Monday, May 20, 2013


Making a Career Choice
Story of a Smart Boy’s Dilemma

This happened more than 12 years ago, in the year 2001.

A bright young boy, who had just passed his 12th CBSE Board Examination, came to meet me at my home in Mumbai.

His father was an Officer in the Indian Navy.

The bright young boy wanted some career guidance advice.

He asked me a straightforward question:

“I have been selected as a Deck Cadet in a prestigious Shipping Company. I have also been selected for the National Defence Academy (NDA) as a Cadet for the Indian Navy. Which one should I join: Indian Navy or Merchant Navy?”

“Did you ask your father? What did he say?”

“My mother says that he is too biased. She said that I must take a neutral opinion. My father agreed too. That’s why they told me to ask you for advice.”

“Have you thought of other options – IIT, Medical, Engineering. Hotel Management …”

“No,” the boy interrupted, “I am not interested in all those things. I want to be a seafarer.”

I looked at the smart young boy. He looked tough, intelligent, neat, well-groomed and he certainly had the personality required of a Naval Officer.

“Okay,” I said, “how much time have you got to decide?”

“One week,” he said, “I have to confirm readiness to the Shipping Company within ten days. The Deck Cadet Training starts in 15 days time. Even for the NDA, I will have to report for the course next month.”

“You will have to find your own answer,” I said, “I will only help you.”

“How?” he asked.

“You must do two things,” I said.

“Two things?”

“Yes. This is what you must do. Go around and talk to people, meet the maximum number of persons you can, and find out the following information:

1. How many children of Indian Navy Officers have joined the Merchant Navy

2. How many children of Merchant Navy Officers have joined the Indian Navy

Meanwhile, I will also try to find out from my fellow officers. I know a lot of Merchant Navy officers too.”

We met after a week to tally the data we had collected.

1. The number of children of Indian Navy Officers who had joined the Merchant Navy was Twenty One (21)

2. The number of children of Merchant Navy Officers who had joined the Indian Navy was Zero (0)

“By the way, I talked to some Army Officers also,” I said, “and I met three army officers whose sons have joined the merchant navy, but, like I said, I did not find a single Merchant Navy Officer whose son or daughter has joined the Indian Army or Indian Navy or the Defence Services.”

“I found out one more interesting thing too,” the boy said.

“What’s that?” I asked.

“There are many Indian Navy Officers and Sailors who quit the Indian Navy to join the Merchant Navy, but I did not find a single person who quit the Merchant Navy to join the Indian Navy.”

“So, you have got your answer, haven’t you?” I asked the boy.

“Yes, Sir,” the smart young man said to me, with a decisive smile on his face. 

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2013
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work. 
© vikram karve., all rights reserved. 

All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
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Copyright © Vikram Karve 2013. All Rights Reserved


Ajay Sud said...

Matured advice from a matured & balanced person like you. I was in similar state after passing out from engineering college. My father took advice from a chief engineer of merchant navy who was in Indian Navy for fifteen years. I have some happy& some bitter memories of my career in navy.

Vikram Waman Karve said...

@ Ajay Sud
Thank You, Sir, for your nice words. Yes, we all have happy and bitter memories of the Navy and remember unforgettable incidents and unique characters too.