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Why should I become a Billionaire???

January 27, 2018

Came across this Robin Sharma thing in Facebook: Making a billionaire out of you or something like that. How to become more productive. How to become this and that right from the start of the year. Whether Sharma made anyone billionaire or not, he is sure a trillionaire mostly because he has convinced countless fools that money is more important than one’s happiness. That individual freedom and contentment matters more than family sacrifice and family bliss. That means we are fools – those of us who put family first over a career. SPACE. SUCCESS. These have to be attained at any cost.

But where does one finally stop.


Recently, one of my working friends who holds a top position in an international bank (abroad) messaged, asking me to enroll for her ‘personality development (or whatever) course.’

‘What are you doing?’ she asked and I said, ‘nothing, I am in India right now, enjoying life.’

She replied, ‘then you are just the right candidate for our course aimed at improving your productivity and quality of life.’

I could have taken offence but who cared.

It is exactly 20 years since I quit my bank job. I worked for Advances department and then Law which were the nerve center of banking. Twenty – twenty five years back, what we did in banking was essentially core banking only, when credit-debit cards were just making their way and ATMs were still a novelty. Chennai hardly had 3 ATMs if I remember right. Borrowing and Lending were our two big activities unlike accepting insurance premiums, telephone bills, tax filings etc., etc., like in current times. The core banking days were altogether different and had more quality to it than today’s bank environment (for banking staff). There was also a personal touch to banking. In branches, the staff knew personally each and every single customer.

It is not just like that I walked to my bank job. I did not get my job through reservation or recommendation. I wrote my entrance exam like thousands of other candidates s in a very competitive atmosphere, got short listed, was called for interview before finally receiving my appointment order after almost an year. I had also reached by this time, the final interview of a few more central and state government departments. I gained confidence, and by my 22nd or 23rd year I knew I needed no assistance getting into government service. I had merit and I thought it would be only be matter of time before a good and most importantly a secure job clicked for me, even as I diligently took up entrance exam after entrance exam along with thousands of hopefuls all across India – from Railways to Insurance to Banking to UPSC and even TNPSC. There was not a single competitive exam that I missed in those days right from my 18 th year. As I graduated, my eligibility improved and I started applying for better positions. My best one was going upto the final interview in the Central Excise & Customs dept at the mere age of 22 years – for officer posting. All other candidates were at least 26-27 and were already department (clerical) candidates seeking promotion. I knew I would not be able to cross the last hurdle looking at the departmental candidates but I also knew at the same time, I was better than all of them out there, some 20 + men and women (women were only 2 or 3 i think). It was very  unfair that I lost out. In those days, physicals in some departments meant 16 km of cycling etc for qualifying ones. Doors closed for ever at this stage for me.

So this is how I got into my bank job as well although my position was that of a clerk. Initially I even had to type out in a manual typewriter before it was exchanged for Brother, the electronic one. By 1995, computers had made their way to our bank although the computers department was a separate one. We the clerks still had to put up with electronic typewriters but these now had vast memory and decent screens with extra added functions like never before.

Unlike my international bank friend who had it so easy on foreign soil, nothing was handed to me in silver platter. I had to work hard and prepare for years – right from my 18th, to get into banking service. India is such a competitive country except for the reserved categories who can alone have the cake walk when it comes to university admission or employment opportunities. For rest of us, it’s sheer rat race.

Whereas this friend married an NRI, came to a gulf country, and so easily found a job with a foreign bank. There is a dearth of knowledge in the middle east when it comes to banking sector. If you want to get in, even now you can. True, the friend quickly made her way up the ladder because, being Indian means you are the best of the worst lot; you are more accomplished academically than your colleagues who come from meaner backgrounds and you have exposure and expertise that comes with India and India only, the clear advantage that others lack. Back in India, types like these still cannot survive in the kind of competitive environment that I survived in.

May be this is the reason, Indians win wherever they go, be it in academics or employment. We face stiffest competition in our own country and only the fittest wins. So if you are good here, you are a grand success guaranteed overseas.

