My college years Careers

Be yourself, no matter what: Niranjan Iyengar

Celebrity lyricist and talk show host Niranjan Iyengar on why it is okay to be an oddball

From a research aspirant to an avid writer of letters, writer Niranjan Iyengar has gone on to become India’s most sought after screenwriter, lyricist, talkshow host and author. He dons many roles — musician, author, to hosting his talk show, Look who’s talking with Niranjan Iyengar. A Jack of all trades and master of many, he is not just an explorer but a master of everything he has explored. Excerpts from an interview.

Lessons from school

There was a newly-started school called Adarsh High School in Dombivili, Mumbai, which was a quaint little town back then. My mom decided to let me join that school. According to her, her logic was that since the school was new, I would grow as the school grows. Initially, I was hesitant because I had friends from schools such as SSEI which was a big school with a playground. I would regret not studying there. It was only later that I realised how good my school was. The school was small with around seven classrooms. Every month we would be taken to a nearby playground for sports day. The teachers also invested in individuals and they nurtured all students. The teachers were multifaceted. For instance, the history teacher was also an avid music-lover. When we went out for trips, she would play antakshari with us. So School taught me to respect people no matter what. And that was ingrained into me deeply.

Higher education

My college education was chequered. After school, I felt I had learnt everything I could from Dombivilli. But for vacation, I would either be at my paternal parents’ place in Chennai or with my maternal parents at Parey, which was close to the glitz and glamour of Mumbai. I went to the Williamson College. I was initially uncomfortable but then got used to it and made many friends. Then, I felt Williamson wasn’t right for me, so I told my mother I didn’t want to continue and switched to Ruhiya, where I pursued science for two years, got tired of it and wanted to do something else. What I learnt at school stayed with me in the sense that it was ok to explore different things.

Education: India Vs. abroad

In India, we concentrate more on frills as opposed to providing core education whereas, the reverse is true, abroad. We have started a supply chain manufacturing education. We do not really look at the holistic growth of a student.

When I was in school, I was an odd ball. I had a habit of writing letters to everybody. I have written letters to Thai Airways, Queen Elizabeth and many others too. I loved writing letters. And during those times, if you didn’t put a stamp on the letters, the person receiving a letter was asked to pay the postage and get the letter. And almost 90 of the 100 letters I would write would be accepted. Some of my relatives would sometimes ask my mother as to why I did so. Mom would tell them not to pay the postage. But she never asked me to stop writing, and relatives paid R10-12 to get the letter. It all eventually helped me in my writing career. As long as it is not detrimental, we should let kids explore life themselves.

Message to the youth

Eeverybody’s journey is unique. Be yourself, no matter how easy, torturous or long it is.

The writer is CEO, I Love Mondays. me@malamarymartina.com

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Printable version | May 24, 2020 9:31:01 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/education/careers/be-yourself-no-matter-what/article18712701.ece

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