Shambhu was traveling back to IIT Bombay after attending a marriage. BEST buses are a convenient means for travel in Mumbai.
The marriage venue was close to a bus station and a bus stop was just outside the IIT Market gate. So he boarded a bus and quietly occupied a window seat.
People trickled in, some traveling to distant places, some to relatively nearby ones and it was not long before all the seats were occupied.
The driver had just occupied his seat, the bus conductor took charge and rang the bell twice, signaling the driver to leave. The driver oblidged and the bus began yet another journey towards its destination. The conductor prided himself on timeliness and
discipline and started collecting fares from the passengers seated on the front side.
Just then, a group of young boys boarded the bus from the rear side. It was summer and the tenth standard board exams were over a few days back.
Naturally, 'What to
do next?' was a popular topic of discussion among those who had appeared for the exams such as the boys who had just boarded the bus.
Shambhu was curiously observing them from his seat. "My father says that you should either become an engineer or a chartered accountant", said one.
"My parents are doctors, if I become a doctor I will inherit their professional legacy",
said another. "I would rather become an engineer", said the third, "My parents say that medical education is too costly these days".
"What do you want to become?" asked the boys
to the fourth. "I don't know", said the dreamy eyed boy, "Perhaps a poet, however, my parents do not appreciate the idea", said he, with a sigh.
"Parental pressure", muttered Shambhu to himself.
"Oh, he wants to become a Ratna in Emperor Akbar's court", ridiculed the others.
The conversation reminded him of his own days as a school going student. His family was full of
engineers; uncles, cousins -- everybody was an engineer.
He had always looked up to them as his heroes and had eventually taken up the engineering profession.
After working for a couple of years with a renowned multi-national company as a software engineer, he had realized that academics was his forte.
And now, here he was, nearing the end of his doctoral studies.
A slight noise brought his attention back to the boys in the bus.
"Let us get down quickly", said one, "Before the conductor notices, that will save us the fare".
"No, I would rather pay the fare", said the boy who wanted to become a poet. "Oh, you and your ways",
scolded the others, dragging him along with them as they got down hurriedly. "Peer pressure", observed Shambhu.
The bus stared its journey again as Shambhu peered outside the window. He noticed a boy running furiously towards another bus that was about to
leave. The boy was a few meters away from the bus when it departed from the stop.
The boy had to avoid the traffic and the people standing on the bus stop while running, and the bus was gathering momentum;
it seemed to be getting away from him. A sudden burst of energy enabled him to reduce the distance between himself and the bus and then
board it. "Grit and determination", mumbled Shambhu, "Wonder what he wants to become in life. Will he be able to do what he really wants?",
Shambhu was lost in these thoughts when the conductor brought him out of his stupor.
"Where do you want to go?", asked the conductor. "Thats the question each and every individual needs to ask himself/herself", said Shambhu. The conductor
gave him a puzzled look. "Presently, IIT Bombay", said Shambhu, and the conductor issued him an appropriate ticket.