“I want to retire early” I announce as I slam the toilet door shut after another cathartic soul cleansing session sitting on the pot. Sitting on the pot often presents me with inspirational and philosophical thoughts…”Mein or meri tanhai” and all that stuff. I am sure that if I sit for longer durations I may end up winning a noble prize or something and at least nobody will accuse me of not straining for success. (Incidentally I am sure Rodin’s ‘thinker’ was doing exactly this when he was posing for the sculpture thing).
Wife and kid roll their respective eyes at my comments, which in local sign language means “There he goes again”. Kid goes back to her crayons and coloring books. Wife goes back to her cooking. Life is normal.
“ No really…I’ve had enough of this ‘normal’ mundane life” I insist in a slightly louder voice, giving extra stress on the ‘normal’ bit. I wanted to suffix the word ‘married’ somewhere after the ‘normal’ or the ‘mundane’, but getting physically injured was not on my immediate agenda today. “Seeing all sorts of itchy people everyday…yeh bhi koi zindagi hain…zindagi na milegi dobara..you know?” etc. etc.
I purposely keep my glare fixed on my wife. My wife ups the ante with a more threatening and wee-bit more convincing glare . “The patients I mean…itchy ,scratchy patients with skin rashes…not you” I submit meekly.The female glare always wins (old junglee saying).
This time the kid does not bother to lift her head. Wife gives a condescending nod to her head and says a very eloquent “OK”, and goes back to her cooking.
“It’s OK…people thought Socrates was mad. Only later did they realize that he was just a bit ahead of his times” I continue, not willing to give up easily.
“Hmmmph.OK Socrates dear, what exactly do you have in mind” My wife finally takes the bait.
“I want to retire early” I announce grandly , waving my hands around for effect “Follow my dreams…live my passion. It’s really the in-thing you know. Try something more adventurous. I want to travel to exotic , dangerous locations. ….maybe try my hand at wild life and nature photography. Maybe start a restaurant of my own….or write a book.….” I ramble on. The thing is that you take any ‘follow your dream’ themed movie, you tend to have the very same job descriptions repeated…the hero always decides to chuck his million dollar per annum job, stock options and penthouse to become a wild-life photographer, start his own restaurant or write a book. I mean the hero never has other simple hobbies like stamp collection, coin collection, rock collection and embroidery/cross-stitching, which were in vogue when we were kids.
“If you want to leave me, just say it. Don’t give me the early retirement nonsense” Wives always have this inherently irritating tendency of boiling everything down to the “If you want to leave me” emotional blackmail thing.
The 6 year old by-product /collateral damage of our marriage meanwhile looks up suddenly interested and enquires sincerely “ Mama, can I also think of taking early retirement from school?” She sees mama’s furious exophthalmic eyes and meekly returns to her coloring. That’s one lady who wouldn’t be thinking of early retirement for quite some time…and incidentally now you know who really makes the big decisions in this family.
“Hmmph” Wifey continues her monologue “ Dangerous places indeed. You are sooo lazy when it comes to travelling…when was the last time you visited my parents? Your in-laws?” My wife was getting into the mood. I also don’t get it why she has to always specifically clarify that her parents are my in-laws?
“Not that dangerous….moderately dangerous, but habitable places” I mutter under my breath.
“I heard that Mr. Husband…..and restaurant? The last time you tried cooking you burnt the food and almost managed to annihilate my kitchen” Now, though heavily tinged with female exaggeration , this was kinda technically true, but to misquote Edison “'I had not failed. I had just found a few ways that won't quite work to make chicken manchurian” Also please note the point : For the wife its always “my” kitchen , but when we try to completely respect their territorial integrity and don’t bother to enter the kitchen at all they give you all kinds of hell about not helping out in ‘our’ kitchen.
“And wild-life photography…you lug around your junk camera everywhere. Let me ask you how many photos of mine are there in that contraption. You ever feel like taking pics of your dear wife?” Her voice was rising like the dollar vs. rupee thing.
I wanted to agree with her…I mean with such rare and exotic specimens of wild life in the house, maybe I could have started practicing right here, but maybe I was looking at something a little bit less wild like lions, jaguars and African elephants.
Well the big boss had effectively argued with a point-by-point rebuttal and of course won. So my early retirement plans were prematurely retired. All the same, just to spite her and show that you can follow your passions even without retiring, I travelled all alone to a not-so-near pathetic supermarket , bought some not-so-fresh pathetic eggs and tomatoes, took some pics of some pathetic looking stray camels on the way back, came back and made a pathetic double omelet and then set about writing this pathetic blog. So there.
On a more serious note, it has become kind of trendy to talk about leaving your ‘normal’ routine and go flitting after more grandiose schemes. It’s all very good if you really have the passion, talent and more importantly some financial back-up for you and your family before you jump into the one of the “follow your dream” scams. There are very, very few people who actually succeed significantly after mid-life career switches. Though these success stories are highlighted and bandied around by the media, there are a hundred failures for every success that never get a mention. You can always follow your passion as a hobby on the side….till you are really ready for the big-switch. To quote from a recent FB post from the very talented wildlife photographer Jayanth Sharma ( who incidentally switched from a ‘mundane’ IT job to full time photography “Learn photography so that you can click better pictures first. Please don’t treat that learning similar to a Java or .Net course after working hours that can help you change your job from being a C++ programmer. The idea of a job change has to occur when you are really good in something else that you’d like to do forever. Not quit your job to learn something new that you think you would like to do. Give yourself time and don’t rush to be an idiot”