New Delhi: For the last two years, Vartika Nanda has been receiving a bouquet of red roses on Valentine's Day. Her colleagues know there is someone special in her life, but little do they know that he is a colleague from office.
Love has blossomed in extreme situations and adverse conditions, and finding your soul mate in office is one of the common occurrences, as one tends to spend a considerable time at the workplace. While office romances are the best kept secrets because of "office policy" at many firms, the hide-and-seek journey of office romances still brews and keeps alive excitement and thrill in a relationship.
"It is always better to keep your personal and professional lives separate till the relationship reaches a stage where the two have decided to marry. Otherwise, it can lead to speculations and embarrassment among office colleagues if the relationship fails to culminate into something concrete," 26-year-old Nanda, a HR professional, told IANS.
"At times it can be really silly how the couple flirts and teases each other without colleagues getting a sense of their relationship...," she added.
"We haven't announced our relationship so far. We want to keep it under wraps for some more time."
Office romance was once limited to well-planned tea breaks, lunch outings, office parties and even smoke breaks.
But instant mobile applications like WhatsApp have allowed love-birds to romance freely in virtual world, with emoticons to express every mood.
"Thanks to instant chats and many phone applications, you are connected with your partner throughout the day. While a chat window popping up in the middle of some work could lead to possible embarrassment, instant chats on phone are extremely convenient and personal," said Akash Grover, a journalist.
Among the most common places where these romances flourish are business process outsourcing (BPO) offices, as their erratic working hours lead to some social interaction and they find "like-minded" and "understanding" partners among them.
"Our social life goes for a toss when we do graveyard shifts," admitted Harshit Goyal, a BPO employee.
"So we have various groups, we hang out together and hence it is obvious to find someone special there. We don't keep it much of a secret, because our culture is more about 'not getting attached' soon," he added.
But there are those who are married and working as colleagues. So does the spark in their relationship fade away with time?
Delhi-based PR professional Nikky Gupta doesn't agree.
Gupta and Kamal Narayan, a former journalist, have been married for eight years and together run a PR firm.
Having graduated from friends to couples to colleagues, Gupta admits sustaining a relationship at work requires constant efforts from both sides -- to reinvent and rediscover each other from the monotony of being together 24X7.
"Many people have this perception that being together all the time as a couple and working professionals can squeeze all juice from a relationship. But what really matters is how you are managing the bond," 31-year-old Gupta told IANS.
"My husband and I are not love birds, but we never forget to celebrate Valentine's Day. We might forget to celebrate our marriage anniversary, like many couples do, but we celebrate our togetherness each year on this day," she said.