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Warning Bell - Were Our Tears Real?

Discussion in 'Saturdays with Varalotti' started by varalotti, Nov 3, 2006.

  1. varalotti

    varalotti Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Most Gracious ILites,

    An artful video clipping promoting a drug for workaholics moved most of the ILites to tears last Wednesday. But were our tears real? To answer this question truthfully please read on.


    Rajiv was a brilliant Engineer who came out of a premier <st1:place><st1:placeName>Business</st1:placeName> <st1:placeType>School</st1:placeType></st1:place> in flying colours armed with an MBA. Hindusthan Lever recruited him on the campus and sent him for its world-class training programme in marketing. After the completion of his training he would be posted as a Sales Manager with a salary of close to Rs.12 lakhs per annum plus perks.


    If Rajiv was on Cloud Nine his middle-class parents were in the cloud above him. For he was hardly 23 and if he started his career like this, he might retire as the CEO of an MNC. His career-path was well set and all that remained was for him to glide through it to the top.


    The first signs of trouble started when Rajiv was posted in the “firing-line” training. This is one of the most interesting aspects of HLL’s training programme. Young manager-trainees like Rajiv would be attached to a senior salesman who would actually visit the grocers, small shops and department stores who would be stocking HLL’s products. The idea was that the Manager should know the practical difficulties of a firing-line salesman.

    A part of this would be in interior rural areas. As Rajiv was moving from one shop to another he suddenly thought that he was not made for this kind of job. 12 lakhs or 100 lakhs, he could not do this job day in and day out. The senior salesman by his side exhibiting all signs of stress. Rajiv knew intuitively that his job would be ten times more stressful than that of the salesman, who was on the lowest rung of the corporate ladder.

    Rajiv could not focus on his work. He feigned some sickness and got three days off his training programme. He locked himself in his bachelor accommodation and gave a very serious thought about his career. He probed the depths of his mind to find out what really interested him. On the second night the answer came. It was teaching small children. Yes, he was passionate about teaching school children. He was not cut out to sell toileteries amidst severe pressure.

    He extended his leave by a few days to organise his thoughts and plan his actions. He resigned from HLL. He opted for a teacher’s job in an elementary school in the same town. When he faced his first class he was almost in tears. Words came out his mouth on their own. He wanted to devote his entire life to education.

    Rajiv’s father had a mild heart attack on hearing his son’s decision. The school paid him about a twentieth of what HLL paid. Rajiv’s mother was crestfallen. Rajiv did not mind.

    Today he is the headmaster of a leading public school in <st1:City><st1:place>Delhi</st1:place></st1:City> having 5000 students under his control. He is a respected administator, a revered educationist and above all a very happy man. Even now his salary is a pittance compared to what he would have earned in HLL. But there are no instruments to measure the happiness in his heart. He is happily married and the father of two loving daughters who study in his school. His wife says that she is lucky to have him as her husband.

    Now Most Gracious ILites, tell me how many of you are with him? If you are his parents what would be your reaction? If your husband did the same thing what will you do?

    Not that all this alternative career seekers are successful. One of my friends who worked with me in TVS (some aeons ago) was a very talented actor. One day a drama troupe came to <st1:City><st1:place>Madurai</st1:place></st1:City> to perform Washingtonil Thirumanam, a comedy written by Saavi, the great writer. The hero-actor fell ill in the afternoon. The show had to begin within 3 hours. My friend offered to play the hero’s role. He memorised some 30 pages of dialogue and gave such a spirited performance that we gave a standing ovation to him. Encouraged by this he resigned his TVS job and went to act in the movies. But within a few years he returned empty handed and was given the same job, thankfully.

    One day in the lunch interval I asked him, “Sir, don’t you feel sad, that you failed in your chosen avocation?”
    He replied, “Sridhar, I have the greatest satisfaction of having tried and lost. Now I don’t have any regrets in life. If you want to do some thing go out and try. Even if you fail it doesn’t matter. See these people (he pointed out the other executives). They should have been singers, writers, doctors and engineers. But they are just executives and don’t want to risk their position. That is why they are always sad. I am a happy man.”

