Like chai and gossip, paper files were also missing

NEW DELHI: Officials who returned to the finance ministry on Monday after several weeks of working from home said there were physical meetings, but that social distancing was the norm, especially since the offices had ample space.

The absence of an official government order requesting senior officials to return to the offices also meant that some drivers were unable to come, prompting officers to drive themselves, navigating police checkpoints where police officers they often required a copy of the order or a curfew.

But there was plenty of space in the parking lots, although that houses the ministries of human resources development, law and justice, oil, chemicals and fertilizers, and information and dissemination, among others, was an exception. Cars were everywhere as so many joint secretaries and subordinates showed up, said an officer, who had grown accustomed to seeing very few people on the job while attending during the shutdown.

Although the canteens were closed in many buildings, the officers did not seem to miss him, as they relied on the electric kettle and tea bags in their rooms and the homemade lunch. Like the chai and gossip in the office, there were also missing physical files with officers who chose to use the electronic office, as there were few pawns to send documents to bosses.