Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Jack of All Trades

I hate stereotypes. Indians abroad are all techies. Or people in IT are nerds. Or Ph.D. scholars are geeks. Or good looking NRIs are players. Or guys don't like cooking. Things of that sort. The world is full of them. My life is in sorts a contradiction to many. And I have lived trying to refute a lot of them. I am a bit tired really, and wary. So sometimes I let people be. I let them talk, believe and spread the stereotypes. Till they realize that I am a contradiction of sorts. Then sometimes they shut up.

I know stereotypes are born out of generalizations. Generalizations are sometimes statistically more probable. If someone says he is European, there is a high probability he will be white Caucasian. But it's wrong to assume that to begin with. Just like it is wrong to address a chairperson of a meeting as "Dear Sir" in a letter when you do not know the person's sex. Or to call him a chairman. No, I am not feminist, but if I understand why that could piss off a lady. Like it pisses me off when someone asks me "Are you a developer?" when they get to know I am Indian and in IT.

So I am in IT. I am Indian. I live abroad. I am a guy. I am also a Ph.D. scholar. As I narrate these sentences, you start forming a picture. Don't get me wrong, I do too. White ill-fitting formal shirt. Blue baggy jeans. Expensive ridiculously colored sneakers which don't match. A laptop bag. Oiled hair neatly combed like a "good boy", or totally untidy. Looking a bit lost at some international airport. 

So it surprises a few that I don't adhere to the image. The clan who do, actually get mad at me for not falling in line. The other Ph.D. scholars find it strange that I am in the basketball and football teams at my company. Or that I am dressed in suits like the "corporates". My Indian friends think its strange that I ice skate. The other guys snicker when I tell them I love cooking. My Indian "onsite" colleagues look incredulous when they notice I gel my hair into spikes. My weight training mentor at the gym thinks it's ridiculous that I would want to have a Ph.D. degree. My Ph.D. guide thinks its ridiculous that I would want to do weight training at the gym.

I can go on and on. The point is that I don't like sticking to stereotypes. And I feel there is too much focus on being the "master" of a few trades. I don't question those who are, I actually respect them. But don't stop there. Just because you became an actor doesn't mean you are banned from pursuing higher education. Or vica versa.

So I do it all. I love sports. Volleyball, basketball, football, cricket, table tennis. I could beat a few at most of them. I am not really the proverbial IT manager, I actually have a sense of humor. I love to ice skate, or at least I try to. I weight train at the gym. I blog... or again.. I try to. I watch European football, and marvel at how it is close to a religion in Europe. I study cultures. I have friends from all over the world, from countries most Indians haven't heard of. I love cooking, I love to learn ways of cooking from others, the French, the Croatians, the Latvians. I love teaching at the University, it opens up my mind to interact with youngsters from all over the world. I adore the research workshops, the passion in each researcher thrills me. I love my job, people say I am married to my company. I love the fact that it makes me meet so many new people from all over the world. I travel. I hold motivational workshops. I listen to club and trance, and to Bollywood music. I play Boule. I have formal training in short-movie making. I like photography. I have been a national level debator, oratory used to be my life. I am crazy about motorbikes, stunt biking is my passion. I live for road-trips to weird places. I like business meetings. I like beaches. I love the fjords.

And so I do it all. Don't type cast me. You might say I am not good at any of them, or maybe I am. It doesn't really matter. I believe that everything in life is worth a try. If you can be good at a few of them, that is great. If not, at least you tried. At least you will not have a lot of regrets in life on your death bed. You will identify with more people, understand how the world works. And most of all, your horizons will be much broader. Oh yes, I love being the Jack of All Trades!

Pic courtesy: http://www.designzzz.com/tips-for-making-more-money-as-a-graphic-designer/


  1. Hmm, nice post Merlin:) You seem to be a man of many talents. Keep it up and to hell with those who like to put such lables on others:)

  2. Thank god, you are not a woman... the stereotypes would have doubled. Every day I try to make people treat me at par...

  3. :) you are someone who knows how to live.. Really fascinating..I can only imagine how much fun it must be to live as 'you'