The pandemic has snatched a lot from us but college students and working professionals are grateful for a small mercy it has shown. With office premises being out of bounds, these youths have been able to work, not just from home but, from their hometowns.
No sooner did the first lockdown get announced last March than students and professionals across the country started packing their bags and trying to book tickets home. Salt Lake and New Town, notoriously referred to as old age homes, saw the return of youths, most of whom are over the moon at being with their families.
“Money can’t buy such luck,” says Aniket Sil, an IT sector employee who has returned to ED Block’s Sourav Abasan from Hyderabad. “No company would have given us such a long leave and now none of us want to go back.”
Long before the pandemic Souradip Basu would, in vain, ask his Bangalore bosses to let him relocate to Calcutta. “I wanted to come back so badly that I could have signed a lifetime bond and tattooed the name of the company on my chest in exchange,” says the CA Block resident, now having the last laugh.
Sitting in his Gurgaon office, Subham Nandi would fantasise about working remotely. “Since office space was short, 30 per cent of our staff would work from home anyway. But it took the lockdown to let all of us do it from home. Before this, the longest break I could take would be a week,” says the resident of Meena Sparsh in New Town.
Working from remote locations has never been an issue with Western clients, says Sumit Sarkar of BL Block, now back from Hyderabad. “But Indian offices felt employees wouldn’t work unless under their boss’s noses. That’s not true if the work is deadline-bound.” Recently Sumit changed his job and is delighted that the new company has granted him a permanent work from home option.
The transition to the township wasn’t smooth for everyone. When Subham moved into his New Town flat, the table there was meant for his father to read the newspaper and using a laptop on it was rather uncomfortable. They didn’t have Wi-fi and he nearly had to move heaven and earth to get a decent connection in the lockdown.
But like many others, Subham used the “office settlement bonus” granted by his company to set up infrastructure at home.
Poulami Pal and her husband returned to town as late as October. “It’s easy for bachelors to pick up their limited belongings and not look back but my husband and I had a lot of furniture and fittings in our Mumbai flat. In fact, a new business had started there during this exodus where companies would simply keep your belongings safe while you left town. But they were charging a bomb and we eventually shipped our stuff to Calcutta,” says the lady from AH Block.
Food for thought
Food ranks high on the list of perks of being home. Even besides relishing the taste of mom’s cooking, some youths are happy to simply not get into the kitchen. “It’s a relief to not have to cook or plan meals everyday,” says Poulami.
Natasha Kesh of FE Block is enjoying that elusive cup of tea with homemade pakoras and Aniket is glad to have something healthy to munch on. “The last two years I was living on junk food from Swiggy and Zomato so my health has improved now,” he says.
So much so that he had put on eight kilos in the first three months of the pandemic. He then started walking 5km a day to work it off.
Comfort of home
Life in now a bed of roses for an IT sector employee who is woken up gently by his mother every morning. In fact, he has taught his father to log into his work station, which the senior gentleman does while junior snoozes away.
Ishan Kamal Mitra of AE Block is happy he doesn’t have to commute and can work in boxers, if he pleases. Flexible working hours allow Aniket a “bhaat ghoom” after lunch and Ritankar Sen says the pandemic has recalled all his friends back to town. “At least we can meet more often now,” says the former resident of Hyderabad and current resident of AH Block.