With long hours at work, how do couples in the IT and ITES sectors make their marriage work? GEETA PADMANABHAN finds outIn a dancing economy, our young couples don't want to miss anything money, career, opportunities and kids. And they come at a price. "At 25, I have two cars and a house. At 40, I can start a business of my own. My parents couldn't dream of it." It's having your life and spending it too! But at what cost? Read about these contemporary stories.Rhonda and Jacob: He was why she joined a BPO. But different departments, different shifts and Jacob's longer hours aren't conducive for a fairytale saga. "We try constantly for opportunities to be together," confessed Rhonda. "When we break off from calls, we rush to the cafeteria for a quick bite. A lot of romancing is done over the phone." Anupama and Rajesh Nair: They met (on the corridors?) when they were doing different shifts. Now a weekend couple, she clocks from noon to midnight, he from 3 a.m. to 3 p.m. During weekdays he gets to see her, sleeping. "We leave each other Post-it notes. "Raj, have you paid the bill?" Not completely unromantic, though. I always add, "I love you" so he'll do the job. If I'm home when he returns, he says, "Can you put in the papers and do this every day?"Kashma and Ravi Raju: She reports at 10.30 a.m., returns at 8 p.m., he's a 2 p.m. - 2 a.m. guy. "Our timings are natural family planners," he says, not happy at the way they're bonding. "There's no quality time spent together. But we're determined to make our marriage work." Veena and Yogesh: Veena has Saturdays off, but tags along to be with Yogesh. He waits four hours to have lunch together at a café. "You will find us at night shows. Or hanging out at Spencer's. We have a free corporate SIM card for "sweet nothings." Divya and Karthick: Were part of a BPO team. Quit, joined an IT major, got married. Worked shifts for six months, she, from 6 p.m. to 3 a.m. and he, from 4 a.m. to 1p.m. Had different off days. It was unreal. It still is.
What about romance?Shuba Rangarajan: Not when you work 20 hours, seven days to meet targets? It won't help your promotion prospects to be found loafing around. So you stay less distracted. Anupama: Our mobile conversations go like, "Can we talk?" "No yaar, call you back." Murphy's law is at work here. When one calls, the other is always at a meeting.Yogesh: I miss the kitchen romance. I need my morning tea but I wake her up with black tea to prepare mine! Life is a constant juggle between sleep and time together.Divya: BPO romance is all about time, opportunity and chemistry. May be we're breaking free of parental shackles on romance. Of course, you need to work the same shift to fall in love.
Precious weekendsShuba: I've told the bosses I'll work 20-hour weekdays, weekends, no! Anu: Guests are mostly no-no. We take off, chill out. We drive together and the 100-metre walk from car park to the grocery store will have to do. Ravikumar: Weekends aren't exactly paradise time. Grocery, repair work, gas booking...
Romance plusDivya: Sometimes there's no clue to what's happening in each other's lives. Ravi Raj: Out of sight, out of mind.Anu: We do develop friendships in the office, but we keep an eye on errant guys. We don't stop flirting, it's part of life! Rhonda: Insecurity is built into this atmosphere. Ravikumar: There are always rumours floating around. Trust is an absolute must.
Time managementDivya: For weeks we get 10/15 minutes of talk time. It's a "hi-bye" romance. Whoever is at home cooks. Yogesh: If you're in workforce management, you schedule work to make sure you have time with wife/lover. We draw master plans for this. Shuba: Lucky are those who have understanding team leaders. A senior said she hadn't seen her husband all week though they work in the same department, live in the same house.
We make it work!Anupama: We don't pry into mails or SMS. He knows I have friends. It's not a tied-up relationship. We know we are the best for each other. Raj: Expectations lead to disappointment. You have to work to fill the chasms. We're snappy, lose precious time. We get about 2 minutes to make up. I keep mum.Shuba: We have ground rules. No logging in for work at home. We accept the situation with a sense of resigned humour. Better laugh it off.It's a convention-crushed marriage. Home is just a place to crash in, tired and irritable. There's never enough time to say everything I want to. There are hailstorms of "I-told-you!" The relationship travels over peaks and valleys. Family functions are impossible to attend. Parties? Oh, yeah, in the office. Cell phone is the best way to connect. Switch servers to have the same wavelength. "It's e-connectivity, e-mails, IMs and chats," says Divya. "Mobiles take care of birthdays and anniversaries. A friend SMS-ed her husband she was pregnant." Divorces and heartbreaks? Another story.