So... So... do parents know everything? Well..mm...Err..the answer is..hmmm.. NO! SOME TIMES PARENTS DON'T KNOW STUFF.I know .. I know.. I have seen all the fifty thousand Tamil/Bollywood movies where "Maa" and "amma" are deified and volumes written about their greatness. I have listened to all the boring Ilayaraja's amma songs (Frankly! I don't like any of those songs now.. mainly because they have been played to death in TV's). "But hawkeye" cried one of the people I spoke to regarding this blog. "don't write a blog mocking parents, that too especially in India, people will judge you". And the person wisely said "they will even think your parents graduated straight out of hogwarts school". I agree this is one of those "risky" blogs to write. Atta Girl tried it here and later said that it didn't get a very good response. Even if some of her readers were immature enough to think she was expressing her own personal experiences (it really wasn't the point of that blog) in a humorous blog, I thought what she said was mostly true and quite funny too. The only problem was it was more emotional which made her unintentionally appear to be in the anti-mom camp and so made her part of "them" in the "us" Vs "them" war. I think most people only just restate the obvious nowadays. For example in this blog I am going to say "don't ask for advice from people who do not have the requisite knowledge about the subject in hand". But controversy comes when obvious things refer non-obvious targets. For example if I replace "people" with "parents". Then its a controversy. People immediately feel desperate to express love to their parents. "oh! my parents know everything. Parents are supreme. How dare you say stuff about parents whom you owe everything." The usual ballyhoo follows that occupies 70 episodes in mega TV series.
I think people get very personal when such radical views are expressed. I do think parents are good and they play an important role in the society. I own a set of a parents (had them since I was a kid) and I think they are good people to have around you. But I can't stand the urban legends that are being created in our own times about parents. I think blog's such as Atta Girl's and the patriotism blogs do not criticize the concept of parents or the concept of patriotism itself. But the extreme fanatical usage of these concepts to unrelated fields of life. It is the extremity that is an issue. During my college most of the people I moved with took their own decisions. Most of our parents realized that they weren't qualified to counsel us on many career issues and so they stayed away. There are a lot of parents like that. This is a sign of good times. But as some social workers are trying hard to put it across to many people, there are bad parents too. And mostly its up to the kid to realize that. What makes things difficult is nobody except the kid can say anything about it and the kid thinks his parents are demi-gods. These parents who send kids to match factories are working at an extreme level. But there are these middle-class bad parents who also work at a softer level. Oh! No I am not comparing the two ..before we get into that boring topic of "are you saying these two are the same". Off-late I have been hearing these "virtuous stories" about how some people sacrificed personal ambitions ( even if they were logical) just so that they could fall in line with parents. This whole concept of " I will jump out of a building terrace if my mom says so" is now being considered a virtue. And I think this is BS. I wouldn't change T.V channels unless my mom made me a 5-course meal. Most people I know would con their moms into making a 5-course meal and then not change channels (mmmm... that would be me again).
I agree saying "stop this parents hype" is also kind of a taboo in our society. People tend to miss the point that we are only talking about some specific things here and not really trashing everything that parents do. The problem with people in our ethnic group is that we take a lot of old proverbs too seriously. The "Matha.. Pitha.. Guru.. Deivam" was meant to indicate that if you have only 1 pint of beer left in your cellar and your mom, dad, Math Teacher and God were at the poker table. If all four thumped the table for more beer at the same time ,who would you offer the pint of beer first? The proverb says that we gotta let momma have her chance first. If she don't want it, then pappa gets a chance, if he passes out before he drinks the beer, then Math teacher gets beer. If Math teacher croaks before he can get to the beer then God can have it. But! thats just about it. You don't take the proverb seriously and go down the same attendance roll if you want to decide whether to go to Indian taailet or western taailet. The problem with most of us middle-class Indians especially men is that we feel compelled to ask our parents permissions for about... just about anything. I think somewhere along the line being a tinyballs wimp has been confused with some sort of a good virtue.
