Friday, June 24, 2005

How I became a copywriter...

Posted by Hello Confused? Me? Never!

I had a troubled childhood. No, no, no, don’t you get any wrong ideas. My dad never beat up my mom, he never burnt my bum with hot iron rods, nor did I have a sister who had reasons to press charges on a number of issues. When I said I had a troubled childhood, I meant that I was a very confused child. My childhood spanned a very long time. The time from when I was born, to the time I was happily employed, that is now.

Many children when young want to be pilots, carpenters, truck drivers, dacoits and a whole lot of things which they never grow up to be. The first thing I ever wanted to be was my dad! I wanted to pull my son’s (my dad would be my son in return) ears for playing with earthworms, would like to scold my brother (something which my dad never did, and something I have always wanted to do) for crying too much while I watch ‘Jimmy and the magic torch,’ and a lot of such things only the elder is privileged to do. In our language we have a saying – ‘An elder can even shit in the stove.’ That is power for you ladies ‘n’ gentlemen.

My second ambition in life (speaking of which, I had plenty later on), was to become an oceanographer. I had to fight hard with my teachers while trying to explain to them what I wanted to be in the future. Simply because I did not know the term. “I want to go underwater and study about whales and giant octopuses,” I used to say. That’s weird for a fifth standard guy. (note the point that I was in the fifth standard, before I had my second ambition. I was never an ambitious man. I hated to even plan a few weeks ahead. This, also, wasn’t a properly framed plan; just that I wanted to say something when the teachers asked me; something to match my classmates saying stuff like, ‘doctor’, ‘engineer’, ‘scientist’ n all that.) I grew up, letting people around me take decisions for me and pave the way to my future. ‘Hey, I don’t have time for such trivia.’

It was after my tenth standard, while busy engaged in a game of cricket, that the big bad term ‘Future’ struck me. (I hate the word future except in the name of the movie – ‘Back to the future’ – one of my all time favourite movies, the trilogy) Hey, I had to do something. I asked Chandrakanth, who was fielding right next to me, the class topper, “What are you going to do?” “I am going to get into the same school and choose computer science option,” he replied. My future was decided for the time being.

I chose computers not just because Chandrakanth told me to, it was also because I hated biology. I never cared much for both the subjects, but I cared less for biology to such an extent that if I ever have a kid, I will send him to a school where they don’t teach him biology at all. I am ‘Biologiophobic’, probably because this was the first subject in which I came across a prominent character that would follow me till I left school – ‘Failure.’

Getting into the eleventh standard, or plus two section as it is popularly known, got a virus into every kid’s head, at least in our part of the country. They had two options in front of them, as distinct and as singular as ‘life n death’ or ‘devil n the deep blue sea’ – the tug o war was between ‘engineering and medicine. I got out of one of them by default, medicine, coz I had opted out of learning Biology. Now, I would by no means say that I was saved, nobody who has seen the engineering physics or math text ever would.

One year of coaching and a large amount of money was spent before I realized that I was not fit for engineering or rather(being egoistic), engineering was not fit for me. My dad though wouldn’t share the same realization. I had to make an excuse. My excuse came in form of one Ms. Elizabeth Varghese. She put in front of me an option, the door to freedom and luxury, in the form of a law degree, wherein I did not have to know much of mathematics, physics and all that. Cool, I wanted to be a lawyer. A good score in English, and a decent knowledge of things around me, got me in a prestigious law school in our state. Hey, where is the twist? Patience is a virtue. One month from then, I was sitting in a place that closely resembled an ashram, and studying computer science.

Speaking of computer science graduates, all they ever want to be is an MCA holder. I was no exception. No tension about future for three years. Two years into the course and I had a sudden change in plans; a cry from the Oracle which told me to join for a Business Administration program. Now what did I know about business, do not ask. Apart from tricking my friend into buying a post card worth 2 bucks for 50 bucks, I have never come close to what I can call – Business. With that experience to back me, I decided to be a business chap. (To tell you the truth, Java and VC++ were eating my brain as if they were competing against each other.)

You must be thinking that this guy is finally settled, decided what he has to do. Let me wish him all the best. Wait! Don’t you dare do anything of sort. I have just seen a couple of brochures and realized that during an MBA, I will have to encounter one of my childhood phobias – Math. No, not again. (This was one of the many occasions when I strongly abhorred the Indian educational system. A person is not allowed to learn what he likes; things are being imposed on him; it is time for a revolution; and then I woke up.)
What do I do now? I am stranded for sure. I have been one real client servicing guy convincing my dad about this n that n this n that. Now what?

Page 112, MAT brochure, Program in advertising…there lies my answer. No math, no physics, no science. Fun all the way. My future has taken a safe stance once again. It is to be noted that I had never seen an advertising agency(I might have seen it, but not realized it was one), leave alone the formation.

New college, new friends, new inspirations and new SENIORS; hence – ragging. ‘What do you want to get into, ’asked a senior. “I love writing,” said I without realizing that I had just made my career. My senior replied without even bothering to wait for my second sentence, “So you want to be a copywriter.”

That is what I am, guess that is what I will be for the rest of my life. Let us see, I might just bump into a sports journalist someday and …


Anonymous said...

Talking about ragging, you may want to have a look at

Dark Lord said...

Heh, you are not alone, confused fella. But again, nice write.

... said...

it was a comfort reading ths coz am still trying to break into advertising after having gone thru the whole `i dont know what to do with my life' process.
also, found solace in the engnrg-medicine dichotomy and others...