Just after my 50th birthday, I was chatting with my friend after he had watched Asuran, we talked about Sivasaami ‘s children were about our age (16-19 year olds in 1988) and having grown-up in reasonably well to do family in Chennai, we experienced a privileged life, we were reminiscing would we have got to where we are today if we were born as Sivasaami’s sons? So at the Half century mark need to start out acknowledging winning the birth lottery was single most important factor. Let me elaborate a bit life expectancy (more data on this subject here ) for 1969 chorts in India was about 46.5 years . This is especially impacted by high infant mortality in India – I had one of my first cousin die a year before my birth and my parents lost their first child as stillborn, so it not exaggeration to thank birth lottery (side note Life expectancy for 50 year old in India today another 30+ year!).
Obviously my parents have shaped lots of what I have become and they at various stages allowed me to grow into person and I always grateful for that and when I started blogging one of the earliest post was – “Parents are the reason, I am what I became …”
Here is some moments in the fifty years to recollect, rejoice and be every grateful
- 1983 – adulthood . India won world cup and I decided that I had to take charge of my life. I knew I would flunk 7th standard in PSBB , I told my dad I did not want to repeat 7th As explained in this blog post – Carefree Childhood .It was clear to me I had to figure out a way study well or life might not be that good, so metaphorically I graduated to adulthood @ 14, from that point forward I pretty much took every decision about my studies and my life with active support of my dad.
- 1988 – Early life Lessons Landing in Trichy for under graduate studies (recollected in this post) allowed me discovering how privileged I was – lot of my evolution started by observing people around me and eventually able arrive at this world view on privileges. Probably heading to Trichy eventually led me to MCA at PSG Tech (I was tempted to work after B.Sc about 50% of my class did not study beyond graduation, Santhosh Xavier who was doing MCA in RECT convinced me I should do MCA). These 6 years outside Chennai shaped me both as person and also gave me strong comp science fundamentals that definitely propelled my career.
- 1995 – wealth might not mean prosperity My classmate Varda introduced me to a recruiter and he was talking me to and convinced me to take an interview for citibank and only after I went to Polaris I learnt it was for position in Saudi Arabia, I just thought what the heck and gave it a shot and got selected to intriguing position and shocked my dad by telling him I am heading to Saudi Arabia. I knew well that I had to compromise on some of the religious rituals but experience there was eye opening – they treated South Asian as second class citizen/slave. They had lots of money but as civilization were 50 years behind India, so I learnt wealth might not mean prosperity ! This also meant I earned and saved about 4 Lakhs rupees in a year and that was biggest reason I started a software firm upon my return and eventually closed it after 15 months
- 2001 – life gets complicated More than my marriage birth of our son really made me introspect and start thinking about being responsible for another human being. Initially I was really scared and worried about every decision. Every parent wants the best for their children but we are going be influenced by our life experiences and paths we talk are going to be different, so eventually a few years later I figured that “we will do our best as parents but not second guess decisions made many years ago (big or small)”. Another big development in 2001 -we purchased land near Pondy and started construction of home for my parents and they spent close to 3 years living after my dad’s retirement (for almost 15 years we would hear how unfortunate my dad was, as he did not build his own home, so this was a big Goal for me personally).
- 2005 – Staying the course My ancestor had migrated to distant land looking for better opportunity, so I guess it is natural that I adopt any place, still for me Chennai is home, so I wanted to come back and be with my parents as they aged, this was the plan at the time of marriage and we stayed course returned in 2005, luckily both of us have not regretted till date (Likely our children have a different opinion but my take is they can live their life way they prefer, just like how we live our life our way …. )
- 2010 – Being at peace professionally I had entered my 40s and it was clear to me the place I was working might not be possible to get fancy title in next 10-15 years, so I had to decide to move to a place where I would have those opportunities or be ok with my cohorts have fancy title (I was slightly ahead or on par with most of my cohorts) . Being a very driven person and workaholic it was tough decision after some deliberation I made decided todo job I love with employer I liked and most importantly continue to live in Chennai .
- 2015 – Debt Free – Despite the relatively high privileges we enjoyed in our childhood, my dad did not inherit lots of wealth. He had good job but also some big responsibilities and some misfortune which forced him to attempt to borrow from relatives. My teenage experience of pledging Jewels to bridge cash shortfalls left a lasting impression on me. 1980s in India luxuries were not many most of the time we had to take a loan to buy household stuff or my father routinely borrowed against small savings scheme deposits to fund my education. So one of my prime goals in life was to become debt free which I accomplished in 2015, it is very important milestone in life (it is possible we may have to get some loans in addition to funding I provide for my children education but I think they should be responsible for that)
I am very happy about how these 50 years shaped, I have dealt with various twist in life and have been lucky to recover from some blunders in life thru ton of effort and grit but because of privileged position I begun all I had to do was to just minimize my unforced errors in life, which is real low bar in life. I want to conclude this post by recollecting brief conversation in our college WA group, one remark was “Dude you turned 50 Already” . My reply was “25 years of education and 25 years of work (15 month interlude with entrepreneurship)”, so someone asked what about next 25. My response – “wish is to lead a content healthy life while not being a burden to others”.