Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Being Workaholic ... Is It Really Worth IT ?

"This Post is dedicated to all the Workaholics who resemble 'Chatur' from 3 Idiots in real life ....... 'Anything if consumed in excess is dangerous to health and the same is applicable to WORK' by Saint Me :)"

Subah Ho Gayi Maamu :~

After pressing snooze button on my cellphone for the umpteenth number of time, I had finally got up from my bed, If I would not have had got up from my bed now then am sure one of my neighbour would have barged in my home and would have beaten me black & blue due to the noise pollution my Alarm was causing (I had set it to Mangal Mangal Ho from the movie Mangal Pandey ... I did not find other tune more irritating that this one). I wouldn't blame them if they would have done that cause it was 1 in the morning ... yes I had to wake up at 1 in the morning cause my pick up was scheduled at 2 am and had to report @ work for 2:30 am shift. Hey it ain't strange waking up at odd hours, I was working in US Shift or graveyard shift as itz known as for a BPO.

I was dressed and ready to leave for work, my cab had already arrived, I boarded the cab and was lost in ocean of thoughts, I was thinking about the day of interview, I still remember that day, I was so happy when I was selected for this company, It was owned by an IT giant although it did not pay enough to survive desired standard of living in Mumbai but I was content as the company had got good brand name which can help definitely help me shape up my future. It was kinda "saare gaon mein ghee ke diye jalaaye jayein or pappu paas ho gaya" kinda situation at my home too. I had finally made it and was sure that I am gonna give my 120% in work 'At that time I did'nt know that my boss would ensure that he sucks up 1200% worth of blood from my body in proportion to the salary I would be paid'.

There was another reason why I was so much interested in working for this organization, my wifey was also selected for the same project. I was so so so much happy romance was in the air and was thinking about all those bollywood style moments where we both would get time to spend with each other for the whole day yippie. But fate had it and we both were put in bang opposite shifts ..... I used to work from 12 in the noon to 10 in the night and she was given 9 in the night to 6 am shift. I was super pissed thought of leaving the company then and there but wifey convinced me by giving 'Mera Aur Tumhara to Zindagi Bhar Ka Saath Hai .... kinda emotional gyaan ... we can anyways catch up on weekends'. I initially relented and then gave up. I guess working in Opposite Shifts was also one more reason of our Happy Married Life as. me and my wife got enough space for our own self 'which would even make NASA & ISRO envy us'.

Days passed by soon, it started with training, making new friends at work, getting hang of the job and constantly excelling it. After a span of 3 months I had finally made it to the floor as in I was put up on live calls with US Customers. My wifey had already cleared her training in first go and was on calls 1 month ahead of me 'Not that I couldn't clear the training in the first go .... it was just that I had to keep my college tradition alive of getting 2 results for each year ;)'. Soon I realized taking calls is not what I want to do in life. I wanted to get into MIS team. cause that team had power, they used to control our shifts, our breaks, our performance, our training and our existence in this organization.

I tried using my gujju connection here, there were two gujju guys in this MIS team whom I was friendly with, I shared my desire of joining MIS team with one of these guys, He said I need to know excel proficiently if I need to get in that team 'I was happy coz I was good at excel, or thatz what I felt'. After a month or so there was an IJP announced for 2 positions in MIS Team. I applied for it and cleared it. There was one more gujjubhai from my home town who also succeeded in cracking the other position. I was happy and it was partytime. But again fate had it and there was some downsizing going on in the company. Luckily I was safe but my wifey was on calls and the situation worsening day by day .... Again my wifey's luck came to outrrescue and she grabbed a better paying job in pilot process of a Malad based BPO, her new office was only 15 mins away from home and we both got more quality time to spend with each other.

Workaholic meets Dictator :~

In MIS Team my new Boss was kinda dictator 'he was kind at heart at times though'. He did respect knowledge and appreciate hard work, but was very strict when it came to discipline or deadlines, also give nthe type of department he was handling all these virtues were important. He had made it clear on day 1 itself that his was a small team and there was loads of work to be done so team work was very essential and an integral part of team work also was not to take any unplanned leave coz then other persons are burdened with more work 'not that planned leaves were sanctioned at one go ... planned leaves were sanctioned after too much of begging & convincing'.

It did not affect me too much as I did not have my parents staying with mere in Mumbai  also as both me & my wifey were working for opposite shifts we never used to take leaves or holidays during festivals to go to our home town, instead we used to slog our asses off & let localites take leaves instead. We usually took leaves after the festivals were over for a day or two combined with weekends to pay a visit to our romance capital and the place where our parents used to live .... Rajkot. 

