travelquote2 The year was 2004. I was mother to a toddler son who was just about 2 years old. A few months back, I had put him in day care to work professionally. I had successfully cleared the training and was now working as a medical transcriptionist. The only lure in the job for me was that I could work from home. With a little boy at home, I wanted that desperately. And that carrot made me slave on. This being a BPO job, the shifts were punishing. Early morning ones started at 6 and ended at 2. And the afternoon ones began at 2 and ended at 10. With an hour-long commute both ways, I was living like a zombie. Leaving a crying son at the daycare used to be taxing enough, having him wait sleepy eyed till I returned at 11 used to break my heart. Yet, I pressed on. My goal of work from home was just about a year or so away (or that’s what they said). The husband was very understanding. He did his best taking care of a cranky son who cried incessantly for mom. There were days I was so dead tired that I did not even know when the day began and ended. Add to it was the misery of having to work on weekends and other holidays. We got American holidays and almost no weekends off. I snapped at everyone, was terribly touchy and low on patience and energy. Life was punishing. It was a punishment.

We lived in the same home but hardly were a family!

Then my husband got an assignment in the Netherlands for a couple of months. The family could accompany him. It seemed tempting – a real vacation (for me) after a long time. With great difficulty, I convinced myself and then those at work to offer me leave without pay. They promised to keep my job so that reduced my guilt. Off we left for Amsterdam where we stayed in a lovely service apartment in a hotel. It was a beautiful one-bedroom apartment with a tiny kitchen, a living room and a nice balcony. I was completely at ease feeling relaxed and unrushed like I hadn’t in a long while. My son clung to me. He had no day care to go to. And he had mamma all to himself throughout the day. He showed it in every way possible how much he loved that.


Prance around in the park


It is fun watching mama cook!

Our typical day began with bidding papa goodbye and having a fantastic breakfast. Then we would invariably be out on the streets. There was a fabulous play area closeby. There were also luscious lawns where Sid and I would sit for hours and smell the flowers. He would run around and play hide and seek and peek-a-boo. We also went grocery shopping to the nearby superstore telling each other stories. The lady at the hotel was very fond of Sid and so was our cleaning lady. They even bought him lovely stuffed animal toys. The days just flew past. Sid did not even miss TV. He was content playing games and being outdoors with me. Amsterdam is a wonderful city. There is so much to explore on foot and in trams. People are extremely friendly and helpful. The best part about the Dutch work culture is that they close shop at work by 4 pm. Wow in India we can’t even dream of that. So the evenings were then deliciously open to possibilities.


Wow! Says the little one!


This playground is amazing!

The husband would be home by 4.30 bringing us baked goodies every day. We went out in the evenings sitting by the canals or just exploring the lovely sights and sounds. We often ate out in the many lovely restaurants in the area. During the weekends, we would explore the Netherlands. We took a train to Den Hague. A couple of friends took us around Utrecht and Rotterdam. Amsterdam itself offered so many lovely opportunities to travel and shop. With excellent public transport, we never missed not having a car. Shopping, eating, traveling, bonding — we did it all.


Yippie, outdoors is fun with mamma and papa. At Dam Square.


These shoes don’t fit!

It was the first time after the birth of my son that I was at so much ease. I felt peaceful and deliriously happy to be spending such fun time with my husband and son. I had never seen us this happy. It was then that I realized what we were missing back home. We never found time to be with each other. Life was an endless cycle of work and more work back home.

In the rush to get through each day, I had since long stopped enjoying the present.

Somewhere something within me changed that summer of 2004. That time in the Netherlands taught me invaluable lessons about family, being together and love. After all that fun and adventure, it was a downer when our time was up. I was feeling terrible at the thought of going back to that slavery. My little son was too young to tell me, but I did not have the heart to drop him teary eyed to the play school again. And my husband was quiet. None of us was looking forward to going back to that routine.

