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.