Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Mystery

 “Oh god, its Monday again”, thought Samanth. He reluctantly got off his bed and got ready to go to office – the one place he hated the most. Samanth was a salesman working in a company which sold computers. He was toiling hard for the last 3 years in hope of a promotion to the assistant manager’s position, but to no avail. As he got down the bus and headed to his office, he saw a sign board – Know your future – only 10 rupees.

Samanth had broken up with his girlfriend, his professional career seemed to have nosedived and he was not getting a job anywhere else. “Let me check out where my future lies”, thought Samanth.

“Baba, can you please tell me how my future is?”

The man, whose face radiated a mysterious energy, looked at Samanth and said, “Why do you want to know the future? You anyway cannot change it.”

“Yes, I cannot change the future. But it will at least save me the misery of thinking about it. And anyway, I will pay your 10 bucks. Isn’t that why you are sitting here in the first place?”

“Oh, this sign? This was here before I came.”

Samanth was disappointed. Hearing that the guy was not an astrologer, he started towards his office. The bearded man saw his disappointment and called out.

“I don’t disappoint anyone who comes my way. You only want to know your future, right? I will tell you what will happen to you today.”

“Really? Please tell me, baba.

“You will get a promotion today”, declared the man authoritatively and closed his eyes for meditation.

Samanth had mixed feelings as he walked towards his office. On one side he was happy that the guy told he will be promoted, but on the other side he chided himself for believing the words of a man who did not even have a proper place to live. He gave another look at the man, let out a sigh filled with self-pity and continued towards the office.

“Sir, bade sahib wants to see you”, blurted out the peon as soon as Samanth walked in.

“It must be about my quarterly targets. I was on sick leave for 10 days but still the takalu won’t decrease the targets. God, please save me.”

“Oh Samanth, come in. I have something important to talk to you” said the boss.

“The company is very happy with you work and we have decided to promote you to the post of Asst. Manager. You will have two persons reporting to you”

Samanth couldn’t believe his ears. These were the words he had hoped to hear for the last three years, and now, he was actually hearing them. Samanth thanked his boss and came back to his cubicle. He thought of the old man who made the prediction about the promotion and rushed to the window to see him. The old man was sitting there, still meditating. He quickly went to the old man.

“Baba, I got promoted. I thought you were a fraud, but you are a genius. Thank you very much”.  The baba smilingly approved with a slight nod of his head.
Meanwhile, greed got the better of Samanth. He thought if the baba can predict something like his promotion so accurately, then he can also tell what will happen to him in the next week, next month, next year and next decade.

“Baba, please tell me my entire future. I want to know everything”, pleaded Samanth.

The face of baba suddenly became serious. He thought for a while and said, “You would not want to know that. Believe me; you are better off not knowing your future.” Hearing this, Samanth replied nervously, “Why baba, is the future so bad?”
“No, on the contrary, you have a much better future than an average person. But knowing the future is a dangerous thing. This will only add to your misery.”

“No baba, I still want to know the future. You told nobody goes disappointed from your footsteps. Please don’t disappoint me.”

Baba paused, took a deep breath and after a little shake of his head told Samanth “Okay, if you wish so. But remember, you cannot change your future, you can only see it. Whenever you want know about the future, just close your eyes and think about the date, all the events on that particular date will run before your eyes as if they are happening right now.”

Samanth was confused. He had expected a traditional soothsaying where the person tells what will happen to him, when he will get married, about his career prospect and so on. This was different. He closed his eyes and thought about all dates of the past. To his astonishment he saw his entire life playing out before his eyes once again. He thought about the current date, but saw everything except the old man and the new power.

“Why am I not able to see you or any of my encounters with you?’ asked Samanth

“Even I cannot answer all questions. Perhaps, our meeting was never meant to happen.” Baba looked at Samanth, smiled and said, “Even God’s software has bugs!”.

