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OTHERS :

Douglas Adams, an English author and satirist, profoundly said, “When people you greatly admire appear to be thinking deep thoughts, they probably are thinking about lunch." In fact, two punches (old jargon for attendance swipes) and one lunch is how some cynics would describe a day at work. For the average employee, the typical workday circles around lunch. So, here’s a take on how different employees approach the sacred hour. Offices with vantage views of the lunch-hour trek came in handy in compiling this.

t The gregarious

This group is my favourite. They are seriously committed to their version of the daily lunchtime kitty party. Group members come from departments far and near and flock to a set table. The attachment to this table is so strong that other employees steer clear, lest they get a barrage of nasty vibes from the original contenders. Lunch is consumed amid loud laughter, well-meaning banter and animated discussions. The constitutional post-lunch walk to the petty shop or the paanwallah for the “afters"—“chikkis", cigarettes or mint—is mandatory. Don’t miss their loud “see you tomorrow’s" before the group scatters for far-off departments!

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For them lunchtime is an adventure. Repeating company is an absolute no-no, and new tablemates are sought out as a matter of course. You find many eminent corporate leaders in this category; they believe this is a must-do and impose their selves on unsuspecting employees with the avowed purpose of getting feedback and keeping in touch with the ‘aam’ (ordinary) employee. “When that happened most of us just shut up and ate our food. Only one valiant guy would probably wear a strategy hat and indulge in some verbal jousting with him," said one hapless employee to me about a hijacked lunch hour.

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Nutritious food, complete with salads, greens, buttermilk and the ubiquitous ‘phulkas’, come carefully cooked and lovingly packed in “warm ware" straight from the hearth at home. The less fortunate depend on some enterprising outsourced alternative. Opening the multi-storeyed tiffin carrier and discovering the surprises of the day is in itself an adventure. When the fare is sparse or pedestrian, watch their face fall! The magnanimous among them reluctantly offer the priceless treasures to around-the-table pals, but at the grave risk of finding an empty vessel when it returns.

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