Are you 19?

Dropping out of my master’s course at the University one day, I started my work-life at the age of 19. Today I am 55. From where I am, as I look back at the intervening 36 years, the one thing that jumps out at me is change. Everything around has changed almost beyond recognition. The world has changed, economies have changed, frontiers of humanities, science and technology have changed and social mores have evolved at a progressively accelerated pace. From what I am able to discern is this: the future that you will live in, change will be your constant companion. The speed of that change will only accelerate. Given that reality, I believe that today you are in the same situation as I was when I was 19. Like me, you have no clue where you would be when you are my age. In that context, I have mixed advice for you: you must plan for the future but at the same time, not really plan too much ahead. Let me deal with the second part first.

For that, first you must come with me someplace.


Once I went to see the source of the river Kaveri. I thought it would be a spectacular sight. It turned out to be very different. I stood there, looking at just a glorified well. The river bore no visual promise of her downstream depth, her ethereal beauty, the benefits and the bounties she gave away and certainly, at the source, she bore no resemblance to what she looks like at her confluence.

Your life today is like what a river looks like at the source. So, flow on.

Collect the rainwater washed over land, sometimes in trickles. Receive the droplets from clouds above and collect them even as they may come as mere droplets. Welcome the tributaries that come from nowhere, their own source and journey unknown to you. Budget for the occasional hard fall; roar at the hard rock below; create your workaround when a mountain suddenly stands in your path. Along the way, like the river, bring great benefits to life. Do so with joy and abandon, limit your fury and know that all journeys must finally merge with the vastness of the ocean. So, do not over process the question, “What will I be? What will I be?” The river has control only over the next step and knows it must end where it finds the ocean. Trust life.

Kaveri at mainstream

Kaveri at Shivasamudram

Kaveri at Sangam








Now let us talk about the first part of our conversation and that is about planning ahead! What should you then plan for? You must plan for tomorrow and more importantly, execute on it flawlessly but do not get fixated on the day after and the day next. Choose your tomorrow’s goals in settling for what you want to study, what job you may want to pick up. Go with what seems like a reasonable, logical and at the same time, intuitive choice. If your circumstances allow you to make choices, count your blessings and return that favour to life.

But some of you will simply not have a choice.

You would be required to accept what may come your way.

You wanted to study computer science but ended up with commerce?

You wanted to study in a big city but have to stay on in your small hometown?

You wanted to go overseas and take up research but now must stay back; take up a not-so-glamorous job to look after an ailing parent?

Whatever it may be, think of it this way: Kaveri did not have a choice where to start. Not in the Swiss Alps, not in the Himalayas, she was simply asked to spurt in the Nilgiris. She accepted that fact and from that point on, she took one, then two and then the third decisive step. She simply flowed on. As you think of her, do pause to listen to the many tall trees growing by her banks.

They are whispering to you, “Grow. Grow where you are planted.”

Dipesh Says
Friday December 7th 2012

Very nice analogy… and full of lessons for youngsters. Inspiring and motivating.

Srini N Says
Friday December 7th 2012

Thank you Subroto, for this insights. It certainly cleared some of the cron jobs that were running in my brain :).

Nitesh Says
Saturday December 8th 2012

Very well written Subroto. Take life as it unfolds. No stress. No worries.

Arjun Says
Sunday December 9th 2012

Really intriguing and indeed inspiring. We often do fail to realise that our apparent failures should not impede us from striving ahead and that in doing so, we will definitely reach a greater goal. Hurdles are along but listening to our compelling inner voice is the thing we do not do.

Anuj Pramanick Says
Monday December 10th 2012

Very inspiring and very relevant in the race of our life.

Shubha Says
Monday December 10th 2012

This is not only for those who are at 19, but for all who are in the confused state of mind. I am also one among them. Thank you sir.

