I looked outside the office window. The sky was still bright blue with a few white puffs of clouds. Inside the office, there was soft music playing and incessant clicking of each employee’s mouse.
It was still 5 pm, but I was done with my work for the day and had almost nothing to do. Luckily, the boss called just then, saying that she wouldn’t be coming back to the office after her meeting with a client and that we could go home early.
We looked at each other’s ecstatic faces. This kind of celebration was a rare occurrence for designers working at an ambitious start-up. As common with any start-up the official working hours were 9 hours, but unofficially, as long as it took to complete the multiple tasks on hand. On some occasions, it would be because of pure enthusiasm and passion for a particular project, and most occasions it would be because of an almost impossible deadline.
‘We can leave early today.’
Those words meant as much joy as winning an Oscar’s is to an actor. Or actress. This is a non sexist blog.
My colleagues and I used to often crib about not getting enough time to hang out at bars or have dinner parties like they portray in those really cool sitcoms. This felt like an auspicious moment to do just that. But somehow, collectively, we were all fantasizing how it would be to just make it to home early.
Most of us lived quite far from our workplace, which is the equivalent of being cursed by an evil witch, if you happen to live in Bangalore. The actual commute time from point A to point B would be 30 minutes, but thanks to Bangalore being the city with the worst traffic in the entire world (according to an article I read a few months ago), the time you’d need would be anything on the scale of 1 hour to the amount of time Ted Mosby took to tell his kids how he met their mother!
I mentally decided not to bring up any party plans, and hoped the others would do the same and started packing my bag. My work friend, whom I used to drop on the way back home, happened to have about 15 more minutes of work.
15 minutes won’t make much of a difference. I can wait.
The meeting that she was in, which was supposed to be done in 15 mins, was still going on 30 minutes later. When she finally did get out of the meeting I had lost count of the time, but was still holding on to the hopes of having a solitary music party at home.
‘Quick! Let’s get out of here, before something else comes up’ she said, and we rushed out.
My raggedy two-wheeler didn’t seem to be favoring us either. The self start button just wouldn’t work. After several attempts to kick-start my vehicle, it finally started. By then the traffic had begun to grow, but it didn’t bring our spirits down or stop us from loudly belting out lyrics of the songs we loved.
That was our favorite thing to do after a tiresome day. Happily scream songs as we ride back home without a care about who would look at us judgingly because, one – they couldn’t possibly hear us over all the loud honking, and two – even if they did, we had helmets on and scarves tied around the lower part of our face, in true Bengaluru Motorist style.
At one of the traffic stops, I got the regular call from my mom checking about my whereabouts. I told her I would call back and asked my friend to hold on to my phone as the light turned green. We continued singing until we reached her place.
I dropped her and prayed there would be no traffic jam near my place. See, the frustrating thing about Bangalore is that the unexpected, exponential urbanization of the city led to most of the rural areas being developed into high rises, and gated communities. But the roads leading to these localities remain, well, underdeveloped, which then leads to the streets highlighted in dark red on the google map at peak hours. And that is exactly what I was hoping against.
The traffic somehow turned out to be moderate, and I went about making plans mentally for the night.
A movie, maybe? Or should I start watching a new series. If I order some food, then I won’t even have to cook. More time on hand, yay!
As I entered my street, I reminded myself that I should call my mom back…
But wait. My phone. I left it with my friend!
Nothing’s more annoying than the universe throwing tantrums on what’s supposed to be a good, nay, a great day! Shrewd thing, this universe.
Cursing my cruel fate I rode all the way back to her PG, only to realise that my only mode of contacting her, was WITH HER. Her PG owner seemed to understand only Telugu and wouldn’t allow me inside the four storey building. I didn’t even know her room number. Eventually, I caught hold of one of the girls who had come down to take food from the pantry. (Yep, it was already past 7:30 pm, thanks to all this drama)
After I called my own number, my friend finally came down, bursting into laughter as soon as she walked out of the elevator, and handed me my phone.
‘You’ll get home early today, huh?’, she mocked me.
‘My life is a bloody joke.’ I said.
This was an inside joke. Or my catchphrase, to be more precise. The name of my autobiography even, if that sort of a thing happens. I mean, you can go ahead and make lemonades out of lemons all you want, but what do you do when life gives you lemon seeds instead?
I guess, you just spit it out.
All the more reason to celebrate the next time you get to go home early, whenever that is.