Soon our lady became a mother and when the boys reached high school, she packed them off to boarding schools. In fact, not much difference between my son and these boys. Having had a working mom who served as a teacher 50 years back, I am used to having working women in our family. My aunt was a teacher, my girl cousins and nieces are academically brilliant and have hi fi careers, the kind this woman cannot even dream about in a tougher Indian climate. Yet, I have always wanted to be only a housewife in my life. I thought I was better making others’ lives better and happier that way. A housewife means, you put your family first over your ambitions.  Some of my friends are also housewives and this is the reason, their kids have turned out to be super. I don’t think if they or I had been working mothers, we would be where we are today.  Not that we are super moms. We have a long way to go still. Still, our children are our medals and shields and cups.

Even if i had had a working mom, my mom was still a school teacher who I never missed at home. After her, I became convinced that a mother is the most needed presence in a teen’s life until he/she settles down comfortably, and that none can take the place of the mother. Even if I had had lost my mom, my aunt was there for me. I remember hating it when my aunt had school whenever it was holiday for me. A maternal aunt can become the closest substitute to one’s biological mom. Until my mother was around, being a good and more than average student, even I wanted to become a doctor. I would have had she lived. But the same year my mother passed away, I remember scaling down my ambition to becoming a teacher. Secretly I longed to just stay at home. Somehow academics and profession no more mattered. Home mattered. Family mattered.

Leaving banking service still was a bit tough but not regrettable. I soon got over the hangover from work. The new mission was the family.

I also faced some cruel comments for sharing my time between the 2 men of my life: my hubby and my son. My son obviously came first for me. I refused to even send him to hostel when he started university. Now of course he has earned his masters from a foreign university.

It is too early to talk about our kids, but I know or I have the satisfaction that I was at least directly involved with my son’s growth. I have been there for him with his every step, encouraging him, reprimanding him if he took a wrong turn. I kept a close yet distant watch and vigilance over him. I trusted none when it came to my son. I shifted my responsibility to none. My presence and effect was ample on my son that he recently told me when we parents visited him that his earlier formative years with me were a big influence on him. He said, I was a different kind of mom, someone like whom none of his peers had. I was not the regular one. He said he was in awe of me until the time he turned 10 when his own knowledge superseded mine in every sphere.

For this reason, neither was I completely absent in my hubby’s life. I managed my time between both the worlds. We had great food, clothes, family holidays and good living standards together. Quality family time mattered more over quantity.

Happened to meet my friend’s family as a family. My super successful friend, it seemed to me at least, had neglected her teen sons. One is graduating now from a foreign university in a non STEM degree course (which could have been pursued in India) and the other too fell below my expected standards. The husband looked neglected and long faced. Yet, among the two of us, the lady happens to think, she has a better life than me and that she is more successful in life than me. Frankly, I couldn’t care less all these days.

But her assumptions really get on my nerves in recent times. The busy corporate woman who could not give time for family, a home meal for her husband (the kids were always in India), not even holidays with them as one whole family, still finds time to compere social events during weekends and for partying and eating out. And that’s not all. She also went in for certification courses through distant education from western universities that completely wiped out her yearly holidays that must have been spent with her family. But the bonus was double promotions and increments and other allowances and facilities.

Whereas as a mother I would have devoted that much time and efforts and money for my ward’s improvement. My husband’s improvement. I don’t know, but that’s how I am. Not that I am underestimating myself. Mothers always reserve the best portion for their children/spouse and eat only what is residual.

I recall the 30 days of every 6 months I used to cook up feasts for my son’s friends – some 8 of them – because they all came home for study holidays for every semester during the entire 4 year engineering course of theirs. To me, that is more important. Only now I am socializing more. Back until my son graduated, he used to be always my No.1 priority. My world revolved around him. Back in his school days, wake-up time for me was 3.45. Breakfast as well as lunch needed to be ready by 7.30. Breakfast was heavy and full meals. Like greens/palak, fresh veggies, rice, dal, egg etc. Whole meals. All that took time. Lunch would have to be interesting enough to be shared with friends. Evening snacks had to be waiting. Dinner had to be totally different.

Weekends, summers meant hours spent by the swimming pool. Various extra curricular classes.

What we mothers do for our children, we cannot pour out in pages. We know what we do, and they know what we do for them.

