Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Indian Work Bash

Whereas in the States a corporate party will yield sparse turnout, terse small talk, jaded mumblings about office goings-on, and on the whole, the material that served as muse to Scott Adams and the director of Office Space, in India it's quite the contrary... at least at my job. Weekend offsites and team building camps are known to inspire 100 percent turnout, even when they spill over into other holidays. A going away party last week that ran late into the night proved no different.

After renting a local hotel space, and convincing (with little effort) 100 percent turnout, general revelry ensued. While we initially presented gifts to our departing manager in the form of framed pictures, books, a t-shirt, a 7 minute video produced by a teammate, the night soon devolved into a jack-of-all-trades variety show. The mike was passed, and no one could escape the eyes of 25 co-workers fixated on you as you had your limelight. Even those cowering in brightly colored saris could not escape the inevitable move of the mike, and one girl was literally forced into Kashmiri song.

I decided to make the most of my moment, as hesitation merely signalled weakness but offered little escape, engaging the rest of the group into chanting and clapping while I did my favorite Bollywood dance to the beat of Dhoom 2, a catchy number from a recent Little B (Bachchan) film. Others were far more cultured. Although we heard a less than PC impression of an American President, we also heard songs and dances from Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kashmir, and Manipur. It was a fascinating look at the diversity of India. On my team of 25 we had six states represented in song, dance, and language.

Following a plate of Indian grub, more Bollywood dancing and multilingual songs, we took off for the night. Although this picture is completely unrelated, it's my good friend Arjun fondling his precious Luminary Award, offering at my request, lines from Lord of the Rings. As he speaks 15 languages fluently (including Swedish, Tamil & Swahili), he's lucky I don't ask but in English. Arjun is not only my cube-mate, but his namesake is the historical hero of the Mahabarata, the fabled archer who faces moral dilemma. I'm fortunate to still have my thumbs (see Eklavya).

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