Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Living for Others – The Indian Way of Living:

I went with my wife and friends to this place last week for some fun. It was a nice place in the middle of a forest. There I met a lady who was working in my department at my school. She was in her late sixties or early seventies. She told me that she was there for a vacation. She just sits there enjoying the nature, walking around and reading books. This made me think. Does such a thing happen in India? At such an age does ones grand parents do what they like or indulge in their hobbies? This made me realize the difference in the life style between middle class American and middle class Indian families, the way they are brought up. We Indians never in our life live for ourselves but only for others.

Let us walk through the life of a middle class Indian from the time he is born. By the time the kid is born in India his/her parents would start dreaming about what profession he is going to choose. They want their kid to achieve what they couldn’t. By the time the kid can understand stuff and start talking, parents make sure that the kid gets admitted to the best school. Kids at the tender age of 4 or 5 will have tons to study thus depriving them of their childhood pleasures. From that age parents start pressurizing their kids to be top in their class. Parents start comparing the performance of their kid with other kids of same age and the kid has no choice other than to spend most of his/her time studying to satisfy his/her parents. Here the kid is just living to fulfill the dreams of his/her parents and not for himself/herself.

By the time the kid is in high school the kid is forced to make a decision – either start preparing for admission into engineering or medicine. Kids won’t even have an opportunity to ask themselves if they like it or not. If the kids’ parents dream of making him a doctor he has no other go other than to study for the medical entrance. Again you are living for your parents. You don’t have a freedom to choose your career.

Now when that kid goes to the engineering/medical college, again he/she has to perform well to satisfy his/her parents more than anything else. Till you are done with your under graduation the life of a girl and a boy takes almost a parallel route at least from the expectation point of view. Life changes suddenly for a girl after her graduation.

No one in the family cares about how good she was in her studies or how good a job she has got. Every one in the family wants to see her married. "When are you getting married?, Why is it taking so long for you to get married after getting a degree" will be the common questions a girl has to face from the day she graduates to the day her marriage is fixed. Faced with all these questions every day, the girl has to agree for marriage. Here, again, it is not a personal decision but a decision to satisfy the society.

If you think about boys get a breather then you are wrong. They are supposed to settle down as soon as possible and the entire family wants you to work towards it. In a country like India where unemployment is rampant, getting a job and settling is a tough thing. As soon as he finds a good job the family gets him married.

If the bride and groom think that after marriage they are alone going to make the important decisions of their life then they are completely mistaken. From the very next day of your marriage, parents/family members/neighbors want to know the "good news". Every one around them wants them to have a baby. For most people in India if you are married, you need to have a kid immediately. I know at least two of my friends living in US who had to have a baby just because of the pressure from their parents even though they knew well that they are not mentally and financially ready for it. You don’t even have the freedom to decide when you want a kid.

Now you have a kid. Life has turned a full circle. Now it is time to bring up the kid the same exact way he/she was brought up by their parents. They spend their entire life for their kid. They start dreaming big things about their kid and they forget about their life in that process. Your life stays like that till the kid is grown up and has his/her own kids. Now you feel a big vacuum. Now you don’t know what to do. You only know how to live for others and you don’t know how to live for yourself. You get into a shell called "old age" and simply kill time. You don’t have a hobby of your own or you were never interested in extra curricular activities as you were living for "some one" and that "some one" doesn’t want you to persuade a hobby or an extra curricular activity.

Now think of a middle class American family. When the kid reaches the age of 5, he is allowed to play various sports and is allowed to choose the sport he likes the most. In school the stress is on practical learning rather than text book learning. Parents teach them to be independent and by the age of 18 they are on their own. They can choose the career they want, they can choose the hobbies they want. They live for themselves. They don’t have any kind of pressure to make any decision. An individual can use his/her own judgment and make a choice.
Now the question is which one is good. I personally prefer the second way, as it presents an individual with more opportunities to blossom his/her talents and to become a better individual.


P.S: This is my 50th post. Thanks a lot to all of you who have visited my blog. I have met a lot of great people after I started blogging. Blogging gave me a medium to express my thoughts and further shape my thinking process. It was Vijay who initiated me to this world of blogging. A special thanks to him.

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Blogger Praveen said...

Are you talking about a place where kids are prone to take guns on their hands to shoot their schoolmates?!
Are you talking about a place where kids cant share their problems with their parents 'cause the parents might think that this guy is not capable enough to deal with his own life..and eventually that leads him/her to a level of frustration?!
Are you talking about a place where these kind of life styles lead them to alzheimers(the most number of alzheimers patient in the world)?
I have two neighbours who are senior citizens leaving alone. Infact they were amazed by the kind of relationship we, Indians are maintaining
come on!!! you are talking about an India when she was before her 90s, when there were not much oppurtunities to explore, not much options to the scenario is entirely different atleast in Kerala.
Kids are smarter than you and me...they know how to lead their life..they know what to choose and they are more aware about the world, its opportunities.
Above all, they know what to adopt and what to discard from our culture.