As Samanth headed home, he was exhausted with the turn of events. But sleep was the last thing on his mind. He quickly thought of all the dates in the next month and found out what will happen to him.
Next day he went to the office and sat in his new cubicle. The receptionist called to inform him that the client has asked him to meet at 2 PM. Samanth smiled as he already knew it; he even knew the outcome of the meeting. The client will give him a big order and his boss will give him an increment.

This became a daily routine. He knew beforehand what would happen. One day he saw that the client will be very angry with him after a meeting and the order will be cancelled. The night before the meeting he prepared meticulously and paid attention to everything. But the client still found some grave errors and cancelled the order.

Things were happening exactly as he saw them. He got a new girlfriend, broke up with her, fought with his best friend and lost his IPOD. He slowly realized that he was totally helpless against the turn of events. Though he liked it when good things happened to him, he hated it when he knew that things would go wrong and still could not do anything to stop it.

He realized that life had become so predictable that nothing got him excited. He did not laugh at his colleague’s jokes as he already knew it, he no longer felt happy on a new business deal or unhappy when the deal could not go through, nobody could give him any surprises anymore. He knew them all. It was like watching the recording of an India-Pakistan cricket match; a match which went down the wire and India won on the last ball. But if you watched the live match, ball by ball, and are forced to watch the recordings as well, the excitement will no longer be there.  The gravity of the situation slowly dawned on him. He had become a machine who had to go through the motions. He was totally helpless. Many a times he thought he will not think about the future. But try not thinking about something and that is exactly the thing you think! He tried to look for the baba and ask him take back the power, but the baba was nowhere to be seen.

One day he thought about a random date and saw a blank. ”Hmm... probably I am dead by then”, thought Samanth. Ironically, this thought actually made him happy, a feeling he had stopped experiencing a long time ago. He traced his “death date” by the trial-and-error method and began the wait of the inevitable event. On the way, he took part in all the ‘mandatory’ events like his marriage, his job-changes, death of the loved ones and many more; having the same experience as watching the recorded India-Pakistan match. Finally, his death-date arrived and he was released from the miserable life he was leading. On his death-bed, he remembered Baba’s words – “Knowing the future is a dangerous thing. This will only add to your misery”. As Baba had told, he did lead a life which, in normal circumstances, would have been much better than that of an average person, but in actuality he was probably the saddest person on earth.

Baba, who had been watching Samanth's story all along, looked at the unfortunate soul one last time and thought, " The greatest mystery in the world is tomorrow. Nobody knows what will happen in future. Its the hope of a good tomorrow that keeps pushing the men to strive hard. Once the mystery is solved, life is not worth living". Indeed, as Samanth found out.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Sadharan insaan

paed, paudhe, mitti, pathar
kya inse alag meri pehchaan
mein to ek sadharan insaan

kal tha nahi, par aaj sahi,
aaj sahi, kal phir nahi,
kya badalega isse koi parinaam
mein to ek sadharan insaan

arabon ki manav sena mein,
chala ja raha ek tinke samaan
mein to ek sadharan insaan


पेड, पौधे, मिटटी, पत्थर
क्या इनसे अलग मेरी पहचान,
मैं तो एक साधारण इंसान

कल था नहीं, पर आज सही,
आज सही, कल फिर नहीं,
क्या बदलेगा इससे कोई परिणाम
मैं तो एक साधारण इंसान

अरबों की मानव सेना में,
चला जा रहा एक तिनके समान ,
 मैं तो एक साधारण इंसान

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Simply Fly - A Deccan Odyssey - Review

In the small village of Gorur, located in the interiors of Karnataka, the headmaster asked a bunch of school kids if they were interested to write a competitive administration exam for a novel military training school called Sainik School. An 11 year old boy raised his hand, even though he did not know the real meaning of ‘military’, or had any idea of what he would be doing there. He only had a dream of stepping out to the unknown. It was this adventurous trait of him that would go on to define him in the future. The boy was G.R.Gopinath, the father of low cost airlines in India. Simply Fly is a remarkable story of a village boy’s journey through life, the challenges he faced, the ups and downs he experienced and the unbridled optimism with which he approached every event of his life.

