I work from home – have an office on the terrace, which really, I should give the husband the credit for. He’s been advocating turning the dump room into, what he first envisioned, a “treaty room” for years now – the backstory is that he’d read about how President Obama withdrew into his treaty room every night, a room where Michelle only “popped in” sometimes. Every since he’d been dreaming of creating such a utopian space for himself – a room of his own, one to which his wife had limited access.
Except, that’s not quite it turned out. Quite ironically, the person who had opposed it the most (aka, yours truly) is the one who is now using it as an office. Why did I oppose it? I’ll tell you why. It was a dump-what-you-don’t-want-to-deal-with room, where I put all that that I didn’t want to deal with out of sight – stuff that requires time to sift through and some nerve to dispose (nostalgia can be extremely clutter-inducing). Having said that, the room was not all dump. It was, as I often said, a space of organized chaos, since I knew where things were, largely. It also served a functional purpose. I had four steel almirahs (ok, Godrejes) stuffed with woollens, which I took out once a year in the hope that I’d wear them. I wore some, while others I ferried up and down in a pointless exercise of clearing cupboards, only to clear them again, two months later. Global warming is really at our doorstep (Trump should come to India to believe that climate change is real). Still, it was something that needed to be done, because winter did make it’s late, if feeble, entry. So, each year I assiduously retrieve the family’s woollens with great alacrity in the hope that the winter would have a spine and give us a few months of relief from the inclement summer (we like winter in this part of the world. If you are wondering why, spend one summer here. If Shelly lived in India, then the famed ‘Ode to the West Wing’ lines would’ve been written in quite the reverse – “If summer comes can winter be far behind?”).
Anyway, I digress. Point is we cleaned out the room, which was the husband’s idea, and sure it was a great one. However, there’s a good reason I resisted doing so all these years – because the execution was carried out by yours truly. Great ideas must be backed by equally great efforts! Also, the room, for all its chaos, had its benefits – it was out of my sight, and I could dump what I didn’t want to deal with – which was a lot. In redoing it, I had to think about making room for all the stuff I did not wish to clear – aka the winter clothes (which now lie in another room, which too had to be redone to accommodate the almirahs. I now have to perform twists and turns to open them in that room (much smaller) to get out the woollens, especially when the husband is going on a trek and casually askes for his jacket and thermal socks). And now for the best part – the room was stuffed with not only our just-in-case-you-need-it- clutter, but also the mother-in-law’s equally worthless possessions from the years gone by. So, while the husband, in a moment of extreme, if foolish, insouciance, gave me carte blanche to “throw or give it all away”, I wasn’t sure he had quite thought it through. He hadn’t, as it turned out. There was much gnashing of teeth at the discovery of memories having been “cleared away heartlessly” .
Anyhow, the room is now an office-cum-library, which I use as an office. I have often thought of installing booby traps at the door, because the assortment of people I want to get away from can still reach me there, though it’s better than being smack in the middle of the action.
Working from home can be challenging and requires discipline – not only your own, but that of people around you, which is harder than you think (the mamajis drop in at the exact time when you are on a call with a client, as your mother-in-law comes running to you for lunch arrangements). When you are physically available, as opposed to a phone-call away, things are very different. If you are working from home – no matter how separate your workplace is – you are forever vulnerable to the vagaries of all sorts of people – including to that of your children (they won’t call dad in the office but come scampering into your home office to resolve urgent matters, like the ownership of a pen or who hit whom first).
So, while the best place for me to work is my office, it ain’t quite the treaty room I had secretly hoped it would become, in a strange twist of fate. The moment my work gets some traction (meaning funds) I plan on moving into an office. Maybe then the room can go back to the person it was originally meant for!