Striking a work-life balanceEn route to our hotel in Mumbai, I asked myself, “Is it really possible to maintain a work-life balance?”
Just a couple weeks prior to touring Goa and Mumbai, I had my 8th-semester examinations for MBBS. They were tough times; my days and most of my nights were spent studying. With little sleep, dark circles were taking shape under my eyes, and my mind was getting clouded from the intensity of it all. The constant flow of being overworked continued throughout the examinations. There were four examinations in total, with a day off after every other exam. During that time, I cared little about my eating habits and day-to-day activities. Even when the examinations got over, there was no relief to be found. Guilt, frustration, and the thought that I could’ve done better had I studied more constantly played on my mind. The feelings of guilt, dissatisfaction, and incompetence stuck to my skin like leeches.
Fast forward a few weeks, I found myself on a typical family trip with eleven family members. A family friend received us at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport, Mumbai, India. They hosted us for a quick Nepali dinner at their home. Later that night, we were on our way to Goa, riding an Intercity ‘Sleeper Coach’ bus. Unlike the buses in Nepal, the Sleeper Coach was a fantastic experience: it was cosy and comfortable, and we were even able to play cards.
In my spare time during the journey, I caught up on emails and messages and found one asking me to work on my assignment. I went through it and assured my seniors that I would complete it soon. The thought of study and finals being just six months away lingered on my mind. Fortunately, talking and laughing with my family took my mind off of it.
Our visit to Goa started at Se Cathedral, a historical landmark and an architectural masterpiece with beautiful sculptures and idols. Later in the day, I took a stand against my uncle, who opposed my want to visit Benaulim Beach, one of the places my friends had recommended. Fortunately, I convinced everyone else in time, and my uncle had to follow suit. We reached Benaulim Beach in about 10-15 minutes, just in time to catch the sunset. Variants of red, orange and purple sunrays bled into the sea. Scattered clouds in the evening sky created a mesmerising view, one that is etched in my mind.
Resisting my uncle made me realise a few things: whether it be in the workplace or everyday life, seniors are not always right; and you must stand up for what you believe in, even when the odds are against you. But perhaps the most enjoyable lesson was that even small moments could become something you cherish for a lifetime.
On the second morning in Goa, I was alarmed by an important message on my phone. It was a message from a friend about an assignment that we had been meaning to work on for the last three weeks. But there was no way I could work on the assignment while on a family trip. I had to postpone it once again.
We took an overnight train from Goa and reached Mumbai on the day of Dashami. After freshening up, we started the Dashain processions and received tika, jamara, and blessings from our elders. Perhaps one of the most beautiful moments was when our family friend, who was the head of the family in Mumbai and hadn’t been able to properly celebrate Dashain for the last seven years, received a tika from the eldest of our family.
After completing the processions, we left to explore the great Mumbai city. We visited the Mahalaxmi Mandir and Haji Ali Dargah. Knowing that religious sites from two major religions were in such close vicinity felt great.
Afterwards, we went to Siddhivinayak Temple and had ‘pavs’, a Mumbai speciality consisting of pau bhaji, misal pav, and other street foods. We also had modhakam, said to be Lord Ganesh’s favourite food.
While talking about food and places in Mumbai, our driver/guide made an interesting statement about Mumbai. He said, “People born in Mumbai don’t usually achieve material success; rather, people who migrate to Mumbai are the ones who become rich and the pillars of the city.” He added how he was born in Mumbai but ended up working as a taxi driver. I think he meant to imply that what makes someone successful are their aspirations and hard work, not their family or background.
We ended our day by enjoying a spectacular view of Marine Drive Beach, also known as The Queen’s Necklace, since the yellow lights on the curved beach form a beautiful necklace. I could have spent the entire night watching the view with the sounds of the Arabian Sea splashing on the shore
On our second day in Mumbai, we visited Elephanta Caves and Juhu beach and ate more street food.
Returning to where it all started: Is work-life balance really a thing? I think I won’t know the answer to that question until the end of my days. However, after this trip, I realised that you need to take timeouts. I think travelling to new places with family and friends, doing things you enjoy, and taking breaks when you need to rejuvenate yourself is what lead to a happy life.
Dahal is a fourth-year medical student at KUSMS, Dhulikhel.