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Daddy’s Diaries


I start from the end.

When I first opened it, I was reminded immediately that my father no longer lived. It is an extremely private world, the pages of a diary. And having entered his, I was taken straight to the core.

“The ideal man of Vedanta…” he wrote in calligraphy, “will accept pain as readily as pleasure; hatred, wrong, insult and injustice as composedly as love, humour, and kindness—death, as courageously as life. For in all things he will see the mighty will which governs the Universe.”

He had never uttered those words to us as children, or even as adults, but those were the words he lived.

As parents, we are inclined to perfection. We want our children to go to the best schools, to achieve success in their careers, to marry the love of their lives, and to do good in the world. To achieve this perfection, we often micromanage their lives, dictating their choices to make sure they avoid failure at all cost.

But failure, I have learned, is as necessary as success. We cannot be humble if we do not fail. We cannot understand gratitude if we do not fail. We cannot appreciate the pain of others if we do not fail. For all those reasons and many more, if we have not failed, we have not succeeded.

My father, a man of great personal and professional achievement, was a proponent of that failure—in every drawback he saw a hidden blessing.

I once got a terrible grade in an economics final, and called him on the verge of tears. He replied calmly, “Of course you didn’t do well in economics. That’s why you’re a writer.”

When I struggled to land my first job amidst a group of investment banker friends who were given offers before graduating, he would say, “When you do get it, it may not be the perfect job, and it surely won’t last forever; but it will be the job you’re meant to get, at that time, for that reason, to learn something you don’t yet understand.”

When I finally did, it was a job in a tiny town in the middle of the Poconos mountains. But it was an experience that changed my life. The value of what I learned then exceeded anything I had learned before, or have learned since.

So while we try our best to do our best for our children, we must remember to give them the freedom to live out their own destiny, and to fail on their own terms. Your children will not thank you for a perfect life, in a perfect house, with the perfect material belongings, be they iPods or fancy cars.

They will remember what you said, what you taught, but most of all, how you lived.

If someone insulted my father, he would remain silent. If he witnessed injustice, he would battle it with composure, not anger. If he felt outer physical pain, he would call on inner strength.

So I draw a circle and bring you back to the quote he scribbled down in what was perhaps a moment of reflection.

Although we must always make a good, sincere, and strong effort to be good, sincere, and strong parents—we have to leave some things to the unknown—be it God, be it the Universe, be it fate.

If we want our children to live fully, and to learn well, we have to teach ourselves to set them free.

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18 Responses to Daddy’s Diaries

  1. alisha November 10, 2010 at 1:04 am #

    Very well said and lived. Its difficult to live the way he did but one has to learn and must learn to let out children b children. Also saying that u believe in God but not leaving it all to HIM and not trusting and having faith in HIM is ACTUALLY not believing in GOD.
    We as parents have to leave our fears and doubts aside and b friends with our kids and understand them and accept them as they r. GOD has made them, y change them then?

  2. Hershey November 10, 2010 at 3:43 pm #

    Beautiful quote…
    Failure is indeed an essential part of success. It is how we bounce back from those failures that dictate how we proceed.
    Loved this article :)

    • Minal Patel November 10, 2010 at 8:39 pm #

      As profound a comment as can be expected from him…beautifully interpreted too. After all to err is human to learn from them is to grow. It was a privelage to have known him.

  3. Shivani November 10, 2010 at 11:34 pm #

    Lovely article! There is so much we all learnt and still need to learn from him. Miss him.

  4. Cynthia November 11, 2010 at 9:55 am #

    So many truths in this short article…Thank you

  5. Janell November 12, 2010 at 3:05 pm #

    Wow.. “If we have not failed, we have not succeeded” Powerful article!!!!

  6. Rajesh Patel November 17, 2010 at 6:44 am #

    I will be back for next months update!

    Can’t wait

  7. Vinay Gandhi November 18, 2010 at 12:34 am #

    Truly speaking, I learnt a lot from him, although I know him for last few years despite being in this country for last three decades. With your this feature, we will keep learning more and more…get all the inspiration… thanks for that.. miss him….

  8. Keyoor Gandhi November 18, 2010 at 5:04 am #

    Lovely Article truly reflects your dad. One of a kind. Am glad and honoured to have spend so much time with him, a Noble Soul indeed!

    Looking Forward for next chapter!

