Given that I have been writing about remembering my growing up in Bandra in the sixties and the seventies, how do I reconcile memories with dreams, which is the prompt for this final post for the Write Tribe Festival of Words -2?
Actually, its not too difficult, as we all had dreams or aspirations growing up. But this post is not about my dreams that I had growing up and how many of those have been realised.
Instead, I shall focus on what shaped the aspirations of my generation, particularly of those growing up in Bandra in the sixties and seventies. Naturally, its not just local factors that influenced our dreams or aspirations. The times we lived in, namely the sixties and seventies, also had molded our dreams.
To begin with, we hardly experienced much peer pressure when it came to studies. What was important was that you got promoted to the next class and that was not a given; every year some of your classmates ‘ducked’, which was a colloquial expression for failing to make the grade, thereby losing a year.
The only time you felt the pressure was when you had to appear for the secondary school certificate examination. But even at this exam, if you secured a First Class or more than sixty percent on the aggregate, you were assured of admission to a college of your choice in the faculty you wanted.
However, given the economic circumstance of those times, many felt that college was unaffordable, not because the fees were high but because you would not earn during the four years of college.
Of course, a few institution offered evening or morning classes for working students, but many who did attend did so with the limited objective of graduating and getting a promotion at work.
Under these circumstances, the great aspiration was to get a job in a ‘good’ company. And a multinational was the first choice with Indian companies like those in the Tata Group being the next best.
To fulfill these dreams or aspirations, many of the girls in our generation living in Bandra opted for a secretarial course where taking dictation in shorthand and typing were basic skills imparted. And for those who opted for secretarial work, the dream was to be appointed as the secretary to the managing director or some other senior executive.
Or many of the boys joined a technical courses, that prepared them for a shop floor job. In the seventies, with the inflow of the petro-dollars, the economies in the middle east or ‘the Gulf’ as it is popularly known started booming resulting in the creation of employment opportunities for the Bandra boys.
In fact to enhance their prospects of being employed in the Gulf, I remember boys learning multiple skills like like welding, fitting, turning or lath operating and even truck driving. In fact, working in the Gulf was the ultimate status symbol for many and a huge positive in the marriage market.
Of course, some of my contemporaries did attend college, even going on to do post graduate courses, but again there was a pressure was to become employable at the earliest. And this influenced your choice of course at college with most boys preferring to secure commerce or science degree as opposed to liberal arts, as the employment prospects were better. Of course, doing professional course like medicine or law or accountancy made one into an outlier in Bandra.
To sum up, in those days, with money in short supply all your dreams were about fulfilling Maslow’s first three needs, namely food, clothing and shelter. In fact, in the 1971 Indian General Election, Indira Gandhi won an overwhelming mandate with the slogan ‘Roti, Kapda aur Makan’.