of strangers in the night

So I’m back from the 2N3D offsite, and predictably enough, will now regale you with stories of the weirdness that ensued.

I was picked up from the highway next to my house in a bus with forty people, out of whom I have only ever spoken to six. Two of these six people were newly married men who had brought their wives along, and were pretending to not know me.

(Did I ever tell you that I’m the hottest maal in the office. People have been saying that to my face, which is really awkward coz I don’t know how to react to things like that, mostly coz know it’s true. So feigning modesty becomes really difficult coz I’m not familiar with the concept.)

So anyway they pretended to not know me, just smiled as I dragged my luggage into the bus.

The rest of the people I knew were basically three girls and a cute guy who works in graphics, who kinda smiled at me throughout the offsite, despite the fact that he was traveling with his wife and baby – and oh what a cute baby! Let’s call him Gfx, shall we?

The three other girls waved cheerily and welcomed me on board the bus, and then quickly resumed their laughing and hi-fiving. I put on my earphones and listened to music and clicked pictures.

We stopped for breakfast on the way, and reached the venue, a should-be-five-star-if-it-isn’t-already hotel just before the National Park. Then I met the girls for the unnecessarily lavish lunch and retired again. I skipped the team building activities too and tried to bond with my roommate instead. I asked her, why haven’t I ever seen you in office? Are you new? In response she told me that:

  • She was indeed new to the office, worked with XYZ in ABC department as assistant manager
  • It was her birthday the next day
  • She had lived alone in Indirapuram
  • for ten years
  • Her parents lived in a different city
  • Her biker buddies had planned to kidnap her from her house and bring her to Jim Corbett, but then she ruined it by coming to this offsite, so they changed their plan and were going to pick her up the next day and she was going on a vacation with them on their bikes
  • She owned the same pair of floaters as I did, but couldn’t carry them because she had brought high heels

At this point, I picked up my camera and left the room, because of all the bonding. (I realize that I don’t really make it easy for the other people to get to know me.)

I hid until the evening snacks were served. Later at night, there was an extremely boring dance party planned. The ekdum latest music seemed to be from the nineties, and they played everything from ankhiyon se goli maare to oonchi hai building. The crowd was unruly. One guy got drunk (we were allowed to carry our own alcohol to the offsite) and fell on the floor while people pointed and laughed for a full two minutes before someone ventured to pick him up and walk him to his room.

I decided to sit in a corner, but this guy (from the senior management, someone I’ve never even met) wouldn’t let me. He kept walking up to me and offering me his hand to dance, like a prince from the Victorian age. I’d oblige, stay for three seconds, turn to his wife and dance with her for a bit, and then slyly walk back to where I was sitting, but he kept coming back. No matter where I hid, he found me.

His wife was there on the dance floor all this while, glaring at me like she was going to claw my eyes out, giving me the you’re-stealing-my-husband look. I felt like I should say something to this guy, but then he wasn’t doing anything obviously wrong, and I didn’t really know how to react. I left the party and went back to my room to read and eventually fell asleep.

Thus the night ended. And another day of misery began.

The girls from my bus were in the room adjacent to mine, and in the morning I heard them screaming like they were being murdered. Still in my bathrobe, I ran out towards their room, and I found the door slightly ajar. What I saw next made me wish my eyes had melted in their sockets before I ever laid eyes on it, but you can read about that later.

For now, why don’t we talk about the strange things that you’ve seen drunk people do? Or the things you do when you’re drunk? How do you deal with non-obvious sexual advances from senior management? Would you run away like I did, or give it back to the guy?

of my social ineptitude

It’s been two years since I joined the new office, but I’m still feeling like an outsider. The people in my team are really weird, and I don’t know how I am expected to deal with them.

There’s Johnny Brag-o, a senior-level tenured employee who walks around like he owns the place, scaring newbies with his I own the office and everything that is inside it walk. He is a loudmouth who told me as soon as I joined that he had heard rumors that some maal (synonymous with hot chick, only more derogatory if that’s even possible) was about to join, and as soon as he saw me he realized that they were right. (I’m pretty sure he was the one who said it in the first place). Then he proceeded to tell me that he didn’t have any issues with married people having affairs and that he was very open minded. Two months later, he started commenting very loudly about me how I was so “figure conscious” and “well-maintained” – and this was when he was talking to other people. The entire floor heard this, including me. I was busy working and looked up only when I hear my name, and imagine my horror when my body was being described in painfully accurate detail. Yes, this guy is for real. And no, I didn’t tell HR. Yes, I should have.