  9. mansi November 18, 2010 at 9:05 am #

    so well put uttu. I will look forward to your next issue. pls keep sending them to me. We do hope to be a great parent too.. just like your dad.

  10. Pritu November 18, 2010 at 9:52 am #

    This article is so true and inspirational, this is what he was and I am so lucky to have spent some quality time with him. I look forward to receiving the next one. So proud of you Uttama.

    • Mavis Athanasius.S November 18, 2010 at 1:04 pm #

      Uttama Patel’s Daddy’s Diaries has brought forth poignant memories of a great soul. Reading this article is a boost to every right thinking person to reflect. It is very inspiring. Every parent should think, act and live with a conscience of “How they want them to be remembered by their children”

      Guidance, suggestions for a good, successful life to our children should come without imposing our opinion, giving them freedom. Yes every failure is a stepping stone to success. Life’s value and worth will not have meaning if it is without pain, suffering and hard work. We should let the children know that obstacles are those frightful things they see when they take their eyes off their goal. Life will be more meaningful if we are wise enough to accept and follow what William has said. (Even if financially sufficient beyond measure)

      “To live content with small means, to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion, to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not rich, to study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly, to listen to stars and birds, to babes and sages, with open heart, to bear all cheerfully, do all bravely, await occasions, hurry never, in a word to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common, this is to be my symphony” – William Henry Channing

      There is great similarity in Uttama Patel father’s life and what is mentioned above.

      Mavis Athanasius

  11. Amoli Joshi November 20, 2010 at 10:06 pm #

    I loved your article. His take on failure is so true. I just wish he was still around because I can imagine him saying this to us. He will live in our hearts forever.

  12. Sajan Shah November 26, 2010 at 11:08 pm #

    Very good article. As a student, I can empathize with not doing well and needing that pickup that your father provided to you. This article was very moving and inspirational. I knew your dad for a short period of time and benefited from being around him. All the best to you

  13. Tiffany December 1, 2010 at 8:51 am #

    So very beautiful, Uttama! And so wise. I regret I never met your father, but from this article, it seems that you live in his image and his philosophies. So very glad I got to experience that first job with you there in the Poconos. It definitely changed my life, too. xoxo

  14. Preetam March 12, 2011 at 10:03 pm #

    Thought provoking and poignant is how I describe this article. Brilliantly written. Its an honour to read your articles Uttama and glad that I came face to face with this site through a friend of mine who has also contributed an article titled “Look Mom strangers”. I can’t get my mind off this site & long to read similar powerful articles. Coming back to your article, most of us as parents stifle the budding charaters of our kids by thrusting on them our unaccomplished desires. We fail to realise that they are separate individuals who are a work in progress that will ultimately blossom into adults governed by their instincts and unique experiences. All we have to do is be at their disposal when they need us and encourage them to walk their chosen paths with confidence.

  15. jharna gupta July 6, 2011 at 9:57 am #

    i really enjoyed this article and all the other quotes. Am really proud that 2nd generation of asian kids are thinking deeper than the social pressures they have been put through. I worked for many years with abused second generation and was aware of the pressures on them but in some way the diffculties also made them see life different so there is no right or perfect way to parent.
    I am a parent of a 7 year old, who is born in Uk, spent 4 years in Spain and now in Argentina. Its sounds glamorous but hasnt been easy for him, adapting to a differnt country, culture, language and lately from being excluded (being the only foreign child in the class) to becoming their hero. Infact this new found popularity is giving him the hardest time he has had so far. To live up to it, he is needing to give up on some things he wants to stand for but in some ways he is also able to speak his mind more. Both sides of the coin is not an easy experience but it indeed teaches you a lot. I just observe and share when i can and he is open to talking. Advicing, would mean i will convey my biases and would just stop him trusting me or himself. However as a parent its never easy to sit back and allow pain coming towards your own child, he is just 7 and in a crisis (like pre-teens)- going from babyhood into boyhood!
    Finding a school was easy when i heard the “Waldorf Steiner” school system prepares people for failture, not success. i knew this is the right choice and it has built a lot of resilience and positive thinking in him, just like your father put in his life and written so beautifully in your article.Everyone can deal with success, it doesnt need to be taught as the only aim in life, as faiture and rising from its pain gives you everything you really need to sustain a meaningful life.
    It is a pleasure to have read your article Uttama, you are lucky to have been raised with such a wonderful approach to life.

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