The early parts of the book talk about his childhood, the time he spent in his native village of Gorur, his move to the Sanik School in Bijapur and finally his experiences in the National Defence Academy (NDA) (some of them are quite humorous!). Further, he describes his stint in the Indian Army, where he fought the Bangladesh liberation war. After the war he was posted to some challenging locations, one among them a picket called 4752, where the maximum summer temperature hovered around minus two degree Celsius!

Though Army life had been wonderful for him, it was, in his own words, “too regimented and predictable” for his liking. He was not enjoying his stint in the Army and thus one fine day he quit and came back to his village.

Though he quit the Army, he had no idea what he would do for a living. At the same time the government was building a dam on the Hemavathy river which would submerge Gopinath’s ancestral land. As compensation the government had provided 10 acres of land each to his father and his three brothers. The land was largely barren, with patches of jungle and scrub forest and without any proper access route. That is why when the Captain declared that he would start living there and set up his farm, his father could only utter two words, “Ningenu Huccha?” (Are you mad?) Almost everybody tried to dissuade him from taking to farming, but the Captain was adamant. He had a vision for the farm and he would not stop until he achieved it.

His struggles to set up the farm are some of the most inspirational parts of the book (along with his setting up of Deccan Aviation). To begin with, he only had Rs 6000 with him and needed capital to set up the farm. But the banks where he went to take the loan were rude, apathetic and indifferent. On top of that he also had to face the hostility of the nearby villagers who were not too happy with his arrival as they were using the land earlier for grazing their cattle, which obviously they could not do any more. There were innumerable other roadblocks like lack of electricity, floods and drought But Captain Gopinath, through sheer grit and determination and single minded focus on the goal, was able to cross each one of these hurdles and went on to set up the farm successfully. He was eventually awarded the Rolex award for Enterprise for employing eco-friendly ways of farming. Along with the farm he also dabbled in other businesses like a motorcycle dealership, opening a hotel business, working as a stock broker and setting up an Agricultural consultancy!

Soon thereafter, Captain Gopinath took a plunge in politics and stood for the election on the ticket of BJP. His “can-do” spirit is further evident here as he faced a lot of challenges on account of him being a first-timer and also because BJP was pretty much unknown in the state at that time. Particularly interesting is his duel with Deve Gowda, one of the strongest leaders of the state, where Gowda had to eventually retreat! Though he lost the elections, it did not sadden him. As he writes, “Yes, there was disappointment, but there was also a curios sense of exultation. I had discovered a strange power within me”.

Gopinath soon shifted to Bangalore where he began socializing with his old Army friends. One of them was Captain K.J Samuel. He was a freelance pilot, flying helicopters all over India. One day he suggested to Captain Gopinath, “Why can’t we do something with the helicopters?”  The seed of Deccan aviation was planted on this day. Sometime later, with Samuel’s words in his mind and inspired by the newspaper report of a Vietnamese girl who flew investors and aid workers in a helicopter over Vietnam, as the infrastructure in the country was totally devastated due to the war, Gopinath thought, “If helicopters can work in Vietnam, so can they in India, where the infrastructure is as bad!”. He decided that he will start a helicopter company and Deccan Aviation was born.

As Captain has mentioned in the book, setting up the new venture was similar to setting up his farm; only that this was at a much bigger scale and the challenges much tougher. His ordeals with the bureaucracy and his successful way past the labyrinth makes for a very inspiring read. Like the instance where just to get a NOC from the government for the new company, he had to toil hard for two long years! Gopinath’s experiences convince you that if you have the will, have decided in your heart that no matter what, the goal has to be achieved, then no one can stop you from achieving it. After years of relentless pursuit, hard work and sacrifices the helicopter business was firmly established. It’s a tribute to his vision and courage that starting off with such meager resources, he was able to establish the business in a capital intensive industry like aviation.

Upon the success of Deccan Aviation, Gopinath decided to enter the airline industry – by starting a low cost airline, Air Deccan. If anything, this was a much bigger risk. For all its challenges, one thing in his favor when he started Deccan Aviation was that there was very little competition, but here there were established players and the sector was notorious for its cut throat competition. There were also suggestions that the low cost model will not work in India. But the Captain had complete conviction in his business model and had a novel dream – to make the common man fly. The airline experienced exponential growth and within a very short time it even overtook the national carrier.

