Luis Miranda

What Is Your Dream?

Have you recently been asked a question that you struggled to answer? I was in that situation a few weeks back. I was attending the 2013 Leaders’ Quest Pow-Wow in Jaipur. People from all over the world got together at the fabulous Samode Bagh and Palace to  push ourselves as we discussed issues as diverse as  leadership, ‘what really matters’, moral courage and the lost art of dialogue and also meet some great NGOs, like Bachpan Bachao Andolan, operating in and around Jaipur.

So here I am sitting with a smaller group of people from England, Brazil, Palestine, China and Israel on a Sunday evening when bang comes the question, “What is your dream?” Rene, who asked me that question, grew up in Ghana and now lives in London where he has had a fantastic career. “What is your dream?”

I did not know what to answer. And it bothered me because I have always been a dreamer and have always had dreams of doing great things. Often I have preferred living in my dreams than in reality because my dreams were more interesting.

“What is your dream?” I struggled to give a half-baked response and told my group that this question had stumped me and I was not happy that I couldn’t have a proper response. Maybe it was the excessive drinking the previous night at a friend’s party in Bandra that had made me incapable to dream at that moment.

The next four days were a mix of interesting introspection, deep discussions, random walks through villages, some great meals in exquisite locations and a trip to spend a day with kids who were rescued from bonded labour. I met some fascinating people, including Basu Rai, who at the age of 5 found himself orphaned on the streets of Kathmandu. I was introduced to an NGO called CORO that works at grassroot community change in Maharashtra. I had long conversations with a lady who faced death threats after publishing a book on Islam and is now weary. We discussed the serious challenges facing humanity. I learnt about life in Palestine. I learnt about the challenges kids in Brazil faced. I met an American who was going to spend 6 months looking after the dying in Kerala. I was reminded once again that India may be poor economically, but we are rich spiritually and emotionally. We talked about ‘active hope’. But I couldn’t find my blasted dream. Does one need a dream at all? I questioned the need for a dream.

“What is your dream?” I tried concocting dreams. But they did not excite me.  Three years back I quit my full-time job in private equity, climbed Kilimanjaro with our son and struggled to complete the Athens Marathon. I got a tattoo. I spent the past three years in the company of some incredible people who are doing amazing work in a variety of social enterprises,  NGOs and for-profit ventures. I hung out with college students discussing the roles of the State and the Markets. I travelled with my wife and kids to enchanted places like Bhutan and Leh, where we spent three weeks volunteering with an NGO (17000 ft Foundation) setting up libraries in remote government schools close to the Chinese border and the Pakistan Line of Control. I controlled the pace at which I worked. I would go for long breakfasts with our daughter. I was on the board of an IPL team. But I had stopped having a dream.

After four days of trying to find my dream, I came back home and told my wife about my frustrating search for my elusive dream. She gave me that loving look that only wives can give their husbands when we have done something really stupid and simply said, “You don’t have a dream, because you are living your dream, you idiot!” Sometimes what we are looking for is staring back at us – we only need to know how to look. Now why didn’t I discuss this with her four days earlier?