May 16, 2007 1:20 PM  
Anonymous Sarath said...

When can I see a blog by you in which I can see something good about India?

Why don't you write a blog about all thes shooting incidents by school and college kids that happen here?

Why don't you write a blog about the lonely life lead by many americans, due to their so-called 'mind your business' culture? The only company that they can expect after a particular age is a pet dog.

Why don't you write about the rampant thefts and mugging that take place even a University based city like Tempe?

This comment is in general to all your blogs....whats the point in criticising almost everything in India..sitting halfway across the world. You left your country looking for greener pastures, its easy to criticise things when you don't have anything to do with it anymore. If you want to do something...go and do something to improve the system there, just blogging won't help!

May 16, 2007 2:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Past : Congrats Brijesh on your 50th blog!!

Present :"Old wine in a new bottle"

Future : Please remember that a coin has two sides. Talk a little bit about both for completeness and above all fairness.


May 16, 2007 5:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a reply for sarath..
if ur looking for good things about India..go some whereelse...
this is the typical attitude.....we concentrate on a problem...the problem will be completely ignored...and ull start looking at image...

there was a article about kerala in outlook..saying.."let god keep the gods own country"

the reaction of ppl to that was every body always criticizes kerala..we are better than Bihar..ur commment conveys...the exact same sentiment..take a step back try to understand the post..rather than come out generalistic comments....

There are lots of good things about India..which even the author i am pretty sure doesnt deny, that doesnt mean..he cannot write on problems facing the country....

"You left your country looking for greener pastures, its easy to criticise things when you don't have anything to do with it anymore. If you want to do something...go and do something to improve the system there, just blogging won't help!

This is a very old argument..used by many..come out with something new..

Simple..--> u have a problem with issue he is highlighting...come out constructive points..otherwise all i can say is..u dont understand the concept of blogging...

but ur arguement that he cannot comment on any issue and all is soo lame..

May 16, 2007 11:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said... time u write such articles...write them in comparison to war ravaged rwanda or will praise u..:D

The same anon guy!!

May 16, 2007 11:16 PM  
Anonymous Padmakumar said...

I think we should start living for ourselves after getting a job. Our financial freedom should help us to do that.

Please carry on talking about bad things about India. Talking about good things is never going to help anyone.Dont play to the crowd!

May 17, 2007 2:20 AM  
Anonymous Ajith said...

the fact this blog created this many comments in a couple of hrs shows the success of the blog and the blogger.congrats for scoring 50, i remember Ravi shasthri's 50 when i read ur comment !!!!!!!.

Coming to the point, just because u dont like your dad, he doesnt stop being ur dad.Brijesh ,imagine your parents allow to play football,volleyball and let you use ur freedom like the kind of stupidity of US education system and choose not to study,will you ever be any way near where u r now?Just becoz Toyota and Honda cars are reliable and others buy them,is that a reason for you not to buy it?

2:Why do americans need calculators to add 2 numbers?

3:Why americans are concerned that their competitive edge in science in due course with out getting immigrants here?

4:Do u agree if America is the country ruled by non americans?

5:Why 60% american's fail to get a degree?why so many dropouts and drug addiction?

6: Do u think teenage is the best time to take decisions without others(read parents) help to take decisions?

Also in kerala if u are really want to ,u still can grow ur kids the way u choose.Only when u yield to social pressure,it will end up in problem. My father in law is a role model in this regard.He had his children study in malayalam medium schools and never forced them to study and instead let them participate in extra curricular activities so that they develop a good self image bt themselves.

FINALLY WILL U LET UR KIDS GROW THE BETTER WAY????????? IF then ,the issue will resolve by itself.

May 17, 2007 2:43 AM  
Anonymous Sarath said...

To anonymous who replied to my comment,

I was just commenting on the one-sided nature of this blog or any other blog here....he takes of from one example and generalises it to the whole system. The one-sidedness of this blog is pretty obvious from the comments left by 'praveen' and 'ajith'.

Regarding my 'age old argument' ..the argument still holds and its why should I come up with something new?? For ex. If my friend has some problem in his life, instead of criticising the way he lives I will try to give him some help. I am not saying one can't criticise anything...but what one should realise is that we are all part of the system and should contribute to it actively. But what many are doing is running away from it and blaming it from outside the system.

May 17, 2007 3:45 AM  
Anonymous Pranil said...


