A Petition to Declare Mumbai a Work-from-Home City


A Petition to Declare Mumbai a Work-from-Home City

Illustration: Arati Gujar

It’s a weekday morning. You’re woken up by the sound of honking cars down the street, and no part of you wants to get out of bed. You know you have to get up, brush your teeth, and have a bath, and you also know that no matter how clean you are when you leave for office, you will arrive sweaty and smell like something between the open sewers and smoke from the pollution. The city is more powerful than any deodorant.

You check Uber. “Fares are higher due to increased demands.” You check Ola. “Fares are higher than normal,” as if saying, “Let me try and rob you based on how badly you need this ride!” You check Google Maps to see how much time it will take to reach office (even though you know it). Google Maps shows you sporadic splatter of blue and orange amidst a completely red network of roads. You expected it, but you’re still shocked because your system has gotten used to the daily cheap thrill that is your workday commute.

You figure you could take the train, but it’s peak time; the people will crush you and armpits will surround you. Or worse, the bridge might just give up, and then the people will really crush you. You could take the bus, but you might get smacked in the face by an overhead railing. You could go by bike, but you’d rather not play a pothole version of Minesweeper with your dear life.

You curse the monsoon and how the floor is now keechad, but deep down you know that it’s not the monsoon… it’s just Mumbai. During the summers the heat puts the street dosawallah’s tawa to shame, and winter is definitely not coming. As you look up a YouTube video on “How to make a jetpack from scratch: for n00bs”, a second question strikes you:  Why do you even need to go to office?

You bring your work home anyway, office laptop included. Your office WiFi sucks, you’re always resorting to using your hotspot. Your colleagues and you sit next to each other, but the conversations are happening on WhatsApp or Skype or Facebook or Twitter or Sarahah. So what is the need to physically move to another location to do the things you could do while being simultaneously hugged by your blankets? The very act of going to office is disrespecting the great advances in science and technology! Astaghfirullah!

You won’t need that huge mug of kadak chai as soon as you reach work, because at home you can start your day with a smile and drink your daily tears of joy for that morning kick.

Working from home would also eliminate the time spent choosing clothes, wearing them, and putting in the effort into looking like a civilised member of society. And think of the time you’ll save on the commute! You won’t need that huge mug of kadak chai as soon as you reach work, because at home you can start your day with a smile and drink your daily tears of joy for that morning kick. And in bed too!

You could take satisfying dumps in a familiar washroom without a rubbish plastic safe seat scarring your cute tush. You could have food heated fresh off the stove – even share it with your partner, who is also working from home, and eat it together on that new dining table for once. And maybe some post-lunch sex in the middle of a weekday. Because. You. Can. Heterosexual couples, get to work on that family you’ve always thought of starting, you have energy now with all the time you rested by saving yourself from big bad Bombay!

Working from home will also ensure you are rolling in cash because you’re not taking surge-hit cabs to office and not ordering restaurant food for lunch. You can finally afford a vacation, or even pay one year of tuition for your future kid’s kindergarten school fees.

Since everyone is now rich and clean, every meeting on con-call goes smoothly. All clients approve everything because everyone’s at home, in their pyjamas, and happy. Adults are seen on bicycles and even using their legs to walk distances longer than from their building gates to car doors. The trains are emptier and only three people sit on a seat meant for three people (say, what?!).

Mumbai’s sky is blue again. The clouds increasingly start to look like the heart emoji. The birds and the dolphins return, children are running around, supple and whole without worry. The cows own the streets now. They’re the new traffic police, but they let you pass if you pet them. “You don’t gotta go to work, you can work from home” by Fifth Harmony plays after the national anthem at theatres. Working from home is Mumbai’s three-word answer to being a smart city. We’ve saved the environment and our sanity! It’s finally achche din!

A car honks from that faraway street and you’re holding your phone. Damn it, the surge is higher now.