The Pied Piper Well after all, Pickering, I'm an ordinary man, Who desires nothing more than an ordinary chance, to live exactly as he likes, and do precisely what he wants... An average man am I, of no eccentric whim, Who likes to live his life, free of strife, doing whatever he thinks is best, for him, Well... just an ordinary man.. With closed eyes, I listened to Rex Harrison as Prof.Higgins belting out this song to Col.Pickering in My Fair Lady. This is one of my all-time favourites for the manner in which Rex Harrison sings it and for its lyrical content. More than anything else, the above lines exactly state my own philosophy of life. I have spent nearly three quarters of a century of my life holding tenaciously on to my coveted position as an ordinary man. I can tell you from my experience that it is a lot more difficult to remain as an ordinary man than becoming an extraordinary man. I have very vivid memories of my childhood. At the age of three, I recall my red ear studs, long unruly hair, half drawers and bare body. My mother was the first one to start giving some motivating lectures to me. Even when I was three, she had great visions of my future. But even at three, my mind was set on not taking any steps to distinguish myself from the rest of the pack. At five, I was admitted in an elementary school meant for predominantly girls run by Church of South India. My mother and brother accompanied me to the school on the first day and I still remember my mum telling the highly wrinkled teacher that she was entrusting her precious son to her care and if I became someone big, the credit would entirely go to her as my first teacher. She smiled effusively and within minutes went for her nap as soon as my mum was out of sight! She was about the only one who really understood my passion for being an ordinary man! My academic career thereafter was a virtual battle with every one joining hands like Force 10 from Navarone to beat me out of my ordinary man fixation and I felt at times as if I was fighting a losing battle like Abhimanyu caught in the Padma Vyuha. But unlike him, I stood my ground and ensured that my school marks did not land me in Engineering or Medical courses. In fact, the colleges that showed some interest in me were not prepared to offer me any premium courses. So I was one of the twelve students that settled for B.Sc. in Geography. But unfortunately the other eleven were fiercer in their pursuit of their ‘ordinary man ideology’ and so I ended up ahead of all of them. For want of anything better and to avoid appearing for any competitive examination, I pursued post-graduation in Geography. This decision helped me in not joining any job for another couple of years. While I was progressing smoothly towards my avowed objective of remaining an ordinary man, my dad who was an ex-banker delivered the biggest shock of my life one morning asking me to prepare for Probationary Officers Exam for a couple of Banks. He presented a few general knowledge books which Kumba Karna would have gladly accepted as a substitute for his mighty pillows. I was very grateful to my dad for this gesture as I was able to bid goodbye to my insomnia using these books. On the appointed day, I entered the exam hall feeling thoroughly convinced that nobody could be more ill prepared than me but I had probably underestimated my peers. When the results were announced, I found to my dismay that my name figured in the list of successful candidates. I did not lose hopes though. There was this interview thing that was aimed at filtering out all substandard people. Naturally I did not feel threatened about any impediment in my continuance as an ordinary man. I presented myself at the interview board as shabbily attired as possible. My tie reached almost my knee cap and my shoes were reminiscent of Charles Chaplin. But again as ill luck could have it, the Committee had already interviewed almost about two thirds of the candidates and was totally unnerved about the kind of replies they got for their questions. The members were under some kind of pressure not to appear hostile and by the time I entered the Board Room, they seemed to have made up their minds to ask only such questions for which they would get correct answers. The oldest in the group briefly subjected me to a physical scrutiny and winced in pain. He then shot off the first question, ‘Who is the Father of the Nation?’. As I sat there evaluating my answer, he turned towards a picture of Gandhiji hung in the room and grinned meaningfully. ‘Gandhiji’ I shouted triumphantly and instantly bit my tongue. I knew I had made a folly and in all likelihood would be selected for the job. I did become a Probationary Officer of the Bank. It was a blessing in disguise. Once I was in the Bank, my position as common man was never threatened. Almost all officers were ordinary and some were more ordinary than others. I was one of them! During my 25 years in the Bank, I lured away most of the rats from the rat race. I was rightfully nicknamed as ‘The Pied Piper’!