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Youth quake: Papa don`t preach

November 15, 2009

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Mother, do you think they'll drop the bomb?
Mother, do you think they'll like this song?
Mother, do you think they'll try to break my b****?
Mother, should I build the wall?
Mother, should I run for president?
Mother, should I trust the government?
Mother, will they put me in the firing line?
Mother, am I really dying?

Hush now baby, baby, don't you cry.
Mother's gonna make all your nightmares come true.
Mother's gonna put all her fears into you.
Mother's gonna keep you right here under her wing.
She won't let you fly, but she might let you sing.
Mama will keep baby cozy and warm.
Ooooh baby ooooh baby oooooh baby,
Of course mama'll help to build the wall.

Lyrics from the song Mother by Pink Floyd from the album, The wall.

“You're from a family that dabbles in politics and you became a fashion designer,” I said to a young designer who showed his work at a fashion week recently. Knowing the odds that were stacked against him for his family approving of what he does, I couldn't help but ask, “How did that happen?”.

“It happens when you run away from school and join a fashion school!” he responded matter-of-fact way. As if responding to my shocked expression, he added, “I started working when I was on my O level to save up for college, so I wouldn't have to rely on my family to support me. When the time came, I got admission in a fashion school and I left.” He managed to graduate with honours and launched a successful clothing line, and his family came around when they saw how settled he was in his profession and now accept it.

I have a friend, Ms B, a straight-A student throughout school who applied to a plethora of colleges and gained admission in most of them. The only problem was, her father forbid her from attending any of them. Determined to get a college education, no matter what, she started working for various publications and after two years made enough to support her education for the first couple of years. In between, she applied for a short filmmaking course abroad and not only managed to get a transfer to the college abroad, but also a 50 per cent grant off her total fee. Although initially reluctant to send her off, her dedication towards her goal convinced (and I assume, elicit the respect of her father as well) her parents to let her go.

Slowly and gradually, we're moving beyond the traditional (read safe) professions our parents want us to follow, namely a banker, doctor or engineer. With the boom in the media industry (which is just about now beginning to fade slowly) resulting in a sudden spurt in the interest surrounding professions that revolve around art and culture, young men and women today have more options when it comes to 'pursuable' professions that their parents are more open to supporting. This may include anything from interior design, architecture, art, photography or even in some cases, choreography.

Where some may have to fight to follow the profession they want, there are other ways (although longer) of attaining the same. While conversing with some visiting desi musicians from the UK a couple of months ago, I discovered one common ground in all of them they had all gone out, attained 'safe' degrees, and once they were through (“What our parents wanted for us,” they responded) they went out and did what they wanted, which was to pursue music. “It's not that our parents didn't want us to pursue our dreams,” they explained, “but they wanted something concrete we could fall back on; a plan B. Once we had that, we could do what we wanted.” I think that statement explains the apprehensions felt by most parents.

Similarly, another friend wanted to pursue a degree in media sciences. Her father initially forbid her daughter from even considering the notion. It was later when, considering the fact that with every profession there is a degree of risk involved and that people only excel in fields that they're most interested in, that he granted her the permission to do so. With fingers crossed, of course.