My last potpourri’s comments section is the inspiration to this post. It is long, and you have been warned. :-)
11 little stories. Real life paths that a group of bright, dreamy young adults embarked on. Some managed to hold on, some faltered, some moved on. A summary on each and perhaps, lessons learned for all:
Back in the early 90’s, many teens in a certain part, went through a huge dilemma and were forced to decide to choose paths almost 2 years before their predecessors. They were not given the opportunity to have the luxury of dabbling their feet in both physical and life sciences for the earlier established 2 years. None of them could play safe. Each had to decide then which stream they’d decide to pursue for the rest of their life and stick with it. The irony of such a decision would only hit them much later.
Among the rest, this is the story of a group of young adults who went through a particularly fascinating program – new by all counts, supported by the faculties at Berkeley and John Hopkins, they were hand-selected out of numerous applicants. All had scored beyond 96% in their high school boards and slipped in the crack between reservations and grades. Ones whom regular Universities would accept, while they could’nt quite make the cut because of where they were born into. A fault not of their own by any long shot. Making it into this premier organisation’s new school was like an exciting beautiful adventure for them as no one had done this program before, in India, ever. Aspirations, dreams, hopes climbed swiftly as each trimester tumbled into another, and as each novel subject was absorbed, filed and stored. Pride that they were following the footsteps of one of the finer medical institutions both in India, and outside, and waiting eagerly to create a mark of their own once they graduate.
What follows is a then and now scenario:
Then: Final Year of Internship.
Now: 14 years later
Then: Coming from a Tamil medium, he hated the program. Was completely lost the few semesters and almost dropped out to go back to do a Physics program at a small local college. Hard-working and after an attitude shift, is and was the most sweetest kind helpful person the girls found as a friend. Not the brightest in the group, but he showed genuine interest and concern to patients.
Ambition: get a regular job at the hospital and continue life in the suburbs.
Now: After sticking to a Ph.D program at the institution, he now heads the school he graduated from. Yes, he is the Principal.
Then: Arrogant, nerd. Snobbish because of his background as the son of doctor parents, he trudged through the program only because he knew he could go back home and settle into his parents cushy practice. Pedantic, and not the least helpful.
Ambition: Join the family practice, maybe go to UK, get some more degrees behind his name.
Now: Went back home, joined a private medical school with his mom’s help, is now practicing Opthalmology in one of the numerous little clinics dotting Mumbai.
But of course!
Then: Fun, smart intelligent girl. Loved life, music, fun. Hovered in her own space and laidback.
Ambition: Perhaps Australia if there was a scholarship, get a kick-ass job at one of the new multi-nationals setting shop then, and eventually get married after delaying the event as much as possible.
Now: Worked a bit at the hospital, had fun, is now settled into Texan suburbian bliss with a doctor husband and a toddler. An occasional guilt spasm keeps her awake at nights, but nothing that a nap wouldn’t cure the next day.
Then: Pretty young thing and she knew it. She’d bat her lashes at the new interns and would drink pepsi for lunch, so she could work on her calories for the day. Smart too and would work both her brain and her body to get inside scoops on lectures, diagnoses, the works. Nice at heart if one could look beyond what she strutted.
Ambition: Professional program at USA. Rope a handsome doc. Eventually leave India.
Now: Married to a Tall-dark-Handsome-Mills and Boon-hero-S’pore desi, finished the program at Auckland with her parents as support and has a flourishing practice in NZ. Occasionally sends condescending, damsel-in-distress mails to anyone who is willing to listen.
All encompassing Diva!
Then: Quite the cookie, stood first in a couple of subjects state-wide. Extremely fun and lovely person. Always helpful, considerate and nimble with her fingers in the exam room. A little diffident on her looks, and defensive in that regard.
Ambition: Australia. Only kid so wanted a guy who’d let them all live together.
Now: married down to a fellow coz no guy in her community would agree to her single condition. 1 Kid. Last seen braving a smile and thirsting for a challenging conversation.
Could have done so much better
Then: Came in with a lot of baggage after having lost her dad when she was 7. Always stressed and hyper-active, not many liked her. Focused on achieving independance and respect in a community that didn’t look too kindly to girls who wanted to have a career. Not the brightest in the class, she didn’t care as long as she trudged along fine. Always in a hurry to achieve her next step.