After working for MIS team I had realized that working in this team is not as easy as it seems, there were times where I had been in office for more than 18 hours, there were even instances where I was stuck for more than 24 hours when there was audit happening or it was flooding in Mumbai & once when there was blast in Mumbai Trains. All this time family life was at back burner and work always priority one.

I still remember an instance where once me and my wife met each other after a gap of 10 days, we both decided to go and watch movie at Fame Cinemas Malad post which I had planned a romantic dinner, we both were traveling in a rick towards Fame Cinemas on the link road when my mobile rang ... It was from work my boss was calling ... I did not pick up the call, Cell phone screen again flashed "Boss Calling", this time on my wifey's insistence I picked up the call. My Boss said "Ali is not coming to work today, he has got something urgent turned up ... I want you to report to work in next two hours, and am not going to take no for an answer ... If you don't report in next 2 hours then better don't come to work from tomorrow" and saying this he hung up 'I was wondering whether I was working for an Army or a BPO ?'. He did not even bother to ask me what was I upto, I was angry by his behavior, but didn't have choice, was sure dictator would not understand and reported to work .... thats what team members are for WTF 'I thought my wifey is gonna kill me for this but she is very much understanding when it comes to work, thanks again to my wifey for being so understanding'. This was just the beginning there were many such more instances which followed & I kept on compromising family life for work.

After 2 Years :~

I had completed almost two years working with this team, It was diwali time and I had decided that I would work during diwali and would take a week's leave after diwali, which was duly approved after successfully acting like a beggar and justifying the amount of work done in these two years. Me & my wifey both were on our way to Rajkot, when I received a call on my cell phone 'no it was not from my boss, I had become smarter and had blocked his number using a mobile application, so that if he calls then he gets only busy tone'.  
It was my friend TJ, he was son of an industrialist and used to stay in Vapi and had recently lost his bachelorhood 'before 5 months'. We both had studied together in Rajkot and he had shifted to Vapi and joined his Uncle's business before 3 years accompanied by another friend of mine Toshi. We three were inseparables, ours was a friendship like Aamir, Akshay & Saif in Dil Chahta Hai. Vapi inspite of being only 2 hours away, I was not able to visit his place more than twice in last 3 years all thanks to work.

We both shared pleasantries and he asked me "When are you planning to visit Vapi, Its been long since we didn't have Yaaran Da Tashan ? ", I said "I am on my way to Rajkot and will see if time permits will definitely get down at Vapi and then we can spend a day together and have Yaaran Da Tashan". I had a great fun @ Rajkot with my family and we also went to near about places for vacation. While returning back I called up TJ to check his where abouts, I said "I am going to start for Mumbai tomorrow, will get down at Vapi around 7:00 in the evening", he was happy to hear that but he sounded weak, I asked "Why are you sounding low ?", to which he replied "Nothing yaar its just a little bit of stomach ache and temperature, but am sure I will be all set to party by the time you reach here", I asked him to take care and was busy enjoying last day of my stay @ Rajkot.

My last day's stay @ Rajkot was soon gonna get ruined coz my Boss after making many futile attempts of  reaching me on my cell phone and afer trying to call me up from all of my colleague's phone was not able to get through ... but genious that he was, he did best use of technology and sent sms on my cell phone to reach office a day early as one of the most urgent work had cropped up which could not have been done without my special inputs. He also managed to catch hold of my Rajkot's residence number and left message with my granny. I was so freakingly burning with anger on invasion of my privacy during my vacation, but my wife said "Calm down, Its ok Jaan, we will leave today evening itself ... inform TJ and postpone your Vapi plan for next weekend".

I was in no mood to call up anyone, I messaged TJ and apologized for not being able to make it to Vapi, he replied 'I understand dear, work comes first but do try and pull out some time this month and lets catch up'. I reached office next day, I was super pissed off to learn that I was called a day early to report to work coz our boss wanted to conduct a two hour meeting today itself as he was going to take 15 days leave starting very next day WTF. I gulped down my anger and got back to my pod and started to reply all mails and got busy with preparation of MIS reports.

Realisation :~

It was 2:00 am, we were done with the meeting, my Boss was on his way to the airport and all the other colleagues who were having week off but were called to work for meeting were on their way back home. Rest of us were too happy as boss was off our back for 2 whole weeks, we were back to our pods and were busy finishing off our work, so that can spend some free time at having fun @ work. My cellphone rang again at 4:00 am, the call was from Vapi.

