What do I want to be when I grow up ?


When I was three – I was pretty clear what I wanted to become . I wanted to be a Station master for Indian Railways , wearing a white uniform and controlling the huge big trains with green and red flags . My grandparents bought me a pair of flags and I used to wave them around in cars and trains .

Couple of years later, I wanted to become a trainer of elephants .
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Two things sparked it – first the movie Guruvayoor Keshavan , and second the fact that my grand father had couple of elephants at home , one of which practically was my mom’s pet before she got married. And then I saw my first circus and this career ambition of becoming elephant trainer got expanded to the next “rational” thing – I wanted to be a circus ringmaster! Someone who can train not just elephants, but also horses, lions , dogs etc do cool stuff . I never cared for the human artists who did dare devil acts – I thought that was boring 🙂

This fascination for training elephants continued for a while till I saw how elephants are trained by inhumane techniques . And to add to that, I also read about how elephants are hunted in India and Africa . That was it – I becane dead against the idea of domesticating elephants and other wild animals . They are wild animals who should be allowed to live free .

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After a brief consideration of being a policeman , I decided that finally what I “really” wanted to be was a doctor. That lasted till tenth grade when my biology teacher pretty clearly let me know that I had no future in that field . The only part of biology I could relate to at that time was genetics – pretty much every other part made no sense , and I gave up the idea of being a doctor .

Meanwhile , I had developed a BIG fascination for dog shows – both obedience and breed shows . And as luck would have it , I also had two amazing dogs in quick succession . A female yellow Labrador and a male german shepherd . With the former, I did some decent winning in breed ring, and with the latter I pretty much became a top contender in obedience . The dog show bug bit me so hard that my parents were seriously worried that I will drop outbid school and become a professional handler or trainer .

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Well , that didn’t happen – and I have an uncle to thank . He was a dog show judge who convinced me that if I become an engineer and earn a good pay – I can buy any dog I wanted . And so I became an engineer , and with my first salary I bought a German Shepherd from Germany .
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I found in three months flat that I hated the shop floor life . I ran away from that job and did my MBA . And halfway through I was sure that I didn’t like becoming an investment banker either . I wanted to be a programmer . And so I joined TCS, India’s largest tech shop . And few months later , I landed in USA through them .

The first half of my career, I shifted employers frequently .Either I got bored with repetition, or I couldn’t stand by manager . In the second half – I was happy staying with one employer for long. And from being a programmer – I went on to do other things like functional consulting , Business intelligence , CRM , Project management and sales . And finally when I was going through the partnership appointment process at IBM, I left and joined SAP to start afresh as an engineer again.

It is not that I didn’t enjoy sales – I was always making sales way above my quota when I had a sales role in past. I just never could decide if I am a seller or a builder . Hopefully it will become clearer when I grow up . There are only two things that have been consistent in my career – an undying love for enterprise technology , and treating people the best I can . The love for technology is natural – that has remained rather flat without ups and downs . The part of treating people well is something that I learned along the way, and continue to do. Wll there is another “constant” that I enjoy – work takes me to several different countries, and it is nothing short of fascinating to make friends with people of other cultures.
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Tonight I found my little daughter playing with our new puppy, Ollie .

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I snapped a photo and put it on Facebook and a friend commented that maybe my daughter will take Ollie to junior handling at dog shows . Nothing would please me more if she does .

That is what triggered this post – it reminded me of my own childhood, growing up with my dogs . And how my ideas of what to aim for in life changed every so often .

Who knows what is ahead when I grow up ? May be everything I learned along the way would finally make me qualified to be a circus ringmaster after all – or may be a full time dog trainer ? I certainly don’t want to be a station master at Railways anymore – I hear they don’t wave red and green flags anymore .

And I certainly hope that my daughter grows up chasing (and changing) her own dreams and balance it with realities of life . I can only hope that she will have a dog by her side throughout her adventures .

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