The glasses and the tussle

I recently crushed my glasses under my feet because of which it ended up with a broken right nose pad and a twisted frame temple. As I was not having a spare which I am quite sure nobody has, the loss sent me reeling to an Optical shop close by, named Blue Bay. The name made me think that what would have been the name of the shop if it would have been an outlet for watches. Well, Blue Baywatch. 😀

I entered the shop with crossed fingers because a no-we-don’t-repair-glasses would have landed me into a situation of near despair. Thankfully, the old and decrepit yet assertive human sitting on the other side nodded as I asked the quintessential question.

“It will cost you 30 Rs.”, he said as he stared at me with raised eyebrows and handed the glasses to a teenage helper.

As I was waiting for my glasses to emerge from the operation theatre, the uncle eyed my watch and asked me its price. I told him very politely that it was a gift from a friend from overseas and thus I had no idea about the price. He gave an impressed and sad nod. He then bombarded me with questions about my job, my package and my future prospects, which I answered very politely while twirling my fingers. It was then that he started pouring his personal life in front of me.

It looked like the well being of his sons was the only main concern of his life. According to him, his elder son was somehow settled but the younger one was quite aimless and was corrupted by his friend circle.

“All I want him is to settle down so that I don’t think that I have wasted my life and resources on him. He is a graduate but does not know what to do in his life. Whenever is zero in on anything, his friends dissuade him to follow the path.”, he said.

There were many questions which I wanted to ask this elderly person. I wanted to ask him that what kind of a parent he was? How did he treated his children when they were studying in schools?

  • Was he a “Superman” father who wanted his son to have all the properties of a “Superhero”? Did he wanted his son to be a superhuman(so that he could puff his chest in front of his peers) instead of finding out if his son was capable of being one or not?
  • Was he a “dreamer” father who wanted to burden his son with all his dreams instead of finding out if his son was capable of fulfilling them or not? And irrespective of knowing what dreams did his son carry in his own mind?
  • Was he an “understanding” father who always told his son that he has to choose a path for himself. He has to understand what interests him the most and carve a career out of it, because what is the point of doing a job which you don’t love? Did he tell his son that money isn’t everything in life but satisfaction is?
  • Was he an “indifferent” father who thought that studies and exams was a department which his wife was supposed to handle and all he had to do was to shout and slap when the results went bad?

I wanted to ask him if the concern he shows for his sons have materialized out of thin air just because things went beyond repair because of his neglect or because he pressurised his sons to fulfill his own dreams OR was he always so concerned about his sons? If the former case was true, then he was not in a position to blame anyone but himself. For the latter case, his sons needed a good lashing and a reality check.

But I didn’t ask anything. I just listened to what he had to say and consoled him with whatever kind words came in my mouth. I told him to talk it out with his younger son and to come to a mutual understanding. I did not react because I have seen and heard this story so many times. Its either the *pressure building up, the sound of the shattered dreams, the sacrifices for the sake of the society and finally a job which pays the bills* story or the *aimless son, concerned parents, clashes and the son realizes everything too late, blame game continues for the rest of the life* story.

Although, I was not aware of the category in which his story fell, but it made me think anyways. I wanted to tell him that you can clap only with two hands. If he thinks that his son failed him then his son would have his own story to tell. And I have always found it very amusing how parents turn into an understanding and kind psychiatrist when things are beyond repair. Aren’t 18 years a big enough time to understand your child? To understand his/her interests? And to understand that every child needs the liberty to chose a path for him? Similarly, shouldn’t his son realize that he can’t depend on his parents for the rest of his life? Shouldn’t he understand that he has to think what he wants to do and convince his parents(although they are so worried that they would be too happy to accept)?

Finally I got my glasses back and I stood up.

“Sorry to trouble you with my grievances. Please let me know if there are any good courses for the graduates.”, he said.

“No trouble at all and I’ll definitely let you know if something catches my eyes.”, I told him and smiled.

