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Romance in the age of BPOs
8 am. Like in most other homes, breakfast is ready.
However, unlike in most other homes, Mukund Kamat returns from office to join his wife, Rekha, for breakfast. An hour later, Rekha leaves for work.
Rekha and Mukund, both 25 years old, live a life similar to many other BPO executives who work different shifts through the week. They generally meet only for an hour a day, either in the day or at night.
Less time at home
Erratic working hours and night shifts make it increasingly difficult for couples to have time for each other.
"I live in my office and am a visitor at home. Most of my favourite music is at my office," says Mukund, a BPO trainer in Pune, who has been working on the night shift for 18 months. He adds that their living room is locked from Monday to Friday and he can only think of sleep when he is home!
"Luckily, Rekha and I were working on different shifts even when we were seeing each other, so we knew what to expect," says Mukund. "But it took us a few days to get that 'homely' feeling in our new house since we were away for such long hours!"
Says Neha Kapadia, 27, a software manager in an IT company in Pune, who works night shifts because most of her clients are in the US, "The early days were very difficult because it took a long time for my body clock to adjust to the change. And I made life miserable for my husband (Mohit, 30, also a software professional).
"I was snappy and would break down at every small reason. The frustration of not finding time with Mohit was getting to me. It was Mohit who made things easy for me. He would drop in at my office after he finished work and we would share a coffee and talk about the day's happenings. We also had breakfast together. Now, I have adjusted to this routine."
Mobile phones and emails
"Mobile phones are a blessing for couples like us," says Chaitanya Das, 29, a manager in a BPO in Hyderabad, who has been working on night shifts for the past three months. "We are constantly in touch on phone and even on email. Reminders, birthdays and anniversaries are taken care of by email."
Chaitanya recalls that his wife even broke the news that she was pregnant on email!
The together hours
Ambar Swanandan, 33, a journalist working for a news website in Mumbai, finds it difficult to work on morning shifts because he had been working nights for the last year.
"In the mornings, I am really stressed out. Even on my weekly offs. This would often end up in petty fights with my wife (a home maker). She was really upset that the little time we were together was spent in fights and arguments. But now, she just leaves me alone in the mornings; by afternoon, I am my usual cheery self," he explains candidly.
His advice: both partners need to make sure they spend quality time with their spouses. It could be discussing news, helping with home chores, talking about your favourite poem or just chatting.
"Since these couples get so little time together, that time should be utilised for pursuits both enjoy," he says.
Weekends are sacrosanct
Says Rekha, "We have mutually decided not to entertain friends or relatives on weekends. One of us takes care of that through the week. Weekends are only for us."
"Since we do not get much time through out the week, we really enjoy the time we spend together. We buy our weekly groceries and veggies together, have brunch and just chill," says Mukund.
Mohit Shah, 34, a manager in a BPO in Pune, says "Both of us love to watch movies. So we generally catch a movie on the weekend. It's a good way for us to recharge."
A great time together
Here's are some tips for couples struggling to find time together:
Try and spend as much free time together by choice.
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