by Sunil Bali, 14-09-14

Last week was like New Year for kids. With schoolchildren promising their teachers that they will work harder, be well behaved and achieve better results.

Being the son of first generation migrants from India, I had another cross to bear when I was growing up: to conform, always respect my elders and do as I was told, even though my elders included:

  • An uncle who spent most of his time looking for his other brain cell,
  • an uncle who was depriving a village of an idiot,
  • and an aunt who had delusions of adequacy.

I remember coming home from school when I was eleven years of age and proudly announcing to my mother that I was going to be an actor when I grow up. "Just remember that actor is spelled d-o-c-t-o-r," she replied.

You see, although my father wore the trousers in our house it was my mother who told him which ones to wear. It was very much a case of she who must be obeyed.

When my father was dying he said to me, "Son, for once don’t listen to your mother. Do what you want to do, do what makes you happy, but promise me one thing: that you’ll do it 110%."

And that’s exactly what I did. My father’s words gave me permission to take off my psychological handbrake and shed the cloak of conformity that had masked my true identity for so many years. Happiness and a successful career quickly ensued.

Hence my advice to my kids as they start their new school year:

  • always be who you are and do what you think is right. Sure some people will criticize you, but their words won’t damage you as much as the damage you do by imprisoning your soul.
  • Its better to walk with a few good friends, than to walk with a crowd going in the wrong direction.
  • Never, ever, ever ration your passion and join the living dead. You were born to thrive and bring others alive.

Did they listen to me? I’m not sure, but both of them left for school with a big smile on their face and a spring in their step.


Steve decided to go skiing with his buddy, Mike. So they loaded up Mike’s car and headed north.

"I realize it’s terrible weather out there, and I have this huge house all to myself, but I’m recently widowed," the lady explained. "I’m afraid the neighbors will talk if I let you stay in my house."

"Don’t worry," Mike said. "We’ll be happy to sleep in the barn. And if the weather improves, we’ll be gone at first light." The lady agreed, and the two men found their way to the barn and settled in for the night.

Come morning, the weather had cleared, and they got on their way.

They enjoyed a great weekend of skiing.

About a year later, Mike got an unexpected letter from a lawyer. It took him a few minutes to figure it out, but he finally worked out that it was from the lawyer of the attractive widow he had met on the ski weekend.

He went to see Mike and asked him, "Mike, do you remember that very good looking widow from the farm we stayed at on our ski holiday about a year ago?"

"Yes, I do," said Mike, smiling broadly.

"Did you, er, happen to get up in the middle of the night, go up to the house and pay her a visit?"

"Well, er, yes! I have to admit that I did," Mike replied a little sheepishly.

"And, did you happen to give her my name instead of telling her your name?"

Mike’s face turned red with embarrassment as he said, "Yeah, look, I’m really sorry, Steve. I’m afraid I did ….. but why do you ask?"

"She just died and left me everything."