There it is again. Cars for as far as the eye can see. Office remains tantalisingly close and unreachable. But I have evolved (!). No more impatient drumming of fingers, cursing city (un)planners under the breath and slow but sure progress up the irritation barometer. I remind myself that a long commute is something I once wailed for so I shouldn’t be complaining now right?
For a significant length of my corporate life I have been the object of envy among friends and colleagues. You would be forgiven for thinking it was possibly for meteoric vertical movement or amazingly juicy assignments or a rapidly swelling paycheck. But No. It was none of these typical reasons. But the envy was there all the same.
It had become almost painful for me to answer their question “And how far is your office?” I would say, “.. er… 10 .. 10 minutes away”. `Wow. That’s lovely’ would be the answer. “And is the traffic bad?” and I would say, “ Well, depends, sometimes if the kids around are late to school I am in mortal danger of tumbling down the stairs as they rush past. Also I have to watch out for the neighbour’s friendly dog as I pick my way to office thru the flower beds.” Yes. I was amongst those who strolled to office and back and I never heard the end of `how LUCKY’ I was!
Human nature being what it is I managed to find some negatives to my lucky situation in life. I am always the person who heads turn to if there is some urgent work to be attended to on weekends, I told by boss sulkily. I can’t let my hair down and be generally crazy (thanks to living in the company campus). It is boring to see the same people in office and out of office. I don’t want to run into colleague’s wives and parents and pets all the time. It drains my meagre reserves of social niceness. But, most importantly, I don’t get to transition.
You are in a high energy high momentum zone as you rush about getting breakfast and lunch organised, cajoling the kid to wake up and get ready, shout instructions to the maid, keep the garbage out lest it is forgotten, get the milk to thaw, then boil, then cool all in the space of half an hour, pull out something ironed, something co-ordinated from the wardrobe.. and rush out hoping you haven’t forgotten something time-critical and you-dependent. The echoes of argument you had with your mom/maid/husband/child are still reverberating. You need to sort things out in your mind. Arrive at a place of (resigned) peace, dwell in nothingness for a bit and then begin to think about the work to-do list, deadlines and then have an inspired `next big idea’ for the team. In the same manner at the end of the day you need to move from the work zone frame of mind to a twilight zone and then into picking up the home and family thought threads once more.
This transition from home role to work role is ESSENTIAL to being effective (and retaining ones sanity). It cannot beaccomplished in a Maggi 2 minute style. Or if it can, I have not been blessed with the temperament / skill /knowledge for it. Or, as the bard put it
” All the worlds a stage
And all the men and women merely players
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts “
.. and a trip to the green room in between can help delay the final curtain-call!!
I was lucky to have a workplace so close to home but I missed the forty-five minute train ride I’d gotten used to in my Mumbai days. That commute did more for my mental and physical health (or should I say agility) than I gave it credit for in those days! Come to think of it now, those public transport rides were nothing short of character-forming. Like…. but let’s not get into that one right now! Let’s have some `transition time’ from this post