Indian Parents Asking, “Beta, Dus Saal Mein Kya Karoge?” is the OG #10YearChallenge


Indian Parents Asking, “Beta, Dus Saal Mein Kya Karoge?” is the OG #10YearChallenge

Illustration: Shruti Yatam

The #10YearChallenge has taken over our lives, via our Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram feeds. Though it feels a bit spammy, it’s a much-needed break from Taimur memes and videos of boys crying to “Tadap Tadap Ke” on TikTok.

The challenge demands that you post a picture from 2009 along with a contrasting image from 2019. But more than two weeks of being bombarded with badly made collages, I still fail to understand its purpose. Why would anybody care to flaunt that spare tyre or the double chin they’ve developed in the past 10 years? (I suspect there’s a bigger conspiracy at work here. Rekha and Anil Kapoor might have masterminded the challenge since they’ve not aged a day since 1872.)

With the exception of that one friend who has gone from fat to fit, the #10YearChallenge is a reminder of our miseries — our dead-end jobs, ever-expanding waistlines, and impending mid-life crises. Yet the challenge was largely harmless, until political parties decided they wanted a piece of the pie. Politicians did what politicians do best, take the fun away from everything. The BJP tweeted about the #5YearChallenge and Congress, true to character, used the opportunity to take potshots at its rivals.

Who’d have thought a stupid social media challenge would lead to political wars, a deluge of think pieces, and Twitter debates? But amid all the photoshopping and fighting, let’s not forget the original inventors of the #10YearChallenge – Indian parents and relatives who catch you unawares and pose the the real “challenging” question: “Beta, dus saal mein kya karoge? Aage ka kya plan hai?”

The #10YearChallenge of 2019 will soon fall prey to our short attention spans and ever- changing social media cycles, as a new challenge will catch our fancy.

This version of the #10YearChallenge is ancient and its origin can be traced back to the time before social media existed. This challenge does not come with boundaries. You could be at a family puja, cousin’s roka, grandmother’s funeral, or in the washroom, the question could be thrown at you at the most unexpected time: “Beta, aage ka kya plan hai?”

And it doesn’t matter how old you are, the challenge is universal. If you are in Std 3, the #10YearChallenge is about getting into IITs. If you’re in IIT, it is about earning a ₹20 crore per annum salary and buying a seaview house. If you have the dream job, your parents will pose another challenge: Get married. And if you are already hitched, they’ll ask: “Good news kab doge? #10MonthChallenge ;)”

If you have children, it’s about their SSC scores. And if the children are successful, relatives will ask, “Retirement ka kya plan hai?” In fact, HR managers in corporate companies have found a way to politely ask the same question at the beginning every interview with, “Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?”

So those of us rolling our eyes in frustration and staying away from the challenge, there’s nothing you can do about it – you’ve never been able to escape the #10YearChallenge. From your school teacher to your cablewala, everyone wants to know your future plans. And unlike the heart reacts and likes the social media challenge garners, when parents, relatives, and your recruiters ask you questions, you only invite stares.

But it takes some talent to conquer this challenge or at least find a way to endure it. It’s important to gauge the tone and mood of the challenger. If it is your father asking you, “Dus saal ke baad kya? Kuch socha hai?”, it’s a rhetorical question. He has no expectations from you and he’s only taunting you for picking arts over science in junior college. Your inquisitive aunt only asks you the question so that once you tell her about your plan, she can diss it and spend the next two hours yelling at you. And then she’ll give you a pravachan on how it is important to get married by 20 and have two children by 23. At times, it is best to not reply, but then your silence can also be seen as your weakness. Dodging the “Beta, aage ka kya plan hai?” question requires tact and diplomacy – it’s a rare combination, and take heart in the knowledge that even the American President lacks it.

The #10YearChallenge of 2019 will soon fall prey to our short attention spans and ever- changing social media cycles, as a new challenge will catch our fancy. (Let’s hope it’s not the BJP’s hoodie challenge). Soon, nobody will care about how much weight you’ve lost or gained, as they’ll get distracted by another Taimur picture or Drake meme. But there is one challenge to rule them all. The “Beta, aage ka kya plan hai?” dare will be eternal, having survived the test of time and family functions, where even the paneer gravy had more colour than your life.