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!