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  • Writer's pictureManish Nepal

Why do people romanticize their past?

Sometimes, I doubt the things that come out of famous people’s mouths, like Sundar Pichai.

I recently watched one of Pichai’s videos featured on YouTube Originals where he said things like:

  • “I grew up without much access to technology.”

  • “We didn’t get our first telephone till I was ten.”

  • “I didn’t have regular access to a computer...”

  • “Our television only had one channel.”

  • “My father spent the equivalent of a year’s salary on my plane ticket to the US…”

Like dude, you were not unique in going through those situations.

Don’t paint them like hardships. If anything, those are things you should be grateful for.

Those are things that applied to 99% of middle-class Indian kids who grew up in that era.

Pichai went to Jawahar Vidyalaya—a pretty good school by the standards of Indian education.

And his lack of access to tech wasn’t because he was underprivileged—but because the tech wasn’t as mainstream back then.

I figure my 7-year-old kid will grow up to complain that she didn’t get to ride the hyperloop.

And that costly plane ticket?

Again, not unique to him. Air travel was costlier for everyone back then.

My point is—successful people sometimes like to romanticize their pasts.

I don’t mean to undermine all the hard work that took them to the top of the world. But I’d also weigh their personal accounts of success with a dash of skepticism.

Not all stories of an Indian/immigrant making it big in the U.S. has to fit into the rags-to-riches story template.

When I made this exact post on LinkedIn, I got a lot of flak from people who disagreed with my opinion. Thankfully, I'm not the only one who finds this curious. Apparently, there is a lot of chatter (e.g., here, here, and here) online and an opinion piece on The NYT on the same subject on the same.

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