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May This Be The Best Year of Your Life: A Memoir
by Sandra Bornstein
Ira was going to India. He didn’t have the official offer yet, but somehow I knew that it would soon become a reality. He would leave . . . and what would I do? I tried to envision different scenarios.
I could travel as Ira’s companion.
Yeah, right! This was possible—only if I was independently wealthy.
Or maybe I would just stay in the United States and he’d travel back and forth.
More daunting was the idea of living and working in India. Ira and I could follow in Josh’s footsteps. Josh, in his 20s, dived head first into Indian culture. Ira and I were in our 50s.The whole idea seemed insane. Tossing away an established American life and relocating to a Third World country didn’t seem logical for a middle-aged couple. When Josh had accepted a job in India, I wept for days. I feared that our family would become fragmented and that our moments as a cohesive family would become distant memories. I couldn’t say anything because it was, after all, his life. But now Ira and I were potentially causing an irrevocable schism. Living halfway around the world from most of our immediate family seemed ludicrous.
By far the safest choice for me was staying put and not going anywhere. Ira was free to pursue this job, and I could continue my life as if nothing had changed. But I would have a part-time husband; each of us would need to fend for ourselves when we weren’t together. This alternative position was equally unsound. As a married couple, we derived our happiness and security by living life together. If I wanted to live a separate existence, I would ask for a divorce.
None of the options fell under the category of “the secrets of a successful marriage.” But I felt I would be selfish if I told Ira that he could not pursue this fascinating career path. Just like Josh had chosen his way years ago without any interference from us, I didn’t feel comfortable telling Ira not to take the job.
Too many sleepless nights went by without any resolution, and the lack of rest began to play tricks on me. One minute I felt that an Indian adventure was something to look forward to—a new challenge for the next stage of our lives. And in a blink, I’d change my mind and feel like our cat, Chloe, who likes to hide under the bed. Whenever Chloe doesn’t want to be bothered or is afraid that we’re going to take her for a much-dreaded car ride, she positions herself under our bed, knowing that she’s out of harm’s way. Unlike Chloe, however, I had nowhere to hide.
This wasn’t an easy time for Ira either. Some days the Indian company led Ira to believe that a contract was in the offing, while other days he felt that the deal was sinking like a ship. This went on for weeks as the structure of the job changed and the anticipated time that Ira would need to live in India fluctuated. The company treated Ira as if he were Geppetto’s puppet, controlled by the whim of the puppeteer. Oftentimes he was told that someone would call at a specific time but the phone never rang. He would wait and wait. Without seeming too impatient, he eventually sent e-mails to a contact person in India who then provided an excuse. Some were ridiculous, some seemed genuine. But all of them became old after months of the same act.
Frustration mounted whenever promises were made and broken. Words such as “tomorrow,” “later today,” or “we’ll call soon” turned into triggers that created skepticism. We learned that these words simply meant “an unspecified time in the future” and weren’t an actual promise. Ira and I could only chuckle and make bets about when the next stage would occur.
Ira remained intrigued over the prospect of being the legal head of a legal process outsourcing (LPO) company. Over the years, he had watched as the cost of litigation skyrocketed. By using qualified lawyers and legal assistants employed at a lower hourly rate, clients could decrease their costs. Ira was excited to take over the reins of India Sourced Technology’s (IST) LPO it was still in its infancy. IST was one of India’s largest companies and a global leader in technology with revenues in the billions.
After months of discussion, negotiation, and uncertainty, Ira received a written contract in December 2009. I felt like I was acting in a Disney World commercial when I asked, “How does it feel to be the new delivery head of the IST LPO?” Ira hadn’t won the Super Bowl, but he was beaming when he said, “I can’t wait to mentor hundreds of Indian lawyers and also have an impact on the legal profession.”
Now I was faced with one of the most difficult decisions of my life:
What was I going to do?