Far away from home, we had come closer!

travelquote1 I wasn’t going to let that intimacy go. I came back and quit my job without hesitation. My son’s childhood was important. It was racing past. Our family needed to have a sane routine. I wanted to give it to them. My career dreams once again took a backseat, but I realized them as I always knew, later with writing on my own terms! A decade later, today I can only look back at that trip with love and affection. How different my life would have turned out had we not taken the trip. For starters, I would not have written this post :-)! travelquote3This post is written for Indiblogger and British Airways’“Go further to Get Closer” contest.

Disclaimer: All pictures used are my own and copyrighted!

68 Thoughts on “Distance makes the hearts grow fonder!

  1. Wow Rachna. It is full of so much love and affection. It absolutely melted my heart. I can relate to many things. Going back to work, being miserable, feeling guilty and yet wanting it. I may have a different story or chain of events that led me to where I am but the moral of the story is same. And I am thankful for my sane and insane life right now 😉

    • The story of every woman’s life, Sfurti! The constant tussle between being there for your children and going out to work professionally. I am also grateful for the life I have now. In no small measure, do I attribute it to making the right decisions when the moments came :). Thanks so much for your warm comment.

  2. I loved this post Rachna…. I can say it’s not easy letting go of one’s career, but ofcourse you work from home now and do what you love to do and you can give time to your family….touchwood!

    I’m on LOP currently and honestly it bothers me..but everytime I speak of it to S and my sis they tell me that I should just enjoy for some time… I just hope I can find it in me to adjust soon to being without an office to go to even if its for a few months, for I know this time won’t be back…there are more important things in life and I should not think about my job atleast for once!

    • Hi Nabanita,

      It takes a while to really enjoy the little pleasures at home after one leaves her routine of going to office. I felt so too when I quit my job. And to add to my woes, I kept thinking about my foreign MBA and worried how I threw my degree in dustbin by quititng job without second thoughts and moving to Andamans. But I was sure that it was worth it. Then and now.

      Just enjoy what you have right now. THis intimacy, time with family and these relaxed moments of not having to go to office 5 times a week are indeed relaxing.


      As always I loved the post. 🙂 Very well written and all the best!

      • I agree, Surabhi! It takes time to come to terms to being at home, to not going out and working professionally. But then life throws these challenges at you especially women. We are always wracked with guilt. Doomed if we do; doomed if we don’t. And every woman has to find her path to read. Thank you so much for reading and connecting with the post, Surabhi, and for sharing your experiences with us.

      • Thanks Saurabhi…Getting to know about these experiences from fellow women helps in making the adjustment even more … 🙂

    • I know exactly what you are going through. I recognize the turmoil in you. Of course, it is not easy to give up something you’ve worked so hard for. But when it is pitted against family, your love and your children, I guess the choice then becomes very limited. What I believe is that we must own the decision and decide for ourselves where our happiness lies. Only then will we stand by them and even feel grateful for them especially when we are low. You will figure out your path. It will dawn crystal clear on you. One thing I understood was that it has to come from within. When I was doing this job back then in 2004, I was driven like crazy. And if anyone even so much as mentioned that I was unhappy or that I was trying to kill myself, I would snap and hit out at them. The realization came to me through the circumstances. No one pushed one and so I guess it worked out. Wish you loads of love. Do enjoy your time with S, guilt free :).

      • Thanks Rachna…Trying to enjoy as much as I can…when S is home I completely forget about’s only the weekdays that brings so many things to my mind…I guess I should engage in reading and writing more … !

  3. Great nostalgic post Rachna, giving as a little bit more insight into your world and the how you ended up where you are today. Yes, some decisions arent easy and of course, “people” ( you know the kind I am talking about), are quick to judge and deliver their unwanted opinions. But glad you guys took the plunge so to speak. Good luck for the contest. Remember I have a list of tiny things for you to get me from London when you go 😛

    • Thank you, Sid! Life really does put you on crossroads often. And certain decisions you take completely transform the course of your life. I am glad I took this one and the trip too. Someday, I want to go back to the NL again and rediscover all those places with both my sons and husband. Thank you for your warm wishes :D.

  4. Yeah – Journeys sometimes give you opportunity for clear thinking. Europeans are so particular about work life balance – in India no one cares – even if you want to work half time for half pay, no such opportunities. It is all or nothing.