    Will you, ladies, have the heart to hear the same thing from your children? If you are ready, then the warning bell is not for you.

    Varalotti

     
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  2. sihi

    sihi Senior IL'ite

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    Happy for Rajiv for not succumbing to society's pressure!

    Hello Sridhar,

    Great narration! as always:)

    "The cat did find the bell by itself" in Rajiv's case . The important part is, at the end he continued to follow his dreams inspite of the society's pressure and is now leading a happy life.

    Coming to your question about accepting this with our own kids- Obviously as a mother the first thing that would concern me when my daughter comes and tells me such a thing would be, if the basic necessities would be taken care of if she takes such a path in her life? Also I would talk to her to find out what made her take such a step. As parents, I feel its our duty to make sure that our kids are on the right track and are being responsible in what they are doing. If I feel she has the passion to do what she is planning to, then I would not stop her. Infact I would be proud of whatever she does. Afterall at the end of the day, I want her to be happy and satisfied with what she is doing. Any parent will not be happy to know that their children have all the luxuries in life but not a peaceful life.

    I also feel that Rajiv's destiny supported him along with his passion to follow his dreams. His life would have been miserable if he had a nagging wife and nagging kids along with his not supportive parents...right?

    Regards,
    Sihi
     
  3. Vandhana

    Vandhana Silver IL'ite

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    Hello Sridhar,

    A very nice piece and I laud Rajiv's decision to change his career. Am sure he would have faced a lot of protests from parents, relative friends etc... and it would have been an uphill battle but at the end, he looks to have a wonderful life. It is so good that he had the sense to change his career path early. The second example is good too. I read an article recently where a lot of Indian kids here in the US are pursuing different fields of study rather than the one chosen by their parents( mainly science and engineering, medicine and the like).
    As for myself, yes, i would be shocked initially but i would encourage my kids to pursue their dreams , and go down "the road not taken" . And be supportive of their efforts. I think living here in the US, has brought around my way of thinking traditionally . As you know, people here constantly change their careers, go back to college after 10 yrs of working etc....

    Vandhana
     
  4. varalotti

    varalotti Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    A Matured Response, Sihi.

    Hello Sihi,
    Thanks.

    Yours was as usual a matured response. Career questions do not get so neatly solved as in Rajiv's case. There are fake dreams and false alerts which have ruined many a career. But on the whole those who pursue their dreams, however unrealistic they may be, even if they fail in their mission, are happier than those who make lots of money.

    About your response to your daughter's similar request, you have put it rightly. But the problem lies in defining what is necessity. It is a highly relative term. For me only food, clothing and a roof over ones head (own or rented) may be necessity. For another a Honda City Car, airconditioned office and bedroom and trips abroad twice a year may constitute absolute necessities.

    Sihi, as parents our main concern should be that our children do not hurt themselves or spoil their value system in pursuit of their career goals. Having laid down this minimum, we should leave the rest to them.

    Another question is when should they be allowed to make their decision? If you ask a five year old boy what does he want to be when he grows up, he would say, rail-engine driver or a fire-engine driver. These careers appear romantic at that age. When they reach an impressionable age they see their uncles, neighbours, cousins and brothers and prefer to travel their career path. Only when the child is in her late teens there is a semblance of a real career wish.

    We should also not forget that we have the parental responsibility to guide them, a responsibilty which we cannot abdicate at any cost.
    Thanks for the nice post,
    sridhar
     
  5. varalotti

    varalotti Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Thanks Vandhana For Your Ideas!

    Hello Vandhana,

    You have correctly brought out the difference between the Indian and the US mindsets. In India there is an underlying current of insecurity. So here the parents are in a hurry to see that their children are "comfortably settled down in their jobs" by the time they retire.