First of all congrats on ur 50. I admire all bloggers who write good stuff.

Now for my comments -
I have been following ur blog since sometime now. Hv been reading many articles and somehow, most of the times i am not able to connect to what u r saying.

Probably this post has been the poorest one, I have come across. Mebbe 10 yrs ago.. this cud have been relevant, but today.. i m sorry.. this seems to be very weird to me.
I donno, when was the last time u visited India or hv been in touch with any of the student communities. The scene is changing drastically in India now. People are not just following the typical course of doing a Medical/Engg degree after their high school but are actually following what they want to do.
there are field like Media, animation, accounts and for that matter Films, where people get formal education and are making successful careers.

Get a life dude.. check ur facts before getting something in black and white.

The only reason I believe, why Indians have been successful globally in various fields, is bcoz of the sense of responsibility we get while growing up. And this is is bestowed upon all the so called "middle-class" children, which fuels their desire to achieve more and more.

P.S. I have noticed u do not reply to comments. I would like to see a reply from u for my previous comments too(Sachin's article)

May 17, 2007 4:29 PM  
Blogger Brijesh said...


I am talking about situations where you cannot make your own decision. If you don't mind let me take your own example and explain what I meant.

Your dream from childhood is to become an actor/director. If you were in brought up in a system similar to that in US then after 10 grade you may be going to some school to complete a bachelors in movie or acting or something like that. You could not have gone to an engineering college knowing well that civil engineering is not what I want to do in life. Given a choice you have decided to go to Pune Film institute to work with some directors to pursue your goal. But you didn’t do it. Why? Because of the fear to sail against parents/society.

This was the point of this blog which I want to put across.

I went back and checked 50 of my post. I cannot see anything in my post where I criticized for the sake of criticizing. Even in the early post about the death of kids I never criticized the government. I was talking about the need to develop the infrastructure. When every one was talking about the economic development India achieved I was talking about millions who missed that bus. I am critical of some of the policies of the communist party especially militant union etc. other than that I couldn’t find anything that critical about India in any of my post.

Thanks; I agree I wrote about the same subject so many times earlier also but from a different angle.

Some facts are difficult to digest. I can understand that. We tend to believe everything is fine when it is not.
Comparing India and Uganda – then I will have lot of good to write about India.

At least after job. Society should not dictate when one should marry and when one should have kids.

I express stuffs the way it come to my mind. I don’t have a preconceived notion that I should write only good or bad about a thing.

“Only when u yield to social pressure,it will end up in problem.”

Your father in law may be an exception but how many people can withstand this social pressure? Very few and that is what my blog speaks about.

Sarat and Pranil
Will reply you tonight.

May 17, 2007 8:51 PM  
Blogger Praveen said...


QUOTE” If you were in brought up in a system similar to that in US then after 10 grade you may be going to some school to complete a bachelors in movie or acting or something like that.QUOTE” is not because of the system….As I mentioned in my previous comment, I was in a village were there was not much opportunities to explore..I was in a period were there was only Dooradarshan channel and no internet or any other media to explore the world or its oppurtunities… The only options in front of you are an Engineering degree or a Medical degree. I came to Know about Pune Institute only when I was doing my Btech…. Even my parents were in the same situation. They don’t know what to advice other than pointing those two options. I still remember the live telecast of Iraq war; I believe thats the first time we get to watch a war live. You are talking about that India.
But now, the scenario is different. Every thing is at your fingertips… forget about war… you get to see news from nook and corner of the world…you are well informed by the internet, the TV and similar medias. The distance between countries is getting shorter and shorter.

And about the Infrastructure you are talking about: India is not a rich country like America where you can spend too much money on manpower and infrastructure (and people like you are brought up by India, but utilized by America). India is smaller than America but double the population of America. Just think that you are living with 10 roommates in a single bed, single bathroom apartment. And each of them varies by language and culture. That’s India. And imagine you are leaving alone in a three bed room apartment. That’s America.
You should be proud that still India could manage the crowd reasonably well.
So please don’t compare Elephant and goat and come to a conclusion that Elephant is smarter than goat just because it could open its mouth wide open than a goat can.

And about social pressure: The kind of pressure that American youths facing is eventually leading them to Gun culture and drug addiction. Compare to that, our social pressure is nothing. As Ajith mentioned, its up to us whether you want to yield to that or not. And today’s youth are far better in deciding upon what to adopt and what to discard.

P.S: If you are just sitting here in America and commenting India by reading the e-paper and other articles, then please keep it in my mind that they will project only bad/sad/horror news. That’s what media looking for and that’s how they are surviving. That doesn’t mean that nothing good is happening in India.

