Friday, December 18, 2009

Weekdays and Weekends

It’s been a week of not going to office now. I somehow realize that the transition between weekdays and weekends is something for the working class in the US. In India, there was not much difference between the two, barring the fact that I went to school and later college in the weekdays, studying, and in weekends, I did the same at home. I will not even claim that weekends offered the luxury of sleeping late, given that I had math tuitions early in the morning. The teacher, in a bid to earn extra money, had scheduled classes at pretty weird hours of the day. Weekends also meant having more time to have meals at home, but that’s the extent to it.

When I worked in India, weekends did mean spending more time at home, but over time, it turned out to be boring. How much can one watch TV and entertain relatives at home? I would eagerly look forward to the Monday mornings when I could go to work again.

Things somewhat changed in the US. As a grad student, weekdays meant classes and weekends meant finishing homework, assignments, and studying for exams. There would be fewer people in the lab and you could spend the entire day without having to see the sun.

My really fun weekends started once I started to work. One of the things about transitioning from student life to work life meant I did not have to bring work home for the weekends. So while back in India father still went to office on Saturdays, I went on to do my own things here. Parties, shopping, dance clubs, hiking, anything not remotely related to work happened during the weekends. Work life demands a certain pattern of your attention where you have to be available 8 hours a day for 5 days, doing whatever you are asked to do (in contrast to research life where you did your own thing). It was good in a way (less responsibility, less exercising the mind) but things often got difficult by Wednesdays. Monday morning I would somehow drag myself to office. Tuesdays acceptance had set in and I knew another 4 backbreaking work days were ahead. Wednesdays often meant middle of the week. People would put up status messages like “After Mondays and Tuesdays, even the week says WTF” (WTF stands for WTF and also the other 3 days of the week). Thursdays were spent chanting “one more day, yes I can do it, one more day”. Fridays breezed through because you knew the next 2 days were yours for whatever you wanted to do. The office would empty by 4-5pm (depending on summer or winter). People would put up fancy status messages on Facebook like “Can’t wait for the weekend”, “Thank God it’s Friday”, and so on.

I have never been busier on the weekends. This summer, I haven’t been home a single weekend. I was either traveling or learning to drive. Instead of feeling rested, I’d go to office Monday morning feeling more tired. Theoretically weekends were meant for sleeping late, but it never happened to me. Even during inclement weather, it was mostly partying and socializing. How I loved my weekends. Starting Sunday evening, depression and tiredness (aka Monday morning blues) would set in. The cycle went on for more than a year.

This week has been disorienting, given that every day is a weekend now. Since the weather is not at its best self, given the rain and cold, I have been mostly indoors. It happened so many times I lost track of the day or the date. Even today, I did not realize it is Friday. I can totally see how the contrast between weekdays and weekends has faded for me and everyday seems like the same to me. I did read books, watch movies, hang out with friends and shopped, but I somehow felt like a bored wife of a rich man, directionless (the worse thing being neither a husband nor richness was in the picture). I frankly don’t miss my job, but miss being employed and engaged. I do have important assignments to finish, packing, selling, finishing deadlines, sorting my life, but am not really rushed. How I empathize with people who have lost their jobs.

Come tomorrow, the weekend will be yet another 2 days for me, of the same color and flavor, with nothing extraordinarily nice to look forward to. I pray that this is just a phase, just a break for me before I venture out into something more meaningful. These are the times I wish I could look into the future.



Padmanabhan said...

"I pray that this is just a phase, just a break for me before I venture out into something more meaningful"

I don't think there is much meaning in a job either. Having a job just keeps one busy with useless junk so one can give oneself an excuse for not looking for that 'something more meaningful'. I mean, unless one is super smart (in which case the job might really be meaningful) or super dumb (that one doesn't even realize it's useless junk).

Iddy Albatross said...

An interesting take on weekdays and weekends... having stayed in Delhi all my life, I can say that I could very well relate to the first part of the post. Especially the early morning and late night maths tuitions... what is up with that?? :D

nomatfinke said...

hello~nice to meet u..............................

The Wandering Minstrel said...

aah i know what u mean...never felt i loved weekends more before work happened with such tight deadlines before...of course the thumb rule that i wont carry work home...really helps!

sunshine said...

Padmanabhan- I kinda agree with you. But how many people around you do their jobs as if they are the best fit?

Iddy Albatross- hehe, that's just a ply of tuition givers to make more money, and stay away from the mundane activities of married life, like grocery, taking kids to school, etc.

nomatfinke- Hullo???

The Wandering Minstrel- yes as a teacher I never carried work home. And weekends are fun only when you have weekdays full of work :)

Padmanabhan said...

// But how many people around you do their jobs as if they are the best fit?

True. But I have never been able to understand them. In a way, I think it's like what you wrote in your recent post about pubs and dance clubs etc. I guess you decided that they were not for you because you weren't able to see through the thought process of the people there. My guess is that you couldn't figure out how being in a pub and doing the things they did were entertaining for them. So, you decided it's not for you. I wasn't able to figure that out either. Those around me who do their jobs like they are the best fit fall in the same category to me.

One other reason is that, with the kind of specialized jobs around, we don't get to connect the end result of what we do in our jobs with the process of doing it. That adds to the sense of uselessness one feels for one's job. I mean, the kind of satisfaction a teacher may get when he answers and clarifies an interesting question raised by a student can not be achieved by someone doing year 2000 switch. The result of doing such jobs is not as visible as the satisfaction in the student's face. But how there are people who claim to have such satisfaction doing such jobs?beats me.