Lets take an example for instance...A good looking lady Ms.ThalaThalaShri(T.T.Shri) marries Mr. Tall Dark and Handsome (TDH) and a month after marriage they visit a shop like Pothys just for the heck of it. The guy for the past 1 month has boasted about how he danced in front of the movie screen on a first day Rajinikanth movie, on how he and his friends secretly saw porn movies in cheap theatres near Pazhavanthangal after telling his mom that they went to some Volley Ball match competition in Chengalpet. He boasts about how much fun they had drinking and makin-out in Mahabalipuram etc. Inside Pothys when Mrs ThalaThala asks him if she can buy a 3000 Rs Mysore silk saree, our Greek God, Mr.Take Charge guy becomes a wuz and says "hmm.. wait I'll check with my mom first". He then adds as an after thought "she might feel bad that we bought it without asking her! It is all common family budget now ... you know and I don't know if its okay". While she must be thinking "you sick sycophant! you bloody well know how much money you've stashed in your savings account, so you bloody well decide here if you can buy me one or not. Why bring mommy into this here", she doesn't speak her mind because TDH believes mommy doesn't need to be consulted before seeing porn but needs to be consulted before buying a saree. He is being a good son now.
I have seen people consulting their parents before switching jobs, making career decisions, buying diapers for their children etc. This is not good virtue. Parents don't know stuff and even if they know they sometimes should not be consulted. (Don't confuse this with the art of laziness. That's a separate world. I don't move a spoon an inch in my house. Laziness is a good virtue :-)...always ). Very rarely do we have parents who know what's the most current thing in Software Industry or other newer job functions. I am not talking about those minority parents here. So seriously none of the "parents know more than you think they do! don't underestimate them" comments please. Most Parents are Bankers, Retired Govt folks or Maligai Kadai owners. There is a good chance that they do not know anything about your work or the kind of lifestyle your work dictates. So how does being a parent make one special enough litter advise on his/her children. One person told me(or rather complained to me) that if he had continued his long working hours for 2 more years he would have made it big in his company by now. But since his parents didn't like his long working hours (not for health or other good reasons), he had to make the "sacrifice" and slow the pace of his career. While he thought he was like mythological character who had made a big sacrifice, I thought he was a sissy diaper boy. Some times parents don't know shit about your job. Don't bother them with gory job details. Where is your sense of independence? Why the hell do you have to ask some non-specialist person about a very important decision just because they were closely related. This doesn't stop with career related things also. I have also seen people who have grown up for 20 years seeing the world through their parents eyes. Their parents perspective becomes their perspective, people who are bad in the eyes of the parent become bad people in their eyes too. I think nobody stops to evaluate their past perceptions when they are old enough to evaluate them. They just ride on the inherited biases. Our society is still male centric. Imagine if the guy of the house just blindly executes whatever "elders" say. If the elders turn out to be perfect jackasses, the dependents (wife/kids) of that guy are positively screwed for life.
This "ask the Senior Family Member" also makes me laugh always. In those days 1 set of parents gave birth to 72 children (okay... I know this is an exaggeration.. the point is they had lot of children..but its more fun exaggerating this way :-) so play along with me). Digression: Why so many children you may ask? Consulting parents is the problem again. In those days parents not only married their children in early teens but also gave their children sound advise on when to have the first child. oh! are you asking Why they said that. I have a theory for that too :-). "End user functionality testing" is the technical term. You buy a product, say a cell phone, and then buy a SIM card. You put the SIM inside the Mobile phone, charge it for a while and see if they work well together. While the first call is a functionality issue, the other gzillion calls are service and mileage issues. I'll stop the innuendo here as it has conveyed the point :-). So in those days the children, since they blindly obeyed elders, furiously mated until they filled up an entire village. I surely think they would have mated even before they became familiar with each other's face or voice. It is true to some degree (thought not that drastic) even now. That is because the first chance a couple get to know each other is when they are sent into a room to mate. The difference now is that the parents tell children when to stop, which was something they didn't do previously. "I told my son two is enough in this economic climate" beams a father proudly because his son stopped mating after 2 children. The father considers his son an obedient boy because of this act. End Digression. This is why in the days of the 72 children, where mothers, daughters and daughter-in-laws were pregnant at the same time, decision making was such a hassle. If "child" #71, had his own grandson and wanted to buy an underwear for the baby. He can't decide whether it should be blue color or red color, there is NOT a huge confusion on which color is right? But there is a huge commotion on whether it is "appropriate" to make a decision without consulting the elders. Given that it is a large family, there are many people dying and some constantly fighting(everytime they fight they vow that the blood-relationship has been terminated), so its difficult to find out who is the senior most member that should be consulted. A quick look at the census report shows that children from #1 to #17 have croaked and #18 is the senior most person alive. But upon going to Mr.#18's house Mr.#71 finds that # 11 is alive after all. But since the first son of #1 is elder than # 11 there is a huge debate on who is actually the senior most. Finally it is decided that since "sthanam" (position) is more important than age, # 11 should decide the underwear color. Now Mr.11 has lived in an era where underwear did not exist and only komanams were in vogue. So he is confused. But the sudden feeling of being **senior most** makes him feel very self-important and he imagines he can do stuff beyond his capabilities. He suggests a wooden underwear. So Mr.Munna, the new born kid, develops rashes in his thigh region because some old man didn't know what an underwear was. However, child # 71 is now a satisfied man (and wont get the "kirumi bhojanam" punishment) because he has done the virtuous thing in consulting elders.
