Monday, 6 July 2009

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.


Moonshine said...

One of my friends quit his job to get into theatre / movies!!! Very gutsy decision expecially when you do not know whether you will succeed in this line or just keep trying ... scares me a lot!!!!

Legal Alien said...

nice post. i think things are changing with every generation but we have a long long way to go before people stop worrying about what happens if their dreams don't come true. we are a very competitive nation (there is no other way to be with 1 billion plus people and probably only half the number of jobs) so we will always want to be doctors, engineers and MBAs but compared to previous generations, there are more kids today pursuing their dreams and refusing to be sucked into the rat race. You make a very good point about the absence of the social security system in India because with the security of the government taking care of you, one is automatically less afraid of failing. But us Indians have now successfully mastered the art of compartmentalising "interests", "hobbies" and "career" and ne'er shall they meet. I have a post on similar lines planned. Should put it up soon :)

The knife said...

Hey Moonshine, that's great to hear. Inspiring

@Legal Alien: very well put specially the part about one billion people and half the number of jobs. I will wait for your posts to get the view of the new generation that's apssing out :)

RShan said...

Take a look at any of the queues outside colleges during admission time and you will get your answer. Look at the Engg colleges which mass produce "engineers' who have no aptitude whatsoever and you will know how parents still regard choosing an occupation as - money over interest any day!

Its depressing really - because the schools then have to cater to such parents and groom the students to score the highest marks.


The knife said...

Hey Miri, I guess parents would be hyper about their's sad that we live in such a pressure cooker world...Kalyan

The knife said...

that of course means that you will have an army of people doing what they are not passionate about... a bit like an arranged marriage (no pun intended so please don't flag this ;) )