I met a young couple at one of my recent workshops. Both work in well-known IT companies in Bangalore ( or Bengaluru as soon it will be called) where I live. She is from Chandigarh, he is from Kolkatta.
They are amongst the thousands who have flocked to this fast growing city in the last decade in search of better career opportunities. Like many, they met and got married at their place of work. No, they did not get married in their office. They got married when they were working in the same company. After their child was born, she moved to another company which she believed would be little less demanding when it comes to work hours. Presently, they stay in a rented 1BHK (“1 Bedroom, Hall, Kitchen” in Bangalore terminology) house which is on the first floor. Their ambition is to get an apartment of their own, as soon as they can afford one.
Both have grueling work schedules. They earn well but they need to work very hard to keep earning well. They leave for work by 7.30 a.m. and on a “good “ day, depending on the traffic she makes it back home by 7.30 p.m. For him, the average would be closer to 8.45 p.m. because his place of work is even further.
Their child is 2 years old now. They are fortunate that their landlady who lives downstairs has time on her hands. Junior is left in her care/custody. For the little boy, the old lady plays several roles. She is the “acting “mother, companion, story teller, nurse, friend and play mate. He knows her better than almost any one else in the world. Unfortunately, she knows only Kannada, the local language and the child is fed a staple diet of Kannada TV programs from morning till evening. It is not surprising therefore that he knows more Kannada than the Hindi (his mother sometimes speaks to him), or the Bengali (his father sometimes speaks to him) or the English (both parents always speak to him).
Communication is stilted because his parents cannot understand a word of what he says in Kannada. In a sense, they are very close. In a sense, they are drifting far apart. His parents work extremely hard to get ahead in a dog-eat-dog world. They are driven by ambition to succeed. They don’t mind the strain, the long hours, the stress.
Here is the irony. Ask them ” Why are you guys working so much?” They look at their kid with pride and say they are doing this for him.