Times change and a dad’s job never !!!


My son is going off to university and since I don’t know what advice to give him I thought we should take him to a student counsellor.

“You are the father. Isn’t this your job?” said my wife in that tone of voice that usually leads me into dangerous territory.

“Look, we should leave the job to professionals. We do not have much experience with what to tell an 18-year-old,” I said. “I don’t think we ever gave any ‘gyan’ (advice or knowledge in Hindi) to our eldest. We just put him on the plane and sent him off.”

“Dad, I am 18 and I know what life is all about,” said my son.

“Really? I still do not know what the heck life is all about, how can you know?” I said, my voice rising with each sentence. “Listen, just do not smoke, because that eventually leads to drugs,” I said.

“Was that necessary,” said my wife. “Now you have put the idea of smoking in his mind.”

“You want me to talk about girls?” I asked.

“No,” said my wife.

“Not necessary,” said my son.

“Well, at least that’s one subject we all agree we should avoid,” I said.

I am supposed to take my son across the Atlantic Ocean and put him in his residence with strict instructions that I make sure he has everything he needs. “Do not scrimp on anything,” my wife warned me.

Travelling 15 hours on a plane with my youngest should be fun, I thought, then remembered how it is, going on a holiday with my family, even for a short car trip to Abu Dhabi.

“Look, we will start punching each other on the shoulder just after we take off. The stewardess will call the captain and we might get thrown off the flight. Can’t his elder brother do this?” I asked my wife desperately.

Later, I told my son, “I have just one word for you: CGA.”

“Colour graphics adaptor?” asked my son.

“No, no,” I said. “Computer animation. You will make a lot of money making movies,” I told him. “Didn’t you see Jungle Book. Wasn’t it awesome?”

“It scared my friend’s kid brother,” said my son.

Times have changed fast, I thought to myself. My typically Indian parents would never have thought of their son becoming anything but a doctor or an engineer.

But since my grades were abysmal, I told them I wanted to be a journalist, a writer of sorts, who wrote those boring editorials that for some reason drove my dad crazy every morning.

“I am going to tick off the president,” he would say, walking off with his morning newspaper with a huff to the library and start writing on a “full-scape” sheet of paper, venting to the unsuspecting head of the nation.

Everyone was sorry that I had to take up journalism because of my poor marks. Nobody had ever known a journalist in their life. They thought that journos were crackpots who drank too much sweet tea, smoked too much and lived exciting but relatively short lives.

“Dad, I am studying computer science, not CGI [Computer Generated Imagery],” said my son, bringing me back from my reverie.

“You should have studied Chemistry,” I said. “There’s a lot of money in meth. Anyway, design an app soon and buy your mom and me an island,” I told him.

“Dad, money is not my first concern,” said my son.

“Maybe he should take a year off and go around the world. It’s called a Gap Year,” I told my wife, after the initial shock of hearing my son was not interested in making money.

My wife shuddered at the thought of my son wasting a year of his study life. “Maybe you should see a counsellor,” she said.