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Article by Mohan Babu


Living life to the fullest

Indians are generally used to working long hours and more often than not, end up taking work home; hence those who move to the US find the demarcation between work and leisure quite intriguing, says Mohan Babu

In my last week’s article, I talked about long weekends and holidays in the US. For most people, however, the pursuit of happiness does not stop with long weekends; it is a continuous process. Of course, there are fifty-two weeks in a year and about half a dozen long weekends. Regular weekends are no less important in the pursuit of happiness. The work culture in most organisations here is tailored to be worker friendly. Most jobs, unless the project is going through a crunch mode or involves shifts (in production environments), require their employees to work only 5 days a week about 45 or 50 hours a week.

Most Americans, especially during summer months, like to start their days early. They get in at around 7 in the morning, have a short working lunch and wind up work by 3.30 or 4 PM and head out to enjoy the rest of the day. Incidentally, days are generally long, with the sun setting at around 8.15 or 8.30 PM. Most people have their own pet projects and activities they head out to. The sporty types play a game or two, sometimes coaching their kid’s little league. Others head out to their church group or work with voluntary groups. For some, the favourite summer pastime is to do some yard-work or mow the lawns. With workweeks highly standardised, people look forward to their weekends when they get to pursue their passions or hobbies. For instance, trekking and mountaineering is a popular hobby in the Colorado Rockies where I live.

We Indians (in India) are generally used to working long hours and more often than not, end up taking work home; hence those who move here find the demarcation between work and leisure quite intriguing. It is not to say that we are not used to hobbies or leisure, but they generally take a secondary place against the grind of daily existence.

On moving to the US, Indians pursue quite varied and colourful hobbies. Many like to hang out with friends and watch Indian movies and DVD’s which are generally available at the local Indian grocery shop. Some also pursue an active lifestyle, taking up sports like racquetball or tennis. Of course, shooting and bowling are also favourite pastimes. The bigger cities in the US with a larger population of Indians boast of their own cricket teams. About a year ago, I had the pleasure of watching an “Indo-Pak” tournament being played by local Indian and Pakistani consultants.

Indian associations are generally active in many large cities and they

organise get-togethers and functions and celebrate Indian festivals like Diwali, New Year etc. They are also instrumental in inviting prominent artists, musicians and performers from India. At a more informal level, there are a number of local bhajan groups that get together on a regular basis. Indians arriving in a new city or for the first time, need to make a conscious effort to tap into the networking groups, and find like-minded people with whom they can share common interests.

Of course, the informal networking also helps in one’s professional life. One of the most popular recruiting tools in the US is employee referral. Employers dole out incentives ranging from small gifts to thousands of dollars to their employees who refer the right person. Because of the informal network that exists amongst Indians, we are able to market ourselves better. These networks are also an excellent way to find professional mentors who can help guide one in career planning. There are also a number of formal groups, like TIE (The Indus Entrepreneurs), that promote Indian entrepreneurship and organise formal and informal networking get-togethers.

Indians in the US have taken to the Internet like ducks to water. One of the favourite pastimes is to “chat” with near and dear ones using online chat or voice chat. Thanks to the advances in Voice over IP technology, chatting using pc-to-pc software works out much more economical than using the services of MCI or ATT. Internet is also an excellent medium for networking and Indians are harnessing its potential the fullest extent. For example, websites like and provide a good forum for people to post their queries and people visiting their board are generally quite responsive. Web directory services like provide listings, including those of Indian associations in the US.

Indians in the US are realising that all work and no play makes for a very dull life. Like the local natives here, we are becoming conscious of the fact that in the land of honey and milk — albeit a land that is having to swallow a bitter economic pill - offers more in the way of life than just work from nine to five. As the Yankees say, you only live once, you might as well live it.





About the Author

  • A Bio and profile of the author, Mohan Babu, can be found at his homepage
  • Mohan has authored a book on Offshoring and Outsourcing (Publisher McGraw Hill, India), a link to which can be found here
  • Mohan has also authored an Online book on "Life in the US," available for free download.
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    For FAQ, Trivia and Information on Life in America, visit the Ask-A-Desi section

    ©Mohan Babu: All Rights Reserved 2005

    Mohan Babu is an international consultant trying to find the ‘sweet spot’ where IT meets business. E-mail: mohan He is also the author of a recent book on "Offshoring IT Services"

    All rights are reserved. Mohan Babu ("Author") hereby grants permission to use, copy and distribute this document for any NON-PROFIT purpose, provided that the article is used in its complete, UNMODIFIED form including both the above Copyright notice and this permission notice. Reproducing this article by any means, including (but not limited to) printing, copying existing prints, or publishing by electronic or other means, implies full agreement to the above non-profit-use clause. Exceptions to the above, such as including the article in a compendium to be sold for profit, are permitted only by EXPLICIT PRIOR WRITTEN CONSENT of Mohan Babu. 

    Disclaimer: This document represents the personal opinions of the Author, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of the Author's employer, nor anyone other than the Author. This Article was originally published in Express Computers


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