* * *

Now this post has really turned gloomy. Let me cheer you up. Recently I was nominated in two categories for the Second Annual Dabido Awards. Although I did not win in either of them but I am happy that I was nominated. The first category was the Fun Guy Award(Blogger most likely to be mistaken for a form of fungi. Must be a blogger. Is not allowed to actually BE a fungi) and the second category was the Photoshop Me Award(Best photo. Photo must be original work by blogger being nominated). Well, *Sigh*, better luck to me next time. 😀 You can see the results here.

29 comments on “The glasses and the tussle

  1. Well all fathers are mostly an amalgamation of all the various “value system” you just mentioned and rightly so.Now the catch to become the best father is to strike out a balance between all… too much to ask for …nahhh.too difficult to achieve -Yes

  2. // As I was not having a spare which I am quite sure nobody has// U r wrong 😛 😛 I always have a spare!!

    U know there is a 5th category of “spoiling & dreamer” fathers..who even if their sons get bad marks or fail ,provide no disciplinary action and spoil their sons with latest mobile,bike,what not…such sons are usually found in engg colleges on donation seats…pushed into doing smthg they have no aptitude or interest for.

    I feel so awkward when strangers start pouring their life saga before me but thankfully that doesnt happen often.

    where do u get these calvin strips from?
    all the best for next time.

  3. You know it commonly happens to me that parents ask for good course for their sons and daugther without having a talk to them about their ambitions and dreams. There is a great divide. I understand when you talk about father categories. Perhaps Gen y is good at communicating with their kids.

    Thanks for putting up link to Dabido’s post: I would have never known that I was nominated and also won an award!

  4. Interesting post!

    The father wants him to settle down so he himself does not feel he “wasted” his resources? Novel! That should be a clue to the pressure the child feels, being the conduit of his father’s unrealised dreams. Then again this is not an uncommon story in India.

    I wonder what the son might think of his father describing him to strangers as a ‘failure’ and therefore what percentage of this may be Pygmalion.

  5. Many parents have a lot of aspirations and dreams about their children. To them, they want to achieve those things with their children which they werent able to.
    So if things go wrong, they get disappointed, naturally.
    Some want the kids to achieve things out of the kids own ability and interest. well that where the issue comes about. Many wont leave the kids to pursue what they really want.

  6. Parents at times do think unrealistically when it comes to their children’s future. Excellent marks , a five digit salary is all they think abt success.Whereas job satisfaction,challenges in work, recognition were sought by the other side.There arises the struggle b/w the parents and the kids. I think this generation of parents are well coping up with their kids, though at times overdoing it.

  7. Well this is one of the most interesting and Practical post by you in recent times. I wonder if there was a mediater who can explain the expectations of the Parents and the children to each other as because of some sort of ego they always fail to communicate with each other. Sometimes as a child u r too afraid to speak to ur parents. But this is called Life .. nothing perfect right but an effort to achieve better!
    The Quest continues.. even for us.. Dilli mein milte hain Jaldi hi ..

  8. Wellll……It shows how much the father is concerned about his son.The concern is to an extent that he keeps tellling/complaining about him to stangers.May be the son has to be blamed for being an easy-goer or over-realaxed.Or it could be that the father is expecting a lot from his son.BUt,DUH-UH!hE is a graduate for god-sake and not employed.AFAIK,its quite easy to get employed nwadays.
    Hey!Congrats for your nomination.

