My semi-retired life

I jokingly tell everybody, the husband and I have been semi-retired for the past six months. No, we don’t have a millionaire godfather looking out for us, both of us work, but the pressure at work is so light in comparison to what we’ve been used to so far, that it could be almost non-existent really.

Our workplace has a forty-hour week, which is rarely, if ever, stretched to forty two or forty three hours. Anything beyond that, and you have the COO sending out appreciation mails to the entire department and apologetically asking you to treat your family to a nice dinner on the company’s expense account the next day.

A funny incident happened during my first week here. In the software industry, we are usually asked to provide our own work estimates when we are assigned a new piece of work and the estimates are later reviewed by the manager. This helps to schedule the work and assign a delivery date to the client. The first time I did this exercise here, I bumped up my estimates slightly, assuming from my earlier experience that my manager would be downsizing them during the review.

Imagine my surprise when he bumped them up some more, explaining, ‘We need to allow for some buffer time too, you know!’ When an unexpected issue occurs in the course of their work, instead of working inhuman hours to meet the stipulated deadline, folks here speak to their manager who in turn speaks to the client and if the problem is genuine, adjustments are made all around.

Compare this to my former workplace in India, where late night and early morning calls, workdays that frequently spilled over into the night and working weekends were the norm and an obvious expectation from each employee. The company, on it’s part, very thoughtfully provided shuttle services throughout the night and on weekends. Anything to make the client happy!

So to say our work life is not very hectic these days might seem like a major understatement. Plus we live just a short ten minute drive from the office, so our commute is hardly worth talking about. On a typical workday evening, I get time to catch up on some reading, watch a couple of my favorite serials, spend an hour in the gym, write a blog post, have a long phone chat with a friend, take my own sweet time cooking up a complicated Sanjeev Kapoor recipe followed by a long leisurely dinner and some ‘quality’ time squabbling or romancing with the husband, depending on our mood for the day!

We take long walks by the Hudson river behind our house, share a hot cup of coffee in the balcony as we admire a spectacular sunset over the river and star-gaze and chat late into the night. On weekends we take long road trips, or go cycling, kayaking, para-sailing or apple-picking.

Wouldn’t all this sound unbelievable to a poor hassled soul, back home after a grueling ten-hour workday and hour-long sweaty commute from VT to Thane? I would know, this was my life just a while ago. The life I lead right now seems straight out of a dream to me.

Let me clarify something. I don’t think such a lifestyle is typical to the US. The first three months we were here, we worked in NYC where the work culture was even more competitive than in India. My current workplace might be some kind of an anomaly in this respect. We are located in a small rural town and our company used to be family-owned before it was taken over by a large multinational company last year. Probably the old small-town and family-owned company culture still persists, giving us the charming laid-back lifestyle that I so enjoy.

Our mornings start with a meeting which the boss starts with a chirpy, ‘What a beautiful day!’ every day. Yes, every day, unless there’s a thunderstorm or a pile of snow outside when he adds, ‘In Mexico!’ Our half-hour meetings have just about ten minutes of serious talk, the rest of the time we laugh, joke, rant and generally work up a wonderful frame of mind to go attack our workload for the day. In the summer we have lunch on the lawns outside, followed by a short walk to the airfield just behind the office to watch planes take off or land right in front of us!

I was never a very ambitious person, give me some interesting and challenging work to engage my mind and I’m more than happy for the day. Challenging does not translate into punishing or exhausting in my book and a hundred grand salary in NYC does not sound attractive to me when coupled with the three-hour commute it entails. Our current lifestyle suits me perfectly that way, thank you very much.

The husband is a different matter altogether. He is much more ambitious than me and is afraid he’ll stagnate and lose his competitive edge in such a laid-back atmosphere. These days, he is busy preparing his MBA applications while I go chase butterflies and smell the flowers on my own for a change!

What about you, dear readers? Are you more like the husband or like me?


