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Take a break from WFH on the orange couch at Friends Cafe

A DAILY commute to an office in the CBD seemed to be the most normal thing in the world, until the arrival in Zimbabwe of the Corona virus early this year. Familiarly referred to as Covid-19 (‘Co’ for Corona, ‘vi’ for virus and ‘d’ for disease), this unwelcome world traveller has made its presence felt everywhere. Unlike a cyclone that wreaks destruction and moves on after two or three days, Covid-19 is waging a stealthy war of attrition, striking when we least expect it, and forcing us to make unimagined lifestyle changes.

Friends Cafe, Chisi Walk.

Although essential services remained open after 27 March 2020, many workers retreated to their flats and houses and made plans to work from home. While offices in the CBD gathered dust and landlords bemoaned the loss of rentals, people set up work stations in their bedrooms and living rooms, improved their internet connections and ran broadband speed tests to make sure they could work efficiently. The WFH revolution is now well underway.

When large numbers of workers choose to telecommute over working in an office, there are advantages to the environment. There is no longer a requirement to get into your car at 7 am, and anxiously await a gap in the traffic, as scores of aging Asian imports make their way to the city, backfiring noxious fumes all the way.

Iconic orange couch at Friends Cafe.

Major road rage incidents will also be avoided. Instead of leaping out of your car at a stop to hurl abuse at the driver who braked suddenly in front of you, to buy mangoes from a vendor, you will be peacefully ensconced at your desk, and working uninterrupted. Moreover, by allowing your vehicle to rest quietly in the garage, you avoid any possibility of being given a parking ticket, or having your car clamped and towed away.

There will be times when you need to confer with your boss and your colleagues, usually on Zoom or Google Meet. When this happens, you’ll be allowing people into your house, which may not have been made ready for visitors. If your computer is in the bedroom, remember that an unmade bed or underwear left lying around, if in line with the camera, will send a negative message about your work ethic.And finally, scrub up well for Zoom meetings, and make sure to dress smartly, at least from the waist up.

Numerous Zimbos who have been working remotely during the lockdown in England, have made their way back to celebrate Christmas at home, without abandoning their jobs. Elizabeth, who has temporarily left her flat at Canary Wharf, joined us for breakfast at Friends Cafe in Chisi Walk. She insisted on an early meeting, as her company in London tended to schedule mid-morning Zoom conferences.

Named after a popular American sit-com about the lives and loves of six young adults sharing a flat in Manhattan, Friends Cafe offers an interesting snack menu with lots of green options, between the hours of 07.30 and 16.30. Decor is particularly attractive. On the verandah, vibrant green plants hang from a suspended ceiling, over socially-distant tables and chairs. Inside you can find the iconic orange couch from the TV series, on which Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, Joey, Chandler and Ross would sit to gossip, plan adventures, laugh and cry.

Anton the Cubano on sourdough at Friends Cafe.

The waitstaff at Friends Cafe were friendly and efficient, and although business was brisk, it didn’t take long for us to be seated and give our orders. George hit the jackpot with his order for Anton the Cubano, $8. Open toasted sour dough with freshly sliced ham, pickled cucumber topped with cheese and honey mustard aioli was beautifully presented and said to be delicious. The Joey burger ($7) combines 200g of grilled chicken with feta, pickled cucumber, basil and pesto sauce, while a 150g beef burger ($7) is topped with cheese, bacon, pickled cucumber, garlic aioli and crispy zucchini. The cook at Friends excels in creating dishes that combine fresh vegetables, fruit, herbs, grains, nuts and cheeses in imaginative ways. Straightforward dishes such as scrambled egg and bacon are less successful. While the sauteed cherry tomatoes and bacon were OK, the scrambled egg was slimy, and the sour dough toast hard and cold. Elizabeth chose an impressive looking slice of luscious beetroot velvet cake and an iced coffee for breakfast.

Friends Cafe is surrounded by green lawns, fishtail palm trees and flourishing shrubs. Within the complex are shops stocked with interesting clothing, attractive Christmas gifts and even a tempting array of imported wines.

Time and tide wait for no man, so head for the orange couch at Friends for an early breakfast and a hot chocolate. Make a start, then, on your Christmas shopping, and be back home and installed in front of your computer, in time for the next Zoom conference.   A Matter of Taste with  Charlotte Malakoff


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