- April, 2021
- Posted by: Poornima
- Category: Uncategorized
7th April 2021, Wednesday, mid-week, mid-day. In walked Ashok, my close relative. We were surprised to see him at that time since he was supposed to be at work. Of course, he was welcomed wholeheartedly because he always regaled us with his unique style of humorous narration. Be it his struggle in finding his first job, be it his sales trips abroad, be it his frustration at work, be it his bride-hunting escapades, be it his post-married life he always shared his experiences with animated gestures in a monodrama style, enacting all the characters himself. But mid-morning on a Wednesday, we least expected him. He said he just wanted to come away from home or office (he didn’t know which since it had been work, work and more work and nothing else since a year ago) to a different environment, to a normal world. The dark circles beneath his eyes, his growing paunch, his dishevelled hair, the forlorn look and his jerky movements presented to us a very different Ashok, fatigued and burnt out. He had lost almost everything about himself except his innate ability to look at the lighter moments in life. He still joked about his wakeful hours – at times working through the night until 4 am for a US client and again waking up at 8 am to take a call from some other geography, not knowing when to brush his teeth ?.
About his eating hours – grabbing food in between long calls, munching unhealthy snacks at midnight, dragging lunch over 3 hours and dried up hands due to back to back meetings without a break, not knowing whether he had extended lunch or early supper ?. He shared that many a times he wouldn’t be aware if he had eaten or not, or what he had eaten – pizza or paratha, rice or rotis, sabzi or salad – since he would be in marathon meetings or replying to endless emails. He remarked with his trademark guffaw “Here I am juggling with demanding clients and stressful multiple bosses and there is my better-half finding fault that I am not appreciating her new dress or failing to give my feedback on which colour curtain looks good ! How does it matter what she wears or if there is a curtain in the room or not. I just want to be done with my work and slump on the bed to catch up with sleep.”. Worse situation is when my body refuses to sleep before 2am and I am forced to watch some senseless stuff on the Television because there is no one to talk to. Ashok admitted that though his multiple-geography IT job was demanding earlier also, now in the Corona-induced WFH era, it has become unforgivingly killing. He has lost track of day and night, dusk and dawn, home and office, food and sleep, wife and dog and is wedded to his laptop, virtual calls, mobile and inhuman bosses who only want to please their bosses and show margins. When I suggested he must escalate his condition to his boss he said “To whom shall I point out ? He is also a forced workaholic Indian like me who is ready for meeting even at midnight and works through the weekend”.
While we enjoyed all his dialogue deliveries about his boss, wife, father, clients, colleagues etc., we could sense his anguish and helplessness. I am not exaggerating a bit because I have seen at close quarters other young professionals burning out early in their lives, thanks to inhuman business practices, unreasonable delivery promises to clients by overzealous and greedy business heads, unhealthy competition and a toxic ecosystem. One of my cousins has rationed her work and me-time on weekends by turning off the mobile on aeroplane mode. There are umpteen cases like this of overworked employees with demand from families also during the pandemic times. Shudder to think of the loss of human capital, damage to the health of a young work-force, dip in productivity, break-down of familial relationships and consequent shredding of the social fabric of a nation. The irony is that 7th April signifies World Health Day which focusses on mental health issues as well. What I heard from Ashok was reflective of the world wide debate triggered by the revolt of Goldman Sachs employees over work-life blur. It is an alarming reality that employers must take seriously and restore the work-life balance in their businesses with the strategy being driven from the top. Happy employees lead to happy customers. ROI from employees is bound to grow if there are saner working hours, adequate family / me time, regular meal-times etc. even in the pandemic induced WFH era. Messed up work-life is not new but what is new is the magnitude and our acceptance that this is the New Normal. Let’s together make this world a better and safer place to live in for a longer time !!
New Year | New Shoots | Old Roots | Fresh Beginning ||
This is what Ugadi, Gudi Padwa, Baisakhi, Navreh, Cheti Chand, Bihu is all about. New Year celebrated across India under different names over last 2 days. Signifying that Life is a sweet-sour-bitter mixture of events and experiences. All the flavours together make it worth Living & Celebrating !!