WFH blues: What people miss the most about their workspaces

Perks for the peckish

“None of us here have ever experienced Monday blues, which may be hard to believe,” says Murali Satagopan, advertising and marketing supervisor, Freshworks. “Food plays a significant role, and many of us schedule our meetings on Wednesdays in such a way that we don’t miss the biryani euphoria. And even though food is made available round the clock, the 5 pm snack is a special time at Freshworks,” he says.

Praveen Ramesh, who works in the advertising and marketing staff, says that the enjoyable they’d round snacks is one thing he misses whereas working from dwelling. “We had created a ‘Snacks Connoisseur Group’ — a team of five of us — and we would alert each other on what snacks were available at various floors of the office. I am crazy about chocolate biscuits: the minute the group secretly alerts me, I would rush to that floor and pick up a few packs,” he chuckles. Similarly, there have been alerts for lemon or orange flavoured drinks. “At home, I have stocked up these biscuits and snacks, but I miss the fun of hunting for it in office,” says Praveen.

Murali, who can also be a arise comic, says he misses enjoying cricket or soccer in the well-equipped AC stadium and enjoying Foosball throughout espresso breaks.

“Few offices give such a wide choice of cuisines: for lunch we could choose from five different menus. At Freshworks, Choix Bowl and TwoGood were a big hit, and it also encouraged mindful eating and less wastage. Given a chance, we would love to work from office, even though WFH has its advantages,” says Praveen.

An art exhibition at Andhra University’s Fine Arts Department

An artwork exhibition at Andhra University’s Fine Arts Department
| Photo Credit: K_R_DEEPAK

Art in isolation

“A thumbs-up emoji sent over WhatsApp can never equate a pat of appreciation on the back of a student who has poured their soul into a painting,” says artist V Ramesh, who teaches at Andhra University’s Fine Arts Department in Visakhapatnam. “I love being at home and enjoy the silences of my space, but there is a different energy in the hullabaloo at the college. I miss the flow of ideas and energy.”

The structure of the Fine Arts division challenges the typical picture of a classroom with a blackboard and desk setting. Instead, the division has three massive halls the place college students from each Bachelors and Masters go about doing their work. “It is a collaborative environment inside the large, open space. Students from all the courses — painting, sculpting, art history, and graphics — work together in these halls. It is a nice feeling to walk around and see their creativity take form. At home, it is just you and your thoughts, but at college, there are several minds looking at the same painting and everyone perceives it differently. These discussions add to one’s perspective. That doesn’t happen over video calls,” he provides.

The feeling resonates with Jyotsna Madapaka, Ramesh’s pupil pursuing a level in printmaking. “It is inspiring to see the creative process of others. Students feed off each other’s ideas and create something new. We learn to experiment with themes and mediums; there is not much exposure when you work in isolation” she says. Though isolation isn’t new to artists who keep dwelling and paint for days, she says the lockdown has a special impression. “Back in college, we went on creative trips to market areas or fishing harbours that helped us ideate. Now, only the window offers a view of the outer world.”

Manning the pitch

“Can you call after 10 minutes?” was the response from S Vasthirayutham after we reached him, asking about work, or the lack of it, throughout the pandemic. Efficient groundsman that he’s, Vasthirayutham, 55, was performing his day by day chores: watering and mowing the grass, and levelling the pitches at Chennai’s MA Chidambaram Stadium, higher often called Chepauk stadium. As pitch curator, this has been his routine since 1982, when Sri Lanka toured India and performed the first and solely take a look at match in what was then Madras.

S Vasthirayutham with Sachin Tendulkar at Chepauk Stadium

S Vasthirayutham with Sachin Tendulkar at Chepauk Stadium  
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

The final time Vasthirayutham readied the pitch was in March when gamers MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu and Harbhajan Singh arrived at Chepauk for the apply session forward of the 13th version of the IPL (Indian Premier League), initially slated for March 29. “Dhoni is very close to me. He would turn to me if he needs certain changes in the pitch during the practice sessions. He has always been kind and welcoming. No wonder they call him ‘thala’,” he says.

The Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) suspended operations at Chepauk stadium following the COVID-19 pandemic. The affiliation, in line with Vasthirayutham, requested senior groundsmen to take care of on a regular basis upkeep of pitches, outfields and training grounds. Until additional directions, his solely job is to make sure the turf grass stays fertile on this blistering climate. “We have to be careful, especially with the roots. If they go dry, then it would take at least three months to plough and revamp the entire ground,” he says, “You can afford to water the field once in three days. But you cannot go beyond 10 days as dust settles on the grass.”

For a job that normally requires at the very least 10 people in regular circumstances, Vasthirayutham has been single-handedly managing the A floor, aka the worldwide stadium, while two colleagues are accountable for “B and coaching grounds”.

The one facet of labor he misses the most is…the lack of labor. “We would be busy throughout the year,” he says, “But even the players have been out of practice for the last four months.”

WFH blues: What people miss the most about their workspaces

Backstage blues

R Muddanna, 60, has been a stage lighting technician for 45 years. He is amongst the most skilled ones in Karnataka, and has been with Ranga Shankara Theatre in Bengaluru since 2005. As the technical director, he would normally arrive for work at 9.30 am to be taught the lighting necessities for the night’s efficiency from the theatre group. The skilled ones demand a painstakingly explicit setup, and newbies search his steering.

Mudanna and his staff of two help workers are normally outfitted for each challenges. But now, to not work in any respect, to miss the dramatically lit stage, to not see 300-odd spectators clapping, has been powerful.

After 15 years and 6,000-plus reveals, the theatre area, like many others throughout the world, needed to be closed indefinitely.

“It’s as if life itself has come to a standstill,” he says.

The lights outline his life. So, he hasn’t stayed away from them for too lengthy. Yearly as soon as, Ranga Shankara closes for the servicing of its tools. This 12 months, there may be extra time to do that. So, amidst dismantling and reassembling tools, he’s instructing the theatre’s help workers the historical past and know-how of lighting.

“Muddanna’s an encyclopedia of Ranga Shankara,” says Gayathri Krishnan, who helps run the theatre’s day by day operations. “For example, we are curating recordings of the best performances for our digital screening. And he knows which performance happened when.”

It is perhaps some time earlier than Mudanna will get to see a packed viewers in entrance of the stage he has lit. But for now, he manages to maintain the present going at Ranga Shankara.

Ranga Shankara’s founder Arundhati Nag says, “I miss being an audience.” She is a veteran actor, the managing trustee and inventive advisor of the nonprofit Sanket Trust, which runs the theatre. But applauding efficiency with a whole bunch of people is what she misses the most in her office.

With inputs from Chitradeepa Anantharam, Aishwarya Upadhye, Srivatsan S and Praveen Sudevan.

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