What free time?! The reality of working from home during the lockdown & an anda burjee recipe. Finely Chopped Covid_19 Journal 6

Our Sunday breakfast of anda bhurjee pav with espresso


K's day began at 6.30 this morning with Baby Loaf sauntering into the bedroom to wish her good morning. She patted and petted him for half an hour before going back to sleep.

Mine began at 8.30 when he came back in, stood beside me and woke me with a sharp meow. He licked his lips with his tongue when he saw me open my eyes. His way of saying, " I am hungry. Do your thing."

I got up and went to to kitchen. He followed me while I took out his food and put it in his saucer and served him. I petted him while he ate and then went back to sleep.

We woke up at 9.30 am when my little niece video called from Gurgaon, wanting to chat with Baby Loaf, whom she still calls Maharani. Baby Loaf had gone off to sleep by then, so I carried on the call on his behalf and then decided to start my day.




K and I then rushed to get on to the video call for our Soka Buddhist study meet. "Since when did our Sundays become so busy,' I wondered. 'Or our lives?'

A few things discussed in the call struck home. That we need to build on our inner strength to ensure that we do not succumb to fear. That we need to try to face life with a sense of joy and not despair.  To not give in and to help others to not give in.That this is the time to stretch ourselves and go beyond what we have done so far, so that we can tackle and overcome this extraordinary situation. That should be our prime focus now. To make the impossible possible.

A modern cafe would have called this Bandra bhujee pav skillet perhaps
I did feel charged up at the end of the call. I headed to the kitchen to make breakfast even though I had earlier felt too exhausted to make it and had been tempted to call in. We both had had very busy and tiring days in the lead up to Sunday.

I decided to make an anda bhurjee. The spicy, tight textured, Indian version of a scrambled egg. The reason why I chose this is that it is the easiest of egg dishes to make. It needs a lot less tending than an omelette or a fried egg.

This is how I make it.

Anda bhurjee recipe
  • Heat vegetable oil in a pan
  • Once the oil is hot, add some  finely chopped onions, tomatoes and green chillies. I skipped the chillies and added some green capsicum instead today
  • Once the veggies are half cooked (the colour changes of each), break and add an egg (I added 2 as K & I would share it)
  • Add salt, red chilli powder and turmeric powder. I added some black pepper powder too.
  • Beat the mix on the pan with a ladle till the egg hardens and begins to form. Smash the egg so that it fragments.  Put in all your energy and focus and soon you will begin to find your rhythm for the day.
We had bought some pav last night evening when the anda pav-vala had cycled down our lane. Good old Bandra A1 Bakery pav. 

I pushed the bhurjee to the side of the pan once it was done. I sliced the pav into half and toasted them on the pan in the quintessential Mumbai anda bhurjee street food stall style, to make for a lovely anda bhurjee pav breakfast for us. Albeit at half past noon. A shot of Nespresso espresso and all seemed fine with the world again.

I ran a Twitter poll on Monday morning and have added the early findings to this post.

Does working from home really free up a lot of time?

The assumption some have is that thanks to being at home because of the Covid-19 pandemic countering lockdown, one will have lots of free time at home. They want to know whether one is doing anything productive with the free time in terms of learning something new, starting something new etc etc.

If you feel that this is not so, then let me assure you that you are not alone.

Let me take two cases. Case 1 is that of a freelancer like me who works from home. There is honestly not much of a difference in how my day looks post the lockdown compared to before. It is largely business as usual in terms of work. It is not that any free hours have been added to my day. Work has been added though as our house help cum cook, Banu, is on lockdown leave herself and part of her duties have been added to mine.

Case 2 is that of those who usually work in offices but are working from home during the lockdown.  A larger chunk of people. From the many examples that I have seen, starting at home, they have been working at a frenzied pace. They uniformly say that they end up working more at home than when at office, with no time wasted on travel, water cooler chats, lunch breaks, etc. Plus there is no finite closing time to the work day and so the day stretches on, just as weekdays spread on to the weekends. Folks are trying to work extra hard to ensure that business is safeguarded during these trying times and thereby jobs too. There is a feeling of unity/ solidarity in that sense.

I see two good things coming out of this.

Firstly, I know from personal experience how mortifying and debilitating sitting at home and doing nothing is for those used to a routine at work. I feel that this flurry of activity, crushing though it can be, can be a blessing in disguise in these times. I am not in their shoes I admit and it is easier to opine from outside. Let us not forget that case 2 does involve a serious amount of house work being added to the shoulders of corporates working from home, once again due to the absence of house help. This is compounded when the family size is bigger. 

Secondly, I hope that at the end of this, corporates realise that there were a lot of inefficiencies in the way they worked and arrive at much better work practises in the future instead. Practises built on empathy and compassion, leading to significantly better work and productivity. Turning 'poison into medicine,' as the Buddhist monk, Nicherin Daishonin had said.

This brings me back to something that we discussed in the Buddhist meeting today. The need to stretch ourselves and find innovative ways of being productive.

"Become the master of your mind rather than let your mind master you," to quote Nicherin Daishonin once again.

Perhaps we will end up learning a new life skill after all. Or will finally bring to life the project that we had always dreamt about but had done nothing about. There is still time. We are in for a long winter, and, as the Daishonin said, "winter always turns to spring." 

And, if you feel that you need to just switch off for some time before rushing into something, or that you need to attend to things at home first, or be there for the people in your life for now, that is fine too I guess. Do not get stressed, there is a time for everything. Things will work out.  As my PG landlady used to say, "tension nahin lena ka. Sab thik ho jayega."

Here's wishing you a purposeful and productive week. Stay home and safe. Eat well.

Kadhi chawal from the 'Grover langar.'


Appendix:

We were rather frazzled today by lunch time. I was about to soak rice to cook and eat it with what was in the fridge when the watchman called us. Our friends Anu and Manoj had sent across piping hot Punjabi kadhi pakora and chawal. This is just what one's soul called for and made Sunday seem special again. No wonder I lightheartedly refer to their house as the 'Grover Langar.' I feel so blessed to have friends like them.

Here's the link to the anda bhurjee making stories in my Instagram highlights. Hope it helps.

My Times Kitchen Tales article in the Times of India today was about the good old baigan ka bharta and its many renditions across the country. Here is the link
Talking of pav and Baby Loaf, here is a story that I wrote on both recently.





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