I'm OK, You're OK

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Warped sense of reality

I just read something on the net which just reminded me of my grandfather & father. My father's father was a railway guard in colonial Bengal & I really can't imagine how he must have brought up a family of 5 children with his meagre salary. He passed away when my father was 15. I again don't know how it must have felt for my dad to lose someone so close at such a young age. My grandmother & my eldest uncle took to caring/looking after the family & they did a fairly good job. Dad made a lot of tough choices of staying away from family for his graduation & living in Calcutta. He fortunately got a bank job & made a smooth transition into the great Indian Middle Class. Some of uncles haven't done that well & ironically my eldest uncle is in dire financial straits & in constant need of money.
My mom's father was a aristocratic doctor in Bangladesh. He had also 5 children. They had to run away from Bangladesh during the Indo-Pak war of 1972 where they spent a good amount of time in bomb shelters in the constant fear of bombers. My mom wanted to study arts further but family pressure forced her to marry just after her graduation. Just after I was born, my grandmother was diagonsed with cancer(I still don't know which type) & died shortly afterwards. My mom watched her die in the throes of pain.
Strangely enough I don't remember having a meaningful conversation with any of my grandparents, maybe except once with my dad's mom just before her death.
I will pass out of undergrad engineering in 4 months ready to face the world & all that crap with a plum job offer & all. I/we think of the sacrifices we have made to study in this prestigious institution, the hours of mugging & close calls. Staying in a town like this has however meant lots of comprosises in material comforts.

But can my small, trifling efforts to make the great middle class cut ever compare to the kind of sacrifices my parents made? Indeed, the other day I was ruminating over who is my role model in life. Guess what the answers were: NRN, Gates, etc & all that media fed trash. I want to be an entrepreneur but I missed out on two of the greatest entrpreneurs I have known so very closely, my parents. We have become so accustomed to measuring success by the size of one's ego, that we sometimes don't see what is truly valuable & readily accessible. The need for external validation is so strong that we dismiss opinions of our parents as old fashioned.

Being a thoroughbred rationalist I was just thinking of some of the major my parents have made & estimating their success ratio. It turns out in a surprisingly large number of crucial cases(too cumbersome & personal too mention here) my parents' hunch was right. How can I explain this? Well, if you consider my mom & dad have a combined age of over 110 comapred to my 21, plus thier unbeatable insight about me as a person makes their judgement not only emotionally viable but has a sound logical ring to it. Lesson learnt-Listen to your parents more carefully. Don't have to to do everything as they say but a lot of mistakes can be avoided by just leveraging their experiences. Maybe I will do some more economic type analysis on this later.


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