Monday, May 23, 2016

Unsolicited advice, full of love :)

The mood to not enter the kitchen in the scorching heat, the fact that we had no idea when all of us would be together again and that we had several things to celebrate seemed reasons good enough to go out and celebrate. Unlike our usual pattern, the conversations ran in a mild, entertaining manner. The 20 minutes that we had to wait for a table at the restaurant passed by quickly while we shopped for beads, bread and cheese. The food and drinks, as expected, were delicious. The usual teasing the writer of this blogpost ensued. It was a good Saturday evening. Soon enough, it was time to say our goodbyes. Akshat was to leave for Lucknow to begin the professional phase of his life the next day. As is my wont I gave Akshat a list of instructions, a duty I believe, I must fulfil. He was indulgent and kept nodding and agreeing to all my suggestions and instructions. I turned my attention to mom and fired a couple in her direction as well. At this point, Vivek had had enough. He nudged and lightly pushed me to a side, went ahead and hugged my mother saying, ‘Congratulations, aunty! It has been a long tough journey for you.’

As if on cue, I began to cry. Akshat, mom and Vivek asked in chorus, ‘Why are you crying?’ I replied, ‘What kind of a questions is that?’

I cried almost all the way on the 40-minute drive to our home, as Akshat had predicted. Vivek kept asking why I was crying. He kept reminding me that it was a happy occasion. I kept telling him, ‘I know.’ I continued crying.

Since Saturday night (today is Monday) I thought a lot about why I was crying. I had been so busy celebrating all the good things coming our way that I had forgotten to remember what a journey it has been. And the kind gesture from Vivek just opened the flood gates.

I could see the image of a few-months-shy-of-6, Akshat near the door of the house. We had shifted to this house 17 years ago after our father passed away. Akshat used to be too afraid to go out to the park alone. The new surroundings took some time to grow on him. And today, I was saying bye to this 22-year-old version of him on the eve of his moving to a new city to start his career. Hard-as-I-may-try I cannot help but see him like a little boy. And even as I type this a few tears manage to spill through. Over the last few years, I have seen Akshat rebuilding himself again and again. Conquering the obstacles on his way. But since pelting out advice to him for the last 22 odd years has been a part of who I am, his elder sister, I want to continue with the tradition.

Look at you, all grown up!

Dear kiddo!
The journey has been a long one. On more than one occasion you have made wise decisions and have made mom and me very proud. You have been living away from home for nearly two years now. So, I won’t give you any advice about adjusting to a new environment. I am sure you have a better handle on it since I never went out of Delhi to live. However, I have been working for nearly 12 years so here is my advice for you.
  1. Work smart. A lot of people can work hard. But you should aim at working smartly. I have rarely come across people who are smart at working.
  2. Talk less. Coming from me this might seem like a surprise twist akin to a Game of Thrones plot twist. But this is a learning I have acquired quite recently. The lesser you talk the lesser are the chances that someone can use your words against you.
  3. Write more. Always depend on paper. Pen down your ideas and thoughts as soon as gold strikes. With bills, office timings, commuting, etc. taking up your mind space some ideas may be lost in the daily humdrum of things.
  4. Save money. You are a smart kid. Much smarter than I was at your age. Remember to save money. Money in your hand is better than money in the credit card account.
  5. Live well. Spend money in purchasing good things. Wait if you have to but never compromise on the quality of things you purchase. Buy good clothes, gadgets, shoes, furniture, gifts for mom, Vivek and me.
  6. Set your priorities. While work is important and will be for you for a few more years to come but remember to prioritize life and important people in your life over everything else. It won’t be easy but it is very important.
  7. Travel. Whenever you get a chance, travel. Explore new places. Meet new people. Eat new and different foods.
  8. Read lots. Books will always be around giving you wisdom, entertainment, and company. (I had to tell you that!)
  9. Nurture your hobbies. Always make time to nurture your hobbies. Sing. Play the guitar. Listen to music. Learn new skills. Increase your bag of skills. Learning a new language or a skill will rejuvenate you. Trust me after a couple of years as a part of the working class, rejuvenating helps. 
  10. Make friends. Keep your eyes and heart open for good people around you. Be the best friend you can be. The right people will be around you for the right moments in your life. Some friends might part ways. It might hurt. Smile through the hurt, wish them well and continue to keep your eyes and heart open for a new crop of friends. 

I think this is the shortest lecture I have ever given you, Akshat. Here is wishing you a successful, enjoyable and fulfilling career. Welcome to this side of the world. It’s big, it’s wild but boy it’s fun!