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Luis, This is indeed an inspiring article. Having arrived to this article by chance, I was happy that someone followed dream and living dream. What more one can ask for if one is already living dream!. Then I went on to know about you and realised that one can live dream only after one has made enough but rest of us has to keep stuck in the life as we have family to support, kids education to take care, etc. Specially in India one can live dream only if he has made enough or if he realised his dream well before he got married and had kids. After that it's simply impossible. You can not dream after kids. Basic necessities make it impossible. I also have a dream but currently postponing to live it until I have made enough.
Prahlad, knowing how much is enough is so subjective ... I meet some young kids who are living their dream without caring about the future, and I admire them. I wasn't like that when I was their age. And there are others who continue to work and are living their dream while working. There are three take-aways - (1) it is good to have a dream (even after having kids - I have two!), (2) how much is enough is for you to decide and (3) living a dream does not have to be financially dependent - you can always modify your dream to fit in with your current circumstance. Thanks for your comment.
Truly a thought provoking article. "Dare to dream.....and live your dreams!" A simple but hard-hitting message. You had the mettle to forego a promising professional career and have dared to tread the road less taken. By doing so, you are an inspiration to many others. The last paragraph of your blog alone, has enough contents to create a bestselling motivational novel. Your story is a wakeup call for guys like me who burn the candle at both ends but miss the true bliss of life. Keep living your dreams. Godspeed !
Arun, thanks. Years back a wise man gave me my best advice. He said, "Focus on the important things in life." Life never was the same again.
Luis you have the uncanny ability to strike the emotional chord with the readers. Dreams are what keep us motivated and are as you say are more interesting than the reality. My dream is to litigate for what I believe are the right causes be it for protecting the corporate or the common man and to spread legal awareness and make law less intimidating for the masses. this dream to be realised some day makes my predictable life as a project financier going with hope.... - bala
Bala, you can do it ...
Lucky Luis is living his dream...and look what he's done with this blog - he's made so many of us contemplate on what our dreams are. After today, I know I won't be stumped by the question - "what is your dream?" I'm now consciously chasing my dream...thank you Luis. Thumbs up to Fiona for her perfect reading of always!!
Mala, the wife is always right ... Need a Sunday breakfast to discuss dreams
As Armida has said, you make a real difference at SNEHA and the many enterprises you work with Luis. I am happy to share a small part of your dream life. And as you well know, Fiona is a big part of living your dream :-)
Sriram, you are living your dream also ... And creating new dreams as you go along.
M.A. Padmanabha Rao, PhD (AIIMS)
MY DREAM: First of all people should speak truth and should be sincere to their family, society and country. This is the most immediate need for people living in countries like India where law and order is far below the expectations. People in developed countries simultaneously strive for welfare of society and country, while thinking of betterment of their families and themselves. MY DREAM: Top political leaders and spiritual leaders need to bring a radical improvement in the thinking of Indians. Black money suppresses the India's growth due to lack of proper understanding what is democracy and governance. It is almost impossible to bring a radical improvement from the current situation due to insincerity of people at large. Journalists and jurists proved to be crusaders in improving from the current situation. MY DREAM: There should be officials who can secretly supervise the police. The judiciary should be made autonomous with more powers so that punishment should be more severe and cases should be disposed off with least time possible. The archaic laws need to be amended to tackle situations like rape etc. The nation's capital Delhi is very dirty particularly areas like Vikas Puri in comparison to Hyderabad and Chennai. Ghost sweepers still prevail. The local MLAs and MPs are utter failure in this regard. Small shops are maintained on roadside by Municipality staff by taking bribe. The roads are very badly maintained. My DREAM: PUBLIC SHOULD NOT BE SILENT SPECTATORS THOUGH NONE CARES IN THE ADMINISTRATION. THE BIGGEST QUESTION: Has independence from British Rule really improved the country's situation in any way? MY DREAM: The common man should say this.
Rao, all the best as you work towards making your dreams come true.
Murali Vullaganti
Dear Luis, Having a Dream itself is a great thing. Living in a dream is even greater. Realizing that one is actually living in a dream is the greatest as that realization adds contentment and peace to one's life. Enjoy this bliss, my friend.
Murali, Rural Shores is a dream for many people.
Good for you Luis !
Thanks, Lili ... Your paintings turn dreams into reality.
Living your dreams - how many of us can say that. Very inspiring and love the work you do.
Himanshu, it is not that difficult to live one's dream ... Sometimes we over-worry about consequences.
Thank you Luis for your wake up call Realised at the launch of my book "The Naked Liberal" the other day that I was indeed living my dream George
Uncle George, you are an inspiration to us all ... What a life!
You are so living your dream and an enviable one too!!! Very inspiring - please keep me connected to this blog!
Bianca, as long as you supply the urak!
Congratulations on realising that you're living your dream. However, everyone's dreams are different. For you it may be retiring well and being able to help others and for others it might be that they can now drink clean water, not be killed in a drone attack, that new extension to the house, a trip to the Bahamas. I respect your dreams and applaud that it involves helping others (because you can do so more easily than most) but I don't envy you at all because I believe that to whom much is given much is also expected. Blessings and dreams are not just meant to be grateful for and counted, they come or rather should come with a huge responsibility to share. Btw, what Fiona really said was "shut up with your dreams. You're married to me!" Lol.
Maria, too much philosophy too early in the evening. And you know your classmate too well ...
