Ishaan Pujari’s life was like clockwork before he decided to take a sabbatical from work. “My routine was essentially wake up, brush my teeth, put on clothes and leave for work," he says. His normal day involved going to work where he would usually spend anywhere between 8-10 hours, then go home, watch a film or a show or hang out with friends, shower and go to sleep. Wake up in the morning and do it all over again. He looked forward to hitting his bed as he needed a lot of sleep to function.

Cut to now. He was on a break in the US for two months, and his pace was leisurely and slow. “I was waking up early, making myself a big breakfast, reading and writing, spending time with friends, and going to bed early. Overall, I was living a slow-paced lifestyle," he says.

Pujari works as the brand strategist with The Glitch, an independent creative agency headquartered in Mumbai. He is the creative lead of Netflix, one of Glitch’s clients and he makes ads and campaigns for their Indian titles. But at the time he took the sabbatical six months ago, The Glitch was a small company and his team had only four people.

Taking the break

Pujari studied filmmaking, writing and economics at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York, and he took the sabbatical to go back to the US to firefight a private, sticky situation that his friends were facing. He had decided that if he did not get a sabbatical, he would quit.

While he was away, Pujari was leading a more active, outdoor-life that involved bowling and learning how to surf. “ I’ve taught myself how to snowboard and skateboard, and teaching myself how to surf was the last one left. The experience was both tiresome, cold, and fulfilling." He was also catching up with reading and writing, for which he had no time while at work.

“I finished books like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah and Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. I wrote a script for a short film I’d like to make soon," he says.

Accepting the break

His sabbatical was not looked down upon by either his friends or family, and his colleagues and management were supportive. He was quite carefree and relaxed during the break and never pined for his job. Pujari also spent time with his girlfriend who lives in the US and travelled across the country.

Coming back

But while he was away, the work at The Glitch escalated and the team expanded. Pujari was promoted before he left and after he got back he had four people reporting to him. Coming back was a complete switch and was like entering a thunderstorm. “We would get very short deadlines. There was absolutely no time for anything. It was like a madhouse where you had to keep churning," he says.

While he did not think twice before rejoining, Pujari admits that initially he did feel a bit a lost. “I felt a little clueless before I joined because a lot has happened at work during my time away." It took him two weeks to into the groove and he was swarmed by so much work that he did not reminisce about his holiday. “It was a very busy time. I jumped in straight. We had four campaigns of four Indian titles running simultaneously in four different stages."

Pujari would love to take a sabbatical again but he knows that he would not be allowed one any time soon. The sabbatical did not change his work ethic as he was always very dedicated to his job, but it did allow him to focus on himself. “Being healthy is the most important thing." Unfortunately, his work does not allow him to pursue any outdoor activities and he wishes he could change this. He does dream of having a life in which he is out of the strict schedules of a day job. “I want a life in which I can snowboard today and swim with dolphins tomorrow, all this while I make films with social messages," he says.

The Sabbatical Story is a series that explores reasons behind a break from work, and the journey of the return to work.