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Thought # 5

Thought # 5


On Culture

Have you ever paused to think about the culture you live in? Are you simply a by-product of the society around you and the pedagogical learning your parents have passed on to you?

Is there more to you?

I am an Indian – born and brought up in a culture that is a lot more focused on the collective rather than the individual. Pretty similar to the rest of East and Southeast Asia, but vastly different from Canada, North America or Europe.

Like most gray things, the culture has its benefits and constraints.

Asian culture is usually warm and friendly – too friendly. Most people leave you with a warm fuzzy feeling. The cities are usually noisy, crowded and often just in-your-face. Everybody is in everybody’s business. And getting away with an illegal act is simply a function of money and network.

But the frustrating aspect is about adulthood and about being sheltered. If you’re a privileged Asian kid – the likelihood of you having to earn your own, live independently after college, etc. only comes with the noose of marriage. Prior to that, if you are in the same city – you are 100% likely to stay with your parents.

In a way it's great! You don't have many bills to pay and neither do you have to figure out what happens if the next pay cheque doesn't come through. But in all honesty, one of the major perks of living with your parents is that as your parents age and begin to go through mid-life crises etc., you can simply be there for them – just the way they were for you.

But what happens if you disagree about life, if your choices are different from the vision they dreamed for you? Welcome to your nightmare - you either draft yourself in this battle or let go of your vision (with regret). It really just becomes a matter of who yields first.

In my case, it’s probably me – because I am tired and burnt out.

And while burn outs can lead to immense spurts of productivity or are followed by some great achievement, I have none to claim and so I’d live a regular run-of-the-mill life.

Here is a classic check list to determine if you lived / have been living a regular run-of-the-mill life:

  • Get good grades in high school

  • Get into a good college (or don't drop out after high school)

  • Graduate from reputed college with good grades

  • Work at a reputed firm (within one's home country or outside of it)

  • Apply for graduate school (and maybe even get in to some of the best universities, but not go because of differences in view between the folks and the self)

  • Get a good job or start your own venture

  • Marry

  • Have kids

  • Retire

  • Die

  • Oh and make money as you do all of this!

What a well-lived life!

I saw this interesting graffiti on the fence of a park near my work place. It made me laugh because of all the places in the world, India would have this quote.


"Life is too short to wait for permissions"

This quote, perhaps accurately represents India - innovative, but always grammatically incorrect!

Anyway, maybe I haven’t yet given up because if I had, I wouldn’t be here writing this.

But to you I say, build your life in the healthiest way possible for you, where you can celebrate yourself and rise above the confines of your time, society and norm.

It is hard to do – harder than people imagine and harder than what you may know. And you may want to succumb and yield like me. But don’t. Hold on to yourself and you will emerge as you had wanted to and as you are meant to.

Maybe somewhere through writing this, I am hoping I find the strength to hope and struggle in spite of the cynic pacing through my brain and propping up frames of precedence and experience as memories.

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