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.
LEARNING TO LIVE ON ONES OWN TERMS IS THE KEY TO SUCCESS – This is what I believe.
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.