I often pinged people on Gtalk only to get a reply “Hey I am busy right now, ttyl.” At other times, I have waited entire days and weeks at stretch to hear back from someone who messaged me on Facebook that he/she will give me a call ‘tonight’. This happened mostly during my hostel days, and then also at times once I started working. Till a while ago I did not understand such behavior, and considered it appalling.
However, times have changed. Situations have changed. Places have changed. I have changed. Frankly speaking, I am no longer the same person I was 12 months ago (that was around the time I moved to Hyderabad). Let us go back to early-mid 2011, right after my wedding. Office hours were 9am to 6pm, no sorry 7pm. Actually 8pm on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10pm on Wednesdays and yes, 7pm on Fridays (because I would throw a tantrum). Basically there was no fixed time to get back home on the weekdays. Once home, the schedule would be – have dinner, play a game of scrabble once a week, go to bed. And I would be so tired that I would be fast asleep at 10.30pm. Tiredness and need to spend time with myself would force me to sleep all through Saturdays. On Sundays, my wife would revolt and we would go for a drive over the hills, or go eat a nice dinner, or waste time and money in a shopping mall. That would be my week. And then Monday again, back to work.
I was busy, but I was not. On being asked “What’s the plan for the weekend”, I would gladly say “Nothing” :). And it was true. I did not have any plans. And apart from work (where all my friends were too), I was never busy.
Late 2011, we decided to move to Hyderabad. Wife first, then I. Today when my friends call me or message me, I have to tell them that I will call them back later. ‘Brb’, ‘ttyl’, ‘later’, have suddenly become my words. But what has changed? I have started getting more involved with life, with a better work-life balance. Today, my office timings are a very strict 9am to 6pm or 11am to 8pm, whichever I choose. I get more time at home, and over the past 12 months or so, this extra time has been used rather well. From trying my hand on the synthesizer to learn music and play the Canon in D, to playing Badminton – a sport I never once played in my childhood, to going down for a walk almost everyday for 6 months, to cycling at home every morning, to cooking new recipes inspired by Masterchef, to reading fiction for the first time ever – and I hated reading anything other than Wikipedia and science books, to watching amazing theater plays every week, to meeting and socializing with new friends every month, to traveling and living more each day. Today, even as I am typing this post out, I can see myself in Pune next week and in Kolkata the week after. Over the weekend, I do not know if I want to take some more rest or take my wife out for a long drive or go meet an old friend. There are so many options and so many things to do, yet only limited time. These days I feel as if I need an 8 days week, 3 for the weekend, which would include 1 for myself.
Editing photos and uploading them on my blog take up a lot of my time after every trip, a lot of which I did this year – so far 7 countries. I’ve spent more time on Wikipedia this year than ever before. I have gone back clicking links in my quest to learn more about the history of the human civilization. Did I add that I lost 16 kgs in the last 7 months? And I am back to my 2007 weight! Oh anyway, this is not my end of year review that I do every December/January, but I already feel as if it is the end of an year. Well yes, end of an year in Hyderabad. The point of this blog is that enough things have kept me moving, busy and in fact healthier than ever before! I feel as if I am in demand every hour of the day, with no free slots on the calendar. Maybe sometimes being idle is good, having nothing to do is great, but isn’t that what I did the last few years when I gained that tremendous weight? Yes I am in the ‘busy’ trap as Tim Kreider writes in the NY Times and yes I do ‘like’ this state, 6.75 days of the week (I spend a quarter of a day, or an evening every Sunday wondering why it would be over so soon).
However, when someone asks me “How’s it going”, my answer is “All great, why don’t you come visit us in Hyderabad”. I am that eager to host people and take them around the city I have made my own. So next time you ask me “Itna kya busy rehta hai”, you better know that I am busy but I am not :) At least I do not pretend to be busy. And if not this weekend, then maybe next, or maybe a weekday if not the weekend – but I will create some time, I sincerely hope.
The title of this post is dedicated to chat messengers which let you show a ‘Red Dot’ next to your status to visually alert your contacts that you are not available for a casual chat.