At least I can vouch, I did my part to maximum fulfillment.

The glamour and glitter has its own following. I have heard of people showering praise on the lovely couple who socialize a lot and are kind of mini celebrities already. I prefer remaining in the background than taking the central stage anywhere. Everytime I come across the couple basking in the limelight, i think of their boys growing up alone and by themselves. May be the boys may not know now what they’re missing. But such simple things as waiting for your kid to return from school/college, packing his/her lunch box, chatting up your kids friends, gossiping with other mothers … seem to be more important to me than moving in social circles with faked smiles. What about the school sports days, annual days. What about movies with the kids, the birthday parties of friends, taking them for even cricket coaching. International schools may offer all these facilities except for the mother’s presence and direct control and supervision. Direct mother’s impact which is invaluable. The mother’s original input. Even with modern social media help, you cannot have it all totally when the kid is in boarding school. There is ample time in everyone’s life to learn or master spirituality or discipline. What children need first is the security and warmth of a home, not the coldness of a hostel room. Only a mother can instill in her kid that confidence and hope. Inspiration like none other. Friend and confidante like  none other. A child can open up completely only to his/her mother. And when that mother is unreachable, a door closes in the child’s heart for life. I have seen children growing up away from parents and now they are adults – like individual islands. Something deep in them seems to have ruptured long back.

Last heard, the couple I mentioned built a great house in a state capital worth a crore. Hardly i am impressed like others. Never wanted to live in more than a double or treble bedroom flat. Reason: i want to be self sufficient. If i have no maid, I still have to survive. I don’t want to be held for ransom by someone i employ. I don’t have a cook, driver, gardener etc that the couple employ even here in middle east.

Moreover, I couldn’t care less. It does n’t bother me if anyone lives in a bungalow or goes about in a chauffeur driven Merc Benz or Audi. I am happy the way I am. My priorities in life are different. Never wanted to be a billionaire or even a millionaire in the first place. Yet, as much as possible, I want to help humanity the best way I can, with my limited resources. Mostly I am seeing that it is the moneyed people who are stingiest and calculative. Thankfully neither me, nor my husband have too much of material attachment. We do, to an extent. We love good clothes, shoes, jewelry, shopping and holidays, but we want to make a difference to someone else’s life at the same time as well. In whatever capacity, we want to make our life meaningful. We are not obsessed with our house, our car, etc., etc. Anything on 4 wheels is fine for us. It is only because we lack that materialist attachment, it was possible for us to allow our only child to go abroad for his higher education. The more you are attached to your brick-and-mortar house and furniture and crystals and gold-silver, the more will you be clipping the wings of your children, holding on to them.

The kind of music we listen to inspires our kids. The kind of books we read inspires them. The kind of conversations we have in our family. Even the kind of food we eat, how we eat, how we treat our maids, drivers, cooks etc., all these are watched and ingested by our children. What they become finally is our own making of them – a good portion of them, at least.

I am saying this today with a good confidence because my son says, i am his biggest inspiration. He saw me reading books, treating people with respect, being fair mostly, doing my duty yet getting shit in return for that in family matters but he says how I lived those years made a mark in him. He never watched tv soaps because i never did. He never complains because I never gossiped in front of him. I may have a thousand issues with my mother-in-law but i did not pass on my bitterness to my baby. I helped him have a good and healthy relationship with his grandma. Being there for him every time and not asking my cook to serve him food but doing it myself mattered to him. This i learn now, after years. My first 10 days in US were spent cooking for him and his friends again their sumptuous hearty desi meals. Cleaning up their messy apartment. Washing and drying clothes. The kids who are grown-up guys now were moved as if we were their own parents. Every single of them touched our feet for our blessings.

Everything can be store-bought today. Who says we can’t. Except a mother’s love and personal care. You may only make for them a pack of Maggi noodles, still they may love it more than the biryani your cook can do. I wonder why some mothers do not realize it.

Everyone’s perception of life is different. Life to me is more meaningful and beautiful when you help others, when you treat others equally and with respect, when you are independent in the true sense in every way not saying that you are lost without your maid. A few lakhs of rupees I can do without, please. I wonder what on earth gives anyone the right to look down upon others only because they may have after all some extra lakhs of rupees in their bank accounts. This kind of discrimination is horrible and is most prevalent in India.