However, new challenges emerged which throttled the growth of Air Deccan. The challenges, among others, included poaching of its pilots and engineers by the rival airlines and the collapse of its IT system. Gopinath had no choice but to seek external funding, even if it meant ceding control of his say in day-to-day running of the company. Eventually the company had to be merged to Kingfisher airlines. The last chapter talks about his new venture – Deccan360 – which he funded by mortgaging everything he had, his house, his shares and his stocks. He started all over again!

A couple of the things that stand out from the book are Captain Gopinath’s unflinching optimism and his courage to follow his dreams, even though they may look implausible and impractical at first. Couple of years ago, I read the popular book The Alchemist. If I call Simply Fly the non-fictional counterpart of The Alchemist, it would not be entirely wrong.

Simply Fly is a must read. It motivates you to flap your wings and take the flight to the unknown island of your dreams.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Na jaane aaj.....

न जाने आज, दिल बहुत खुश है
कल की चिंता नहीं, कल का गम नहीं,
बस आज की लहरों में बहा जा रहा हूँ मैं

न जाने आज, हर गीत सुरीला है
गायकी में कशिश है, हर शब्द में एक कहानी 
संगीत के सागर में डूबा जा रहा हूँ मैं

न जाने आज, सब दोस्त अच्छे हैं
किसी में इर्षा नहीं, किसी से इर्षा नहीं
बस सबके गुण गाता चला जा रहा हूँ मैं

न जाने आज, बहुत अच्छी नींद आयी है
दिल पर बोझ नहीं, किसी की सोच नहीं
इन बादलों में तैरता चला जा रहा हूँ मैं

कल तो ऐसा न था, कल शायद ऐसा न हो
क्यों न आज जी भर के जी लूं
बरसों से आँखे मूँद जिया जा रहा हूँ मैं

Friday, August 6, 2010


She came towards me
With that sweet little smile
I wish I knew my life
Would forever be futile

A bit shy, a bit excited
She giggled all the time
She had something to say
Her eyes were the first sign

She was hesitant to tell
Something held her back
She talked of all the world
But nothing from the prepared stack

Then suddenly, she stopped talking
A fleeting glance came my way
With her eyes still pointing down
Slowly, she began to say

I think I am in love
I think I found my soul mate
This is the moment I longed for
God has answered my wait

My heart beat faster
Faster than ever before
I waited for her next word
Like a fish on the shore

She took out her wedding card
And stoically handed to me
Was the heaviest thing I ever held
Down it fell, but did anyone see?

Silence engulfed us
The eyes replaced the mouth
Those little things never lie
Then why am I north and why is she south?

The eyes closed gently
They couldn’t take it anymore
Up flew the mind, into the past
Away from this silent uproar

The sound of footsteps brought me back
There she was, walking behind
My outstretched hands couldn’t stop her
Cos they moved, only in my mind

Still, she stopped momentarily
Perhaps, she felt my invisible hand
Then trudged ahead with watery eyes
Breaking to pieces, my castle of sand

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Flying time....

Does time have wings? Apparently yes. The other day I saw employees joining my organization from campus and my thoughts went back to the time when I joined MindTree(from campus). It was 5 years back. 5 years? Has it really been that long? It just seems yesterday when I came to the rumbustious Bangalore, leaving the relative calm of my hometown Hubli. There were so many hopes and aspirations that I carried along with me. Some have fulfilled, some have dropped off and some new ones have been added. But the most striking feature of the last 5 years have been how fast time has flown.

I remember the time when as 'freshers' we were treated more like kids than IT professionals. Everything was new to us; the work environment, the people, the work. It was a dramatic change from the carefree college life where nothing was to be taken seriously to the professional life where we had to behave more maturely and where we had to wear 'formals' on four days of a week

Recounting my last 5 years, the only thought that comes to my mind is - if the last 5 years can pass in a flash, so will the next 5 years and the 5 years after that. Did I really do what I wanted to do? Will I keep postponing the stuff I really want to do and one fine day find that I don't have any more time left? Do we overestimate the time we are left with?