Ambition: Get a steady paying job, assert herself, and hopefully get married to a guy who’d admire and respect her, and have 3 kids. Very specific she was. Loved ’em.
Now: Heads a school in Mumbai, flourishing practice, a google search leads to 5 pages of her name, jets around the world giving lectures and presentations, married to a spineless, strange fellow who does not satisfy her emotionally or physically. She yearns for kids that he refuses. Won’t divorce as it would kill her mom but is emotionally attached to a colleague who cares.
Sad, but you go girl!
Then: Simple. Had issues with parents. Hugely distracted with all possible distractions a teen could ever succumb to. Got involved with nefarious dudes and went though a bad patch. Not scholarly, smart, or intelligent.
Now: Parents got her married to a guy who turned out to be useless and sucked onto her for support. After a year of crap, she divorced him and moved to the middle east, focused on her work, earned enough to put herself through school in Boston. A colleague followed her and after convincing for 3 yrs is now married to her. They both practice together in Georgia. Happy, content and successful.
Then: Very strange. She had huge emotional issues and would throw a tantrum in a moment’s notice. There were signs of physical abuse, and at times could be seen talking to herself. Pedantic and quite the worrier.
Ambition: Marry and get the hell out of her house.
Now: Established into a large group practice, and has gotten her 2 younger sisters settled. Single. I believe she still talks to herself, but at least she’s not with her parents. Refuses all communications with friends.
Then: Smart, fun-loving and intelligent. Worked hard occasionally. Had loads of fun along with SD and was quite the favorite with the docs for she made quite the diagnostician. Considered dorky, she had only her wit and the positive attitude in life to compensate for her looks, or rather the lack of it. Rallied forces and spearheaded the whole group to take the GRE, TOEFL, the passports, the applications.
Ambition: USA. The ultimate program.
Now: Whole lot of INS complications led her to travel and stay farther and longer till she finally reached US kids in tow. Couldn’t pursue a full time program she yearned and bagged the I-20’s for. Settles into doing a completely different subject, puts herself through a part-time graduate program, and now works in that alternate field. Still harbors notions of the white coat.
Good, but could’ve done better.
Then: Focused, responsible, goal-oriented, bright girl. Lived in the hostel, kept to herself, shrewd and not the bit least helpful.
Ambition: USA. Earn Money.
Now: Got lucky by getting married to a software engineer on H1, who also happened to live 2 miles from the school she applied, got in, graduated and is now practicing in Michigan. 2 kids. Happy and content.
No surprise at all, good for her.
Then: Brilliant of the lot. Exceptionally talented, creative and sharp. Could beat any senior ophthalmologist hollow while doing a differential. Lived in the hostel and got more freedom than she bargained for. Tangled with the wrong crowd, grades dropped massively, didn’t get admission into any of the 13 schools in the US that offer the study.
Now: Settled into marriage with a guy who followed her around all 4 years of school, 2 kids. Her eyes have lost the sparkle. No amount of coaxing, cheering, motivation can get her to act on herself. Has not held a job at all. Little consolation that the marriage seems firm.
Frustrating, and sad.
These are real life stories of ones I went to school/undergrad with.
When I judged Chiranjeevi’s daughter [frankly, I couldn’t care for the hoopla and the tabloids] I was being generic on the age and the whole act of it. Sure, it’s anyone’s life and what they do with it is really none of my beeswax, but it’s really hard not to look at the bigger picture and use one’s experience to be able to draw conclusions. To look at someone make a complete ass of themselves and not do a thing about it. Being 19-20-21 years old is a precious span of time in a person’s life. It only makes it even more poignant when some of us are forced to lament on missed opportunities and time in retrospect.
I firmly believe in getting your act together and focus on what’s essential at each stage in life. Education. I just think once you have that down nailed pat, the rest can take its time and follow suit. At least the ammunition is there if you ever want to use it.
In any case, this post is a tangential thought process that the comments made me go on. It doesn’t of course address the issue I had or some of the readers had nor does it aim to provide answers to society’s and young minds.
Makes for some retrospective thinking. At least it did for me.