Some childhood stories stay with you forever. One of my favourites is this anecdote I’d read when I was a kid.
Walt Disney had made Disneyland for his daughter(whatever her name was). When she was a child she complained to her dad that she wanted a beautiful playground and dutifully Daddy dearest built her the Disney empire (or that was my impression of the story). However the daughter had no idea what Daddy had done for her. Once when she was thirteen she went up to her Daddy.
‘The Walt Disney?’
She mulled over this for two minutes. Then she held a paper and pen to her dad. ‘Can I have your autograph?’
Of course now that I am an adult, I get the irony of the story. The poor little rich kid(whatever her name was) who doesn’t even know her dad. But as a nine-year-old, my reaction was single-minded.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my parents. They have done so much for me. But if, just if, somehow the Lord’s calculations had gone just a little awry, I could have been a Bachchan. Or a Kapoor. Or a reliance, I mean an Ambani. Or even a Godrej.
Then instead of my rat-race school, I could have been smoking cigars and ogling at Italians on Swiss slopes next to some posh ‘finishing school’ . Then I would have easily sailed through a blue-blooded (shouldn’t it be green-blooded given that money is their prime selection criterion?) IVY league MBA. And self-righteously taken over the family business from the illiterate Indian-educated managers, modernized it, re-branded it and made it global (i.e. screwed it up completely).
And of course I would complain that I miss being ‘normal’. The atention gets too much to handle. Do you know how difficult it is to manage three houses in Europe and an island in Morocco? And the politics of a 35 member ‘staff’? And several showrooms full of Maybachs and jags? Or the unrealistic expectations of famous parents? (The Loius Vittons and Jimmy Choos do help).
Oh BOO CRAPPY HOO!!!
Yeah, I had a thing against these ‘golden kids’.
Until I met Ritu(name changed).
Ritu is a khandaani golden kid. She comes from a traditional joint family. Her dad had humble beginnings, but between him and his brother, they built one of the most successful commodity businesses in Asia. Ritu is the youngest child in the family. She did her graduation from Oxford and finished that off with a European MBA. Plus, unrelatedly and even more unfairly she is DDG (Drop Dead Gorgeous). And a very nice person.
Of course I hated her.
Until I got to know her. One evening over expensive wine (hers) and cheap snacks (mine), Ritu told me the synopsis of her life story. How her dad tried innumerable businesses before hitting jacpot. ‘Dad would go bankrupt. The business would shut down and he’d be heartbroken. But we would secretly rejoice. Now he would go back to his old company which would willingly take him back. We would move into a sea-facing flat, get new toys, new clothes. And then kaput. He would try a new business. Suddenly we would shift miles away into a old apartment and have to change three buses to reach school where other kids would make fun of our clothes and bikes.’
Ritu had really seen it all. She told me casually that her last birthday was the only one her father had had time to attend. She is 35. She told me of a brother who refused to take over the business because he wants to be an artist. She told me of a Dad who is willing to let go of his business rather than thrust it on a married daughter.
So yes, maybe the grass is greener on the other side and all that.
Ritu impressed me so much that I think I should write a book on her.
OMG! Just had an ‘aha’ moment.
Dialling Ritu’s number right now…To be Continued.