My initial posts I am dedicating to topics that I believe define me as a person and/or have in someway greatly influenced my life. Even as I sit to write this, I am not entirely sure I know how or where to begin.
For the most part, I had a happy childhood. My upbringing was in a loving, hard-working, middle-class home. I do not remember ever wanting for much, but I was easily pleased. I was content with the small plastic toys I found at the bottom of cereal boxes, and pretty much played outside most afternoons with neighborhood kids. In middle school, I started collecting sports cards, discovering music, and became interested in video game consoles. My dad was (is?) an architect and my mother a customer service representative at a nearby bank. My siblings and I were fortunate enough to never go hungry, could always afford the school supplies we needed, and were blessed to have something to unwrap on birthdays and Christmas morning.
However, we were far from spoiled. For years, my mom did this thing where she would let us unwrap all the presents but only actually open up and play with one or two. The rest we were allowed to access throughout the year. I grew up thinking that was normal. It’s not. That frugality though, did (in some cruel way) teach me a lot about delayed gratification.
Come to think of it, I cannot recall any extravagances from my youth. Literally, ALL of our family vacations were to visit other family members – which was a short list of relatives and places. As a result of that, I do not have any experience camping, or skiing, or boating, or…doing a lot of stuff. I don’t mean to complain. I feel blessed for what I had and give thanks to my parents for all I was fortunate enough to have received. But the truth is, certain experiences I was bereft of, I am unfortunately starting to realize I am reluctant to offer to my own children.
A couple more memories that come to mind…I was ‘teased’ for brief periods of my life; in middle-school the popularity of the Aladdin movie made me an easy target (even though I wasn’t Middle Eastern?); and of course there was my ‘favorite’ Simpsons stereo-typical Indian ‘Apu’ character which, although I bore no physical resemblance to, did not stop some kids from wanting me to do the accent for. Elementary school was a bit worse as they took a foreign and unusual name like ‘Sulabh’ (phonetically ‘Sue-lub’) and ignorantly pronounced it ‘Slob’. The emotional trauma and scars from that likely led me to give my boys easier names to pronounce (i.e. ‘Ishaan’ and ‘Krish’).
I remember in middle school the pressure to start smoking cigarettes started to emerge, as kids I was friends with started to form the habit. I was never tempted however, not because all the public media campaigns said not to, but rather that my parents never touched the stuff and because of that, smoking never appealed to me. It was a divisive thing however, I fell out of touch with those friends and started to find less…precarious (?) kids to associate with. To this day, I have never smoked a cigarette. Alcohol, totally different story (probably enough content there to merit another blog post of its own).
High school got a bit easier for me, if you can imagine that? Some might say, it was a ‘whole new world’…pun intended. But yeah, maybe because it was a fresh start; new faces, bigger stage and a bit easier to keep with the crowd you like, and distance yourself from the ones you don’t. Fresh off all the name calling from elementary and middle school, I briefly tried to adopt the nickname ‘Sal’ in high-school but after realizing I very easily could be confused with someone of Hispanic origin, I ultimately decided to try and make ‘Sulabh’ work.
For the most part, I kept my head down. I spoke in a previous post (Introvert) about not wanting any attention; and for the most part, I accomplished that through high school. I did have one memorable encounter where the kid next to me in chemistry class somehow took notice of the fact that my Payless bought shoes were actually (and ironically?) branded ‘Nucleus’ and he would go on and announce it to the whole class by randomly yelling out the word and then pointing directly to my shoes. Like I said, no extravagances….sigh.
College brought on a whole lot of new experiences for me. I will save that era for another post, probably something like Nascence Part II. I hope you enjoyed the post. Hopefully someone out there can relate to some of the experiences I had growing up. Always feel free to share! Thanks, see you soon!