    • I agree with the first part of your comment, TF. Journeys do give you time away from taxing routines to ponder and think. Yes, Europe is easier on its citizens when it comes to balancing work-life. But it is not true that there are no such opportunities in India. Not all jobs are this bad. At least, in Bangalore, many companies do offer you couple of days work from home even in regular jobs. And increasingly I am seeing more men and women taking up freelance. Yes, you have to secure your finances before you embark on that journey. But trust me, you can earn handsomely without working full time. Opportunities are there, but you have to be committed in your will to make that change in your own life.

  5. Rachna, this is a very sweet post. It gives an insight into your life. It is good that you could spend time with your son,during his growing days. This is the stage when emotionally the child is attached to his mother, and it reflects in his personality, even when he grows up.

    • Thank you so much, Ushaji! Yes, I will always cherish those years. When I look back at these pictures, I feel so nostalgic, now that he is all grown up!

  6. I was discussing this issue yesterday with some friends – why is there so much work-stress in India? My family too felt the same pleasure when we lived in the UK a few years back. I too left a lucrative job several years back so I could enjoy my baby’s childhood and again when she came to high-school, to be with her before she left for college. You and me are fortunate that we have the option to work from home. How many can claim to do that. A beautiful post indeed, the pictures say it all. 🙂

    • I agree, Anita! I do feel blessed that I can work from home and yet be there for my children when they come back from school. I don’t know why but in India, you have to in office for obscene hours whether you work or not. No one seems to care that you have a life outside of office and a partner and kids to go back home to. Thank you for liking the post :).

  7. Somehow, I always get my answers when I am away from home in a totally different environment. Perhaps that allows us to see the situation more objectively. I am so glad that time in Netherlands worked so well for you !

    • Yes, I think you are right there, Ruch. It does allow you to consider your situation more clinically when you are actually away from it all. I quite loved that country. Hope to visit again sometime in the future with both the kids and hubby :D. Have some amazing memories of the place and some friends there too.

  8. Lovely, lovely, lovely! 🙂
    I don’t know why, but this post makes me feel proud of you. It is tough making decisions like the one you took but when it is made with so much clarity and the way things just fall into place once you have made up your mind, is amazing. The de tour of Amsterdam through the pics was beautiful and that happiness you mentioned, clearly shows. I think you deserve to win this contest. It’s just as touching as the British Airways ads. 🙂

    • Thank you, Destiny’s Child! You know it makes me feel so very happy hearing you say that you feel proud of me. Uncannily, it gives me the same joy to know in my heart that everything worked out perfectly though back then it was more an intuition when I took that decision. Like they say in a famous movie, “When you really want something, the Universe conspires to make it happen.” And the fact that you think that my post is worth winning is as good as the final prize itself! Thank you for being so warm and supportive always. Much love!

  9. That photo of him looking at his feet in those huge shoes is so cute!!! I love the way you’ve described your trip, Rachna – I feel like visiting Amsterdam already! It’s a lovely reminder to identify what’s important in our lives, and to make time for it.

    • Yep, I so love that one, Fab! There are so many others of this trip that are joyful but there are only so many that I could share :). Oh you must visit the country, if nothing then for the gorgeous hunks that Dutch men are ;-). What an amazing place! And that it has such beautiful memories for me makes it an absolute favorite. Thanks for reading and connecting with the post, Fab!

  10. This is such a sweet post Rachna. And what you did with quotes is amazing. The third pic holding your little one stands out.
    Wish you and your family a happy Holi.

    • Thank you, Alka! The quotes are just perfect with what happened on that journey for me. The moment, I saw the topic I knew I had to write for this one. Going further to get closer — rang a bell! You know, Alka, when I was going through and choosing which pics to put up, I almost spent half a day in marvel looking at a son who is so much older now, reminiscing of the beautiful places, people and memories back then. This one is very special. Wish you a very Happy Holi too!

  11. Everything will be alright in the end, if it’s not alright, it’s not the end 🙂

    Like I love saying, happiness is a choice we make. Glad you realized it pretty early in your life.

