The Careers In The Rear-view Mirror Are Worse Than They Appear

The 1st day of August of this year will mark a special milestone in my life, because I will complete 10 years of exams distributed around dealing with other people’s diarrhea and/or blood, politely referred to as ‘a career in medicine’. It will be an emotional moment for me, as I plan to take a day off to stay at home, relax a little and then bang my head against the wall when I finally realise my career mistakes. Just kidding. I’ll probably just Netflix and chill.

Anyway, there is not much to complain about, since I’m a 90s kid, and back then we only had two career options if we were born into middle class families: engineering or medicine. We were made to believe that those of us who didn’t made it into one of these would end up as a lowly street-food vendor/drug peddler/a housewife or all three of the above, hence I made my own choice based on the realisation that the only action I would ever have with the opposite gender would be holding a Gynaecology textbook in my hand.

It was a tough era, and sometimes I do think that had I taken engineering, I would have been at a better place in life in terms of enjoying Chetan Bhagat books. I might have gotten my MBA till now and would have had much more practical life skills, like making a PowerPoint presentation, as compared to my current skills which mostly include sweating in front of my examiners and to-be in-laws.

This is the 21st century, so of course we have other viable career options now, and while it might just be too late to consider them, let’s still talk about them because I need a new blog post:

1. Food blogger.
Although this may not seem like a real job, but trust me it is not as easy as it sounds. It takes a special amount of talent and self-restraint in taking a photo of the food on your plate, putting it up on social media and captioning it with words like ‘thin flaky rice crêpe with filling of spicy shallow-fried mashed-potatoes garnished with basil and lentils’ instead of saying “Arey lo Masala Dosa aa gaya” and simply eating it.

2. star.
As unbelievable as it may sound, there are a few people out there in the world who have thousands of admirers because they can lip-sync to Bollywood dialogues or do 10-second dance routines wearing a crop-top. I would’ve loved this career for myself but I’m not sure if people want to see me expose my mid-riff and perform belly dance. I fear that they’ll never be able to see a Bollywood item song ever again.

3. Professional photographer.
From being the entire plot of the movie Ghajini to becoming the passion of every engineering student who could afford a camera, the art of photography has come a long way. Yet, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. If you have a muscular body and/or a beard, you can become a fashion photographer. If you have enough money to go to exotic locations, you’ll become a nature photographer, although I’m not sure what it actually achieves other than risking getting mauled by a wild animal or getting some bird-droppings on your head. If you have a One-plus phone and an Instagram account, you’ll become ‘that irritating person whose account people want to unfollow’. I hope you get what I’m trying to imply.

4. Stand-up Comedian.
I attempt 6 paragraphs worth of jokes almost every alternate week here, and I can proudly tell you that I’ve so far received 4 fan-mails below my posts in the past 6 years, and I’m sure at least one of them was not a credit card advertisement. I have given a thought to doing stand-up someday, but my friends tell me that I’d be doing something I’m bound to suck at, much like Bobby Deol at the DJ console.

So, I guess my current job is the one for me. I don’t think my audience is that into Naiyyo-Naiyyo jokes.

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Midlife crisis begins with a trip to a Water Park

Since the beginning of time, Homo sapiens have had different ways to celebrate the end of exams. The earliest method included gathering around in a circle and rubbing rocks together in a hope to create fire in the prehistoric era, which continued till someone (probably Rahul Mahajan) discovered alcohol. After that, the preferred method has usually been binge drinking to a point where either you have passed out or are trying to prevent someone from calling their ex or (in worse cases) their teacher, followed by guilt and/or a headache commonly described as “like having listened to a 6-minute long phone recording of Arvind Kejriwal’s voice”.

I, having reached almost 28 years of age (which is the official deadline of learning how to tie your laces, do your taxes and stop embarrassing your family), made a decision of avoiding ethanol and celebrating the end of my MD exams in a more mature, age-appropriate way of going to a water park instead. The decision was made after an earlier get-together which cluminated in exhaustion of two bottles of moderately priced blended scotch and the words, “Arey *abusive language* Appu Ghar hi chal lo, par kahiin chal to lo”.

