'Hope is the sun. It is light. It is passion.' A tale of working from home as told through Instagram pictures

I made a simple spaghetti for lunch yesterday. Loads of colourful vegetables.
Wholewheat spaghetti. Feta. Balsamic vinegar. Walnuts.
Check out the colours. Tasted as bright too.

I know that it is Sunday today but I had been meaning to write this post for the past few days so here goes. 

Come to think of it, the latter half of the week, Thursday to Sunday, is when I seem to be at my most prolific in terms of writing now. I do not know why it is so. In fact this is in contrast to my market research agency days, when I hated to work on weekends. 

Mondays are when I take it easy after the burst of weekend energy and frenzy. 

That is life. It is all about change and moving with times as they say.

A Ling's Pavilion inspired Cantonese ginger chilli soya steamed pomfret that
I had made at home for a project a couple of days back

The idea for this post came to me a few afternoons back while I clicked pictures of a couple of dishes that I had prepared for a client project that I am working on. I had prepared the dishes after I was done with lunch and then photographed them with my phone (iPhone7Plus), though the food was meant for our dinner. I did so as photographing food at night and depending on artificial lights does not bring it out at its best at my end and hence I did so during the day.

That is when it struck me that my life as a freelance food writer has evolved with time and that is what I wanted to write about here. 

Pomfret steamed in soy sauces with mushrooms. Served
on a bed of soba noodles. Inspired by a meal that we had
at a place called Arashiyama in Japan. For the project 

I had decided try to a pursue a career as a food writer sometime in the year 2013. This was after being in a corporate career as a market researcher for the first fifteen years of my working life. 

The uncertainty of the new field soon began to weigh on me back then though. 

Add to this the fact that the apartment we lived in then looked on to the backyards of other apartments. There were no signs of life outside us apart from an elderly Parsi lady who would watch television sitting at the balcony opposite us. This emptiness was such a drastic change from the office environment that I had spent my days in before this. Or in college and school before that. I had never spent so much time just by myself before. This physical emptiness and the lack of sense purpose and direction that I suddenly found myself in unsettled me. 

I actually began to miss the routine of a job which I was good at to some extent but did not really love. I even missed the company of the people at work, even though I cannot say that I used to connect with everyone.

A breakfast Instagram post that I put up
recently. K has gifted me a Nespresso machine
and it's goodbye cappuccino and hello espresso now

Then my book contract came through. My wife, who gave it the name The Travelling Belly, came up with a brilliant idea at that time. "Why don't you go to a cafe and work," she said. "You will enjoy the buzz."

She was right. I finished writing the first draft of the book in four months but continued to work out of cafes in the morning, primarily Candies at Bandra.

We then shifted to a new apartment in mid 2017. This apartment, though in the same building as the earlier one, is brighter than the earlier one as it is on a higher floor. There is more life around us as we now face a gulmohar tree dotted lane in Bandra. From the samosawala who walks by in the morning crying 'samosa samosa', to the watchmen and drivers chatting downstairs in the compound by the gate, to the vegetable cart guy who parks his cart in the lane below waiting for residents to come down and stock their kitchens, to folks who walk dogs of various breeds, or even the squirrels who scamper up the tree in front of our hall and the pigeons and crows who come to the window sill to chat, there is plenty of life around this apartment for sure and one does not feel as if one is home alone.

My work has begun to take a certain momentum too over the years thankfully and this new life has began to make some sense. I am happy to say that I now feel snug as a bug when at home. The spare room, which doubles up as my study, looks on to trees too and without realising how it happened, I transitioned seamlessly into a freelancer who works from home from one who sat and wrote in cafes.

This arrangement came with its own set of problems. Most centre around the blessed doorbell. From the vegetable guy coming to check if we want something, to endless couriers, to the watchman with society notices and electricity bills, to young folks dressed in formals pretending to be raising money for charities and B school projects, the bell just does not stop ringing and I would often curse and mutter in the early day as I would have get up midway while writing to answer the door.

Then I stopped doing so. Cursing that is. I still have to open the door. many times in a day! 

However, I stopped resenting it. Let me explain why.

While taking yoga lessons to fix my back pain attacks last year and now physiotherapy sessions for the same, I was told to keep getting up from my desk every twenty minutes to stretch. 

That is when I realised that the doorbell ensured that I got up, even if I forgot about it myself. The ringing doorbell was acting as my personal coach I realised.

Working from home allows one to have freshly made lunches. Our cook, Banu, makes
fresh rotis and I have recently jowar millet rotis. She makes the Indian meals
while I made simpler 'freestyle' ones for myself

The other thing that I realised is that working from home allows me to have fresh home cooked meals at lunch. This means that I can photograph my breakfasts and lunches in natural light now and then post them on Instagram

The food that I have on most days is quite simple however the plates are pretty because I like my food to look special to me. It seems to have caught the eyes of many though and has helped me connect with new readers and audiences on Instagram. 

Snapshot of today's lunch post on Instagram

Last week I was at two client events on two successive days. On both occasions I happened to meet the managers of two different celebrity chefs as they are called these days. Both of them (the managers) told me that they apparently love my Instagram feed. One even said that she tries to replicate my lunches for her dinners.

"It does not look the same though," she said with a smile. 

"It's the natural light that works for me," I explained.

That's the story of the third chapter of my life as an independent writer. A story where the sun is the hero!

I was planning to title this post, 'then came the sun.' Then I went to a friend's place to chant and saw this bookmark with this line from Dr Daisaku Ikeda, president of the Soka Gakkai International. I got my answer.

  1. An earlier post on the travails of working from home. I clearly think differently now
  2. Post on the food principles I follow now and whose result you see on the plates in this post
  3. Link from where you can order my book, The Travelling Belly
  4. Link to my Instagram feed: @thefinelychopped
  5. Post on how I faced the challenges of the transition from full time to freelance