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Papa kehte hain ... the path well travelled

Aamir Khan crooned this famous song from Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak in the late eighties, straight into the hearts of all the girls in my school. While I made collages of Juhi Chawla. Thirteen is an impressionable age.

In this coming of age song, Aamir Khan's character, Raj, sang of his father's hopes from him.

Part of the lyrics went as follows:

Har ek nazar ka sapna yeh hai
Koi engineer ka kaam karega
Business mein koi apna naam karega
Magar yeh to koi na jaane
Ki meri manzil hai kahan
Papa kehte hain bada naam karega

This loosely translated means "everyone has a dream, some want to be an engineer, some want to make it in the world of business, but no one knows where I'll end up, Papa says I'll make a name for myself".

This song was quite symbolic of the times we grew up in. Add doctor and CA to engineer and business and you have the career options opent to a twentieth century Indian laid out in front of you.

Most of us followed these routes and earn a living, often quite adequately, diligently and with some efficiency.

And yet many of us blog by night ... and in these blogs are hidden aspirations to be writers, chefs, food reviewers, poets, photographers, journalists, rocket scientist, designers, film critics ... professions very different from doling out medical certificates, building bridges, selling soap or researching why people buy soap.

Of course there is the odd story such as that of an ex colleague who quit her job, became a Mom and now a published writer.

But these stories are probably far and few. Even folks in 'creative' fields such as advertising take up film making or song writing to discover themselves.

I think a part of this was because India didn't have a social security system. Nor do we have a culture of living on credit. So the aim of most middle class parents was to see their children settled and earning a living as soon as possible. No place for Bertie Woosters here. So going for the tried and tested seemed the best option as a nation of young minds sharpened themselves for medical, engineering and MBA exams.

I started working in the late nineties. I wonder if things are different more than a decade later. Are today's students chasing their dreams. Or are they working towards their pay cheque, the safe way?

The stories in newspapers about admission anxieties don't seem to indicate much of a change.

My first job was with The Asian Age for about a month before my MBA entrance results came out. Close to fifteen years later I am my own editor and my own journalist! Just that I don't earn a living out of it.
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