Sunday, May 03, 2009

Break away

As we sat around the dining table at a friend's place on Friday night and listened to him relate tales of Rishikesh and how people from all over the world went there and got stoned, I ignored Viv's "They get more b(h)ang for their buck at Rishikesh." joke and wondered. What is it that makes people from other countries go to India? Do they really find nirwana? Truth is, those who want to find nirwana can even find it in a Las Vegas casino. But there is something about India that attracts them. Tells them they will find what they are looking for.

I have my own selfish reasons to want to go to India every year. Just like them, I'm also looking for something. And contrary to popular belief, it is not just pani puri.

A trip to India, like the upcoming one to Bangalore this week, is my own little commercial break.

I have never worked in India, and I don't really know how it is to work there. But I have worked in Singapore and a part of the crazy, disciplined life does appeal to me. In spite of the competition, the stress, the work hours, there is structure and procedure. Things work, people work, and I appreciate that. Of course, many people leave the country and move to places like Australia and the US for a more relaxed work culture. Speaking of relaxed work cultures, My Dad, a banker in India, has time for a 1-hour morning walk, a gardening session, a newspaper session, and a hearty breakfast before he leaves for office. And he is home by 7. The bankers I know here, are also home by 7, but with a slight difference. They get home by 7 am instead of 7 pm.

Maybe it differs from industry to industry. Friends in India tell me it's getting more and more competitive and stressful to work in India. I guess the competition and the stress are more within us than around us, and that's why no matter where you are, you'll feel it. Sometimes one work-week feels like an extremely long never-ending day, and then the weekend is spent just recovering from it. By the time you recover from the weekend, the extremely long never-ending day is at your heels again. And the cycle repeats.

Thank goodness for holidays.

And here's why to me, an Indian holiday is different. A holiday at any other place is more about what I get to see. In India, it's always about what I get to feel. Last year, during a drive from Jaipur to Delhi, Starbreez, Viv and I were discussing the same thing. Every time I visit India, a part of me breaks open the cynical shell and emerges. An emotional, sensitive, humane part. Like a file in my computer which I never for because I tell myself I don't have the time to really go and look for it. Even though I could just run the search function, I don't. Because in my heart, perhaps I'm too afraid of not finding it. So I tell myself that it's probably there somewhere and that some day I will just stumble upon it and know for sure that it's there.

Going to India helps me find it. In spite of the very real possibility that the moment I land back here and get sucked into my work, I'll lose it. In no time. Like when a dream ends and you wake up, but you can sense the happenings of the dream linger on till you get out of bed and forget it all. It's kind of like how I feel when a movie makes me cry. The tears are not just of sadness, they are of relief. Relief of still possessing the ability to feel someone else's (albeit fictional) pain. Even though I may completely forget all about it as soon as I switch off the DVD player, it helps to know that I've not gone dead on the inside.

So I look forward to my little commercial breaks in India. Just like the commercial breaks during movies that help you take a break from the intensity to grab a snack, drink some water, take a pee, make a phone call, I need these little breaks to pause the intensity of my life in Singapore. Kind of helps me get back on track, reminds me of all the things that I want to do, all the things that I have to do. To be away from all the things that don't allow me to think about the things I should be thinking about. To make those little differences in my life when the break ends.

And just like how commercial breaks are best appreciated when they don't happen too often, I'm happy with my once-a-year trip to India. And having grown up in several cities, I have no so-called 'hometown'. So I just go anywhere. It doesn't matter where I go actually. No matter where I go, I know I'll still find that file.


VIDYA said...

GOLD again!
Wow,so you're coming to Bangalore this week?The weather's lovely her now...lots of summer showers,but I guess you get enough of that in Singapore eh?

Amal Bose said...

' A holiday in India is abt what you get to feel' thats what makes us unique.
im so proud to be a part of it. :-)

Anonymous said...

my dear kindred spirit!

i don't know if it's because i've been much more heavily involved in church this past year, but the floaty feeling of there being goodness and kindess in the world gets renewed more often for me these days -- maybe it's something to do with being able to engage with people at a level beyond the transactional (i.e. what happens at work)?

anyway, have a fabulous holiday! well deserved!

mathew said...

I have been working abroad for almost three years now..I have been always swearing that i ll come back to India and work there since thats where my place is ..but somehow I am afraid now..or maybe am too used to the luxury of a 9 to 5 job here..this post actually got me thinking big time....:-(

cooldude said...

Enjoy your holiday ...and discover India( I know there is a lot to discover in this country that even a life time is small enough) :)

Sanchit said...

this post goes like one of my fav ones on the bar.. i wanted to write something same last night, but couldnt..

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Urv said...

3 days to go :D

@ vidya
Gold has been claimed in advance. Check the comments on the previous post :P Claim silver before someone else does it :D

Thousif Raza M.B said...

Silver or bronze i claim it anyway ;)

well sayesha you will love ur commercial break i promise you that
cause india is the best place for a holiday,

as to say nirvana, i agree with you, there are better places, allrgt.....

take care have a safe trip, and have a gr8 time

take care and keep writing.......

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neeraj said...

Heyy Sayesha,

My first time on this blog page, but totally enjoyed it. The header picture is pretty cool too! Take care.

sushil said...

Quite true, it atleast seems to us in Singapore that things are easier in India. I wonder though if the file is enough for us to make the move back.

Stupidosaur said...

Funny. I just returned from a trip to a relatively remote part of India visiting relatives.

Whatever you said is all applicable.

Now back to work tomorrow! err today! And the feeling no longer remaining is a confirmed inevitability rather than a mere very real possibility you said.


VIDYA said...

@ Urv,
hey! pre booking the gold isn't allowed!

Reshma said...

Visiting after a long time, have to catch up with a lot of posts! Have fun in India!!!

Anonymous said...

Well, good to read a desi outsiders view.
Working in Urban India is now 'normal'.
Where Normal is - getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work and driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for - in order to get to the job you need to pay for the clothes and the car, and the house you leave vacant all day so you can afford to live in it.

Holidays are meant for commercial breaks. I stay in India and I use my holidays exploring distant places within it, and I feel I need to be reborn repeatedly to complete my journey :)

Take a look at My India


Thousif Raza M.B said...

hey sayesha as you have written such wonderful posts, i thought of giving a little suprise to you

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hope you will like it

dont forget to visit ok

take care and keep writing.........

Shanks_P said...

Nice break away post ....wish u a nice time there ...

Ghar aaja pardesi, tera des bulaaye re :)

Manchus said...

Wow! a vacation. Are you in India to attend Shub's wedding? Enjoy!!

Meira said...

Have a good time. Bangalore totally rocks.

Arvind Iyer said...


I want to be in the Cool Singapore Blogger's group too !!

btw, I had to pace out this post across 2-3 readings. I would have instead liked 2-3 servings of posts, like rice-rasam combos (to be continued style....)

Interesting observations as always...