I would probably have been a great Indian tycoon OR a top bureaucrat or a famous...somebody...but for one small problem. ("Oh! Really!" you say? What business do you have mouthing off here? Whose blog is it anyway?) The issue was that I never really knew which lesson to adopt and which to ignore. You know what, the worst problem is in not ignoring some of the lessons that you learn.
Among those various lessons that I learnt - and mistakenly adhered to - was this one about always telling the truth. Parents, teachers, everyone conspired to drill that into my head, so how was I to know that it was wrong to adhere to it? Though, it must be said, that the school did try to hint that the truth was not always a welcome thing. You know those things - they ask you "What would you do if you were the Prime Minister?" and get very angry if you reply honestly, "I will eat all the chocolates and ice-creams I want, without my mom and dad interfering with me." Apparently, you are supposed to write something like, "I will eradicate poverty, ensure every child gets an education...." when you are not even sure whether YOU really want an education yourself.
The first real inkling I got about the fact that not knowing to lie was detrimental to a good future was when I attended interviews to get a seat in Engineering. "Why do you want to join Computer Sciences?" was the major killer. Apparently, an answer on the lines of "Because it seems to be the best bet to get a high salary, go gallivanting round the world and get the hot babes interested in you" was not acceptable even if it WAS the gospel truth. You had to find an answer that indicated to them that God, when he was making you, filled you with a divine passion for coding that will not allow you to rest unless you were in front of a digital monster, typing in things like 'If x=y then a x b else b x a'. Needless to say, I failed miserably in convincing the interview panel that my only idea of Nirvana was to learn COBOL. (WHAT? Java? THAT only meant coffee in those days, provided you knew American.)
Then came the job interviews. By then, of course, I HAD learned that there would be this question about why I wanted to join their organisation and the ONLY acceptable answer was that my dreams of Heaven were all about working in THAT organisation and I woke up salivating at the thought. What I had not anticipated was this question, "Tell us why we should select you?" The only honest answer that I could think of was "THAT, I thought, was YOUR job. If I have to tell you that, what the hell are YOU doing on the interview panel?" This, it seems, was not the answer that they wanted. The idea, supposedly, was to tell them all the ways in which you would make the organization proud. Why o why do people ALWAYS want you to lie?
Having somehow landed a job, I thought that my lying days were over. Not so, as the very first time I applied for leave taught me. Apparently, the fact that you are allowed a certain number of days of leave did not mean that you could simply say that you would not come to office the next day. You had to give a leave application complete with a reason why you want it. The only honest reason I normally had was "I am tired of my boss' face and a need a break from it." This was not something you could put down there - not if you wanted to get the leave granted since it WAS your boss who had to approve it. Not to mention the fact that he may express HIS tiredness for YOUR face with such effect that you may need to find a new boss in a new organization to be tired of. So, more lies!
The way the world is built, when a soul reaches the pearly gates after death and is asked, "Why do you want to go to Heaven?" and answers, "I have always wanted to be in Heaven after I die", it may be the very first honest answer that it ever gave in an interview!