Thursday, October 21, 2004

Moveable Work

Moveable Work

Like a Bedouin roaming from one oasis to another, I drift from one Wi-Fi hotspot to another all across town to do my work. I enjoy changing my workplace everyday because new environments help me to get fresh ideas.

The only challenge for some people in working the way I do is that it takes time to settle in to a new environment before you can start concentrating. But sometimes having a regular workplace in the office could be worse: many of us, whenever we're at our desk, immediately think of surfing the Net or calling a friend and pretend to be busy working.

Everytime I set up camp at one of the Starbucks or Coffeebean cafes, I'll go through the ritual of hooking up my computer, connecting to the Net, checking my e-mails and then start looking into my work files. Sometimes I concentrate better outdoors because unlike working from my room back home, there are no distractions like books or a comfortable bed within sight. Well, sometimes there are pretty women to ogle but It's rude to stare too much at other people, so you end up staring at your computer and inevitably you'll start working.

Many writers like to write outdoors in cafes too. Harry Potter author, J.K. Rowling is one of them--or at least she did that when she wrote her first book. Now that she's so well-recognized, I don't think she enjoys that luxury anymore. Ernest Hemingway wrote everyday from cafes during his time in Paris in the 1920s. In my favourite Hemingway book, A Moveable Feast, he describes his time living in Paris as a young writer in simple but moving prose ("This is how Paris was in the early days when we were very poor and very happy..." ).

There's only one thing that I dislike about working from cafes: I end up drinking lots of American-styled coffee which I'm not particularly fond of, because I'm more of a tea drinker. Being rather old-fashioned, I also dislike tea that comes in the form of teabag and hot-water. Like many Malaysians, I like skillfully made, steaming hot, tea with milk from Chinese kopitiams or teh tarik from the mamak.

Thank God I don't have the habit of eating while I'm working (I'm not attracted to cakes and other types of microwaved junk that they serve at cafes), or my mobile work sessions will also end up being moveable feasts!

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