Thursday, June 30, 2011

First Salaries...

I see a lot of fresh, enthusiastic minds from the 2011 batch of XLRI putting up status updates on Facebook about the ecstasies and raptures of them receiving their first salaries.

It's a powerful, heady feeling. The ultimate coming of age event. A voice rings withing you saying "Hereupon, I cease to be a dependant monetarily. Henceforth, I take responsibility for fulfilling my needs and those of others connected with me, whether now or in future"

I recollect Mr Narayan Murthy's statement in a TV show: "Money bestows upon you tremendous power. The power to give"

No no, don't get me wrong, I am not advocating donating it all to charity or something (though a small percentage towards that end will certainly not be harmful!)

But there's still a lot that could be done.

The classical Hindi film hero would get a sari for his Mom after 25 years of her wearing the same sari.

Or if you are Salman Khan, you would slug it out with Mohnish Behl and his baddies in rain and slush before you could take the money home to convince your beloved's father to let her marry you.

One time-tested technique is to remember all those who really, really matter to you and who made a difference to your life. There must be at least some of those. You could get something for them. Nice, thoughtful and personalized.

Like that beautiful song from the movie Papa Kahte Hain: "Yeh jo thode se hain paise; Kharch tum par karun kaise..."

Or that touching lesson in the old Hindi textbook about a little boy who works hard to buy a pair of pincers for his mother so that she doesn't have to pick up the rotis from the hot stove by hand.

Particularly when buying for elders, what works well is identifying something that you believe they need, but which they will never in a million years buy for themselves. I had bought a cellphone for my grandmother with my first salary. She looked at me, with all the accumulated unease of 77 years and said "Beta, what will I do with this?" I could only smile in reply. Happily, she's used it quite regularly since then.

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