Communication has always been difficult for me. And I'm not talking about Fourier transforms and Constellation diagrams (which are rather easy). This is about talking to others in a group without inviting raised eyebrows or generally commencing on what I call "suicidal conversation". You ever get the feeling that a perfectly normal topic you are speaking about is causing people around you to slowly drift away? There, you have just committed conversational suicide.
It's particularly annoying when the Eureka Effect suddenly manifests itself, causing irreversible effects and fatal amounts of ego damage. A case in point:
Me: So, anybody else here ever had this vague problem with MFC? Those bastards call it a feature!
21 others (thinking): Ummm, no. But the bar would be just the place to go right about now.
Me (realizing seconds later): Hey, where did everyone go?
So when I met 21 random people from all over India at the Google open house in Hyde over the last two days, I sorta felt it easy to mix into the crowd. Because, guess what, there were actually 21 other people there who felt it was perfectly rational to let a comment about Java drop into a dinner conversation and laugh about a faux-pas involving a ridiculous bug in a program.
For starters, all of us met first at a bowling alley. There were 17 guys, and 4 girls, which, no matter how you look at it, is an over-the-top sex ratio, since it's much, much greater than zero, which was the figure I had in mind. Now, bowling alleys are fearful places for compulsive suicidal conversationalists. No matter how small, there is always the lingering probability of a physics model turning up in your head and eventually finding its way to your tongue. A comment or two about rigid bodies, and suddenly a radius of two metres devoid of any sociable creatures envelops you in an aura of solitary nothingness.
This is where a chance meeting with an old friend from school saved the day for me. (Well, I failed to recognize her at once, but that went ok, I guess) Reminisces, nostalgia and catching up with five years past subdued would-be outpourings of dynamics and statics, and soon enough I was introducing myself to everyone, as everyone was introducing themselves to me.
And here is where the first suicidal conversation tidbit emerged.
"There is no freaking way I can remember 20 names in so short a time." proclaimed I.
And then realized that while the thought was true, it was not one meant to be shared aloud with the world at large, which in another situation might have been miscontrued as "So who the hell really cares about what you idiots are called anyway? I am Aditya, and that is all that matters." Surprise, surprise! Twenty other people were telling me that the exact same words were at the tip of their tongues, and they all agreed with what had been said.
I would have written here the names of these excellent people I met and enjoyed with over the past two days, but unfortunately, I have forgotten some names.
At least five different people came up to me (wearing my Quake@IITM t-shirt) and asked me if I really played Quake. Wow! That should make interesting company.
Thursday night was basically a freakout session - bowling and ethnic cuisine, and a skit we were supposed to prepare in teams of 5/6, which thankfully never happened. There was also an extremely cliched "uncle's pink pyjamas" game, which in other circumstances would have been the conversation killer, but here everyone seemed to enjoy it.
The next day was damn hectic - meetings with all kinds of heads of everything, who gave deep and inspiring (read uninteresting) lectures on all sorts of things. And of course, meetings with our year-old seniors who turned out to be extremely good company as well. Here, I clarified with them that Quake was indeed part of the job experience.
It was during the lunch break that I made the observation that only 5% of the world smokes, since I was the only one who went outside the building to take a fag break.
Dinner was at the Taj Krishna in an opulent and oversized baquet hall all dressed up in red. The words "GOOGLE DINNER" were arranged in golden letters on a velvet banner outside, and I exchanged them to read "GOOGLE NERD IN". Missing an "S", but quite to-the-point.
Of course, what company could be good without a dash of vodka and rock music. So, after the dinner our seniors took us to a pub called "Easy Rider".
At the end of the day (or two days), it seems like a nice place to go to work every day.