Measuring people with their clothes, jewelry, car, house, bank balance – when will this mindset cease to exist in our midst. Among ladies, it is even worse. Those working mostly seem to have an attitude these days. But somehow I suspect that these women are trying to make it up for the damage they’re doing to their own families. Sounding important, useful, productive by making a living seems to make up for the loss of family bliss.

In the end, who knows who is right. I am not saying I am hundred percent on dot either. But I have been once a working woman. And now I am a housewife. So I know what is to be both. Just ask me. I will any day vote for housewife.

I also have working women friends who toil both at home and at work, who support their aged parents and in-laws, who have brought up their kids well, who have successful kids who are doing great, who enjoy the fruits of both the worlds. But ask them, they say they’re waiting to give VRS or waiting for their retirement. Most are tired beyond their limits. Longing to call it a day but are forced to carry on because of financial commitments.

But one thing my working friends seem to say is, housewives have better kids, better family life. For obvious reasons. For a fact, i have known of families ruined when mothers were working, when I was a teenager. There was neglect, the mothers were careless, the girls made costly mistakes without proper adult supervision and guidance, and are today living miserable lives. Somehow to me, that got stamped in my mind. Not all cases. A few of them. Again it is not that all the kids brought up by stay-at-home moms have become superstars either.

Let us at least stop judging others just like that.What works for one may not work for another. I remember my college friend who was graduating in chemistry. She had working mother. Everyday she and I mostly came back to locked doors. She resigned her job with an international bank in Chennai just to be there for her only son when he came back from school. ‘Never would i allow my kid to come back home to locked doors!’ she used to say. We both quit working around same time. Her boy is now a chartered accountant. He was a national TT champion in under 16 category. This was made possible because my friend was there with him throughout, even doing his school record works for him so he could play and at the same time study. Something most working moms cannot manage.

I wouldn’t have written up such a long story if not for my friend who asked me to improve my productivity! I can recall the bored looks on her sons’ faces – the teenagers barely have spent 10-15 days each year with their parents since high school. Even in primary school, they went direct to creches. Parental role in their brought-up has been minimal. All the money on earth cannot buy back the lost years or the mother’s contribution to a child’s personality development or even the level of confidence and outlook on life. More than all, the shared family values. The meals together. The sheer bliss of watching tv together.

I am also a personal witness to another nice boy who grew up with grandparents when his parents were busy minting money abroad. Today a father in his 30s, he openly blames his parents for his imposed loneliness in his teens. He is very unhappy and is unable to forgive his parents and says, money is not important to him but parent-child relationship is.  Weekend after weekend for years being alone… Just think. How many weekends we go out normally as family. 52 weeks an year. Year after year. All this time being away from one’s kids is unforgivable.

Not a single PTA meeting in the school. No parents of friends, their friends. I still talk to my boy’s friends moms from school and college. Some come home too. Together we mothers have laid foundation for some lifelong friendships. This is what our own mothers did for us. I grew up knowing my friends’ parents as well. We still embrace when we meet.

Is all this worth sacrificing for an extra few lakhs of rupees. Will 10 day break taking your kids to even the Swiss Alps make the rest of the lonely year disappear.

Parenting, making a housewife, being the wife by your husband’s side … this has to be studied case-by-case. This is not one-size-fit-all thing for us to assume this is right or this is wrong straight away. I may not be a mother of a dozen kids and i may not be an expert on anything, but at least i have some basic instincts that can make me recognize mistakes when they are made: damages that cannot be undone.


Looking at my tirelessly working sister who cooks, cleans,shops for groceries, works out, entertains, hosts round the clock for her family, looking at my best friends circle, I am more than convinced that I did a good job quitting working. Absolutely no regrets.

Our children are our trophies. We need to speak no more.

We can have only one thing finally: INDIVIDUAL SPACE/FREEDOM/CONTENTMENT OR SACRIFICE AND FAMILY HAPPINESS. The first one can give you financial rewards, the second one will enrich your life. Choice is yours.


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