19 responses to “My semi-retired life

  1. How nice!!
    We were in such a quiet & peaceful city before moving over to the silicon city of India. Now I have to learn to redefine my dreams. I am at it but would say that I have not been very successful.

  2. Oh, how I envy you!! The only reason that made me quit my cushy job was the amount of work they gave to me, they knew its impossible for one person to finish such a mamooth task, yet they do not hestitate to dump work on me, my saturdays,sundays were spent trying to catch up with backlog of work….i still remember on some weeks, i got only 10 mins to speak to hubby dear. When I forgot my dad’s birthday and fell ill often, i decided to chuck my job coz life happens to us only once…do send some of your luck my way:-)

  3. Thats very nice! Enjoy your time and make the most of it ! I was in a similar job earlier and have seen the worst of the times too…and now its pretty much relaxed and take-it-easy types:) its so good to be outa work sometimes, I say!

  4. Shruthi, Sumi, KP, M, thanks! Yes, I know I’m very lucky right now and am enjoying every bit of it till it lasts. I know the husband wants a change soon, so till then, go on envying me! 🙂

    Lavs, wow! That was very brave of you. I admire that very much. I doubt how many of us would have had the courage to stop cribbing and do something about it. So did you find something less hectic?

  5. You all the way! But you should know that by now 🙂

    We have a very similar work life too, and I appreciate it so much more now since I had a nearly 12-14hr/7day work week before this. The only thing missing- butterflies and backyard streams *crib crib* 😀

  6. Lucky you! Seriously, have fun till it lasts. My first few months of job (here in India) were just like that. Now — well, the work’s become so hectic — it took me more than a day to comment here after you posted :-X

  7. I can imagine, it must be hard to find a backyard stream in Singapore, CW!

    Ojas, thank you, thank you! I was in your shoes before, 2 months on bench as soon as I joined my first company! 🙂

  8. I just began reading your blog and love it so far so plan to read all your posts. Anyways, am commenting on this older post of yours.

    Used to be like your hubs B.C.( before child) and somehow now I wonder what was all the hoopla about. I mean the ambition I harboured and nurtured so relentlessly thru my teens and twenties. Anyhow, now I sail in your boat and am loving it. Although if you live anywhere in NJ I think your cheerful boss could only be saying “its a beautiful day” in summer and fall no:-)

  9. Wow Deepa, thanks so much! Do let me know what you think of the other posts too. And yes, please keep visiting!

    I live in NY, but what you say about the weather holds true, but so much more here! 🙂

    Btw, do you blog? Didn’t find a url in your name.

  10. Does your office have a branch in Bangalore? 😉 actually i used to be like your hubby about a year ago.. but am slowly coming out of that lifestyle and beginning to be more like you.. 🙂

  11. This is lovely…. i am like u.. love to take in all that is around me, which is why i up and quit my corporate job and now freelance!!! 🙂

    came in thru Chandni’s blog!! 🙂

  12. I can *SO* see your point. The husband is in the IT industry and cant work more than 40 hours, Fridays finish at 4.30 and he is asked not to work extra hours. I lecture, which means a lot of holidays..which means when people ask us when we are going on holiday..the answer is..a shrug..we watch films, go for walks, talk to friends, see the sights of London..its good that they understand work is work and there is a life outside office hours. The Brits are fierce about their ‘space’ and free time / home much so they dont give their mobile/ home numbers out. No to me when I am at work. Which is good..

  13. Chandni: You are? Wow! I totally admire you so I’ll take that as a huge compliment. 😀

    Hey, welcome to the lazy bum club Sango! 😉

    You too BlueMist? Makes me happy, some of us are still sane!!!

    Welcome here Aarti! I envy freelancers, no need to get up early in the morning, eh? 🙂

    Oh, your husband’s firm sounds so much better than mine m0rph3us! I never thought it possible. 😉 Yes, I have observed the same about Americans and really admire it too. And have you heard about the French? Four day weeks! Sigh!!!

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