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Sun, Sand, Stars and Dreams

The chronicles of a misfit Indian teen

Month

May 2016

School, exams and other (in)significant things

So I thought of writing this today considering that the CBSE Class 12 exam results were out yesterday. Class 12 exams are the school leaving exams and altogether considered a big deal in India.

It is considered so much of a huge thing that relatives, Uncles and Aunties you never knew existed will dutifully phone you up on the result day to ask your exams and then pass some remark like, oh, XYZ got more. Even that uncle who usually ignores you on the street, the maid servant, and the flower seller lady, turn out to be terribly curious about it.

Honestly, it is a terrible time for the kids in question. Two years back, in 2014, when I was the one facing the same line of invasive questioning, it went to, ah, not bad marks, but you could have definitely scored better. I didn’t really care about it, because one, Indians are usually not prone to giving out praises easily, and two, I was on cloud nine. I had done really well, as far as I was concerned, scoring an overall percentage in the 90s.

All that happiness was literally sucked out of me, when my college application got stuck in a mound of Indian red tape, and only high-level recommendation could make it move any further. Especially considering I had planned on only writing the law entrance and getting into a law college (which again didn’t work out, as it was not fated for me) and had not given much thought in applying to Commerce/Business colleges.

That incident caused me a great deal of disillusionment, especially at that point where I realised that all those marks and merit had been for nothing.

And yet, Indian students practically live in fear of the dreaded Class 12 Board exams. That last one year of school is reduced to a haze of school, tuitions, extra coaching classes, classes for cracking various college entrance exams, and so on and so forth. The poor student is left with barely enough time to breathe, which eventually leads to a burnout. It is an extremely competitive rat race, because what is in line is not the student’s career prospects, rather a sort of status symbol for the parents.

I can still hear my aunt yelling at my cousin for not studying enough in his crucial school year, which thankfully ended now. This, considering that the poor kid woke up at 5am each day for tuitions before school, then school, and then tuitions again till 6pm, and also went for entrance exam coaching class during the weekends from 9am to 5pm.

I must confess I felt rather guilty about it, because his mother did all that so that he could get at least a percent more than I did. Because how much ever you ignore it, the Indian obsession with the what-will-others-think syndrome is very much there. The very same thing that makes parents push their children towards professions like engineering or medicine whether or not the children want to.

When I hear all these anecdotes, I cannot help but think back to my last year of school. It was one of the best years of my life. I had an amazing set of friends, I participated in a good many events and programmes, I went on day trips to many places across the city considering that it was also my last year there. I never went for any sort of tuitions or extra classes, nor did my school keep any. I went to school from 7am to 1pm, came home and relaxed. I watched a lot of movies, read a good many books, and so on. Honestly, I got around to actually studying for these exams when there was just about two weeks left. Yet, I passed, and scored as much as the one who forewent all of the above mentioned fun activities.

Maybe it was because I lived in the Middle East, away from all the pressures of India, although I did study in an Indian CBSE school and write the same exams as the ones in India.

But, I think it was more because of my parents. I may not get along well with my father, but I have much to be grateful for. They did not seem to bother much about me studying 24/7. They were more easy-going. They want me to succeed in my life, but they don’t believe that grades alone script a success story. And they do support me even now, after I decided to pursue an undergraduate degree in business, despite studying science in school. I know quite a number of friends, who pursued engineering because everyone else was, and they are miserable. I might be miserable in a way, but I do not regret not pursuing engineering.

But, what I wished to say in this post was this. You do you the best. Marks and grades do not really matter in the long run. Only passion and faith does. Good luck! 🙂

Money matters

Hello there!

I am back after a terrible attack of writer’s block, coupled with finals and just some general health problems. Nothing major, but quite tiresome indeed.

At the place I live, summer has started. This year has turned out to be especially hot and humid.

With summer comes the rush for finding summer jobs and/or internships. However, with India being a bit too obsessed with nepotism and what sort of influence/recommendation you can bring with you, finding summer jobs are not exactly a walk in the park.

But, by constantly pestering them and creating a general nuisance of myself, I managed to get an internship with a reputed NGO working for child rights. I loved the job at first, thinking that I am creating a change in the lives of underprivileged children et al. But, a week into the job, I was asked to do rather tedious work, which totally did not reap any sort of benefit: either to the children or to myself. Besides, it was unpaid. So, I quit the job.

Call me a spoilt brat, but the main reason I wanted to do a summer job or work part-time was because I do not want to be dependent on my parents’ money. I might stand to inherit it, but it is always my parents’ fortune.

I guess that this part might sound a bit confusing to almost everyone other than Indians or other South Asians. But, Indian parents do believe that it is their responsibility to bring up their children, educate them, and incur all the expenses related to their children’s education, living, and even marriage. That essentially means that most Indian kids grow up with their parents willing to pay for all their expenses well into their twenties.

As a matter of fact, I have met a certain ex-neighbour of mine, whose father paid for his medical degree, and then a Master’s degree in medicine. Then, he expected his father to buy him a brand new luxury sedan because that was expected of his in his new status as a doctor.

Well, you might think that I am exaggerating, but it is one hundred percent true.

But, that is not what I wish to do.

My parents are always there for me, as they keep assuring me. But, there is some independent streak in me, which makes me want to earn and use that money for my further needs.

Yes, I am in an undergraduate business school and my parents are paying for it. But, what I wish to pursue after this is not something that my parents totally approve. So, maybe it is just a whim, but I want to work and fund my further education. I guess it is just that when you expect your parents to do everything and pay for it all, you can’t really fault them about not letting you do what you wished to.

Up next:  A lack of choices in India when it comes to education, career or any sort of life decision.

Is it the same in your part of the world? Do you believe that parents should be responsible for their children till they are way into their 20s?

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