Mom, Dad, and Vaanya.

  • May 27, 2023

It is a cloudy day. The kind where jackets cook you up but not having one gives you chills. I am sitting in the baggage claim of Minneapolis airport waiting for mom, dad, and Vaanya (my liddle sister). Airports have a vibe to them. They make you happy yet depressed at the same time. Maybe because of the bittersweetness in the air – kids leaving for college, families moving for their new journey, or people travelling for new jobs.

But today, I am happy. I am not under the airport because my parents and sister are coming. I am sitting in an unoccupied helpdesk by international arrivals, facing the door they will walk out of. This is the only chair and table I found, and I did meet a couple old people asking me directions looking confused.

My parents are here to attend my graduation ceremony. Unless my professors decide I didn’t satisfy the thesis requirements, I will graduate summa cum laude. But it is not the degree I am excited about. It is what I learned. It is the confidence and clarity I gained on how to navigate the world.

Thinking back, I was privileged. I was showered with love, wisdom, and support. My mom, dad, and sister gave me the support to build my core being – physically, mentally, spiritually, and even socially.

In the next two weeks we travel around Minneapolis and Seattle. My sister – Vaanya, is visiting Minneapolis for the first time, and my mom after 15 years. My dad dropped me to college four years ago, and we are going to live in the same places we did back then! In this article, I want to express gratitude. I want to share how my family turned me into an adult and are the most important people of my life.

I get a graduation gift!

A day after they landed, we went to a car dealership. My parents were buying me a car for my job. Cars are the most important element of American freedom. Yet, Gen Zs are reluctant to get one. Not all, but a larger percentage. I am one of those who needs a car but doesn’t want one. If it were to me, I’d walk to work. The only problem is that interstates don’t have sidewalks. Also, everything is miles away including a park with a walkway.

So, my parents and I go to a dealership. We walk out of our hotel in downtown Minneapolis, call an Uber, and look around the dead city center until our car came – the stores shut, no office workers around, and overpriced parking lots. COVID sucked the soul out of these cities. The mayor is proposing free parking to get the life back. But man, this place is a mess. For city boys like me, it is a heartbreak.

Anyhow, I end up buying a car. It was stressful. Not a pleasant experience. Probably because I bought a car for the first time. Before going to buy the car, I read every article I could find. From NerdWallet to the official FTC guides. I wanted to be at ease. I wanted to be the smart man in the dealership. But I was reminded again that I could read every book in the world, however, the experience my mom and dad have is the real deal. They have saved me from doing stupid things so many times, and in the process taught me so much.

A while ago, I had a debate with my dad. I argued that I could basically run a company by reading books. But those debates could only happen over phone. Because every time I walk next to him, I realize that the ease at which he handles complex situation could only come with experience.

My dad has two personalities. His work and his home personality. I don’t see him work. I never worked with him. I only saw his home side, where he is chilling and scrolling through Facebook or something. So, I assumed that if I become successful, I will not have him in the board of my company. Cause I never saw him work. That all changed when I saw the other side of his personality.

A long time ago, I went to a work event of his. An event where he was inaugurating a corporate social responsibility (CSR) project. And that is when I saw the other side. He was at ease in front of hundreds of people. So much at ease that even if I read a thousand books, I couldn’t be so comfortable.

It is like the scene from ‘Good Will Hunting’ where Robert Williams tells Matt Damon about experience. Robert tells Matt (or Will Hunting) that he may have read all the books in the world, but he never experienced the words. He never felt it in real life. And that is exactly what my dad taught me. He probably has been telling me this for twenty-one years since I was born, but I realized it only recently.

My mom is the hedger. She is the one who protects us and is the most frugal person you could ever meet. She is going to be the Chief Financial Officer of my company. Every time I go shopping, she gets minor panic attacks. Because according to her, I overpay all the time. So, one time, I decided I will take her with me, and ask her to find me a deal. And man, she could get everything for a bargain.

But the coolest thing about her is – she knows how to make the most out of the least. She taught me that all it takes is good health, knowledge, and spirits to be happy. Not money, nor an expensive car. And learning this skill is not easy. I haven’t learned it yet. But she is a master.

In high school, I was really stressed. My head ran all the time. And like most cases of stress, the cause was out of my control. Out of the blue, she insisted that I should learn yoga and meditation. She technically forced me to. That was the best thing ever. Meditation made me at peace with reality. It made me have control over myself during toughest of the situation. She also made me take up hobbies that surprisingly catalyzed my productivity. She is a genius.

She also taught me how to learn. When I was a kid, she used to sit next to me and tutor me. And everything she taught about learning was true. I began following it during college. I never practiced problems in high school even though she insisted. But that was the most legendary thing in college. I never slept in high school. But the eight hours I got every day in college made me so much more productive.

The experience of buying a car also brought a new purpose. Now that my sister is growing old, I want to buy her a car when she reaches college. Every time I meet Vaanya, she becomes less dumb. I thought she couldn’t do math. But she could. In fact, she is turning out to be better in math than me.

And she is more fun. My mom and dad teach her what they taught me. But she got an older brother teaching her how to be cool. She is learning well.

Someday she will go to college. I don’t know where. But one thing I have promised myself is – when she is in college, I will spoil her. I’ll buy her a car and whatever it takes to make sure she turns out to be a competent academician capable of leading the world!

I may have a thousand LinkedIn connections. I may have hundreds of friends. But ultimately, the most important people are a handful. They are the people around whom the most important decisions circulate. And they are the people who bring us the strength to lead great changes and take on the next challenge. My parents and my sister are those people.