    • Thank you, Purba! Sometimes, some decisions just seem right and you go by your gut feel. I have learned through experience that things will fall in place if you have the will to make them work. You are right! If it is not alright; it’s not the end :). Thanks for reading!

  12. Really a sweet post. Some people cannot make that crucial decision and spend a lifetime in confusion. I am glad that we could make a choice.
    I used to get agitated earlier when some used to ridicule my decision of staying at home. Not anymore. My sanity is precious to me, why bother about others. 🙂 Like you I cannot live in a rush, The moments when the kid wants to talk to me or those when he returns from school are precious to me.

    • Life is so complex, Bhagya! Sometimes it is not so easy to give up on two incomes. There may be other factors involved too like family pressures etc. Like you say, we have to be comfortable in what we decide for ourselves. It then does work out! I am glad you found your true calling. I can see a calmness about you now.

  13. Loved the post Rachna! Its straight from the heart, every word expresses that. And hats off to your decision, many of us are not quite sure how we will manage to stick to it but you are an inspiration for just that 🙂

    All the best for the contest 🙂

    • Thank you, Seeta! I am glad my experiences struck a chord with you. We all grapple with indecisions wondering if our gut feel will turn out right. And more often than not, it does! I am sure, you are going to do great in your chosen vocation. Thanks for your warm wishes :).

  14. Never had a career but hats off to all working moms who work in double shifts…at home and office. But being away from home, I definitely grew closer to mom.

    • Yep, hats off to all women who manage so much on their own. I know what you are saying. I think all girls get closer to their parents once they get married.

  15. Very heartfelt post Rachna and indeed you have come a long way in your journey, so much so that you inspire and motivate others, me included. There are days when I feel I should not worry and enjoy this moment of being with the kids, but apparently I keep wanting to do something for myself, so always living between the two.

    • Thank you, Chatty wren. It is a great feeling to know that others have found something in my life worthy of emulation. There are many days even now when I feel in the middle, of what could have been had I continued to work. Of course, having slogged to earn an MBA from a premier B-school sometimes comes to nag at you. But that is human nature. It keeps you on your toes :).

  16. It is great that the vacation made you see things clearly and helped you to decide. But I have a question though , I do not mean to judge anyone.. It is just that I wonder, does it ever happen the other way round ? have you read anecdotes of a father giving up his career temporarily say few years to be with his child, specifically in the indian context ? Again I repeat, no judging , I am plain curious to know a father’s viewpoint .. I mean does not a father wish to experience all those special moments of formative years of his child ?

    • Simple girl I completely get your question. I cannot answer for others. This was a decision and choice I made. No one forced me to make it least of all my husband. I know that my husband spends a lot of time with his children and has been extremely hands on. And, yes, I have heard of men giving up a few years at work to be with their kids. I know at least two of them. Believe me, society is very cruel towards them. Thanks for reading!

  17. Lovely post, Rachna with great images & quotes.
    Just saw your bio & realized that we have so much in common- Chemistry & MBA!
    Then, the life-story about quitting job for the kid is same too 🙂
    Can totally identify with your post 🙂
    Best wishes for the contest.

    • Thank you, Anita! I must tell you that I mean so many women with our stories. MBAs, doctors, software engineers, CAs who have quit their jobs, taken sabbaticals and then have found a way to work professionally while trying their best to manage their work-life. Thank you for your warm words and wishes.

  18. You are on a ride for winning contests these days. Hope you win this too 🙂
    Another lovely post. Enjoyed reading 🙂 Reminded me my days when the son was small and I was home. I also feel glad I was home to take care of the kids. yes, nothing can fill up those years…no job or money can give you that satisfaction.

  19. afshan on March 18, 2014 at 9:42 am said:

    This post filled hope in me Rachna ! I am sailing in the same boat , staying away from husband actually and I easily go in to a SHELL these days. A simple poke makes me cry some times. Digust due to unwanted convos with others. Snapping people at home due to my irritations etc etc. When this will end and when God may finally show some of his miracles I will plan a short trip too. It felt lovely reading this all!

