Jul 31, 2011

What does money mean to you?

What does money mean to you?

I have often struggled with this question. As a child, despite my parents' best efforts, I was acutely aware of how this mystical thing wasn't present in as much abundance at our home as at some of the others. I had all that I needed, but not everything that I wanted. And believe me, I wanted a lot. I wanted a new bicycle because the neighbour's kid had one. I wanted a video game, again because the neighbours had one. I wanted a colour TV with cable connection, not the old B&W one in which you could see DD1 (and some grainy images of some other channel provided the wind wasn't blowing too strongly and shaking the antenna). I wanted to go on all the school excursions. And I got most of these too. I still don't know how they managed to do it.

Growing up, one of my dreams was to be a millionaire by 25. Stupid, I know. In spite of having a father who didn't measure himself by how much he made. Or probably because of it. I kept hankering after money. Still do.

And then, I grew up. At least chronologically. Got myself a bunch of useless degrees. And one pretty useful diploma. Which landed me into a decent job. Reached my first million at 27. Two years late, and in rupees, not dollars. And realized that a million is pretty much useless in a world where people talk in crores. Should've accounted for inflation, damn it! I make almost 10 times of what my dad made while he retired. Yet, I never saw him complain about money, while I crib about being underpaid. He traveled two-and-half-hours each way for over 8 years to get to work at his age. I crib about a half an hour commute, and wish I could stay closer to work. Which would require more money. Some people never learn. In spite of having the best teachers at home.

Most parents attempt to teach you through long, boring lectures. And never manage to get the message through. Thankfully, my dad wasn't one of them. He didn't preach, he showed by example. Like resigning from a job when asked to cook the books by the management. Without another job in sight, with a wife and 2 kids to provide for and loans to pay. Like never padding up expense accounts merely because the company is paying. Sometimes, I wish he hadn't been so frustratingly straight-forward in his life. It would have made it much easier for me to come up with fake rental and medical receipts. And save up on taxes. But he taught me that sleep doesn't come easy on a mattress filled with cash.

My dad officially retired today. After many months of me and my mom nagging him to do so. There were no farewell speeches, no exit interviews, not even the symbolic wrist-watch that most companies give as an inadequate thank-you for all the time you devoted to them. But he walked away with the love and respect of his colleagues, people who'd genuinely miss his presence and his advice. If I could walk away with half that respect when my time comes, I'd consider myself very successful.

So, what does money mean to me? It means, at last, I can confidently ask my dad to sit back and relax and enjoy life. And tell him not to worry about money anymore. It means the world to me.


  1. Anonymous7:33 PM

    YES,an emphatic and a resounding yes.
    you were born for this day.

  2. Anonymous8:14 PM

    More money,more needs.
    And talk about kids and money.My kid sits flat down in the middle of the aisle in the toy section holding onto some ridiculous gargantuan toy the size of a small principality, refusing to move till I buy him the said toy,while I pretend I don't know this child.At the mall,I am exploited by my two kids:(
    But then,are you are the only earning member in the family now?

  3. Anonymous10:31 PM

    Try surviving on a teacher's income.
    the noblest profession.

  4. Anonymous10:46 AM

    Siva,Can you do a post on request? A post on your fav books/reading list?

  5. @ Anon 1:
    Thanks. Looks like you know me.

    @ Anon 2:
    That is called pester-power. I still remember some of my marketing lessons!

    And for another 3 months, yes, I am the only earning member. Then, my bro starts his job.

    @ Anon 3:
    Tried. Survived. Then decided that I need some more comfort than just the notion on nobility.

    Besides, who says it is not noble to finance power projects in an electricity-starved nation?

    @ CCBL:

    @ Anon 4:
    Thanks. Again, looks like you know me, but I fail to understand why someone who knows me wouldn't at least state his name in the comment.

    As for the fav books / reading list, don't have any favourites as such. And I am currently reading 'Chinaman' by Karunatilaka and Does He Know a Mother's Heart?' by Shourie.

  6. Anonymous6:03 AM

    You are a responsible son.
    I earn around as much as you do but feel unhappy at the thought that i'll never be able to buy my own house.

  7. Anonymous10:15 AM

    Stock up while you can.Once you marry,money just seems to fly out of the window.
    super liked your post.And would it hurt you to post more often?

  8. @ Anon 5:

    @ Anon 6:
    We are conservative Tambrahms. We don't 'stock' up, all our money is parked in FDs. :)
    And as for posting more often, gradually I am running out of things to say. It's been 5 years of jobless posting here now!

  9. Anonymous11:39 AM


  10. A great post by all accounts.A son who can write like this on his father's retirement is anyday better than earning cash. Bravo!!

  11. @ Anons:

    @ Venky Mama:
    Thank you :)
    A son who writes like this and 5 rupees would get you a vada pao :)

  12. Anonymous9:00 PM

    "you will be this kudarkam pesum kundamandi"

    as a person who does not know any tamil,what does this expression mean?

  13. Good one and congratulations...this must be super proud moment :)

  14. Really touching post..very well written mate.


  15. @ Anon:
    I explained in that very post. Roughly translates to "nonsense spouting rebel"

    @ Shilpi:
    Thanks :)
    And yeah, it does feel nice!

    @ Tushar:
    Thanks bro! :)

  16. ah the joys of a middle-class upbringing :))

  17. Anonymous11:57 PM

    touching post...good one...

  18. @ Anjana:
    the joys, indeed. Where would be, without such experiences?

    @ Anon:

    @ myself:
    Need to get back to blogging!

  19. Beautiful! Really beautiful

  20. @ KDK:
    Thanks! :)