The best time to have ambitions is when you are a kid.
Like when you lie gurgling in a crib, amidst admiring family members , all pointing out how you resemble them, your real ambition, is to get that big toe into your mouth.
My ambition in kindergarten was to be like my teacher, an AngloIndian beautiful lady called Mrs Rowe, who wore lovely frocks, lipstick, high heels, and played the piano and sang nursery rhymes with us. This advanced to simple things later, like being class monitor, where you jotted down names of those who didn't listen to you, you got to walk with the teacher importantly to the library to lug back stuff to class.
At one point, after a visit to the Sathe Biscuit and Chocolate (then a competitor to Cadbury in Pune) factory near Pune, and seeing a plateful of stuff for us , I thought it was the thing to be the owner of a chocolate factory. I mean you just opened drawers and everything lay before you, yours for the asking.
There was also an ambition to be a skater , after watching a Abbot and Costello film where a tottering Abbot on skates, simply fell down because a little skating girl, simply blew air at him.
By and by , reality kicked in, aptitude tests were done, advices taken, and one went to college to do pure sciences.
Many years later, in the middle eighties, a little boy who was learning to cycle and admired the home delivery grocery boys who came on their cycles everyday , declared his ambition to be a home delivery chap. I mean nothing was better than cycling around the whole day, particularly when you carried a load of biscuits and chips and stuff. By and by, he went through all the phases of police, engine driver, cricketer and so on.
The trouble happens when you leave school. I have seen hordes vying for engineering and medicine admissions, regardless of whether they were interested or had aptitude. Ambition was then simply about aiming to be an engineer or a doctor.
A few years later, business and commerce caught on, and everyone rushed to get a commerce degree, doing a chartered accountant course on the side. Business diplomas were the most popular. Throughout all this, computers reigned supreme, and the country reeled under an IT obsession dotted with .coms.....
Today, the field has widened. There is Mass media studies, event management, law, and all kinds of stuff where folks are rushing. An ordinary liberal Arts degree, sometimes suffices to get a BPO job. Pure sciences are treated like step siblings.
Basically the fun in having an ambition has gone. Because of the sheer numbers you encounter. People, procedures, types of commuting, restrictions etc etc.
And then, I recently encountered a young man, who had organized a senior citizen card issuing program as part of his membership in a political organization.
Not that folks mistake me for being half my age :-), but it helps to flash a senior citizen card, while trying to enter from the front door of a bus, or advance to a shorter line in a queue meant for senior citizens, at various places. You also qualify for discounted rates for tickets .
He sat at a desk flanked by large portraits of leader types, standing in benevolent poses , two flunkies on each side (of him, not the portraits), lots of forms being filled, signed by him, and continuous calls on his several cell phones.
I wondered if there was something else besides an altruistic gene that caused this.
And then I found out. Stupid me. How dense could you get in your old age ?
The latest in ambitions was to become a politician , and even better still, an MP.
I mean where else, can you enhance your assets by 300% in 5 years ? Where else can you vote yourself three fold hikes in salary, plus full pensions after 5 years (even if you graced the Hall only for a total of 1 day ?
As an elected MP , you will receive an assured income of Rs 1.3 lakh (a salary of Rs 50,000 plus constituency allowance of Rs 40,000 and office or stationary allowance of Rs 40,000) a month. You are guaranteed , vehicle loans of 4 lakhs, at a very low rate of interest . Free petrol, free telephone, free housing, and free shut-eye when you make unallowed changes to the housing at government cost. Furniture, electricity also paid by the state. Free first class rail travel across the country, priority bookings, and 34 free air trips a year, for self and companion. Even the spouse has a special travel allowance , presumably to watch her husband, run to the well of the Parliament to protest about something.
Just for attending valid Parliament sessions , regardless of whether they are adjourned , wasted or whatever, the nation pays the MP 1000 Rs a day. Of course, it is not all serious work . You get to be members of junkets like MP's travelling to study the use of Hindi in Norway, ways of fixing CCTV's on the roads in London, public transport in places like California, where there are 4 cars in a 3 member family, and say, maintenance of statues in New York, maybe ?
The nicest part of this job, is that that , just like the Princes and Rajas of the pre independence days, you can train, manoeuvre and arrange for your offspring to follow in your footsteps in Parliament !
Should you stray , (and I don't mean away from the group during junkets) in a sudden criminal moment, you will only add to the 150 MP's who have criminal cases against them in court. Should you really be suspected of committing a well documented crime , you will then join the 73 MP's who are currently being investigated for serious criminal charges like rape and murder. Till you are convicted, you are always, assumed to be , what else, pure .
Of course, , out of the 543 MP's in Parliament today, 315, or 60% are millionaires, not all to the manor born. And so there is a good chance that you can intern with them follow them, and possibly be the 316th millionaire very soon.
Now who in his right mind, would want to spend years in college, commuting like cattle in the suburban trains, being laid off from a job because the company is going bankrupt, standing in queues for everything, learning the real meaning of "being taxed" , trudging through hip deep water in the monsoon, suffering power and water cuts at the height of summer, seeing fellows who never braved all this all their life, being hailed as the saviours of the nation, and being halted and troubled by avaricious police because you didn't see the light changing behind an inconveniently placed political banner ?
I don't blame the guy. I just hope I get my Senior Citizen card soon .....