*Following post has provocative language! :-P
I was with my friend Alter walking around Lokhandwala. Then we reached his building and sat on the benches in the mini park within his building.
I was talking to myself, “Here I am, standing at yet another crossroads of my life, desperately pondering which path to choose. Which path will take me to my goal? It’s time, time to choose a career option. But I have to be careful because the choice I make will define my career.”
I told Alter, “Well now that the placement season is in full swing, I have realized something – I’m in Deep Shit!”
Alter said sarcastically, “How do you realize that now Einstein?”
I replied irritatingly, “Like most of the people I know from my Institute and elsewhere, even I don’t have the faintest idea what I want to do?
And Alter, being the sadist he is, asked, “Ha ha ha! Why do you say like other people? Does it give you pleasure that there are other tortured souls like you?”
“Shut up Bhenchod!” I said. “It’s just that it feels a little better knowing that I’m not the only one. I could use some company who understands me, unlike you, who’s sarcastic down to each and every cell.”
“You know I could be of some use to you. If you want me to help you,” said Alter.
“Like how?” I said.
Alter suggested, “Let’s explore some career options for you.”
Uninterested, I said, “Fine, but on one condition that you’ll not screw my happiness. Ok?”
Alter replied “Yeah sure. You know, actually I’m tired of mauling you day in and day out. I can use a break. So why don’t you put down some options and we’ll discuss it out.”
So there I was, racking my brain for some career options which suited my very limited worldly acquired skills. For a change Alter kept his gutter of a mouth shut. The silence helped me to concentrate and jot down my options. I borrowed a 2 Rs. pen from the Nepali watchman and a paper from the bhel-puri wallah. After about 30 minutes, the list was ready and I handed it over to Alter.
This is what the list read - Actor, Teacher, Researcher, Journalist, Media-person, Biologist, Film critic, Branding, Public Relations, Communication and Writer!
On reading Alter just looked up with a visible question mark on his face.
Without wasting a single nano second I started blurting my regular styled unpatented justifications, “You know we are so much over-burdened by information that if it were to be printed out, we’ll drown under it. Not technically because one can drown only in liquid, hehe. Anyway, even the people whom we consider our guides aren’t of much help to us because they too, like us, are under the same shit of information overload! Everywhere we see or read or listen, we are told that this is the best time to live in; we have got so many options ahead of us. Duh! We know it. But all of these people fail to understand something very important, i.e. it is also a very stressful time to live where decision making has not only become longer but also very tedious. So you see, that’s why I have so many options!”
“Waah! Waah! Waah! Mere sher”, exclaimed Alter, “Aadmi ek aur kaam hazaar, aa teri g@*d maaru mere yaar.”
And now I understood why Alter kept quiet for all those 30 long minutes. He was about to take my case; left, right and centre!
Alter stated very sarcastically, “Just because you’re an MBA you think you can do anything in the world Mr. Know All? The problem with you is that you have no core competency. So tell me what differentiates you from others? You know, forget it. Let’s explore your options, shall we?”
He continued, “Actor – this is not an option you moron. This is a fantasy because you’re a film addict. Go f*@# yourself for putting this in black and white.”
He went on, “Next, Teacher – well, your intention is good, it can be explored later, not now. Simply because you neither have an educator’s degree nor any experience. So why the heck didn’t you pursue a Bachelors or Masters in Education degree?
Clearing his throat, “Ahem, Researcher. Right. Yeah you can do that, but only if you got the balls to work for more than 12 hours a day, you morbid dog.”
Listening to him wasn’t so bad. Apart from being used to his judgemental mockery, I, Mr. Know All was part of Hawa Mahal Management Institute, where your layers of dignity were shredded regularly to the last peel, all in the name of preparing us for the cruel corporate world. An Institute can’t train me to face the rigours of life; I had Alter with me ever since I gained consciousness.
Alter had resumed speaking from his only minute pause and shrugging his droopy shoulders, looked up to me and asked with a menacing look, “Biologist?”
