Saturday, July 30, 2005

Wild rush!

Mr. A has to work on Saturdays to be able to digest his food. Mr. B has rented a room in a totally isolated part of the outskirts of the city to be able to commute easily back home from the regular late night stays and save a bit more. Mr. C starves himself almost to death everyday just to save a few more bucks than he already manages to save. Why? He has his sister's marriage as his responsibility. Nobel cause, but pointless execution.

Mrs. X's family life suffers a lot because of her work. Poor she, her husband's quest for job satisfaction demands him to be in a different city, and her own work ethic and the demand of her current project compel her to work in another. Who suffers in turn? Her 3 years old son.

Mrs. Y got married a few weeks back. Congrats to her. But she has come back for work after only a week's leave. Yes, her project demands it, but I thought marriages in india are generally once in a lifetime affair.

Mr. Z feels really guilty if he's not in office on Saturdays. Mr. P has mastered the art of faking a busy look. His reasons demand sympathy, but he regularly stays back in office long after the official work hours are over. Does what? Sometimes, he's genuinely busy, mostly playing games otherwise. Why would he do so? He has his manager to impress, to make himself noticed as a devoted, hardworking employee.

Mr. P is a very efficient and technically skilled person, sincerely attached to his workplace, always wanting the best for his employers. But he is a zealot. In the process of getting fame for the company, commits deadlines which aren't feasible. Result? inspite of all his interpersonal skills, and all the co-operation, earns flames from his subordinates. Yes, the same subordinates I mentioned above. Even these workaholics loathe him.

Mr. Q is an exceptionally hard working and delivering manager. Too competent - that's why at a relatively young age, he's handling a very volatile and challenging domain. He is exceptionally good at bargains, manages to fetch the best financial deals for the company. But he has a problem. He is too demanding. And no, he isn't biased. He himself slogs beyond description, and expects the same from others. And I don't know if he is right.

These aren't any fictional characters. I know them all very well, yet for anonymity and professional reasons won't disclose their names. Actually I recently

read a very interesting analysis of the difference in work behaviour between the Western countries and the Asian, especially India. It was an extremely detailed and well written analysis, minutely dissecting the most intriguing behavioural differences of the two cultures. And obviously, it was highly relevent to me, as I could identify with all the characters in the case.

Why do we Indians, or in large Asians worship work? I hope I am not misunderstood - I myslef worship my work, and am really concerned about my career, and am highly competitive. But I don't live for it. I know a very few people, who after entering the working life, manage to escape this. Work becomes the pivotal issue of their life, and every other thing comes next, even the family.

Money is a must for survival, but so is the individuality. We have somethings other than our professional talent which make us humans. One might be a nerdy coder, but he can be a great musician too. Why do we polish our professional skills and leave the other talents to rot, when most of us if not all, enjoy the latter more? Why does an avareage Indian never manage to make time for anything else other than work on the regualr week days? How many of us play?

How many of us make time for hobbies, how many of us see movies reguarly, hang out with friends as often as they used to in College days?

I noticed a sharp contrast in the behaviour of an Indian in particular, and any Western in general- while our lives are centered around money and performance, the life in West emphasises individual characteristics. We rarely save time or money for hobbies.

I still remember as young kids how excited we used to be, when our then young parents would take us on trips during vaccations. That was fun. But times changed, they matured and got the so called "gyan" about saving money. And the irony being, ever since we stopped vacating out in the name of savings, we hardly saved anything.

An average on site engineer from abroad, who comes to our company always enquires about the various places he could see in India, about it's culture and would always try to get a few typical Indian speciality back with him. And when I compare this with our on site engineers, there is a sharp contrast. We look forward to onsite tours as money minting opportunities, and as a means to bloat our resumes. Frankly, even I would do the same if a case comes.

Why do we do so?