Luis, it's wonderful blog, dream is all about making yourself contented and blissful at the end of achievement, which you feel to achieve to satisfied inner human things. If you are very much contented and happy for whatever you or doing it means you are living your dream, but if you are somewhere not so much satisfied about whatever you are doing then you need to amend and have a dream to give yourself answer. That's what I have understood little bit about the dream so I felt to share on this wonderful blog. So keep living your dream as usual which I can see when you keep smiling always my friend Luis.
Basu, your dreams are coming alive ... All in due course ...
You really are living your dream and you put to shame so many of us who don't have the courage to opt out of conventional pursuits to do something that makes a difference and is so worthwhile. Congrats to both of you
Mike, it is thanks to people like you who helped us along the journey ...thank you
Inspirational. When you are doing all that you want to do....and enjoying the process....indeed it's living your dream. By the way, why is tattoo such a big this blog, it has a full sentence!!! There are much bigger things which don't find a mention.
Amit, all the best following your dream ... Do you still have "The Alchemist"
Nario de P. Miranda
Luis - tell Fiona that the best state to be is living in a dream world. It insulates you from disappointments, frustrations, worries and a nagging wife!!!! At my age - 84 - people ask me how I have a cheerful disposition ( except my wife of course ). The answer is - I am in a permanent dream world!!!!!!!!! Dad
And your wife can get you out of your dream world very quickly!
Wow! Luis. its so are living your dream....
You also can ..... And you know how ...
Fiona Dias Miranda
Sujata, that's why I strongly recommend "date nites" for couples after marriage and esp after the kids come along, just to take stock and revisit those dreams that are either left on the wayside or forgotten as other priorities take precedence! You then suddenly reach 50 and wonder ....have I really enriched my life and been able to impact others?!! We all have so much to give in different ways!
It is always a pleasure to read your ramblings. But this one touched a chord! Beautifully articulated, and I loved Fiona's response.. Living in the moment, being aware as I have been told is what it is all about :-)
Himanshu, you get it ... After all, you got out of the PE world to chase your dream
I don't know how to say it best - but you have made me and our start-up team believe in ourselves and pursue our dreams, Luis. We, as a team and as individuals, draw inspiration from you everyday in our work. I still remember the day when I met you first and over time heard so many stories from you about how you always did things that you loved doing. Banking, PE and now start-ups, philanthropy and non-profit initiatives have benefited so hugely from your work :-) I really like the story on how you scaled up Mt. Kilimanjaro on the birthday and how you and your family spent working at schools in Ladakh with 17000 Ft Foundation. These are all so inspiring to me and I hope I can live all my life first chasing my dreams and then living them. Thank you!
Priyadeep, all will come in due course ... Don't be in a hurry.
So true , Lius. Knowing you and watching you work tells me that your dream is to try and ensure other individuals and organisations dreams come true. It is simply amazing how you have changed the direction of so many NGO's including SNEHA. Fiona is so right ! you are living your dream !
Armida, my wife is ALWAYS right, even when she is wrong. It is unfortunate that so many people get stuck in their corporate jobs not knowing how to engage with the social sector outside office. You took your own dream, SNEHA, and made it the large-impact NGO it is today. Then you stepped aside and let others take it to higher levels.
Well said! And this comment is directed at Fiona Miranda, who had the wisdom to see what you were too close to see! And very well articulated, Luis. It is interesting how we are sometimes so caught up in transactions of our own creation, that all we see are the transactions and not the dreams that led to them. It is a good idea to ask ourselves the "Why" and "What" question once in a while, just so we can look at our lives and be reminded of our dreams. And we are leading the lives we are, because we dreamed it. We just forgot along the way. And, for the record, Luis, I will second Fiona's statement, that you are definitely living your dreams. Evident from the passion and enthusiasm you put into it. So, here's to more accidental answers and more accidental dreams. May we all live it! :)
Sujata, you guys are also living your dreams as you improve the opportunities for the kids in Ladakh through 17000 ft. We had a great time this summer.
As always, I admire the passion and involvement that all 4 of you have, as a family, in what drives your actions. Just being able to sit back and dream and then have the courage to live it out is so commendable. Very few will take this step. Bravo to date nites!
Often people are just afraid to stray from the 'normal'
Luis Miranda
Luis Miranda started investing in India's infrastructure before it became fashionable. He started IDFC Private Equity and was earlier a part of the start-up team of HDFC Bank.
Luis has invested in and has been on the boards of companies like GMR Infrastructure, Delhi International Airport, Gujarat Pipavav Port, Gujarat State Petronet, L&T Infrastructure and Manipal Global Education.
Today he is involved with various non-profits like Centre for Civil Society, SNEHA, Human Rights Watch, Gateway House and Samhita Social Ventures. Luis graduated with an MBA from Chicago Booth.
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January 26, 2014 19:02 pm by Luis
Commented on What Is Your Dream?
Prahlad, knowing how much is enough is so subjective ... I meet some young kids who are living their dream without caring about the future, and I admire them. I wasn't like that when I was their age. And there are others who continue to work and are living their dream while working. There are three ...
January 24, 2014 21:14 pm by Prahlad
Commented on What Is Your Dream?
Luis, This is indeed an inspiring article. Having arrived to this article by chance, I was happy that someone followed dream and living dream. What more one can ask for if one is already living dream!. Then I went on to know about you and realised that one can live dream only after one has made enou...
December 03, 2013 00:36 am by Luis
Commented on What Is Your Dream?
Thanks, Lili ... Your paintings turn dreams into reality.
December 03, 2013 00:34 am by Luis
Commented on What Is Your Dream?
Arun, thanks. Years back a wise man gave me my best advice. He said, "Focus on the important things in life." Life never was the same again.
December 03, 2013 00:32 am by Luis
Commented on What Is Your Dream?
Bala, you can do it ...