I came across this article through fb (thanks Susha for sharing it) and I have been writing this post in my head for the last hour.
Am glad someone has said it… I was sickened by Indira Nooyi’s interview which was all over the web. See, the problem is… when Shobha De (I like her) says something conservative it is not a big deal but when Indira Nooyi says something like ‘Women cannot have it all’ it has repercussions. It affects all the working women in India. I was surprised nobody protested except for an article by Shobha De. I understand where she is coming from. For women of “her” generation to be successful, have a career and still be a decent mother/wife is very challenging. I mean, it is challenging for women of my generation as well. My mother says those things that Indira’s mom did… about her being a wife and mother in the house and leaving her career outside the door. Of course, my mom does not put it that coarsely. She just says she does not give a damn about my career. And I am egoistic because I earn money. The truth is I will be egoistic even if am a pauper. I would make a terrible beggar. And the truth is my mom has always wanted a career and couldn’t have it because she had kids and is part of a terrible generation. Thankfully, I have a brother so I can always compare mom’s behavior with him and with me. She would NEVER say that about his career. That is what he was born to do… have a successful career and be filthy rich.
The first thought that came to my mind when I read the article was “Would any man leave work early/on time because he needs to buy groceries?” I have never met such a man and I wonder if they exist. I will marry him if there is someone like him. And here I am… buying groceries has been on my priority list for the last 3 days… 2 days out of those I was ill and could not gather the strength to finish this chore… while yesterday I rushed out of office to buy the damn groceries. I have many things to do today…. give away the fridge to the maid, work stuff, lunch with a friend, have to give a package to the friend which I left at home and will have to rush back to pick up, eat 6 meals on time, gym, have dinner by 7 pm but the most important of all is to buy garbage bags. I cannot go home without garbage bags.
Please don’t tell me… men and women are different. That is bull shit. Nature or nurture? Nurture, of course. It is all about how you are brought up… we are all different… how our talents/faults get channelized defines who we become. When I see bad men (includes everything- rapists/liars/cheaters/mcps) I blame their parents- mothers specifically. When you are the mother of a male child you have the additional responsibility to raise them right. What is the worse that a female can do to the world or to society? I cannot think of anything truly horrible that a woman can do… but a man? Just read the newspapers. A mother has to raise her male child right… she needs to teach him to respect women… I mean she just has to teach him how she would like to be treated.
There was a time when being a good husband was simple- don’t beat your wife and don’t take dowry. The latter is decorative since all Indian parents give dowry. Thankfully, it is not so easy today. If I had to get married through arranged marriage today, these are my requirements:
– Should know how to cook. I can cook so I can demand this from the guy
– Should know basic household chores. The sexiest thing a man has done for me is help me wash dishes. I didn’t marry or even date him (for too long) but he will always have my respect and admiration
– Be successful (atleast as much as me)… should earn atleast as much as me
– Be into fitness… lazy slobs are so out…
– Own a house. Imperative in today’s times.
– Respect women… treat them as equals… be a feminist
– Have a sense of humor
– Be independent… basically means don’t expect me to live with his parents. If he is ok with being a ghar jamai I would consider being a ghar bahu. Not otherwise.
Coming back to the article, when I started my career I worked hard… and sometimes late. I remember calling my manager and telling him am working late every night and still not able to finish my work. I was in sales which involved fair bit of travelling. I would wake up early… travel to a town by 9 am… do 60 calls (sales lingo) a day (till atleast 5 pm)… meet 3 distributors… catch up on email… it would be 9 pm every night. My manager told me things will ease up once I figure out whats a priority and don’t have to work so late. After sometime things did ease up. I managed my schedule so that I could work out 10 days in a month in a gym in Rajkot… considering I was travelling atleast 15 days and shuttling between Mumbai/A’bad/Rajkot and many other towns. I have worked in 3 companies… it is actually 2… I rejoined the previous organization but the culture and work is so different from when I was here earlier that I will consider it to be 3 instead of 2. I have always maintained a work life balance. And there is not one person who will complain about my work. I am diligent at what I do… I meet deadlines… and I have never had a bad appraisal.
When you are good at what you do… having a work life balance becomes easier. If you have finished your job nobody can make you stay in office late. And I have worked with all kinds of scum of this earth. Sure, I worked late in the first 2 years of my career but thats because I didn’t have anything else to do. I could have left on time if I wanted to. I preferred to stay in office and work instead. When I joined my 2nd organization, I left office by 6 pm because my cook came at 8 pm and commute took 2 hours. I made it very clear that I want to have home cooked dinner and if it meant leaving at 6 pm… thats what I will do. My boss’s boss finished my appraisal on time so I could leave on time. When you give your life priority, so do people around you. When you don’t care enough to care… nobody else will.
Around 1.5 years back I was in a meeting with a guy whose family is in Kolkata while he is in Mumbai. During a review/important meeting his son called to complain against his mother (the wife) because she hacked into his facebook and he was not happy about it. The guy- a very senior person answered the call during the meeting and sorted out things. It took him atleast 15 mins. The meeting was on hold while he did that. I will not comment on his professional skills but his family is priority and he put them before a stupid meeting. My dad is a doctor… he works 24/7… all days of the week… he saves life and he has never ever told me “I am busy” when I have called… ever. All we buggers do is sell shampoos/chocolates/lights/washing machines/make up… stuff people don’t even NEED but have the nerve to tell our loved ones we are busy with ‘important’ stuff. We all believe that we will have a work life balance when we reach a certain stage in our career. Reality is… if it is not a habit, it will never happen. And it can only be a habit if we follow it every single day.
It all comes down to priority. Every minute of our life is planned basis our priority. If I like someone/care about someone I will go to any lengths for that person… and if I don’t, everything else in my life will be a priority. It is THAT simple. If you don’t call your wife when she is ill because you are in an important meeting… your priority is not your wife. It is as simple as that.
I have not sacrificed anything in my life… and I never will. I am happy where I am… and I am a woman. So, Ms Nooyi (I hate putting Mrs) I have it all and am a woman.