When we were small, one of the very patent and regular question the uncles and aunties used to ask was 'Bade hokar kya banna chahte ho?' (What would you like to be when you grow old (read:what will you do for a living)), and most often I used to say 'pata nahi' (I dont know) and that would embarrass my folks. So to compensate they would say , 'Oh, she is good at science, I think she would like to be an Engineer or a doctor', and I would stand there smiling sheepishly, thinking what the fuck is does an engineer do.. repair TV Sets? Who wants to do that!!
Anyway, after many such blush instances, I eventually, even when I secretly wanted to be a teacher / a chef or something bizzare, I still said 'Mein doctor banna chahti hu' (I want to be a doctor).. and just as much dis-satisfied the world is, my folks used to break in complaining 'What doctor!! She doesn't study a bit.. Doing badly at school.. blah blah'.. So I realized that there is no correct and safe answer to this question and so I stopped entertaining these questions all together.
Its been quite sometime now, I have been working for almost 4 years. The regular road map now is to do an MBA and jump the corporate ladder. Trust me, my folks are after my life to get myself enrolled in a B school, but that is not what I want to do. I am not happy in this corporate set up. My parents and friends keep asking me, that if not an MBA, what is it that you want to do? But now, unlike before, I have an answer. Though not a convincing one, but I do have an answer.
I want to get into the development sector or become a designer or just write.
These activities give me unspoken satisfaction -- The sense of creation, the sense of being able to pass a smile to someone who really needs it -- it gives me a huge kick -- a feeling of fulfilment.
I do these things which make me happy, but they are limited to only weekends -- maybe once, twice or thrice in a month -- not more than that. But I want to do it full time -- I tried to persuade a NGO to hire me, but looking at my technical background, they don't even consider my application. :(
They are ready to give me voluntary work (something that I already do) but not a 'on the roll' job. I don't mind doing voluntary work actually, but the only fuck up is that if I justdo voluntary work full time, who will pay for my existence? Then someone has to do voluntary work to sponsor me!! :) And sadly I have not found that kind hearter sponsor yet !! :) :)
I am not sure if this is the problem in developing nations -- that we can't do what we want to -- I mean, atleast we cant do it easily. Like for the UK -- there are a plethora of opportunities for every kind of work you can think of. You want to be a driver of a bus, no problem. You get a valid license and you get paid 8 pounds an hour -- you work 35 hrs a week and get paid 1120 pounds a month -- not bad at all.. You want to get into the development sector like me, they have many options -- you want to work for the immigrant workers - no? okay, elderly people - no? okay, how about the AIDS patients in a remote village in Africa -- sounds ok? Come on, and you are good to go. How about joining the army? I have seen posters in the local buses here which read that the recruitment people from the Army will come to your house and you can sit and choose which sector you would like to join. You just need to call them up and say 'I want to..'. And, money is not a problem at all -- almost all jobs pay enough to live a decent life. Of course if you want a fancy life, then the competition becomes global. In places like UK (I think US too), if you want to do something, it can be done. But in places like India, you have to worry too much -- firstly, you will have to prove that you are fit for the job, next you will have to fight the competition, then you will have to worry if the money that earn will be enough to pay your bills .. all this apart from facing the regular reactions associated with the 'status' of the kind of work you choose to, the social taboo attached, if any, etc etc ..
I recently read an article of a Londoner who works at a soup kitchen (soup kitchens are kitchens which provide food for the less fortunate) where she talks of her experience of watching a hair dresser come and give haircuts for free to the people visiting there. What a wonderful thing to do.
I suddenly want to be a hair dresser myself and go around giving free haircuts to people who cant afford to go to a parlour.
Now I turn to reality and see what I really am doing -- a stupid IT job that any jack ass can do -- which presumably many jack asses are doing -- filling up the pockets of the already rich and getting no spiritual benefits, doing nothing really worthwhile.. and most of the idiots cant even comprehend what I am talking of, however good in binary logic they might be..
Alas.. when will be the day when I can proudly say -- I am doing what I want to do, that I love my work and that I have become what I wanted to be.
(Secretly, I think I will at some point of my life be able to say all this..)