It was that time of the year again, Nanajii and Naniji were coming home to spend New Year’s with us. And on their traditional welcoming dinner, the line of conversation would invariably follow the subsequent path.
Nanaji : Hanji Beta, So what do you plan to become when you grow up?
Invariably, my answer to that question would change with every visit of theirs, and the conversation would customarily end with my Naniji’s recollection..
Naniji : Aapko malum hain beta, Terey papa ney, issey kursi mein das saal key honein mein bhola , Mein engineer banoonga ! (Do you know my son, your father at the tender age of ten, sat in this very chair and said, “I will become an engineer”)
My life though, could never be that simple. For instance, I remember at the age of 10, I was totally taken up by, one of them law oriented sitcoms, that at our customary annual dinner, I proclaimed full of conviction, “Mein lawyer banoonga !” (I will become a lawyer!)
This obviously changed the following year, when I found out that the law so depicted in those law oriented sitcoms was mostly sitcom, and very little law. I then endeavored, on being selected to the school editorial board, that I now had approved potential in writing, and would become a fine journalist.
So, the following year there I was proclaiming, after the by now customary precursory questions, “Mein journalist banoonga!” (I will become a journalist!)
By now, bets were being taken as to what profession, I would endeavor to take up every passing year, and when I finally reached the hallowed 10th standard, I reckoned, that I would finally have to make a choice between the illuminating scientific world, and the more realistic business one.
This time, at the Annual dinner, the interrogation took on a more simplistic route. “ Kya Aapko maths nahin pasand hai” ( Why, You don’t like maths? ). When I replied, that No, I did’nt particularly dislike it. , “Phir Aap Science lo” (“Then you must take science”). And until then, I thought that it would the most difficult decision of my life. Decision making is easy isn’t it, more so when it’s being taken by someone else.
The years passed, and at the 12th grade I took the most obvious step up which was to choose engineering. The 4 years went by in engineering, and very soon it became increasingly evident that I would never like engineering, more so programming.
The problem with both of them was that I never could see any relevance to them in our day to day world. Studying about Mr Lagrange’s theorem or why some functions cannot be implicitly called, really had no bearing on life, the way I understood it.
During the same period, almost like the forbidden fruit effect, I became increasingly captivated by the financial world and the world of stocks and investments. That light brown daily soon became my favorite morning companion, and for the first time in a long time, I actually had a fair idea and grasp of what I was reading about.
As for my engineering, I did what most people in my place would do, struggle through the quantative papers, and gab my way through the theoretical ones. Except for the last year, when we finally had some management papers, my regular routine would be to mug up derivations and other formulae, not understanding even an iota of them and simply spill it out in the paper the following day.
Would it be based on this, that I would be forming my career, for the rest of my days? Was I learning anything, and more importantly “Was I enjoying it?”
With the age old maxim, ” You can only succeed in something, If you enjoy it” , in my mind, I quickly made up my mind and told my parents, that I was going to stay as far away from engineering , as I could.
“If you don’t like engineering, Why did you choose it in the first place, and How can you take up a job in any other sector without any previous experience?”, The barrage of questions, would never end, but fortuitously for me, someone spotted a quick gab and a passion for most things non engineering in me, and offered me a respectable managerial position with one of India’s largest financial houses.
So to all of you who see a little bit of yourselves in me, This is what you must tell your dad, When he asks you, Why you want to say, become a skydiver or say a voyeuristic film maker after enduring 4 years of engineering. “ I am playing to my strengths Pa , The sooner I pursue my interests, the sooner I will start enjoying it, and the sooner I will have embarked on a career I have the best chance of succeeding at . Any interest can be made a career out of today and very often it is not where I start or where I might finish that matters but how much I enjoy the journey”
The older generation has been known to be fond of poetry as well, so you can conclude your little speech like this.
“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that might make all the difference”