There are ironical similarities between going to a water park at the age of 8 and age of 28. One is that you’re ashamed of your naked body: for being too skinny at 8 and too hairy at 28. The other is that when it comes to thrilling water rides, you shout your heart out. It used to be a prolonged “mummy” with extra Y’s at the age of 8 and now it is multiple sentences of foul language revolving around the same word. I reached there with 6 other friends, we bought tickets and then looked at each other in order to find some strength to do the one thing that terrorizes us all irrespective of our past: change into swimwear. Me and my friends collectively have paunches in almost all sizes: from single to six-pack to king-size.

Oddly enough, I found myself wanting to sit in a floating tube and float around in the lazy river, partly because of my mental age, but mostly because it is actually my idea of a dream office. Then there was this ‘wave pool’ where we went to enjoy waves and music every 2 hours or so, till the water became so saturated with insects and dirt that it started looking like the water that I daily take bath in because I live in Dilshad Garden. Every single dip after 2PM made me wish the constant hair clinging to my body were from someone’s scalp area only. That was the moment when I knew it was time to return my rented swimming trunks to get a refund and savour the day’s memories and probable fungal infection because of those trunks.

We didn’t take any photos, because we don’t want to provide our friends on social media with a free horror-genre slideshow. The day ended with a trip to T.G.I.Friday and fortunately Happy Hours were on. That was when I truly realised that exams were indeed over.

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Life could’ve been musical. Or comical.

A bad break-up and the need to seek attention are the top two reasons (in that order) that a college student tries to learn a musical instrument. In most cases, the interest lasts for a total of 6 days, which coincidentally is also the length of relationship before the aforementioned break-up. In some cases, the interest reaches to the level of a comprehensive rendition of ‘Happy Birthday: the acoustic and slightly retarded version’, and in rare cases, the guitar classes leads to the ultimate goal: finding three other guys with broken hearts and musical instruments to make a band.

I went through a similar phase in my undergraduate days, but I found the guitar to be too pretentious. That, combined with the discovery that the lower three strings are very painful to strum, made me opt for drums as my instrument. I liked drums because it combines two of my most favourite things in the world:
1. Banging things over other things to make noise.
2. Remaining seated while doing anything.

Hence, drums was an obvious choice, and I took classes from a pro-drummer cousin of mine. So, in terms similar to what women write under their profile photos to sound intellectual and avoid writing ‘See how hot my crop-top/shorts are’, I embarked on my musical journey called life. People often ask me if it is easier to learn drums or guitar. After briefly laughing in my mind over the fact that they could put this question to someone who can’t play either to a satisfactory level, I usually tell them that “it depends on your taste and inner calling” or “nothing is impossible” and quickly change the topic.

I can proudly say that music is in my veins. Seriously, my father is a dholki-vadak and is extremely popular among the local temple evening crowd and my mother occasionally sings bhajans for some kirtan-mandli nearby. Their music can be heard over loudspeakers at times, fulfilling the dual purpose of probably pleasing God and definitely disturbing exam-going students. I could’ve had a successful alternative career running my own venture ‘Ankit Deewana and Party’, but I’m morally against nepotism.

As per natural course of action, I formed a band with two more people who knew the order of strings on a guitar and a then contacted a third person who had a formal training in classical singing to coax him into singing hard rock and metal vocals. In case you missed the context, let’s say he was trained to sing like Arijit and we wanted him to sing like he had Farhan Akhtar’s vocal cords freshly brushed with a low-quality sand paper. We initially called ourselves Stroke Volume which was a cardiological wordplay, later moved on to MedRock which was more of an excuse for our mediocre level rather than a proud combination. Unofficially we also had fan-favourite names such as “the people who think they are musicians” or “the vocalist is cute but rest of them look so creepy”.

Not everything was a disappointment though. Occasionally people would clap for us, and once we went to play for students of an evening college who probably mistook us for Euphoria or Ankit Deewana and Party and came backstage in groups to get photos clicked with us. Thanks to that incident, all four of us, albeit for varied lengths of time, hoped that we’d live that rockstar life of having girls in our arms, doing drugs before and after the shows, and singing songs about sacrifice and pain.

Though we didn’t exactly achieve all of this, yet some of us did manage to get a girlfriend by using this band thing as a source of self-deprecating humor, all the drugs we did were painkillers after a few hours of practice and in terms of songs, we played ‘Sajni’ over and over again because it is easy to play, the women know the lyrics by heart and a drunk audience sings along the entire aalap.

I still think that we could’ve made it big had we really tried. But then life happened. I don’t remember it all but I think Jimmy quit, and Jody got married. I still take painkillers occasionally.

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