I jumped to the point and without giving an opportunity to Alter to speak, I warranted, “Spare your invaluable energy on my inexplicable choice. If I was interested in biology I should have pursued it and blah, blah, blah. Sorry. Go on.”
Alter was visibly pissed off now. He lit his cigarette, puffed the smoke and ranted again, “Film critic. You think you can be Taran Adarsh? Do you know how many years he must have slogged to reach the bottom-most section of the pyramid of Bollywood which you feel is very glamorous?” He paused but this time he smiled and said, “But giving your love for movies you might do well, in another 10-20 years.”
Wow, if there was an award for the Best A$$h&*@ friend in the world, I’m sure Alter would have easily beaten the other pricks.
I offered to surrender and asked Alter if we can stop. He said that there wasn’t any harm in discussing another 2-3 options. So we continued, much to my dismay.
“So my dear Einstein, you think you can also be Public Relations guy?” My best friend Alter went on, “You can do well if you can be considered as a social butterfly. Naaaaa! You like to keep yourself, so there’s a slight mismatch”
I was happy that Alter was mellowing down in his prognosis of my career options.
“Communication”, he said, “give some thought here. You are a decent speaker and write well too.”
Now to the ordinary person the above statement is mundane, but that, coming from Alter was like a unique recognition for me, like an Oscar for Govinda. I wanted to pinch myself, it’s rarely that Alter speaks well of people.
And puffing the last drag from his smooth Davidoff Lights, he flicked the butt and exhaled, and uttered with an unmistakable sarcastic grin, “So Mr. Know All wants to be like Amer Khusro, a Writer. This seems very interesting. From what I see, you do have the skills, but writers f*^#ing don’t get paid man, unless and until they are established and have some credibility.
And that was the end of my list which Alter burned after analysing, with the courtesy of his Harley Davidson Zippo lighter which I gifted him on the day when he broke up with his girl-friend. Yeah I gifted him on a sad day because I thought I could be as sadistic as him, if not more. But the bastard got so elated that he took me for dinner and puffed half a pack of his Davidoffs. I just can’t beat this guy.
Anyway, I thought it’s good to have a questioning, sarcastic, pessimistic, yet a true friend like Alter who gives you the glimpse of the harsh reality of the cunning world waiting outside shrewdly, to try to shatter your ambitions and make you stoop.
So after a 2 minute silence which felt like an eternity, I asked, “Alter, so tell me what I should do?”
And then he answered me with a tight slap on my right cheek.
I shouted “Aaaah! What’s wrong?”
And there was my mother like the ever hovering moon over earth shouting on my face, “Rascal! Its 1pm you better wake up or I’ll rub some green chili pepper in your eyes.”
I was up in a flash just like how The Undertaker, the wrestler from WWE used to get up when he was thumped in the ring. I was dreaming. And this dream was as clear as watching an original DVD of Madagascar on a 51 inch plasma TV with surround sound.
But from the dream I got my answer from my alter ego, Alter.
Realising the answer almost felt like what Moses must have felt when Yahweh or Christ’s Papa or Allah or God, whatever you may call him, revealed the tablet of Ten Commandments, the feeling of being scared by the Truth.
The answer was that I have no special talent, I am only passionately curious. And this zest for learning is what creates a difference in me.
The only point is it’s not cosmetic. It can’t be seen or explained. It’s internal, very personal.
I got my answer, not the answer for the question of career, but the larger and more encompassing questioning that riddles everyone, the question of Life.
I have understood one thing no matter what I’ll do in my life; I know that every day when I’ll wake up, I will have my curiosity to give me a million reasons to live for that day. How am I so sure? Because I realized that this is how I’ve kept going on all these years.
As far as my career options are concerned, I would like to quote a very eminent, enlightened man, Baba Chetan Maharaj , who was once an MBA student of Hawa Mahal Management Institute. And his saying goes like this, ‘If things don’t turn out the way you want them. Chill dude! Leave it to God.’
On a closing note, I guess there’s a plan for all of us. HE works HIS work in mysterious ways. Some people like it, some people don’t.