When you become an adult


Update for 3 weeks ended 17 September 2010

Many societies have adult initiation rites and most of these are age-linked. Most consider adulthood to begin at ages ranging from 16 to 21 (and in some really conservative ones – even 25). But a look around will tell you that almost all hover around the 18 year mark to celebrate that eventful transition. Well, I don’t really remember what or how my 18th birthday was spent (really, I don’t remember it!); but there are ways that people usher in adulthood. Parents, friends, well-wishers get together in different ways – like the classic gifting of a golden key to the birthday girl or boy – usually as a pendant on a chain. The key signifies freedom that one gets at that age – and although old fashioned and sentimental in this day and age, where teens like to flaunt the rose cross or a skull miniature or anything that is radically “rebellious”, the key looks anachronistic. Some friends throw R–Rated parties for the “new adults”. Some parents allow their “not any more kids” to use the family car – i.e. drive it; or allow them to enroll into driving lessons (of the car variety). Many western societies permit these “now not fledglings” to fly the nest. And this can be hard on parents as they see their offspring shift out of home. But in India – it is usually the age associated with kids (yes, they are still treated as kids!) going to college or starting off on a professional course to become doctors, engineers, lawyers or accountants. And the summer of this transition is usually spent in mugging up for entrance tests or exams (for the “kids” not the parents), and thereafter in “apping” to get into the right college or institution. This is not particularly enjoyable, and actually quite trying and tiring; but at the end of it, can give parents reasons to glow and gloat about their offspring and their immediate achievements; ranks are rattled off at every conceivable opportunity and parties are thrown to show-off their trophy “kids”. Basically, it is the age of transition which is much feted and celebrated quite unlike children birthday parties – and get fancier names – like “Dos at Digs”. It is also the time when many societies officially permit kids to get spirited and can taste their first bubbly. This allows the kids to get into a merrier mood and further, let their hair down.

The adulthood transition into the 18 thousands* on D street happened last month and the party was on this month. So although the D Street Boyz were busy throwing their dos and tasting the bubbly – their SENSEX party went on (although I must admit, I was not in town to join in the party – and hence could not update on their stories for the last 3 weeks). Happiness and joy spread around as people of different faiths also celebrated their various festivals – ID, Ganesh Festival, Paryushan. The Indian boxers are in good mood as one of them won at the world championships, while a tennis player got close to winning his first Grand Slam Double with a neighbour; and we start off our Davis cup challenge today; and the Commonwealth Games are less than a month away. With so much going on – the SENSEX soared to dizzying heights – closing today at 19595 – a good 1500 points above August end close. And this is only the beginning of the festive season. So D Boyz – where is the next party; don’t forget to send me the invite – (but who cares, I always gatecrash!)

There is this interesting story that I must share here, on adulthood. It is of 2 brothers who turned 18, and like many Indians, lived with their parents. Both the siblings wanted to become responsible adults like their parents and so the elder asked his father “Dad how do I become a responsible adult like you?” The father replied profoundly, “Son – one who has seen the world becomes a wise and responsible adult.” On hearing that, the elder son embarked on the journey to see the entire world, bidding farewell to his father, mother and brother. The younger brother stayed home. After a long and tiring journey (of more than a year), when the elder one returned home, and announced that he had returned after journeying around the world – he was slightly taken aback to see his younger brother (who had stayed home) being treated like a responsible adult, while his parents hadn’t yet paid attention to him. He queried angrily, “how is it that you treat the younger one wise and responsible, while all he did was stay with you all year round; while I roughed it out in the real world around for over a year, and you don’t yet acknowledge my wisdom?” The younger one responded, “elder brother, I just went around my parents in circumambulation because they are the world to me”. And with that one wise sentence became the Wise One.

Wishing you all a very happy Ganesh Festival. And cheers to a happy weekend……

*For previous articles on 16s and 18s, refer to Sixteen O Sixteen and Warriors in Red . Happy reading…

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