  9. Congrats for your nomitation, Mr Fun guy!!! Amazing!! and as for the old man and the glasses, well, its kinda sad when we listen to old ppl rant and rave about their lives.. .I guess when we all grow old and have a glass-repair shop of our own, we’ll probably do the same! 🙂

  10. Well Amit, I dont know when onwards you took your own decisions in your life but we are not in a western world where the decisions are taken independently. I dont blame that parent at all as he fed his son for almost 18 years and he is taking suggestions from a successful guy whom he thinks successful and who is sitting before him. I think we are in a society and you too do the same but in your circle, you take advices just for buying some product etc. Once his son succeeds in life, he will take the suggestions like where you are investing money etc. Every thing is decided by time man. What ever may be, the answer you gave is a diplomatic one and I am sure that you have more experience in this kind of stuff 🙂

  11. @Sas : Yes, parents are supposed to strike a balance. But most of the time they are putting so much pressure to mould the child according to their needs.
    @Reema : You have? That’s weird. 😛
    And yes, as Sas pointed out, most of the fathers are an amalgam of the types I have mentioned.
    And I am quite used to being the Agony Uncle, so I was not surprised. The moment he asked me about the watch, I knew what was coming. 🙂
    A friend of mine gave me these strips. I have all the strips from 1985 to 1995.
    And thanks for the wish. 😀
    @Poonam : Oh yes!! You have won an award. Congrats. 😀 And yes, I know what you are saying. And believe me, its very much like arranging your daughter’s marriage without asking her if she liked the guy. 😀 The parents just push the child in one direction without asking the child once.
    @Shefaly : Oh yes. I was quite surprised at the way he was talking about his son and I was thinking how his son would react if he listen to all this. I was quite sure that it won’t be less than the battle of Mahabharat. This blame game is the worst part of it all.
    @Xylene : More than wanting their kids to fulfill their dreams, the parents are scared of what the society is going to say. Maybe this guy was a very good father but a lack of communication also play its role. Somewhere down the line the connection broke and things turned worse.
    @Sujani : Welcome back. 😀 Yes, the things are becoming a little better I guess. There are more choices now and children now a days are quite smart. Many of them know what they want to do with their life. Its a good sign.

  12. @Priya : Do let me know what they say. 😀 Nice new photo. 😛
    @Sam : Communication gap and the fear of the society play an important role. Sometimes I feel that the children are mere victims. Haan, milte hain jaldi hi. 😀
    @Ankur : The strips are exactly doing the same thing which Johnny Lever do in Bollywood movies. 😀
    @Bhavna : Thanks. 😀 I don’t think its easy to get a job now a days unless you are eying the Call center jobs. 😉
    @Nikhil : Thanks. 😀
    You really think so? Well, I do tell my friends that when we will grow old, we all would meet in a park and bitch about our sons and daughter-in-laws. Ah!!! That would be heaven. 😀
    @Arvind : Yup. 100% and that would be equally interesting.
    @Vijaya Bharat : yes, I agree that decisions are not taken independently but all I am trying to say is that the child should have a say in it. He should be asked his/her preferences, interests before taking a final concrete step. Communicating with the child is the key.

  13. Amit: Vijaya Bharat raises an interesting question. Many parents think of children as “property” or “chattels” when in reality they are not any of these. Children do not ask to be born; parents have them and therefore have a responsibility to provide and care for them. (This is why I always wonder how many people “think” before having children and how many have them just because of social conditioning; so if _they_ cannot think and make informed calls, expecting that of their children is a bit much of a muchness methinks).

    All parents can do is ensure the child has a value system to live by. And then let him/ her make mistakes.

    I do not buy this argument that somehow in the west, people allow their children to make decisions and somehow in India, parents do not. I have made most of my life’s most important decisions since the age of 17. And I was a girl growing up in one of the most backward states in India – UP! I do not think I have done badly in academic or professional terms. I wish more parents had the ability to trust their children while also having the moral courage to support the children if they fall flat on their faces.

  14. Yes man. What ever you are telling is right but its dependent on the brought up conditions also in which money plays very important role. I feel the persons who come for education or for work from north india are more independent in thinking than the south. Did you ever observe that ? Most of the families which encourage their children thoughts are well settled or i can say having no problems financially as per my observation.

  15. @ Vijaya Bharat:

    “I feel the persons who come for education or for work from north india are more independent in thinking than the south.”

