life to the fullest
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
associations are generally active in many large cities and
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.
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.
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 Sulekha.com and Rediff.com provide
a good forum for people to post their queries and people visiting
their board are generally quite responsive. Web directory
services like GaramChai.com provide listings, including those
of Indian associations in the US.
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.