Thursday, February 11, 2010

Dream With Your Eyes Open

Dear Arjuna,

Thank you for the invitation to write on your blog. I am humbled that you would be interested to know thoughts and experiences from my teenage years and how it compares-contrasts with the present time. I do not want to write a generic post as that's not what you asked for ; you asked for specific personal experiences. I do not want to dole out advice, so this isn't one. I will however look back cathartic-ally with as much honesty as I can muster and recount. Given a sliver of a second chance, I would do many things differently ; while on some precious,treasured ones, I wouldn't change a thing. Here's one of each.

If this helps you, brings a smile or a laugh, that's my treat from you.

Hormones Playing Harmonium

Hormones influence your teenage years. I was no exception. I'm not talking of the cracked voice and facial hair -- that was a given. I'm not even talking of a Salman Khan-Sanjay Dutt inspired mullet or the baggy pants(what were we thinking !). I am however talking of the emotional-psychological aspect of it. I am talking of my transformation from a studious first bencher to a brat who had taken to bunking classes, hitting the movies, hiking the mountains and wandering the streets. Before long, the 12 year old who implicitly understood that his parents could not afford a school sponsored day trip(Rs.50-100/-) and would not even broach it up was creating a daily ugly scene -- demanding a motor bike(Rs.30,000/-) that we could not afford. Fortunately I did not take to drinking or smoking but I did have a major attitude issue. The worse part was that it was just at home. Outside, I was the same shy introvert(yeah, I was shy and introvert) people knew me from before...

But fortunately that changed..

A day before my 11 th std results(1 st year Pre University), I literally cried. I was scared that for the first time I might fail a class. Fortunately, I did not -- it was not a board exam and colleges were liberal in pushing us through. I left the bleak report-card on the table and hung around the house ready to be summoned by my father. He didn't. 2 days passed and it lay there. On the third it was placed in my folder with the others of it's ilk. Still no talk about it.

The silence did me in. Private tuition for 12 th std had started and I began studying like I had exams in a week. I quit watching TV, told my friends I would be out of town. It felt good. It was my silent ' I'm sorry'. A week later as I was reading, a hand landed on my head. He said little, but it was enough to make me want to continue what I was doing. It was a far greater high than bunking a class or acting hip.

Given half a chance I would not want be what I was during my 15-17.

They Are Not Perfect ; They Are Humans Too

I believe that most parents do the best they can and put their child's interest ahead of theirs. So are they perfect and devoid of faults ? No. Growing up I often disagreed ; we all in my family disagreed and had lengthy debates. But the unstated rule in our family was "Agreeing to disagree is fine ; not discussing, isn't " . That has helped us. Helped us not to accept the dogmas but to question it, probe it, understand it and analyze it.

After my turbulent 10th - 11th and I had straightened up, I was in a dilemma. Like most fathers Indian, my dad thought I would grace one of the IITs. My high school principal added to this. He also believed that I was ace-ing 'Target IIT' by Brilliant Tutorials and a similar program by Agarwal's he had ordered for me. The truth was, I sucked at it. Add to that now it was affecting my state board exams preparations. So, I had to sit my father down and tell him the truth. I concluded my case with 'I know I can get a good engineering seat in Karnataka - CET, on merit ; but if I straddle two boats, I might end up getting neither and in the water..' . 2 days and more discussions later he relented.

Was my father wrong ? You bet. But were his intentions/aspirations wrong ? No. Do I rag him about it even today ? Oh yeaaah ! ;-)

Most parents understand. Like mine did despite me downing Rs.3000-4000/- in the toilet for the IIT materials. That was no chump change considering my 4 years of engineering costed us Rs.5000/- and we just about managed that.

That's one thing I would not want to change -- discussions at dinner.

"Life is good, don't let anyone convince you otherwise. As long as you wake up and be the best you can be, as long as smile, honesty and dignity stare you back when you look in the mirror, you have done good.."
-- Anon

Few other lines that have stayed on and provide an inspiration :
  1. Success is not a spontaneous reaction, you need to set yourself on fire first.
  2. Courage is not the absence of fear ; it is the ability to surmount it.
  3. Play hard ; play fair ; play to win.
  4. God gave us 2 ears and 1 mouth ; listen more, talk less.
  5. There's just one of you in the whole world. Why wish to be another's image when are already unique.
Good Luck and Happy Birthday !

Warm Regards ,
Madhu

3 comments:

Siddhesh 'Ravan' Kabe said...

wow man...seriously if i had followed such advice, i would be so successful in life...:P

:D

MADHU RAO | (INDImag.COM) said...

:-) . Sid I thought you were the king of the world ! The lone survivor on planet earth :-)

Nalini Hebbar said...

When I talked about 'Teenage' to my son, he somehow got a weird feeling from my description that something big was going to happen to him as he turned 13...we mothers overdo things, I guess...poor fellow.