Dealing with your college-going children is not only a challenge but also an art. One weekend, I was sitting in my lobby, reading a newspaper, when my elder son, Rahul, entered the house after a haircut. I asked him causally how much he had paid for it. "Just `500," he replied, coolly. I was shocked, but to keep the tranquility of the house on weekend, did not let it show. However, I was left wondering if our family hair dresser, who charges only `50, was not good anymore after serving us for three generations.
My friends ask self similar question. The son of a colleague purchased a pair of bathroom slippers for "just `1,200", and his logic for making the expensive purchase was that now he wore a brand. The son of another friend was home for college vacations, and one morning before going to office, my friend asked him to call up the plumber to fix a leaking tap in the kitchen. At dinner, he got annoyed with the boy when he came to know he had not done the only work assigned to him in the day.
Like a typical young man, the lad found a plumber on Justdial at 9.30pm and called him over. For replacing a small damaged rubber washer, the man charged my friend `600. The job was done but my friend was left fuming.
Children give us pleasant surprises, too. One of my friends took a loan of `14 lakh for the MBA education of his son at the Indian Institute of Management, Lucknow. The family went to his graduating ceremony. The night before, the boy wanted a family dinner at Hotel Taj. It was an expensive proposition; but on his insisting, the family agreed. At the hotel, the boy asked his father if he'd like a buffet or a La Carte. My friend, unfamiliar with the high-end dinner options, said: "Anything not expensive." He was telling self that it is for the last time, probably, that he'd have to pay, and the bill, hopefully, should not exceed `5,000.
After the dinner, when the father took out his credit card for payment, the son revealed that he had won some gift vouchers in a competition, which he'd redeem against the dinner. My friend thought to himself if his son had told him earlier, at least he could have enjoyed his dinner without worrying about the bill. Did our parents also feel the same way?
The writer is a professor at Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University, Ludhiana