Saturday, July 10, 2010


The time was around 11.30 PM. Prabhath was dejectedly walking along the sleepy road thinking about the meeting he just had with his clients. He had completely screwed up. In spite of his best efforts, he had forgotten to collect some key data points which the clients were expecting. After the meeting his manager had yelled at him, “When will you start taking responsibilities? I had not expected this from you. You are good for nothing!”
 There goes my promotion, my new house and my new car, thought Prabhath. He was planning to take an apartment for the last 2 years and a promotion was his only hope. Now even that was gone.

At the corner of the road he saw an unusual green colored bottle. He picked it up and thought, “Wouldn’t it be great if this was like Aladin’s chirag and a genie come out of it on rubbing; all my problems would be solved.” He rubbed the bottle gently, hoping against hope that something magical will happen.

As soon as he rubbed the bottle a white smoky substance dissipated out from the bottle. Terrified, Prabhath dropped the bottle and ran a few yards away. The white smoky substance took the shape of a fat man with an extremely small head on a big body, which floated in mid-air. The structure had five legs and it looked as if someone had inserted a big balloon between the head and legs of an octopus. Slowly it dawned to Prabhath that a genie had indeed come out of the bottle; he couldn’t believe his eyes. He pinched himself hard to make sure he wasn’t dreaming. It hurt; he wasn’t dreaming. Finally, he thought, I will be a successful man, all my problems will be a thing of past. I will have a big bungalow, the most expensive car and I will travel all over the world.

The genie looked almost annoyed that someone had woken him up from his sleep. In a dull monotone he asked Prabhath, “As you might have guessed by now I am a genie and I will grant you three wishes. My master, please tell me what do you wish for?” Prabhath was overjoyed. These were the exact words he had hoped to hear. But one doubt kept surfacing in his mind and he finally asked the genie, “Can you grant me anything I wish? I mean, anything? What if you are not able to grant me my wish?” On hearing this, the stoic genie suddenly started laughing hysterically. He rolled on the ground over and over again, still taken over by the hysterical laugh. This continued for couple of minutes. Then he stopped laughing, as abruptly as he had started, and returned to his stoic self, looked Prabhath straight into the eyes and said, “There is nothing in this man-made world that I cannot do. I can move the mountains. I can move the sky. I can make a king a pauper and a pauper a king. I can convert the mighty sea into an arid desert and the arid desert into an evergreen forest. I can dive into people’s mind and see what they are thinking, control their thoughts and control their actions. I can do anything I want; you just have to make a wish.” Prabhath was extremely happy hearing the answer and just when he started to think about his wish, the genie added, almost as an afterthought.”However, for any reason, if I fail to grant you your wish, I will burst into flames and I will be destroyed. But don’t worry, that hasn’t happened in the last 100 million years and is not likely to happen in future. You make your wish”.

Prabhath thought for a while;” Shall I ask him for an apartment? What about an independent house with a garden? No, I can ask him for a big bungalow with a beautiful garden which has multi-level car parking, pre-parked with latest cars. I can also ask for a private jet. But there are only 3 wishes, how can I ask all these things. Oh yes, I know what to do. I will simply ask for an inexhaustible bank balance through which I can buy anything I want.” And so he makes his wish. He gets an inexhaustible bank balance and he buys himself and his family everything which money can buy. He starts enjoying his new life; he travels around the world, stays in the most expensive hotels and spends money without caring a damn.
However, he soon realizes that the thrill he experienced in spending money, traveling to a new place and driving expensive cars kept on decreasing and after couple of months he no longer enjoyed them as he once did. As he no longer needed to earn his livelihood, he stopped going to work. He spent days and nights in his monstrous bungalow alone without doing anything worthwhile and after six months since the fulfillment of his wish he realized he was in a much worse condition emotionally than he was even during the night he had screwed up his meeting.

