Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Great expectations

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a lorry driver. What with every second auntie you meet demanding to hear your nursery rhymes and every third auntie asking “Monae, what do you want to be when you grow up?” This ambition did not remain secret for too long.

For some reason I did not get much encouragement from my parents about following my dreams. Those were the uncivilized pre-alchemist days of my youth. So instead of sticking on to my dream no matter what, I tried different variations like bus driver, car driver and even train driver. All of these evoked much the same response.

Things were looking quite bleak, when one day I said I wanted to be a pilot! This time around my father did not give me that well rehearsed condescending smile that he usually reserved for such career outbursts. Unfortunately for him, this state of enlightenment did not last too long. By the end of the month I had enough of flying imaginary airplanes and demanded a role change to priest. I had taken a fancy to those trendy “lohas” worn by Indian priests. Fortunately for me, this did not last too long either.

Next in line was scientist. I still wouldn’t mind being one, even though I fall rather short(ok, ok very short!) of the required IQ’s. I had ideas related to running trains on water, sending rockets to the parallel universe (idea snitched from Amar Chitra Katha) and basically impossible things or things considered impossible whichever way you take it.

Thus I was contemplating the design of my latest space ship when the phone rang and Amma asked me to take care of the Dosa on the stove. To the Dosa ignorant, making a Dosa requires that you toast both sides. So you need to turn it over to the other side when one side is finished and this was my current responsibility. I just loved doing it. When Amma came back, she was pretty happy to see that
1) I was still in one piece
2) I had not managed to set the kitchen on fire.
So, she didn’t mind too much about the burnt Dosa.

That was when I decided to be a chef. Amma was all for it. Looking back I see a bit of self interest acting there. Her bright intellect must have calculated the pros of having a good chef in the family. Anyways, with her support I didn’t mind Appa’s evident displeasure at my latest career choice.

Then one day I wrote a poem. It was not too bad for a kid my age. With one famous writer in the family and some more not so famous ones writing here and there and everywhere, I got immense support to be a poet/writer. Now I must confess one quirk in my character (the jealous whisper that my whole character is a quirk but more of that later). I am a rebel and a non-conformist at heart so when you encourage me to do something you are actually doing the opposite. Thus even after all the encouragement and “hoola-boola” surrounding my imminent rise to “poet-dom” nothing happened. In fact I steadfastly refused to write even one more poem and that was the end of that.

All this time I was forcibly made to attend a school and get “educated”. My dream all throughout high school was to be the richest man on earth. The only imaginative and sound part of the dream being that I would not raise my little finger to achieve this feat! Let me put it this way... "My belief in lotteries was rather high during this period".

Here, I would also like to borrow from Larry’s (second richest man on earth) speech to Harvard graduates. It seems that there is no graduate in living memory who has made it to the top ten richest people in the world. All of that exclusive club having come from school dropouts! Now that was one thing that they didn’t teach me at school!

Later, experts found out that education actually reduces your imagination and risk taking power. Must be true, coz the higher I went in high school the lesser I dreamt about being something. I hate experts who give this kind of information rather late. It is like telling a career smoker at the end of that fiery career that science has found you just fired your lungs!

To swim with the tide is easy. Nobody, even my arch enemies have ever alleged that I was a hard working, motivated and or driven guy. But I did make a whimper or two, regarding my career choices. I half heartedly decided to do commerce which was whole heartedly rejected by my father. The general population was doing engineering and that was what I was also supposed to do! And I did…:(

The old and now dying scientist career thingy got a fillip during my engineering days. Especially, when I was doing my project and later while trying for my masters.

For most of my engineering though (other than for those pathetic “scientific” interludes) I dreamt of being a drug pusher/drug lord. As I saw it, society was far too melancholic and suicidal. Drugs were the new coming thing. I even did some market study and found out that this segment had the steepest supply demand curves! There was huge demand and no supply. It was a guaranteed run away success. And anyways, I was a sucker for curves! This dream is however rather long lived compared to my other dreams. I still have it you know.

Then one day I read Paulo Coelho. This book is all about following your dream, about your destiny and being one with the world and all that crap. If I do meet Mr. Paulo Coelho, I will definitely ask him about this drug lord thingy. But till then, general society is as usual playing spoil sport with my ambitions and destiny and believe me, I got no beginners luck here either!

Last rites to my chef dream was given during my initial bachelor days when I had to do the dishwashing after the cooking. Male dominance is the way to go here I guess. After this experience, I have taken my own advice to marry a typical Indian girl who will do the dishwashing.

These days I wonder whether Charles Dickens had a similar life before he wrote the novel!

1 comment:

Anab said...


I am a designer, working on a project around parallel universes, and was looking for references in Indian comics, when I found your post. I am trying to remember which Amar Chitra Katha story had the concept of 'sending rockets' into parallel universes... wonder if you might be able to tell me the name of the comic? Thanks a lot,