    One thing I have found out about careers both from my personal experiences and from what I see around me, there is nothing called "Settling down". Only dust settles down. In these days you can't settle down in your job.

    Though I have been in the profession of chartered accountancy for the past 23 years, I find that there is a complete change in what I do almost every 4, 5 years.

    Now in the US because of their relative affluence they play with all available options. It is never too late to make a career change.

    Another advice I always give in the career guidance seminars is that you can always change careers as many times as you want. In England I stayed with a man who was a geologist for 20 years and then studied to become a Chartered Accountant. Somerset Maughm, the great writer was a painter, an actor, a doctor, an articled clerk (doing CA) and finally became a writer.

    Contrary to what we normally think our children require more of our support than our guidance. You have used the apt words in this context.

    Thanks for the wonderful post, Vandhana.
    sridhar
     
  6. meenaprakash

    meenaprakash Silver IL'ite

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    hope the world is changing for good.........

    Hello Sridhar,

    your aticle reminds me of something similar I read somewhere - Its about a person who left the US job & picked up organic farming and is settled in a small town now. don't remember where I read this. but I thought it was great. I do hear such news from some of my friends toooo. Is the world changing??? for goood ?????

    Also, reminds me of a bunch of youngsters whom I meet at the green bazaar who turned to organic farming & crossed a lot of hurdles to become successful & they seem to enjoy their work.

    I also know a family wherein the son worked in the US for some years, with that money built a house in blore & came back recently & have started freelancing - he's married now & is happy to earn whatever money that comes by & has time for his aging parents & wife.

    As for me, I think its tooo early to think about my child's future but surely will support her in whatever she does as long as she is happy. the present generation parents share a different kind of a relationship with kids - its more open / friendly & hope this openness would bring in better understanding & support.
     
  7. sihi

    sihi Senior IL'ite

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    Sure an IL-aholic!!

    Hello Sridhar,

    I am not sure if I am going to be workaholic (or already one!!) or not...but I am definitely addicted to IL and mainly to your articles:)...or else why would I login to my laptop on a saturday morning just to check the responses, even when my toddler daughter is trying to pull me away from the laptop.

    Yeah you are right when you say the necessities have different defintions for different individuals. But as you also pointed out, we should just sit down with our kids and lay the basic stuff (of course according to the situation, time and place where they would live). Having a car is an absolute basic necessity in US but may not be in India.

    Have a nice weekend!
    Regards,
    Sihi
     
  8. Kamla

    Kamla Super Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Food for thought.

    Dear Sridhar,

    It was highly interesting to read about Rajiv and your friend. Both are fortunate people.
    Rajiv seems to be blessed with a natural intelligence. Not everyone possess that type of wisdom and knowledge. To get such a great opportunity at a young age of 23 and to realize that it is not his vocation needs a very discerning mind. Some of us do not possess it even at 43! He knew what his passion was for and acted upon it defying all odds. It is a special boon to work in a profession which is also your first love. I don’t think it is the norm for everyone, it is almost like hitting a jackpot.
    Your friend too had the fortune to try his wishes out. So true, better to have tried and lost than not having tried at all. He must be a very confident person to have given up his job and follow a fancy of his.
    All the same, it is very difficult to follow the road that the two have walked. The common man of today is under pressure to make a living and survive in this ‘man eat man’ world. Just yesterday, we were talking with our friends as to how we all love our India, but each time we visit there, we realize how highly populated it is in the cities and how expensive everything is. It is ok for a handful of people, but how does the common man survive such commercial onslaught? How much does he deny himself and what is even more painful, deny the wants of his kids?
    Things are not much different abroad either. Not everyone here earns the great pay packet. But the lures of high end shops and delicious eateries are hard to resist, especially when one is young and impressionable. Even taking for granted that one can deny the luxuries of life, it is impossible to deny certain safety nets such as health insurance, car insurance, house taxes etc etc etc. The list is endless! Sometimes I wonder they do not add tax to the air we breathe…but maybe we are paying even for that indirectly!! So, given this scenario, some of the ideals will be just that…a distant idealogy.
    Every parent wants his child to lead a happy life. Maybe he forgets the finer nuances of life when he pushes them into what he thinks is the lucrative profession for them. It will only result in a frustration for all. It is a tight rope walk, a wrong step, you will fall either way. When our younger daughter, who has an artistic inclination wanted to enter fashion field, we had to carefully navigate her towards something that was more stable for her future career! She did Digital Media and is able to combine art and technique to her satisfaction!
    But you should see to believe the condescending expressions of the majority Indian parents when they question and find out that your offspring is neither a doctor, lawyer nor even an engineer!!! An IT professional is entirely another cup of tea today! So, we need more of you to change this scenario:)
    <!--[if !supportEmptyParas]--> <!--[endif]-->
    L, Kamla
    <!--[if !supportEmptyParas]--> <!--[endif]-->
     
