Let’s face it, working from home isn’t easy. Waking up early in the morning can be injurious to your daily schedule. Getting distracted by social media is necessary to keep your sanity. You can be eating breakfast at dinner time, and supper during lunch. The least you deserve is a handful of cafes that understand your lifestyle.
Since bidding goodbye to corporate life in sunny Singapore and moving to Delhi, I’ve been on a quest to find cafes with easy all-day access to good food, a lightening fast internet connection, and the option to interact with a friendly staff. It’s been over 6 months, and I’m glad to present my pick of five cafes that best meet the basic necessities of working from home:
– Free, fast and reliable Wi-Fi.
– Affordable and good food.
– Non-intrusive service, i.e. you don’t get kicked out for occupying a table all day with only a couple of drinks & some food.
1. Zaffiro by Zaza, near GK I.
If the name isn’t quirky enough to tempt you to visit this cafe, maybe the idea of a bamboo roofed working space and exquisite Medditeranean-Italian-Continental food at affordable prices will. Tucked away in a quiet corner of Zamrudpur, away from the bustling markets of Greater Kailash, Zaffiro by Zaza is a tastefully designed cafe, a funky artsy retail shop, and a hub for cooking classes, all rolled into one. The food is consistently good, the Wi-Fi reliably fast, the noise levels low, and the service welcoming and friendly, especially since the owner, Rachana Desai, is almost always around. Mushrooms on toast, pesto pasta, the egg salad sandwich and the home-brewed iced tea are personal recommendations.
PS: The word Zaffiro is Italian for sapphire.
[Update (August 2013): Zaffiro has shut down. Life as I know it is over.]
2. Market Cafe, Khan Market.
Khan Market has no dearth of cafes, and yet finding free internet access and unobtrusive service isn’t easy. Market Cafe affords you both at reasonable prices, considering the up-market area that it is located in. It’s outdoor seating is perfect for a sunny winter afternoon or a breezy summer evening, and it has enough quiet corners indoors to let you work undisturbed for hours, and chill with a drink or sheesha after.
Turtle Cafe, the more popular hangout among the Facebook generation, is a disappointment in comparison, with uptight service and no connectivity. Watermelon, around the corner from Market Cafe, is the second best bet for a quiet space to work, only with a less reliable internet connection.
3.Cafe Ziro, Hauz Khas.
While Kunzum Cafe is all the rage in Hauz Khas thanks to its commendable branding as a ‘travel cafe’, the absence of food leaves a lot to be desired if you intend to work for long hours. Cafe Ziro, on the other hand, offers a quiet rooftop fenced with quirky green bottles to work from, complete with plug points, Wi-Fi and good music. The food menu is extremely limited, but they more than make up for it with what they do serve.
The word Ziro comes from a little village in Arunachal Pradesh inhabited by the Apatani tribe, who live in a sort of time warp, drawing only on the positive aspects of the modern world. They closely profess to the Epicurean philosophy of eat, drink, be merry, and to unpretentious living – exactly the kind of ambiance you find at Ziro.
Boheme is another good rooftop option to work from at Hauz Khas, with the added advantage of a spectacular lake view, though that also makes it more popular for post-work hangouts and less apt as a quiet work place.
4. Coffee Quotient, Saket.
Hidden away in an obscure corner near the parking lot behind Select City Walk, Coffee Quotient offers a quiet hideout to work from, even on a busy Sunday when every other cafe in the mall is overflowing with people. It is modestly priced compared to other cafes in the area, with a cozy wooden ambiance, and plenty of fast food & drinks to choose from.
5. Bagel Cafe, Defence Colony.
You don’t need to love bagels to love Bagel’s Cafe, but chances are both will grow on you. For the uninitiated, the bagels here are heavenly creations stuffed with ingredients ranging from grilled veggies to nutella & cheese. The cafe’s homely ambiance, alternative food and friendly staff make it a hit for working from home on weekdays, while weekends get louder with more people discovering this chic hangout. It’s still a personal favorite for me, to the extent that I’ve been given an exclusive loyalty card for spending so many work days here gorging on bagels.
[Update (August 2013): Bagel Cafe at Defence Colony has shut down.]
What are your favorite cafes to work out of, or just hang out at, in Delhi?
[Feature image by David Goehring]