    This, when the north is distinctly poorer than the South?

    You must be the only person in India, who believes that the North is more emancipated than the South when it comes to education or work or thinking. 🙂 I do not wish to make this a North-South debate but if you want to read more, go to Nita Kulkarni’s blog and search for ‘north south divide’ and read several thousand opinions there collected over the last 2 years..

    Money has a little bit to do with the decisions parents make. But money is not the decisive factor. Rich parents do not explicitly teach children some explicit values or behaviours – except perhaps they are more consciously aware of wealth generation and management issues, at least nowadays – that poor parents do not.

    I have had to take very little money from my father since winning a generous scholarship at the age of 15. Whether he had money or not is therefore irrelevant because I had merit and many chose to reward it.

    I think it is a lame argument to say poor people do not let their children think independently. Or that North Indians let children be more free than South Indians. Sorry, no can do.

  16. @Bharat, @Shefaly : Bharat, as Shefaly has pointed out, it has nothing to do with the North-South divide. You will find parents on opposite ends of the spectrum in both the societies. Its all about believing in your children. Let them make mistakes and learn from them. For example, you can find a Doctor anywhere, who want his daughter to be a doctor too, whether she likes the profession or not. Similarly you can find a very poor person too in any part of India, who want his child to be rich and not end up like him, thus building up the pressure. Our society is not at all mature when it comes to let your child find a path for himself. Its prevelant everywhere. Do you know that in certain communities, both in North and South India, higher education is not considered good for girls as it would raise the amount of dowry money and it will be difficult to find a groom for her?
    Being concerned is one thing but destroying a life is another matter alltogether.
    I also feel that it all depends on the value system which has been imbibed in our parents by our grandparents and whether they have learnt from the mistakes of the previous generations? I am very sure that we would be having a very different outlook on this matter when we would become parents. 🙂

  17. @Vishesh : I think it is a state of mind. 🙂
    @Allirekha : Yup, thanks. 🙂 I seriously don’t know who is under pressure. The kid or the father. 😐

  18. @Ashish : Oh!!! So it was the Emperor himself?? So kind of you. Thanks a lot. 😀 I was wondering who was *ahem* enough to do that. 😛
    p.s. : You know, there was this big and long post above the “award” news. 😛

  19. In my comment I cleary told that “from north India” which means those who come from north to south are more independent. I am not at all telling about the financial differences or educational differences. As I studied and worked with North Indians, I can clearly observe the decision making and daringness and spending nature of them. In case of you, you became financially independent at the age of 15, so you got a chance of taking your own decisions. This is not same with many which results being in answerable situation to their parents by which they become more dependent.

  20. @ Vijaya Bharat:

    I must be missing something because I am not sure where the issue of ‘coming from North to South India’ arose. As a general point, people do strive more away from their comfort zones but that surely was not your point. Nor does the post say that the shopkeeper was in a situation of this kind.

    The discussion of financial situation being an important factor started with your observation, and I believe I am quoting you “Most of the families which encourage their children thoughts are well settled or i can say having no problems financially as per my observation”.


  21. @Shefaly, @ Amit : I think you understood me worngly when I told about north-south point. I mentioned that when it comes to the “people who come from north to south to work or education are more independent”. Means, if you observe the students or the employees, those who come from north (here exception is gov transfers and daily labor) mostly think independently ‘as per my observation as i faced both situations’. I know very well the situations in India and I wont tell at any time about financial matters of states. I only mentioned about the families, not generalised. One more thing is you got scholrship means intelligent as well as financially independent, but it wont be case with many. So what do you think general options are ? Still think independenly and take a chance with life or travel in a safe path and get success which is the case of many ? One more thing is except in special cases, how many of us can go out of the comfort zone what we are in now and take risk which we ‘thought’ that we might have succeeded in that if our parents supported us in childhood at this moment ?

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