The title of this post refers to a statement from the book and the talk, “The Last Lecture“, by Randy Pausch, a Computer Science professor at CMU, who had pancreatic cancer, to which he succumbed in July 2008. In his book, Randy talks about how you have don’t have any control over who your parents are, and how they influence your life the most in your formative years, which in turn determines to a large extent, the shape your life takes.

Recently I read three books on stories of women oppression- “A Thousand Splendid Suns“, “Not Without My Daughter” and “Princess: A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia“, based in Afghanistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia respectively. All three are excellent books, and I highly recommend reading them all; especially the first one. I shudder to think what would have become of me if I were to have been born in a family/country that had no concept of women’s rights whatsoever.

I feel *so* lucky to have been born and brought up in India, by excellent, very well educated parents who have been most supportive and encouraging of all my ambitions, my goals and my interests in life. I very much consider myself to have won the parent lottery, hands down.


  1. HS

    Hi Pradnya

    I haven’t read any of these books (yet) – but the movie by Nagesh Kuknoor “Dor” made me feel the same way. So lucky to be born to educated, supportve parents even if we haven’t agreed on everything over the years.


    PS: I saw the last lecture on you tube and loved it, especially the part about brick walls.

  2. Pradnya

    Very true. It’s not as if I agree with my parents on everything. In fact we argue a lot. But the fact is that they have molded me quite well in my early years, gave me a lot of exposure to a variety of things in my formative years, and supported me in almost all of my decisions in my adult life, whether they agreed with it or not.

  3. Niklaus Wirth

    I’ve read Princess and I was shocked to see the arab’s treatment. Every non-arab women should celebrate every day for not having been born in that ridiculous country.

  4. n/a

    I am surprised to see this written, at least by some of you, based on the background you say you have.

    That is like someone saying, “I read (or saw) Slumdog Millionaire. I am glad I don’t live in India.” Or, “I am so glad I was born in the USA, raised by educated, supportive parents and not in a country like India that has female infanticide, dowry deaths, and where widows have the choices of joining her husband on his funeral pyre, marrying his younger brother (if available) or go into an Ashram (refuge) with other widows and live a life of self-denial to atone for the sin of having lost her husband.”

    Reading those books, and watching the news, allowing yourself to stereotype a country and its people means you have joined the mainstream or you live in a bubble.

    Which goes to show, that having parents who are “uneducated” is not a bad thing, yet another stereotype. It might not have been the fault of the parents that they did not get an education. but they could have tried their hardest to support and do the best for their kids.

    Of the three books you mentioned, A Thousand Splendid Suns gave the story of a girl whose parents were supportive of her to get an education, but because of war, her life went on another path. Within the same country and culture, two girls with different upbringings were shown. This can be the case in any country, rich or poor, educated or uneducated.

    As for the other two books, I have read there is controversy over the actual facts of those stories.
    You can see for yourself in wikipedia:
    Under: Controversy and criticism
    Also, the man was not mentally stable.. and mental instability can be the case for any man, any country, any social level.

    The Princess story.. if you look for yourself, there are reports that the story is not true, and any parts that are based on something true, were greatly exaggerated so that the book would make a profit.

    No place is perfect, I don’t think I have the right to judge.. this is your opinion. I think it would help if we investigated into things further and not stereotype people and believe everything we read. And if we do read about something that is true, can we judge an entire people based on those events.

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