So serious—- why

EACH time someone at office asks me for leave, they look hesitant and guilty. I cannot figure out why, because I have never refused anybody leave. I can see no reason for doing so! Even more surprising, almost always the request is accompanied by, I will do some extra stories before I go on leave
That leaves me amused as well as foxed. Why would anyone wish to work extra hard before they leave for fun? Wouldnt they rather unwind and get into the mood for holiday? But then, when it is time for me to take leave, I find myself doing the same! Working extra hard, trying to smooth over creases that havent appeared yet, staying connected not just till the last minute but even in the car or plane on my way out, till I am physically pulled away from the laptop and Blackberry by my family!
Not only are we guilty about our own holidays, we also grudge others theirs. As soon as a prominent politician or bureaucrat proceeds on a holiday, we start hearing murmurs of how the country is in such a dire strait and all our leaders can do is holiday (that too probably on public exchequer)! No sooner does a Bollywood star travel abroad than we start hearing gossip about who has accompanied him and how he
will certainly announce a break-up with his current partner soon as he returns!
Fun is somehow just not ingrained into our system, nor is it accorded a valued place in our cultural ethos. Duty and responsibility take precedence over everything
else. Enjoyment is an excess we are taught to do without. Our epics extol the virtues of duty. All characters go through hardships and are never shown having fun, almost as if greatness must meet vicissitudes! Watch any television serial. Each one has elders frowning upon youngsters who attempt to step out from within the family fold for a meal outside, to watch a film, or to go off on a holiday. Aisa toh kabhi nahi hota hamare yahan is the constant refrain. The entire effort seems to be focused on not letting anyone break away from set moulds and the call of duty, not even for a short while, lest they be enticed away forever!
Years ago on a visit to Australia, I visited an international magazine office one Friday afternoon only to find it deserted by all except the editor with whom I had an appointment. Seeing my surprise, she smiled and said, Friday afternoon!

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