Pyjamas at workplace: How easy is a work-from-home life? | brunch | feature | Hindustan Times
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Pyjamas at workplace: How easy is a work-from-home life?

For all the convenience it offers, working from home has its pitfalls

brunch Updated: Dec 24, 2017 00:01 IST
Rehana Munir
Rehana Munir
Hindustan Times
chai,tea,work from home
As an independent writer, I spend a lot of time at home. I’m not sure if I love it.(Photo illustration: Parth Garg)

Scenes from a morning

As an independent writer, I spend a lot of time at home. I love it. When most of the city is rousing from slumber, putting on fresh clothes and GPSing their heads off, I’m languorously sipping my chai, watching the street outside come to life. In all the frenetic activity, I take a moment to thank whatever forces conspired to limit my skills to writing, and how this profession does not require either collaboration or commuting.

As the doorbell starts ringing – coconut seller, garbage collector, ironing guy, I continue to praise the powers that be and engage in short mood-lifting conversations. The ironing guys play a mind-boggling relay. They grow potatoes in Allahabad. So each of the brothers works in the city for a couple of months at a time, heads back to the village for the same amount of time and then returns to pressing duties. The beauty of the situation is you can carry on a conversation with different brothers as if it were one person. Same gentle humour. Same crinkly smiles.

The pink panther strikes again

At this point, I pity the poor souls trapped in over-cold offices, discussing the Virushka wedding over a thimble of under-hot chai. Or passing by a softboard filled with last year’s office picnic pictures, the week’s targets, and Richard Branson quotes. How lovely to be the master of one’s own destiny, I exult, while loading the washing machine. Once the whirring begins, so does the day. Which is to say a Facebook memory can now be shared. A few reassuring online interactions later, it’s time for muesli, that one-point health programme. Then onward to emails and messages – most of which are invariably injunctions to link Aadhaar with my phone account, bank account, health policy, life insurance, email account, Twitter account, library account, and dry-cleaning account. Only, I haven’t applied for an Aadhaar yet. The days are just packed.

This is where all those superior thoughts about working from home come crashing down. If, somehow, the printer deigns to print, there’s still the couriering to achieve

The washing machine hath spoken. It’s time to dry the clothes, another mood-lifter. I pull out the warm, clean lot, only to encounter the first heartbreak of the day. An errant red cushion cover has pinkified a bucketload of whites! It’s like Barbie threw up all over my wardrobe. Why, you ask, did I mix colour with whites? What can I say – I live on the edge. I dunk the blushing whites into a bucket with industrial quantities of bleach and hope for the best. Then walk dispiritedly back to my computer, catching up on pending invoices.

This is where all those superior thoughts about working from home come crashing down. If, somehow, the printer deigns to print, there’s still the couriering to achieve. Yes, packages can be collected from home, but that means phone calls. And phone calls are more work than work. So I struggle with the paper and cartridges, wires and fonts, until a usable invoice emerges. At this point, I want to do anything that does not need a computer. And so I head kitchenwards.

Unlikely gourmet secrets

Over the years, I’ve attempted cooking several times. Sometimes out of necessity. But often out of that misconceived notion that cooking skills somehow complete you as a person, as a woman. My tea, better described as dishwater, has occasioned so much criticism that I have no illusions about my culinary skills. Even so, I do have a distinctive style. Fry some onions with salt, a green chilli and mustard, add potatoes/paneer/chicken and voila!You have an insipid albeit edible meal ready. For that extra zing, empty out the contents of whatever bottles you find in the kitchen. (I’ve once enhanced pasta sauce with Limca.) Meal done, it’s time for work.

I would be depressed if I wasn’t curious about my motives for trying to sabotage my own life. I remember the clothes soaking in the bleach and wring them out. Still as pink as Austin Powers’ car.

Only, it’s naptime. An hour later, I make myself some dishwater and actually get down to writing. Until the doorbell rings once again. It’s the tailor with the sofa cover I ordered. He fits it on the couch and leaves. It’s all kinds of hideous, but I picked the fabric and have no one to blame. Green, beige and blue checks in a material so coarse, it must be moral fibre. I would be depressed if I wasn’t curious about my motives for trying to sabotage my own life. I remember the clothes soaking in the bleach and wring them out. Still as pink as Austin Powers’ car. I walk back to my computer, where the printer mocks me with a swallowed-up sheet.

As an independent writer, I spend a lot of time at home. I’m not sure if I love it.

From HT Brunch, December 24, 2017

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