Do I exaggerate? What do you mean? Ofcourse I do. But the point I am trying to communicate is that advice on important issues must be sought from people whom you can trust, people who have goodwill towards you. Parents have all these attributes. But the most important criteria is that the people must have knowledge on the topic you seek advise on. All the other things have no value when knowledge is absent. The reason why I wanted to write something on this (the reason I did not write then was because of stuff mentioned in para 1) is that a couple of years before a person known to me wanted to do an MBA. His father was 59 years old and about to retire in 1 year. His father disallowed the MBA purely because of his own idiosyncratic principle that "I don't want my son to be studying after I retire. I want him to be working when I retire". Money was not the criteria here ( economic considerations is certainly a genuine reason and logical too), the son was working and had enough stashed up, the father had enough moolah. But some stupid childhood stand-alone principle dominated the father's decision and therefore his son's fate. Plus this person's parents wanted to see a grandchild before they died. And so this guy was virtually forced to mate. To this day that fellow regrets the window of opportunity that is now permanently gone. I think such stupid sons deserve this fate for consulting parents on the first place.
The crux of this blog is, parents have an important role to play in anybody's lives. But their role has its limitations too. Too much of nectar is also poison. The first mistake would be to consult them on issues, which they have no knowledge about or issues which aren't relevant to them. If the parents are good people they'll just say "I dunno stuff... you do whats right". The second mistake will happen if parents fall in the category of "I am elder so I know everything under the sun. So I'll give a load of bad advise". This will lead to either them giving bad advise (or) people who they think as "senior and elder" will give you load of crappy advise.
Regarding "economic conditions" factor. I wouldn't again immediately say, " oh! if money is a factor then do whatever your parents say". Where is a Logic Ramani when you need one, I say!? People who should really be writing blogs are not doing so. I think screwing up a work life (by taking whatever comes first) because your current economic situation is below-par is not a good solution. One half of your life is already sad and now you want to make the other half pathetic also. The case is presented as if there is no intersection between (a job that you like) + (a job that will satisfy your immediate economic needs). Believe me when I say such a non-trivial category of jobs that can be/should be aimed for...exists. If you attribute bad career decisions to family problems, unless the situation is pretty bad, many people will tend to think you are a whinging coward. But yes! A lot of risk needs to be taken to maximize chances of success if your life is in this space. Nothing worth achieving will come without risk.. There are a lot of people, a really lot, who have had meager financial resources, horrendous family problems and have taken the risk and become successfully. When they say "Its possible", it is not as if they are talking about something they don't know. None of us were washed ashore with floatsam and jetsam that was loaded with money and gold. If you want something badly, then convincing your parents that you are waiting for the right thing shouldn't be a difficult thing to do. Not even trying to convince your parents and settling for "a job" shows that you are an ambitionless and a big waste of space. Saying such things are not even possible/practical is insulting the ones who have done it successfully with a lot of hardships.
Sri Rama was a loyal son to his father. He went to forest because that was Dasarathan's wish. Agreed! But Dasarathan didn't pretend he knew everything under the sun. Otherwise he wouldn't have sent Sri Rama to Vaishwamitrar for training. I think our people have read too much into our ancient texts and made mindless worship of parents a virtue. Everybody loves their parents. Its taking it to the extreme that nauseating. Before flooding the superlatives on ALL parents, people must also remember that there was a person called HiranyaKashaboo who pained his son Prahaladan so much that Prahaladan decided to rub him off. So parent's aren't always right.