Asti Says
Monday December 10th 2012

A refreshing read like the waters of mainstream Kaveri…

Would just want to add, as the life flows and we embrace change it is worth reminding ourselves that its this journey that will bring us a treasure of fulfilling experiences. So regardless of the juncture we are at, we must enjoy the continuity, relish the flow of thoughts, choices, voids and whisps, because we never know how tiring it might get to be at destination and what would possibly be our choice then – to cheer for a great landscape or to sleep in profound peace.

Embracing the natural flow of life, while watching the trees grow on well watered land alongside, million lives breathing underneath a lively stream and a brand new sky of limitless possibilities unfolding upon a stepping life everyday – its’ a journey of life worth taking pride in, so what if it glooms someday and shines on the other.

Radhika Says
Tuesday December 11th 2012

Brilliant sir… Nature is the best example to live a content life with the aspiration to grow tall and flow like her.

Preetham Bharadwaj Says
Wednesday December 12th 2012

Dear Bagchi Sir,

Thank you for valuable insight,

Admire for your thoughts and way of approach to life lessons with lasting examples!

Profoundly inspiring and thought provoking about life principles. Very well written.

Former Mind Says
Wednesday December 12th 2012

No. I’m not 19. I was 23 this february and on my first job with MindTree, raring to go. After 4 months training, me and many of my friends were dumped from the company, citing “performance” reasons.
4 months later, I’m all set to re-start my career, while those you retained are stuck warming the benches.
The basic premise on which you let us go was flawed, as how can you decide who is fit and who is unfit in four months time. Those retained by the company, can they remember all that was taught to them during training?? It is unfortunate that MindTree is growing horns as it is trasition from a mid level firm to a large size firm. May your clients dump you the way you dumped us!

Rakesh Malllick Says
Sunday December 16th 2012

Mr. Bagchi how can we accept someone as a leader who stays on the post of external director of a bank that was exposed by Arvind Kejriwal and was fined 10000cr rupees by US govt.

Ashwin Says
Friday December 21st 2012

Thank you for another one of your great lessons bagchi sir! I read your blogs and it seems like all of them are meant for me! Every one of them guiding me through my current impending problem. Thank you again. :)

kanimozhi Says
Saturday December 22nd 2012

nice one sir.. thank u very much for giving advice in diff way…..

Tuesday December 25th 2012

This is the most beautiful post I have read in a long time. Thank you

monaj kumar Says
Wednesday December 26th 2012

Sir this analogy is a lifetime lesson. Nature as mother and teacher always helps us to grow. Your deliberation is excellent indeed. Thanks for your expression- sharing.

Friday December 28th 2012

Again expected work presented in a nice way.

kasturi Says
Wednesday January 2nd 2013

inspiring sir…..first time found with completely different way to motivation…well written

Thursday January 31st 2013

Highly inspiring words. Frankly speaking, I came to know about your ‘existence’ only a fortnight ago when I stumbled upon your 2006 “Go Kiss the World” speech in my daughter’s BA English course book, though your company’s name had a faint registration in my brain. I strongly agree with your stress on adherence to moral values to create a better world.

Abhijith Says
Thursday January 31st 2013

Wonderful article. It was inspiring and helpful for me at this point in my life.

Sunday February 3rd 2013

Brillaint!!,, like a river that flows,, endless we think,, with no beginning and no end,, from where it sourced,, and to where it ended,,we shall never know,, for its source is what we see as a source,, but it may be elsewhere unknown,, and when it ends in to an ocean,, it has only transformed and lost its identity,,though it lives on merged in to the greater whole!!,,so Live On,,, forever,, Doing Good,, no matter the hurdles ,, and the blasphemy,, you face!!,,for these are only the temporary pollutes which a river self cleanses along the way,,!!

Nidhi Anarkat Says
Wednesday February 6th 2013

What a beautiful post! “Grow, grow where you are planted” is what speaks to my soul directly and addresses the very question I am struggling with. Only, I am not 19 – I am 22 :( :) 😀

resmy Says
Tuesday March 19th 2013

This gives me an inspiration to live the life with the way it comes. No worries. Enjoy every bit of bit.

Vidya Bhopi Says
Saturday July 20th 2013

Inspiring! Well written.

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