May 18, 2007 2:05 AM  
Blogger Brijesh said...

comparing my 50th blog to Shastri's 50- SHastri retried soon after that 50. DO you expect me also the same thing?


I am again sorry that I couldn't reply to you till now. I am trying to finish up my PhD and it is talking to much of my time.

Now about your comments. It is almost 3 years since I went to India. I wrote this post because of the following reasons-All my relatives are either doing engineering or medicine. I fully understand that you can make a good career in media or other areas. But almost all my relatives kids are studying for engineering or medicine. most of my friends here their brothers/sisters are studying for engineering/medicine. The girls who come here to do MS, when they phone home most of the parents want to talk about marriage only.

Another thing which is happening is as soon as you get married every one wants to see you having a kid. I can tell you nothing has changed in India in this aspect as I am going through that stage. if I call anyone back home (except my parents who wont ask me about it) first question they ask is this. As I wrote in my blog I knew few people who were forced to have kid just because of parental pressure. So these things do happen now in Kerala.

May 20, 2007 5:17 PM  
Anonymous Pranil said...


I wish u all the best for your Phd.

Well, I donno much abt Kerala, other than the fact that it has highest literacy rate in the country :)

I have been born and brought in Mumbai and whatever comments I posted where in context of the city, which is the economic capital of the country mainly due to its people.

Yes, the fact that couples are forced for a child mite be true to some extent, but I am not fully convinced abt the whole thing.
Actually just last week I read an article in TOI or somewhere on the net abt couples being married for 10 yrs and not thinking of a child. I am not able to find the link now, if i get it i will send it to u.
And within a couple of days i read ur blog so it was a complete contrast.

Abt ur relatives all doing medicine/engg .. hmm.. well i think they cud hv tried and explored other things if they were interested, but mebbe they did not get proper guidance or enuf amt of information on their liked careers.

Yes, me too have seen people making careers mostly in engg/medicine when I started off, but lately there has been a significant change in the education scenario. These are some of the instances to give u some info.

-One of my sister-in-law completed her Event Management course and after working for a company for sometime.. she is into freelancing now and doing very well.
-A cousin after doing his Finance courses is at Manager post in a MNc bank
-someone in our friend circle completed Air-Hostess course and now is with Kingfisher
-a cousin has completed all level of French exams and aspires to work as an interprator...

well.. the stories can go on.
the bottomline is thers more in India than engg/med.. and people hv started knowing it.. the only thing required is to dare to think different.

May 21, 2007 9:19 PM  
Anonymous rathi said...

Brijesh,Congrats.wish u will make a century soon with your varied strings of thought.According to Hindu philosophy this human body is given to us to be of use to the Society and for its betterment.May be this is behind the strife for achievements which u have stated from childhood to oldage.This has been given to us by our culture(samskaram).You are exposed to the US culture and may be you will feel this is better. But we living here for ever feel proud of what is given to us and will give the same to our offspring.It does not come out of compulsion or coercion,but out of will to be a better or make a better individual.Please keep writing.

May 23, 2007 3:45 PM  
Blogger Brijesh said...

"Actually just last week I read an article in TOI or somewhere on the net abt couples being married for 10 yrs and not thinking of a child."

this may happen to one in 100,000 Indians. That is why it becomes a news. what about the other 99,999?

I know things are changing. When the present young generation becomes parents their outlook will surely be different. But as of now I can see a lot of examples (especially in Kerala) where people follow the set path.

Rathi aunty,
Thanks a lot for the wishes.

May 24, 2007 4:52 AM  
Blogger silverine said...

Congrats on your 50th post. Keep 'em coming. I like your histrionicsless writing and your guts to speak your mind. We all have to contribute in some way or the other towards the betterment of our country and bloggers like you have kept a lot of issues alive with their intrepid writing. Keep blogging :)

May 26, 2007 7:13 AM  
Blogger Brijesh said...

Thanks a lot.

June 01, 2007 7:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Brijesh:

I think this is an awesome blog!! I totally agree with your veiws and opinions. I went to school in the US and was adopted by an Uncle who has lived in that country for 25 years. He completely changed my attitude towards life and taught me how to make my own decision and choices. I lived my life on my own terms, made my own decsions right or wrong, made my own choices for 3 years and they were the happiest days of my life. Today after going through graduate school, I can say that I am a stronger and happier person than I was when I was in India. I think Indians have to change their attitude towards life and teach their kids to make their own decisions and choices. Thats what defines your personality and is the very basis of your future happiness.

August 30, 2007 12:38 PM  
Blogger Smi said...

Awesome Brijesh,

Few of our posts are very much in sync.The fact is everybody wants to live a life of their own but still fail to convince our folks or people around us that they have a better way of living :)

July 21, 2009 3:04 AM  

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