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Living at work

In June, cousins Viola Wadia and Hema Thakur will move into the second floor of the building that houses Temperance, their week-old four-storey activity centre at Carter Road in Bandra. Humaira Ansari writes.

mumbai Updated: May 06, 2012 01:19 IST
Humaira Ansari
Humaira Ansari
Hindustan Times

In June, cousins Viola Wadia and Hema Thakur will move into the second floor of the building that houses Temperance, their week-old four-storey activity centre at Carter Road in Bandra.

The 20-something women want to manage their business hands-on, living right in the middle of all the action — walk-in dance, yoga and mixed martial arts sessions, monthly pottery and knitting classes, movie screenings and a soon-to-open deli.

They are not alone in creating a nest in the middle of their workplace.

Across the city, a small group of young entrepreneurs are flipping the concept of working from home on its head.

While some move into their workplaces permanently, others spend three or more nights a week there, using reclining chairs as beds, stocking mini-refrigerators with fruit juice, using microwaves to heat their meals — and returning home mainly for supplies and clean laundry.

“It’s a very Western concept,” says Sarala Bijapurkar, associate professor of sociology at the KJ Somaiya College of Arts & Commerce. “Today, the city’s young adults are very dynamic, entrepreneurial and achievement-driven. Plus, since it’s their own set-up, they want to put in as much effort as possible and push for quicker results.”

Single and ambitious, they do not want to lose time commuting or spend too many hours away from their start-ups.

Take 24-year-old chef Kaviraj Thadani. In December 2010, he moved from a 300-sq-ft room in a plush three-bedroom flat in Colaba to a 200-sq-ft ‘work home’ on the top floor of Worli’s Cool Chef Café, the Thadanis family-run restaurant and lounge.

“Cool Chef is really my baby. From the interiors and bathroom to the menu and kitchen, I have supervised everything,” says Thadani.

But once the restaurant was up and running in August 2010, supervising the early-morning preparations became a problem.

“There was just too much work. So I decided to move in,” says Thadani.

Now, Thadani can conduct surprise staff and refrigerator checks and, most important, supervise the early morning cleaning, shopping and inventory management.

“I’m up at 10 am and come straight down before I’ve even brushed my teeth,” says Thadani. After assigning the first tasks of the day, he heads back up for a shower and breakfast, returning at noon to ensure that the restaurant is ready for its first customers of the day.

“My room has a bed, a workstation, cupboard, bookshelf and bathroom,” he says. “That’s really all I need.”

On the job

Breakfast and brainstorming
Ankita Joshi, 29

Artist; has lived in her Charni Road graphic design studio since 2008
Joshi has to be done with breakfast by 10.30 am every day, because that’s when her staff of four walks into her two-room office-cum-home.

As her team works on designs for gifts, planners and calendars for their corporate clients in her front room — also her living area-and-kitchenette — she works in the other room, which serves as her cabin by day and her bedroom by night.

In the rest of the building, diamond merchants conduct their business out of similar 380-sq-ft office spaces.

By 7 pm, Joshi is the only one left in the building.

On most days, she orders dinner from a local restaurant or tosses something together from the ingredients of her fridge — mainly instant noodles, pasta, paneer and milk. Sometimes her mother sends food over from the 620-sq-ft row house ten minutes away, where she and Joshi’s brother live.

“Distance was not the issue,” says Joshi. “I prefer to live at my office because then I can brainstorm at night and I have all my equipment around me in case I have a brainwave at 4 am.”

It’s cramped, she admits. “But I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Inking all night
Swapnil, 32, and Harshad Gawde, 27 Tattoo and piercing artists; have lived at their Bandra tattoo parlour since October 2010

At least four nights a week, Swapnil Gawde and his brother Harshad stay over at their tattoo and piercing parlour at Carter Road, Bandra.

“We get many late-night clients,” says Swapnil. “It’s good for business if we stay here, and our two tattoo beds are comfortable enough to sleep on.”

Even though the brothers have rented a two-bedroom flat 15 minutes away, they prefer to ‘hang out’ at the parlour, playing music or working out on the treadmill at the back.

The parlour also houses a refrigerator and a microwave. A small cabinet stocks an assortment of sauces and pickles. "We buy parathas from a stall outside. The pickles go well with them," says Harshad.

First Published: May 06, 2012 01:17 IST