Monday, March 7, 2016

Slice of Work #4 – Typewriting and Aspirations

I was in college, years ago. That was years ago and my first summer holidays was coming up. I had saved some money for doing ‘something useful’. Quickly I went in and enrolled myself at the typewriting institute to learn to type. Yes, in those days, we had proper places that taught us to do that. They also taught you shorthand, care a ‘Pitman’ book. I had in my hands a page of asdfgf…. :lkjhj..neatly typed. And as soon as my dad came home I thrust the page at him. I had notions of him praising me for putting the scarce money to good use.

My dad ripped the typed page flung it to my face and asked me if I had decided to end up as a typist and if I had any high aspirations at all. And told me to never go to the place again. My plea to complete the course fell on deaf ears. He was okay for me to lose the deposit on the course. I felt lousy but stomached it. Grow up he said, expand your reach of what you can become, not end up as a typist. I protested that it was a skill. He shooed me away. I sulked and sank.

Many years later I was interviewing someone for an assistant. Naga sat in front of me and had all the credentials. My final question was – ‘what did you do in your undergrad and what was your ‘percentage’. He said he did his Physics and secured 86 %. It was my turn to stand up in amazement! Here was a top class graduate and he did a secretarial job for 20 years!! He said that he had to as he did not know what else to do. Naga got hired that day with a promise that he would not stay an assistant if he worked with us.

I went home, lost in thought of my dad who years ago had forced me to think beyond ‘typewriting’. Chiding my aspirational deficit, stoking me to think beyond. I did not understand him then. I was smarting in anger at losing money for a program. I was blind to the concern of my dad who did not want me to get sucked into a profession that he once started with ... and the long perilous climb thereafter.

At times, we don’t understand what it means to think big. What it means to reach our potential. To look for something that is beyond your reach within your grasp. To take the hard road, and expand your horizons. I am always in debt to my dad. BTW, I type really fast now. And as for Naga, he went on to do great things in the years after he joined us, and is now a GM in a large company.


  1. My dad did th same thing but i still went for the 2 month course in Typing and SH classes and iam sure you would have sensed by this time. I went for Typing classes cos (I thought that will be the easy way to be a friend with Sangeetha. Of course both fizzled out.

  2. Mr. Nathan, I have to disagree to your above blog. I am an M.Com and have higher qualifications in Typewriting and Pitman Shorthand writing. I was against taking TW when my father insisted. I did hunger strike that I would not join TW classes after my schooling and I want to study Chemistry as I loved it. Also protested through hunger strike for few days. But I could not but succumbed to his pressure. Then I studied Commerce through correspondence and got myself enrolled for shorthand, as I wanted to take notes of the lectures fast and I thoroughly enjoyed writing it. Please DONT UNDERMINE and BE HUMBLE like Mr. Sharma of ICI [your ex-boss]. No job is mean job. Not everyone is lucky enough to be admitted into IIMs. I am one among 4 daughters in a Brahmin Iyer family from erstwhile Madras. I always came up in flying colours in my school exams but not lucky enough to live to my dreams of studying Chemistry but ended up in Commerce. I have worked for a big automobile company in Madras and after wedding moved to New Delhi and after almost 5 years break got an offer from TATA group and I could take down English dictation and transcribe without mistakes and immediately got the post. Then moved to Dubai, UAE and now I am an Admin.Manager here in a company though small. But I still love my shorthand and typewriting which is my family's breadwinner at that time. I could help my father in a small way with my income. Please DONT UNDER ESTIMATE ANY JOB. If there is no Secretary or Assistant, there is NO CEO or CFO or President or VP or MD or GM in any organisation.

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  4. Mr. Nathan, I need your reply for the above. You may be a behavioral specialist, but I object to your views in the above blog. Thinking BIG is not a mistake, but please do not under estimate the NON-FLASHY jobs. Honesty and Sincerity with Dedication and Devotion in discharging the duties are the IMPORTANT key words and not standing up in the ladder but climbing up should be the norm.