“What is the use of all this money if it doesn’t make me happy? I just wanted to enjoy life and be happy. Is that so hard?” thought Prabhath. Suddenly, his eyes flash up and he started smiling. “What I wanted was to be happy. Earning money was just a means. I still have two wishes left. Why not I call the genie and make my second wish.”

“My second wish is that I should always be happy”, wished Prabhath to the genie. As soon as he made the wish he found himself surrounded with a beautiful and understanding wife, two cute little kids and some genuine friends. He was now a much respected businessman whom the world admired for the success he had achieved at a relatively young age. He had a vision of making his company the first to reach $500 billion revenue mark, which experts predicted he was not far from achieving. He had everything which one can ask for; good family, good friends, a dream which kept him going. He was now, a happy man.

But as with money earlier, he realized that as time went on the happiness he derived from life became less and less and after a certain point he no longer felt happy on seeing his wife, his kids or his ever growing business empire. The sheer monotony of all these things not only failed to excite him but rather made him unhappy. “What is this irony? I made a wish to be happy and now I am sad. Surely, the genie failed to fulfill my wish.” He called the genie and questioned him “Hey genie, you have failed. I wished to be happy and look at me now. You have betrayed me. Why did you lie to me?”

“My master, I did not lie. You are indeed happy”.

“What? How can it be? I am not.”

“No master, you are. It’s just that you don’t value happiness anymore. Okay, let me explain. What is your favorite dish? ”

“Hmm.. my favorite dish..rosogulla”

“I will give you one rosogulla every week. Will you enjoy it?

“Yes, surely”

“Now imagine eating a rosgulla every five minutes. How long will you enjoy eating them?”

“I would probably stop after one or two hours”

“Right. As you stop loving rosogulla when you have an abundance of them, you stop valuing happiness when you have it in excess. For the last 6 months, you have been happy every second of your life. You don’t value it anymore.”

Prabhath was devastated now. Exactly a year ago when he met the genie he thought all his problems would be solved. He wished for money, it did no good to him. He wished for happiness, again the result was the same. He was back to square one. Just as he was immersed in his deep thoughts, he looked at the genie and said in a forlorn manner.

I wish I know what I want in my life”.

As soon as Prabhath uttered these words, he saw a bright streak of light which completely blinded him. He could hear cries of help and when he looked towards the dazzling light with his half closed eyes, he did not believe what he saw. The mighty genie, the one who possessed infinite power, the one for whom nothing was impossible, was burning. He had failed to fulfill Prabhath’s third and final wish.

As the genie vanished, so did his magic. The clock turned back. Prabhath found himself exactly at the same place where he met the genie one year ago. The only difference was that there was no green bottle this time. For some strange reason, Prabhath felt very light. He felt as if a weight of 100kgs was off his shoulders. Just as he was coming to terms with the situation he saw a car stop nearby. Inside the car there was a 1 year old kid sitting on his mother’s lap. On seeing Prabhath, the kid started laughing and clapping. Prabhath smiled back. Prabhath had not been happier in a long time.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Book Review - The Kite Runner

The Kite Runner is one of those novels which take you to a different world altogether, where you empathize with characters as they are your best friends. You revel in their happiness, feel their pain, laugh with them, cry with them. And finally, when the novel ends, it’s as if you are parting away from a dear one, knowing fully that you will never meet again. I have cried after watching movies before, but this must be the very first novel which gave me a lump in the throat.

The novel starts in the Kabul of 1960’s, capital of Afghanistan. It is narrated as a first person account by Amir-the protagonist of the story. The initial chapters explore the friendship between Amir and Hassan(some of the best part of the novel) and Amir’s rather uneasy relationship with his father. Amir’s father - who once wrestled a black bear with his bare hands - wants Amir to be more like him, someone who stands up for himself, likes sports and do other stuff which he considers ‘real men’ do. But that is precisely what Amir is not, and Amir himself knows it too well. That is why when the annual kite flying competition is announced – one of the very few interests shared by the father-son duo- Amir decides he will ‘redeem’ himself before his father by winning the kite flying competition. Though he wins the competition, he also does one thing, rather ‘does not’ do one thing, which not only shatters his and Hassan’s lives, but which will haunt him for the rest of his existence. Soon after the Soviets attack Afghanistan and Amir, along with his father, is forced to flee to San Francisco, America.

