Every Friday, I am struck by the number of people sharing their joy of the anticipated weekend with the world. On Twitter and Facebook, elated office goers heave sighs of relief and announce their weekend plans. It’s a virtual war out there, a subtle but keen competition for who will have the best weekend.
How about all those scores of people, though, who work through the weekend. It occurred to me today, that a privileged lot actually get the weekend off. A whole bunch of people work through Saturdays and Sundays providing services, manning retail stores and salons, movie theaters and car parks. When do they spend time with their children, with their families? When do they shop, eat out, relax?
Being married to a pilot, weekends are an interesting concept in our house as well. The kids follow a strictly weekday-weekend routine thanks to school and my life sort of loops around that. Rahul’s availability on a weekend has always been a luxury though. There have been times when he has been out on several weekends in a row and cooling his heels at home on a weekday, when the rest of us have no time for him. When he is in, we’re all happy to plan something special or just chill at home! Because I do not work full time, weekends do not need to be cluttered with chores like shopping. I manage to finish all those at some point during the week so we have clear weekends to enjoy. But, I digress.
I’m amazed that our mindsets are so set on this weekday-weekend pattern despite the fact that many people in a modern economy work on very different schedules. It is one of those things most of us do not really dwell on and that also feeds off the fact that Indian cities are very diverse. People from varying income groups, classes and backgrounds co-exist and therefore, many of these aspects get evened out because expectations differ hugely.
For many of the people I observe who are the worker bees that fuel businesses in retail and entertainment, a day off is a luxury. These are the hard working masses that really hold our cities afloat. With varying levels of education, their assets are things like skills acquired on the job, temperament, the ability to do repetitive tasks, take orders, etc. In conversations with a cross section of people like shop attendants, security guards, waiters, chefs, ticket checkers, those who man cash counters at superstores, etc I am amazed at how satisfied they are with their lot. They are happy to have a job, to earn a decent living and be treated with dignity. A day off here and there is good for them and they seem to make the most of this day. The guy who cuts my hair, for instance, takes Tuesdays off to visit a Hanuman Mandir somewhere near ISBT and his faith is a matter of great satisfaction for him. Of course, their lives may be difficult, they may not always be treated well and jobs may come and go. But the weekend and the crazy premium we attach to it is absent from their lives. They are hugely aware of how important it is for ‘us’ though, their customers who set the cash registers ringing starting Friday night up until Sunday night! I guess we could call it a symbiotic relationship!