  9. varalotti

    varalotti Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    There are thousands of examples!

    Hello Meena,

    If you want examples of persons who kicked off lucrative careers to do what they loved to do, I can fill up the entire site. Literally there are thousands. But the problem the world views themas weird people. And there lies our major problem.

    I am very happy to hear that you will support your child's wishes in her career. And so said sihi and vandhana.

    Now I have a question for you all. Honestly I am a little hesitant whether I can take that kind of liberties with you ladies. But since I posed the same question to my own sister I think I can do that to you also.

    My guess is that all of you - Vandhana, Sihi and Meena - are too young to think about your children's careers. But let's take your husband's jobs. Suppose one fine morning he resigns his plum job and wants to become a painter, full time. If you think I exceeded my limits of friendship in asking you this question please forgive me and ignore this question. But if you don't think so, just look deep into yourselves for the real answers. There is no need to communicate those answers in the open forum. But today none of us can rule out such possibilities.
    I know an executive who did that. He was in late forties. His children were in the college. He was a highflying executive making some 2 million Rupees a year. He was heading the training department of a large company.
    His passion was in theatre. He wanted to act and direct plays. He went to his boss and told him that he was going to resign.

    The boss made an alternative offer. Let the executive come to work for just 3 or 4 days in a month. He will paid a pro rata salary at his current scale. The rest of the time he can devote to theatre. If within 2 years his theatre-career did not take off he would revert to his old position with full benefits.

    The man grabbed the offer and is today with some of the best theatres of Bombay. Yes, there was a financial set back in terms of status. But nothing essential was lost. He had three cars and two drivers. Now he has one and no driver. The children used to go to their colleges in chaffeur driven cars. Now they drive two wheelers. These are not difficulties.

    The man is happy and healthy. The two year period is not yet over.

    But his income dropped to one-tenth of the previous level. And the external status symbols diminished.

    Now my dear friends, how will you react if your spouse comes out with a similar idea.
    Sorry, if I had hurt you by this question or exceeded the limits of our friendship.

    Your reply to this question would be more precious than the original post.

    regards,
    sridhar
     
  10. varalotti

    varalotti Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    I am flattered, Sihi

    Dear Sihi, the IL-aholic,

    Well all of us are to some degree so and you have the guts to come out. IL is a very friendly, very open and a very interesting forum that it is addictive and habit-forming. But these are all what I call as "productive addictions" while drinks and all are "destructive addictions."

    Yes, car in the US is a necessity. But here in India especially in our place, it is a luxury but more often it is a nuisance. All of us Maduraiites will have a car and a two-wheeler. Suppose I and my wife have to go to Meenakshi temple or attend a wedding in the crowded town area, we would use the bike.

    Sihi, I don't want to disturb you during your holidays. But if time permits read my reply to Meena's post where I have posed a question to you (and Vandhana and Meena) and give me an honest answer.

    regards,
    sridhar
     

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