Analysing the cause, I see the flaw in our culture. Ever since a child is born, we make it a learning tool. Studies are the utmost priority for a child. I can say that from my own experience, even now my sister compels my neice to study. We never let the child flourish and develop talents. One of my nephews is greatly talented in Cricket, but is a fiasco when it comes to academics. But I never saw my cousin acknowledge this fact. For him, it's a prestige issue to see his son get a great rank. It insults him to see him fail in mathematics. He would leave no chance to demoralise the kid for his miserable performance, and would never miss to smirk and mock his talent when he gets a trophy in sports. No doubt, my nephew must study. But isn't he loosing all the interest he possibly could have developed had his talents been acknowledged and promoted?

We are into a mad rush, spending the entire life competing to outperform a fellow being. Our society rates an individual not by his deeds, but by how much has he earned for himself, whether his children are doing good academically, whether he has got a house of his own or if he still lives in a rented flat. If Mr. X's son went to U.S, Mr. Y wouldn't appreciate it, rather he would force his son to somehow make it there too. My neighbour's son made it in a relatively reputed B-School, another neighbour of mine took it to his ego, forced his only daughter to persue an MBA totally rubbishing her interests in humanities and arts.

And I feel, ultimately this mad rush makes us workaholics. Rarely have I come across people who turn into workaholics because they love to overwork, or their feild of work is their hobby. Most do it to earn money and fame, to out perform someone. We Indians are born with responsibilites - responsibility to be educated to earn respect(rightly so), reponsibility to bring fame to our families, to earn money and more money and more money till we die. Every second Indian has his family dept to repay, a sister to marry off, parents to take care back home, a dream house to build - and all this require money, and only those who do manage to relish this mad rush, are respected. No doubt, reponsibilites must be met, but not at the cost of our individuality. If we can manage to do so many things and devote so much time and effort to achieve that, we can and should spare some time to let ourselves flourish and enjoy life.

We don't have to have out of the box hobbies or go to Alps or Himalayas for vacations. Nothing flashy. Just allow ourselves to relish the subtle beauties of life, spend a moment or two to appreciate the achievements of our loved ones, allow ourselves the liberty of self praise. Do things that makes our soul happy, spend on oursleves, relax a bit, provide ourselves the occasional halt on this journey of life to appreciate the miles traveled, and milestones crossed.
In short, not let anything, any responsibility, or peer pressure to loose the beauty, God has gifted every creature on planet - an individuality.

And I am writing all this, because I am forced to come to office on a Saturday, not that I have worked a bit!!


Nitai said...

Amazingly intricate and detailed analysis Keshav...this alone would have taken much of your working time, right? ;-)

Keshav said...

Working time?? For me, Saturdays don't get counted for work!!!

And that analysis is nothing more than a disturbed mind venting out all the frustration!!!

Srinivas said...

> One might be a nerdy coder,
> but can be a great musician too.

This so well applies to me! I was learning music, but now its been almost a year since I practiced singing :(
I realise that it can be such a relaxing thing. And I am not a workaholic - but somehow not able to make time for these things. Now that I really think, I don't have a decent hobby - I have lots of petty things I'd do to pass time. But none concrete! Its time I make a rescan for a hobby...

Intricate analysis, I must say...

Keshav said...

Thanks Srini! You dont have to have a decent or concrete hobby!!!

All I meant to convey was, we must not make work the core of our life. It's a part of life, not life itself!

Anything which relaxes us, gives us some time off the tensions, is good and must be persued!

Apps said...

I shud take some advise from here

Keshav said...

@Apps: I had for once thought mentioning you anonymously, but refrained expecting lashing!

I already have had a nice experience, couldn't dare again!

Anonymous said...

it depends on your thinking and the environment you are bought up...
it doent mean that parents always force kids to study..its the competition in the world what makes parents to think like that and they never say that dont develop any hobbies...but you have to keep in mind have to get good education to survive here....

Keshav said...

@Anonymous: I think you got me wrong. I want this mentality to change where parents want the burden of their competitions to be carried on by their childeren.

No doubt, you need good education, infact if you noticed, I mentioned it already. But the point is use this education to improve yourself as a whole. We should not make education a means to get job or earn money, which most of us do.

And I did not say that parents force us out of hobbies, all I said was everyone must realise that a good earning job is not only what makes us successful. If I like painting or dancing, I must have the freedom to persue that, even if I want it as my professional career. As long as I am doing my other duties right, I am successful!

Ain't it?

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