    All the best. Stay blessed

    • First of all hugs, Afshan! I know how difficult this phase is when you are forced to live away from your husband. And while you are trying to tackle it in the best possible way come the naysayers who will either ridicule or question or even harass you. Yes, sometimes some time off or travel helps clear our heads. There may be things staring right in your face and you may miss seeing them. Life is so much about compromises. Ideally, we all would wish to work, be perfect homemakers and perfect parents. But then it just does not work out that way. I hope you find your answers soon. We all love the ever smiling Afshan!

  20. Good u took the much needed break and discovered to live life on your own terms. V have one life, so better make the most of it. All the best for the contest!

  21. Realization strikes at all sorts of times BUT to be open to it and act on it is not given to everyone. I took my call mid-way through my time at IIM – to work only as long as necessary to secure my finances – and never regretted it. Strangely, though, I NEVER ever missed my office OR the lack of a routine, though my work life was considered by most to be successful and people were astounded that I would quit when I seemed slated for great things. Thing was that my definition of great did not match theirs 🙂

    • Completely agree, Suresh! Realization strikes at the most unexpected of places and times but one must be willing to seize upon it. I have always admired how clear you were in your thought process as to what makes you happy. Most people live their life searching for that elusive happiness, being miserable in their chosen vocation and subsequently being miserable in their personal life too. Alas, the society is such a pest. And one needs to develop a thick skin to safeguard one’s own peace. Thank you for reading!

  22. Sometimes a break from the routine gives a new insight as your trip to Netherlands did to you.I believe in the maxim that a stone fit for the wall will never be found on the way.Talent never fails and finds many opportunities to grow on one’s own terms.But the bottom line is ability and hard work.
    Best wishes in all that you do.

  23. AWW MAN!! How adorable of a post was this!! Look at your son inside those big shoes, look at you all happy. It is so genuine!!
    My mother used to work and still does but because I had a grandmother who stayed with us, I never felt her absence. She would come back and give me her undivided attention.
    But BPO is a tough job with tougher shifts!

    • Thank you, Red Handed! I was in Brand Management earlier. That was tough too with a lot of traveling on the field. Yes, if you have someone at home, it becomes easier. Now I work from home and am rather happy with my work :). So things do have a way of working out.

  24. Situation has changed.
    It must have been a magical change since you started working from home.

    • Situations always change. Whether it is for the better depends upon how we grab opportunities and make the best of them. To tell you the truth, I am extremely content with how my writing has grown from home.

  25. Such a sweet and emotional post Rachna. Loved it. And very much filled with hope. Loved this combination. Sometimes, we need to step back and think about what we are doing and why we are doing it.

  26. Wow! Great post!
    Distance does make the hearts grow fonder as long as the distance and the time duration of it isn’t too long!

    • Thank you, Danny! I was trying to pun on the saying. Here, the distance is from home, not from each other :). I hate staying away from family and so does my husband. We let go of lucrative assignments if it called for time away from the family. Most times, people don’t even recognize the sacrifices that men make for their families. Now both of us work from home and the kids benefit from that :). Thanks for reading, Danny!

  27. I loved this post. And Sid is an absolute angel. 🙂

  28. This is such a sweet and a heartwarming post! Got to know a bit more about you!! Glad that the Netherlands experience gave you so much to cherish! Good luck for the contest, Rachna 🙂

  29. Lovely post Rachna..reminded me of my days when I used to leave my 2 and a half your daughter in the day care, all teary..struggling through the traffic and public transport to reach on time to pick her up in the evening else once her friends would leave she would start crying..then going all the way home, cook food, clean and make everything ready for the next day was so monotonous and I started feeling guilty for my daughter and at last thought of taking care of my daughter and closing the chapter of my was a little disappointing that time but now, when I look back I feel good at the thought that I was with my daughter when she needed me the most..

    Thanks for reminding those forgotten days through your post..all the best for the contest..

  30. You have good memories from the place.
    Love the pics, particularly that of Sid in big shoes. 🙂

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