The corner office
Taking home to work is not such a bad alternative to what most of have grown up detesting: taking work home.
I have been assigned a small corner of our three-bedroom accommodation for my office. It’s actually just a big table with a lamp and a four-in-one printer, and some books.
That’s where I spend most of my days and nights.
Among the many uncertainties about working abroad, I had thought of how it would be to work from home. You know, not having to get into formal gear and drive.
Imagine getting into your jeans every morning and making the short journey of two flights of stairs into the basement for work. It had seemed a delicious prospect.
And it turned out exactly that way.
Get up in the morning, check the Blackberry for messages, drop children at their bus stop, head out for a run, get ready, have breakfast and then flip open the laptop.
Gradually, however, I figured that going to work was so easy, I was there quite a lot. Leaving briefly only for meals and appointments and meetings in the town.
So, how is working from home, a friend asked when the whole experience was still in honeymoon phase. And I had cheerily replied, “Super.”
It was. If I had no meetings scheduled for the day, I could shut myself into the corner space that worked as my office, look out the window while doing interviews or writing.
The view was always the same tree, sometimes drenched in sunlight, sometimes dulled grey by cloud and sometimes just a skeleton with snow dripping off its branches.
Idyllic? Hang on, there is more.
“Are we out of oil?”
How do I know? Well I cook often, and am expected to be up with the latest in kitchen logistics. So, ok, we were low on oil Thursday, and it’s Saturday today.
I pick up the car keys, grab a grocery bag and head out.
Sometimes, kids barge in on interviews I am doing over phone. And, occasionally, the call to dinner can be heard thousands of miles away to whoever is at the other end of the phone.
Can you guys keep it down a little, I have pleaded with the rest of the occupants of the house, but only to be told this might also be my office, but it’s their home.
I get it, it cuts both ways.
If I am able to save myself the trouble of driving through the largely stationary office-hour beltway traffic, I have had to pay for it by going back to work after dinner.
When after dinner everyone is settled around the TV watching Chopped — about competitive cooking — I am back at my laptop, working on something or watching evening news.
For meetings in the town — we live in the suburbs — I am sometimes leaving home, when my neighbour is returning, his tie hanging undone and loose around the neck.
Do they wonder what I do for a living? Do they think I am a nightclub bouncer? They know I am a journalist, working for an Indian newspaper, in a faraway timezone.
Still, do they sometimes wonder?
Work chases itself in an endless cycle. Though tough in this age of smartphones, there is never a sense of closure at the end of a day’s work. You can’t leave home for home.
But hey, it’s not that bad. Or, that good.