for a lot more than just the 2 years that they asked for. So, he listened to his heart and took a bold step and resigned! Within 2 months he was back home, without a job.
But as they say, “Fortune favours the brave”. He got a call from a leading credit card company to join their Business Travel team. He took up on the offer and has never had to look back again!
The first year of joining the company, John was selected as the Best sales and service executive in the Asia Pacific region, which includes Indian subcontinent, China, Singapore, Japan and Australia!
So why have I been rambling on for all this while? Well, even today, I find that parents want their children to be either Doctor or Engineers. The shocking bit is that these are parents, who just a decade or so back were subject to the same mental torture that John went through!
There are umpteen untold stories of children whose dreams… and careers have been crushed due to this myopic view. Have we not heard many stories of children breaking down or worse, committing suicide because of this pressure cooker mindset?
The world, and India in particular, has changed a lot in the last two decades. No longer is it impossible for people in the arts and social streams to make a career for themselves. I believe that if that is someone’s passion, then they will go on to making a successful career out of it.
For example, in today’s consumer driven world, it is not enough for a product or service to be functional, it is equally important how it is presented, the styling, the ergonomics. This is true in the case of automobiles or computers or high-end electronic gadgets.
Take the case of movies or music or photography. A lot of critically acclaimed movies, music and photos spread through the internet and are shot, believe it or not, on mobile cameras!
For a society, a culture, a nation to grow, evolve and flourish, it is not enough that it has doctors and engineers. Rather it requires a plethora of trades and careers to hold hands and steam ahead in unison. We need arts, commerce and socio-economic universities as much as we require science and engineering universities.
So Dear parents, please open your eyes, open your hearts, open your minds…let your children decide what they want to be in life. Let them spread their wings and fly.
Urge them, cajole them, coerce them but only to try and be the best in their chosen field. Trust that things will work out in the end…
Why this Kolavari (Urge to kill their dreams)… dear parents?