Nothing reflects how fickle and unsure I can be more than the number of times I've changed my decision on what I wanna do with my life. Of course, I know this story is common to almost each and everyone of us - after all every kid grows up hearing that he/she should "Dare to Dream". I wouldn't be very far off the mark too if I said most of us must have wanted to be different things at different points of time only to finally become something which we've never ever imagined to be possible. While society as a whole tends to rubbish most of these 'wild aspirations' and 'crazy dreams' as fantasies of childhood, indiscretions of youth and desperation of the late 20s, what surprises me is the fact that the first reaction in most of these cases is indignation and instant dismissal. On one hand they teach you stuff like dignity of labour and how no job on earth is too lowly for us to not attempt and in the same sentence they keep discouraging you to do 'different things' prefering to rather influence us to follow the herd. Of course I cannot lay the blame wholly at the other doorstep since I could and probably should have put my foot down and bucked the trend.
(23 concentric circles of black and white rotate in clockwise direction to indicate I am in flash back mode)
One of the first people I respected and admired was my cyclerickshawallah Kathiresan. I still remember those early school going days when we devils would play truant after 4:30pm, earning his wrath by simply hiding in some obscure corner of the playground hoping to spend that extra hour on the field. Sometimes he would lose his cool and leave us high and dry and then Amar and I would run behind the rickshaw hoping to catch up before it reached home. There were days when we managed to do so within minutes of the rickshaw leaving and there were also days when we had to run all of 5 kms to finally see him waiting just in the corner leading to our street so that we could board the rickshaw and avoid getting beaten up by our folks. During one of those rare spells when we behaved well (read as: came on time in the evenings) for more than a week, he would even offer us the treat of driving the rick all the way back with him sitting inside. (Of course it helped that I was really tall even in Std 4/5 and was the only kid whose leg reached the pedal below) In his own sweet way, he taught us discipline and there were days when all I wanted was to be another Kathiresan. A rickshahwallah, a free bird who could travel throughout the city. But that never happened.....
Then there was that brief spell when I was so envious of my cousin Balaji who had a hugeeeeeeeeeee bus tickets collection that I almost decided to become a bus conductor. Somehow this fad didn't last long since by then I was also getting madly interested in tennis. Boris Becker had arrived big time in my life and reading stories of Steffi Graf learning tennis (she won ice creams every time her father challenged her to hit over the net more than a certain no: of times) only steeled my resolve that someday I'd arrive at Wimbledon and Centre Court even if it was the Over-35 tournament. Unfortunately there wasn't anyone in my family who'd ever played tennis with a racquet I could borrow nor did I have the guts to go and ask my folks to buy me a brand new one since I was already playing active cricket and a little bit of TT. (which runs in our family very, very deep) But my tennis dreams refused to simple fade away - rather they manifested in an even stranger form. So what if I couldn't play at Wimbledon, I decided I wanted to be a coach. This was the time when every single champ be it Courier or Agassi or Capriati was a student of Nick Bolletieri and the man attained such iconic status that it seemed better idea for me to follow in his footsteps. Even this dream died a natural death and as I got into high school, the next big thing I remember was my desire to become a Quiz Master. At that time, the Derek O Briens and Sidharth Basus seemed to be doing really well for themselves and I could easily picture myself basking in the glory of television.
Then RECT happened and for the first time, Engineering didn't seem to be too much of a bad option. In fact, I even went ahead and took the bold decision of deciding to specialise in Chemical. After all, Reliance was a big name in the industry and I thought working in a gas plant would be kinda cool. This was only reinforced by my second In Plant trainng at IOC, Baroda where I found people eating lunch for 30p and paav bhaji for 15p. Wowww. What also added to the charm was that no one seemd to care what time you came in and went out of office not to forget those afternoon siestas in the rest rooms :-) This was probably the only dream where I won suport from all quarters but by a strange twist of destiny, Reliance never happened and I ended up being recruited by a software firm when I barely knew the ABC of computers. The highlight of the last two years at RECT was Rotaract which also set the foundation for my increasing interest in social service. Someday I promised myself that I would start and run my own NGO and I think this is the only dream that has stood the test of time.
In a lot of ways, my first job and those 11 months in Pune shaped two of my biggest dreams. For the first time, I thought seriously about both movies and management and curiously enough, the idea came to me from one incident. Now, work at MBT was practically non existent in the first few months after training. Added to this, I had three experienced Tamil laterals in my team who had joined after me and eager to make their mark. So what happened was that I ended up delegating my work to them and skipping out in office hours to watch movies First Day Matinee at Navrang which was just opposite our Pimpri office. Mela, Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani...so many crappy movies I must have seen...Then Infy happened and my obsession with film-making (note: I use the more refined phrase here) only deepened and thanks to G, we had our first play out. One could call it a success simply because someone actually bought the script for money but then management returned to haunt me and I ended up choosing B School to avoid a 2 year spell in the US doing mundane software maintenance.
Contrary to all expectations, SP was super fun. In the 2 years I spent there, I realised I could be anyone I wanted to - after all if Jack Pahuja could speak on quality, I could become CQO: If Rads could get a PPO from GE for wotever she didn't do during autumns, surely even I could one day become a CFO in a GE company: and if Shteel man could give gyaan, then even I could be consult material - Unfortunately, though B school widened my horizon of options, I realised that I definitely didn't want to sell chocolates, personal loans, cars or ideas (read as: G-A-S). So I was back to where I started off from. Software.
(23 concentric circles of black and white rotate in anti-clockwise direction to indicate flash back is over)
Today as things stand I wanna do a million things.. I want to start a sports management firm that scours every nook and corner of the country, identifies talent and brings them to the fore-front...I want to be at the forefront of a Civic forum that serves as a watchdog against corruption and misgovernance... I want to run a huge library where I can sit there all day, read books and earn enough money so that I can buy more books...I want to make 3 super hit movies, retire on a high and become a hard-nosed critic...I want to be part of some organisation like UNESCO and tour the world and experience life...I want to borrow a million bucks from a bank, go to Vegas and live on the edge like Danny Ocean...Somedays I just feel like standing in front of an easel with a cigar on one hand and act as if I'm painting my masterpiece...And sometimes I just want to be a Secret Service agent with a 00 license so that I can rid the world of people I don't like without having to answer questions :-p
While all this is possible or probable, what appears more likely is that a year from now I will still be rotting in this creaky old chair, staring at this dumb dim monitor, trying to answer that one question which bothers me most "What do I wanna do with my life?"
ps: This one was written in parts over weeks and just when I finally decide to post it, Sidin steals my thunder and comes up with this rollicking one along the same lines.. No respect for seniors in this world :-(