Most Indians (and I’ll venture to say most Asians) can relate to growing up with the expectation that they will be one of three things – a doctor, an engineer, or a lawyer. There is a high bar on professional expectations and apparently the more protracted the education, the better. It’s an exceptional Indian parent that will foster a child’s love for dance or art strongly enough to encourage a profession. The premise is understandable. We want our children to be happy, but we don’t want them to struggle. Historically, medicine, engineering and law provided stable and lucrative careers. More and more Indian parents in our generation are softening their stance. Perhaps they, like us, realize that being happy in a career is just as important a measure of success as stability or money.
On our travels we’ve met many people who we view as having ‘dream’ jobs. There’s Meaow, our Thai cycling guide. She loves the outdoors and is a natural at showing people around Chiang Mai. My high school friend, Christopher Saleem Agha Bee, owns a restaurant in Goa and hosts a cooking show. In addition to travel and food writing, what Chris does tops my list of dream jobs. Chris went to culinary school in New York and worked at a hotel for a while before striking out to start Sublime. It’s now featured on any list of top Goa restaurants. His cooking show gets up close and personal with local cuisine from all over Asia. He’s got the talent to create this fluffy chocolate stuffed philo bon bon, smeared with vanilla ice-cream goodness and sprinkled with juicy fruits. This kind of talent should be encouraged.
So how far will Sandeep and I go to encourage Ava and Kayan’s talents? Will we really support Ava if she wants to be an artist? It wouldn’t surprise us if she did – she loves to paint and draw and talent runs in the family. My grandmother is a fabulous artist herself and she and Ava have been spending hours drawing flowers together.
Will we support Kayan if he wants to be a dancer?
We’d like to think the answer is yes, but it’s easy to be idealists when our kids are far from actually needing to support themselves. An artist or a dancer probably works much harder than a lawyer, engineer or doctor to be successful. But if you’re doing what you love, is that so bad?