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Purba Bhattacharya…That was my “Back to the Front” moment !

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My life changed around July 2010. I quit my job without planning what I will do next.

I remember the day I informed my boss, I came back home, took a bath and went to friends place over dinner. And I slept off in their bedroom with the TV cranked up high and kids playing around me. I’d not feel so relaxed in years. And I never thought I had it in me to quit the job. It easier said than done.

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I had been working since 2000 after completing my Masters in HR& OD. Loved the high of working with a high performing team. Worked with competitive colleagues and competitive seniors and loved the adrenaline of the work place was consumed in the heady feeling of the speed, the numbers, the accolades, the promotions, the reviews. I dreaded failure….felt guilty if I took a leave….was often seen in office late at night and was there in office before my team came in. Constantly traveled, and traveled at odd hours. Never exercised. Eating out was routine.

Only my mother was keeping track of time. I was 29 and yet to get married. Thankfully some issues in life were settled, e.g. the groom was shortlisted way back in college. Eventually my mother landed in Delhi and issued a deadline to Manish and me. And in between a chaotic work schedule and approaching financial year end, I got married in Feb 2006. But life was back as usual, only my roommate changed. Manish moved into my apartment so I did not have to change a thing after my marriage. In 2008, I opted for a transfer to head office in Mumbai and the plan was that Manish will also look for an opening and join me in Mumbai. What was not planned was the markets crashing  and the slowdown of the economy.  Shifting jobs was a risky proposition…so we got back to dating each other once again. Manish used to fly to Mumbai and spend a weekend and then fly back on Monday mornings. All this was cool. We had always lived like this and I had loads of friends in Mumbai and Manish had his gang in Delhi.

But by the end of one year in Mumbai, I hated living alone and was bored with the pace of life. Increasingly nothing at workplace or in my life made sense. I could no longer articulate the larger purpose in life. What was with all this maniac deadlines running with others agenda. Nothing was fitting in for the first time I didn’t feel like going back to work. And off course there was my mom, the time keeper, she had starting chanting “baby, baby, baby…..”. I dreaded calling her up. On her insistence I went and met up with doctors, Gynecologist and endocrinologist. I have hypothyroidism and I weigh a tonne. Thankfully both were positive and so I was relaxed that one day in near future I shall have a baby and that I don’t need to break my head over it now.

2010 I moved back to Delhi. Manish and I moved in a bright and sunny apartment. I liked this house. I spent time in doing it up and used to look forward to coming back home after work. This time I felt more settled in life, but work was no longer interesting. It was repetitive and though it was a known territory and domain, I was uncomfortable. So one Saturday, I called by boss and I said want to quit. I’m sure even he would have thought that it’s a passing phase….I wasn’t the type who quits.

I felt happy and relaxed, I completed my notice period and it was around the festival season in October. Joined Yoga classes, went walking, cooked and baked and listened to music and watched movies and read books and talked to cousins and friends and in years I truly enjoyed Durga Puja and Diwali. I went to spend some time with my parents in Kolkata. I had not lived this live in years. I still had no plan of what I will do. This vacation was so refreshing.  A life without Monday morning blues and constant phone calls and meetings and reviews and follow ups and running around.

And it was in Kolkata that I realized I was pregnant. I was ecstatic. It was like my child was waiting for me to quit my job !!! I came back to Delhi and was pampered like princess.

The ecstasy was short lived. My thyroid levels went haywire on 6th week. And 8th week was horrible, there was a complication, and my doctor was not responding. And her office was curt and told me that I should get a scan done and come over if there is still a heartbeat!!  ……Those were the worst few hours in my life. Never felt so helpless.

We contacted our friend’s mother, and I was under Aunty’s care there on. I will forever be grateful to her. She put me under strict bed rest for next 4 months and on strict diet and medication. Through the first trimester I was asked only to lie on my left side with legs raised. I followed her instruction to the T. I used to keep laying down all day, all alone…. I read books, watched TV and slept. I bought books from flipkart and read up most of my MBA books, which interestingly made more sense now. Somewhere in the back of my mind I planned to join back work after the maternity break.But strangely I didn’t go mad. I enjoyed my solitude….. My baby was there with me.