Two decades later, Amir is married, is a successful writer and has more or less exorcised the ghost of his Kabul years, when Rahim Khan – his long deceased father’s old friend – calls and asks him to come to Kabul; a Kabul taken over by Taliban. And just before he hangs up, Rahim Khan, almost as an after-thought, tells Amir, “There is a way to be good again”, which gets Amir thinking. Why did Rahim Khan say this? What is the real reason for Rahim Khan to call him up? Does Rahim Khan know what he ‘did not’ do that day? Amir’s return to Afghanistan and answers to these questions forms the rest of the story.

The Kite Runner is a sensitive story which truly touches your heart. I was thinking how to end this review with a summary, when my eyes fell on the one line review by THE TIMES on the back cover of the novel, which I think best sums it up.

Hosseini is a truly gifted teller of tales... he’s not afraid to pull every string in your heart to make it sing.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Of Ranchos and Farhaans

In Rajkumar Hirani’s latest blockbuster 3 idiots, Rancho is a genius who knows what he wants in life and how to go about it. He achieves what he set out for and makes it big in life. Farhaan - Rancho’s friend - also knows what he wants in life (wildlife photography), but under pressure from his parents joins an engineering college. But finally, with a little help from Rancho, convinces his parents and pursues his passion.

What distinguishes Rancho and Farhaan from the rest is that they know what their goal is; what they want from life. In real world, many realize their passion well after they are settled in life, after which it becomes impossible to turn back. Most don’t realize it in their lifetime. Why do we not know what we want in life? It should be simple, isn’t it? Let me go back a few years and try to answer this.

It was a Sunday morning, sometime in the month of April, 1998. Our ninth standard exams had finished and we had assembled in a classroom for the tenth standard tuition. Our teacher, an overweight man with a well rounded belly, was waiting for the class to settle down. After a while, he wrote the number 85 on the board and circled it. He spoke, “If you want to get admission into P.C.Jabin College , you should at least get 85% in the board exams. So study hard. This is the make or break year for you; if you don’t get enough marks, you will have to settle for Kaadsiddheshwar.” P.C Jabin was the best science college in my city at that time and Kaadsiddheshwar was an Arts college. Going to a science college was the default option and only those who couldn’t make it to a good science college, choose commerce or arts. The question – why science, why not arts? – never crossed my mind, even though I had no particular affinity towards science or any dislike for arts. We were like the carriage horses whose eyes are covered so that it looks only in one direction. It just doesn’t know there are other directions as well.

After passing the tenth standard, I somehow got admission into P.C.Jabin science college. The first lecture was by the Mathematics professor. He started, “You are entering the most critical phase of your life. You should be far-sighted now. Don’t think about your 11th standard exam; think about your board exams which are scheduled for April 2001, think about IIT-JEE entrance, think about CET (the common entrance test for admission to engineering and medical colleges in Karnataka). If you don’t get a rank below 300 in CET, you will not get admission to a good engineering college.” Again, we were expected to go to an engineering college. Not that anybody complained. We faithfully followed the given instructions, thinking that this is where our future lies. After all, most of us were aiming for a good engineering college. A sheep in a herd doesn’t know where it is going; it just goes where everybody else goes.

No wonder we don’t have many Ranchos and Farhaans among us. When you are not allowed to think outside engineering, when you are made to believe that only engineering gives you a secure future (it doesn’t matter if your career gives you joy or not, as long as it gives you a secure future), how will you know what you really want? God has given us brain to think, but until we use it, it’s just a lump.

I only hope that the society gives more scope to the students to choose the careers of their choice. Otherwise, countless unfortunate souls will keep singing away:

Give me some sunshine
Give me some rain
Give me another chance
I wanna grow up once again!