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It’s all work and no romance for IT pros

Friday 30 April 2004

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Don’t be alarmed if all this sounds a little too familiar! Coz, when it comes to matters of the heart and matrimony, the Indian techie still likes to go by the book.

Except for a few lucky souls, who manage to strike amorous chords during their engineering college days, being bit by the romance bug! And those who missed the bus in college, seeing their object of affection succumb to the charms of the suave Brad Pitt-look-alike, they may have later got lucky as romance blossomed with colleague, behind bonding sessions at the workplace cafe.

However, the blessed ones form only a miniscule portion of our huge IT workforce , which is growing by leaps and bounds (going by Nasscom estimates, there are almost 300,000 high-level Indian software professionals) and is fast becoming a force to be reckoned with.

Love’s labour lost...

"’Tis better to have loved and lost...than never to have loved at all" love poet John Donne, had languorously stated years ago.

For the Indian tech community, it is a different story. As a majority of fresh engineering graduates are being lapped up by big IT firms across the country, most of these professionals find themselves ensconced in software environs by the time they have entered 25 years of age, if not earlier.

As a consequence, they end up spending more time, in the presence of swank and sexy looking grey hued Pentium 4s, delving deep into the virtual web of network programming and writing programs. Most of the free time is taken up in running networked systems and delivering applications to clients on time.

"I am in office by 9 a.m. And usually am there till 10 p.m. There are days aplenty when I am so caught up working on my latest Linux programme that I don’t come home for 3 or 4 days," Aniruddha, a 26-year-old Delhi-based Linux specialist, said.

And he is not the only one. There are many IT pros like Aniruddha who spend 14-16 hours, on an average, at their workplace. Stag existence, living away from home further cements the affinity shared towards office and most professionals seek refuge behind work chambers.

This leads to reduced interaction with friends, peers and other members of their support system. Long work hours, erratic schedules, tight deadlines to meet, all ensure that work, and work alone, create havoc in the grey cells of IT techies. Romance takes a backseat as professional commitments loom large and breathe down one’s neck.

And this is an increasingly common trend for hundreds of Indian software techies, residing in the country or living abroad. Caught up in the daily grind, there is a growing paucity of time for IT pros to let their hair down and get swamped by the lazy feeling of love! The tech population is too busy thrashing out new programs and ideating new concepts, and good old romance takes a backseat.

In most cases the responsibility of choosing a life partner rests with concerned family members. That is, unless some friend tries to play matchmaker and start the pairing series with other common friends, who incidentally are single. Otherwise, anxious parents are immersed in never-ending Sunday matrimonial columns, zooming in on potential spouses for their progeny.

"My son had been an introvert throughout his growing years. It would take tremendous effort to make Vivek talk to anyone. But, thankfully, he liked the first girl that we selected for him, making our task so much simpler," Rubina Kaul, a bank employee said.

Anyone For A Techie Groom?

Meanwhile, Indian techies expending their faculties abroad are also members of this growing club, banking heavily on filial advice for welcoming romance-marriage in their lives. Caught in a cess of tradition, innovation and change, most of them strive hard to maintain a balance between cultural ethos and diversity. Back home, however, they are considered hot property for all aspirants in the marriage market.

A flight abroad means greater chance of exposure to diverse population world over and most Indian middle-class families, which churn out the maximum number of IT techies in our country, are yet to accept a westerner as their son-in-law or daughter-in-law. Therefore, to stay on the safe side, families mount marriage pressure and most techies, yet to find love on their own, give in to such demands.

Veena Das, a Noida-based psychotherapist concurs, that in certain ways, software professionals are actually content with families selecting their spouses, as it saves them time from looking around. They are also not overtly plagued by the fear of rejection in love and at the end of the day, it is practicality that scores over romance.

"I really liked this classmate of mine when I was doing my B.E. But, during college, I never had the drive to go and express my feelings for him. Once I started working, there was hardly any time to think of him. Recently, a common friend said that he has got married. Sometimes, I think that maybe, if I had spoken at the right time, things could have been different," Gunjan, 28, systems analyst with a Faridabad-based MNC said.

But there are many like Raghu, working as systems manager with a Gurgaon-based MNC, who make it a point to bring a difference to his otherwise busy life. A Linux freak, he tries to compensate for overnight stays in office by taking off to the hills regularly with his girlfriend Esha, to recharge his batteries. He is also particular about catching up with friends and family over the weekends that he manages to be free.

For those who cannot make it to the hills, Das suggests films, theatre, music. They form good sources of relaxation and spending quality time with friends often acts as a big form of destressing oneself.

"Our life has become very fast. Work demands are tremendous and especially in IT arena, one needs to be constantly abreast of change. Such detailed attention and concentration often makes the mind switch off. Therefore, it is imperative to get oneself rolling before burn-out," Das says.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, goes the famous adage...up close, there lies a halo of warning for our bright, intelligent and hardworking tech professionals, who are busy caught up in the web of work to while away time in romance.

See online : The Economic Times

P.S.

In The Economic Times, Friday, April 30, 2004.

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