I was blessed with Sharanya in the August of 2011. I still remember the moment, when in half daze in the OT table, the doc brought my kid to me and I just heard him saying, “congrats you have a daughter”….I still can’t get over the moment. All these nine months I had secretly hoped and prayed for a daughter. God has been so kind to me.

The next six months were crazy, but it was very full filling. Manish was always there with me , help me in raising our kid. He was very hands on as a parent and Sharanya was an amazing kid. Life gradually got back into a steady pace by the time Sharanya was 7-8 months old. And I started wondering what next. With crazy stories doing the rounds, leaving the kid with someone unknown and going to work was out of question. And most of all …. I loved being around her….my bundle of joy. It was so much fun to see her grow and I really did not want to miss any bit of it.

One evening I was out in the park with the kid when my ex colleague Anjali Gulati call ( Yes the same Anjali who thought of Back to the Front ). “Kya kar rahi ho aaj kal” she asked…I said “bachha pal rahi hu”….and the rest as they say is history. She was looking for someone to anchor her operations in Delhi.

Some moments is life are pretty eerie, it is as if someone is pulling the strings in our life. This was one such moment in my life.

That was my “Back to the Front” moment. It all started with “let us give it a try”.

I flew to Mumbai with my 8 month old kid and Anjali and I talked …and we talked for a whole day. We spoke of limitless possibilities and what being on your own means to us. Many of our dreams are common. I remember telling her If I joined People Konnect ..…I would want to set up the Delhi office someday .She said….”tum bahut paisa kamati thi”…I know I can’t afford you…but if you are game you can earn that kind of money again.

Nothing of this was planned. I could have not taken up this offer, could have planned of some other engagement and could be pursuing it OR not pursuing it at this point in time. Could have got a back to the corporate…got an assignment of my liking OR not my liking…making money Or not making as much money. Who knows.

It has been 3 years with People Konnect. And YES we did open the Delhi office last year. And we are in business. There were glorious days and there were very very depressing and sad months when one wonders why am Iinto this business at all. Do I have the right skills and temperament?

But I guess this all is part of growing up.

I’m no saint… I’m jealous of my ex colleagues and classmates who are now well settled in their jobs. I quit the corporate race in my prime. After 15 years of working, I’m a struggler….But this struggle gives a high…The high I would have never known had I not quit.

I don’t want to trade places with anyone. I believe we each have to find our own balance in life. Priorities in life change and so should we. I’m competitive about the work I do, I’m passionate about my interests in life and I will go any length to give my daughter the life she deserves.

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6 thoughts on “Purba Bhattacharya…That was my “Back to the Front” moment !

  1. Hi Purba
    Kudos to you and anjali gulati for Back to The Front.

    What a frank piece you have written. and i loved the last bit a lot. so many times we want to trade places with our peers. the article is like an inner voice that tells me “its ok” if i don’t trade places or i don’t seek corporate challenges.

    thanks and wishing you lovely ladies good luck once again

  2. Lovely piece Purba straight from your heart! Enjoy your moments of happiness!

  3. Refreshingly honest account , Mana ! More power to your elbow !!

  4. Hi Purba,
    I landed to your write-up through a common friend!
    I so felt connected with your story!specially with 15 years of work experience I am still a struggler!
    I too have been running my own business since 4 years leaving the ready made 9 to 5 set up for a struggle in a different country altogether!
    I wish you All the best and since you are “konnecting people”,let me know if you or anyone you know can connect students who are interested to study abroad to us!
    Am constantly in look out for woman entrepreneurs who would like to work for us from a home set up!
    Wishing you soar more!

  5. Great one and so needed at the moment. Currently working full time and contemplating is it worth it!

  6. great to read your story……………….. i could konnect to you so easily…….

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