I was sure TJ & Toshi were gonna abuse me all the cuss words they knew in next 5 mins, so I disconnected the phone, so that I can go to the conference room and call back and talk in peace. I guess Toshi didn't have patience, he call back again, I rushed to the conference room, closed the door behind me and picked up the phone. Toshi was crying, I asked him "What happened dear, why are you crying ?", I was scared, What would have happened ???

I asked him "Why are you crying ?". He said "Please rush to Vapi ... TJ is no more ... he passed away while I was arranging for Bottles of Blood from near by town hospital". I was shocked, I didn't beleive what I just heard, how could this happen, he was so young, he was having mild fever and stomach pain but nothing major that would take away his life ....... I tried to console Toshi and told him "I will try and reach there asap".

Corporate world is above emotions, its all about being practical, but here my friend had passed away, I would have been with him in his last moments of life if I would not have given preference to work. I requested my another colleague who was on leave to pitch in for me and left for Vapi. I informed my boss that I have arranged a back up and am leaving for Vapi as my friend has passed away.

He did allow me to go, but said "You can leave now, but I want you to be back to work tomorrow at 2 am". I said "I can't assure you but will let you know once I reach Vapi ". I went home grabbed my white clothes and left for Vapi from Borivali Station. I usually did not ming travelling all alone, but I did not want to be alone in this journey, my wife also wanted to come but I asked her not to join in coz she too had to resume work. The two hours journey from Borivali to Vapi was the most painful one. I didn't know how was I gonna face this cruel reality. I had attended TJ's marriage before 5 months .... How can god be so cruel ???

I reached Vapi, Toshi hugged me and started crying, I had not yet shed any tear, I guess my heart had been become so lifeless that there were no emotions flowing in or maybe that I was shocked. I entered the room in which they had kept TJ's dead body, kept flowers at his feet, was not able to face uncle & aunty and was controlling my tears, Aunty said "He was so much excited and was waiting for you to come to Vapi ... but it seems god did not want you to meet him when he was alive ..." listening to these words I broke down, hugged Toshi and cried my heart out.

After a while we took TJs body to crematorium in an Ambulance. The person with whom I had grown up, had the time of my life, had left this world, Fate had played its game. It was 6 in the evening and his body was almost turned to ashes ... I told Toshi "I will have to leave for Mumbai now, got to report to work without fail". He said "How will you go now, there is no train leaving for Mumbai after 7 ? please stay back, I need you here, Stay back tonight atleast".

I said "I will have to call up my boss and inform my office". I tried calling up my boss but was not able to get through his cellphone, so I left a voice message and informed my colleague who was having work of to pitch for me for one more day and he readily agreed. After around 20 minutes of all this I got call from my Boss's number and I told him about the situation, but he was reluctant and said "You have to any how report to work or things would not be good for you". I tried requesting him to grant me day off , also mentioned him that there is some one else pitching in for me, so work would not be hampered.

But he was in no mood to agree, I said "Boss I am still at crematorium, I can not argue with you any longer with you, its really inhumane of you not to understand the situation, I have pitched in so many times when you needed and this is what I get in return ?", there was no one listening on the other end, he had already disconnected the call. I told Toshi that I will have to leave, he said the only option now is to go to the highway and take lift, I actually did that, After spending another 2 hours on the highway for lift I gave up and messaged called my boss and explained the situation once again, another round of argument followed.

I finally stayed back at Vapi, that night Toshi asked me something that changed my course of Life "Me & You and even TJ for the matter of fact were struggling and running around work and money, giving family and relations always a second priority, but at the end of the day do we even think or ask ourselves what mattered most ?, Till date you always didn't come to Vapi as you always had your work as your priority, but when you needed a day off did he return the favor ?", "If not then why are we living like Workaholics and for what ?".

That day I resolved to maintain a Work - Life balance. Luckily after two months I got an opportunity to work with an organization that believed in "Human First".

Later I also got to know from another colleague of mine that the dictator himself had gone through a similar situation in his life. But somewhere I felt that if something bad happens with you in life then it should make you more compassionate and understanding about others and not rude.

I hope after reading this instance you might think of maintaining work - life balance.


  1. Wow...very nice...very touchy.... While reading this...i was just wondering if the "dictator" was MarC?

  2. Too good bro... d writing style is really witty n touchy... keep it up...tc

  3. @ Rashida : Its part fact & part fiction so ...
    @ Rajiv : Thanks Bro :)