And there’s Bubbly. She’s really nice to people, always smiling, and I could even like her, but people tell me that anything you say to her you will end up defending in front of a hundred people on different occasions. She’s apparently the official snitch, and I don’t know whether I can watch what I say all the fucking time. Surprisingly enough, she doesn’t ever talk about other people. All she talks about is food, and I don’t particularly like food. [Random fact about me # 1]. I totally judge people when they focus on satiating their appetite for food but starve themselves of the other joys in life. But more about that later. There are some other really annoying aspects of her personality, like being in the early twenties and being under thirty.

Penguin is smarter than anyone else. She knows how this office works. She can pull the right strings and is a great conversationalist. I’d actually try to connect with her, if only she would stop being such a suck up to Johnny Brag-o and Bubbly. For some reason, she thinks that these two have something fishy going on, and told someone who told me that she saw stuff at our last offsite, which I can’t tell you, coz I promised never to breathe a word about it to another soul. I always keep my promises, unless I really, really can’t. Then I will tell the first person I meet. [Random fact about me # 2]

The less I say about the woman I like to call Irene Idler, the better. She’s someone I work very closely with. She is a work from home mom, which is fine by me, but she’s never really available because of internet issues, network issues, and personal issues – and then some. Her gtalk status is always ‘idle’. She’s never at her desk, but if you ask her how her day was, you’ll be sure to hear the acoustic version of either I was on calls all day (only three people from our team are based out of India, including Irene Idler and me) or there were so many transactions during the day. She basically passes on all her work to her team (which means me) – and it is always a day before the deadline, because she just didn’t have the mental bandwidth to forward an email that has been sitting in her inbox for a week. And I let her, because I’m such a pushover. [Random fact about me # 3]

There’s this nice guy, let’s call him Batman, coz he’s just that quiet. He’s good at his work, nice to everyone, and a great guy. But – how I hate the but – there’s a catch. He is super introverted and unbelievably bulliable! He’s fodder for people like Brag-o. I feel sorry for him because he’s so overworked. He’s the only one that I feel comfortable sharing stuff with, you know, things that I really care about, such as a good joke or a great story.

Then there’s Big Momma. She’s great, but she’s a little too much like me. She’s apparently over fifty, and still single, living life the way she wants to. She is well-traveled and well-read. She listens to music, likes to party, likes to eat, willing to experiment – you name it! She’s very thoughtful – she remembers birthdays and goes out of her way to plan impromptu treasure hunts for the team without any expectations. The only reason why she and I haven’t really bonded is that we’re essentially the same type of person. Pleasant but not sociable, hiding behind walls because good fences make good neighbors and familiarity breeds contempt.

There are some other people, but mostly they’re either too loud, too mousy, or too meh! Three of them just joined so I don’t really know them that well.

The thing is, I am generally inept at dealing with new people, but these aren’t new people at all. Some of them have been around since before I joined. Though they seem to like me (there’s no way to be sure) and think I’m a health nut and come to me for advice on diet and exercise (I don’t know why, maybe coz I’m skinny and they think skinny is healthy, which it’s obviously not). But that works for me, because when we aren’t talking about health, I’m really awkward around them – once I even gave Bubbly statistics about water at the water cooler. Once Johnny Brag-o gave me a well-meaning compliment and I stared at him until his face melted. I have been on a ten minute break with Penguin where none of us actually spoke. To be fair, I get along pretty well with Irene Idler, but she works from home and it is impossible to really talk unless you’re face-to-face. (And sometimes not even then!)

In fact, we’re going on an offsite tomorrow where there’s going to be some forced team building, and I’m really dreading it. So much so that I have written over twelve hundred words about it. The max I’ve written about Mister at a stretch is probably half of this.

I’ve tried very hard to be normal, but I just don’t fit in. It bothers me at times like these when fitting in is so important. I look at the three people who joined recently and am really baffled – they’re displaying this amazing ability to gel with other people. How are they fucking doing it?

What, did I miss a special class in school? Did God give them private lessons? Where the hell was I when that was happening? (Actually, the answer to that question in all probability is Raasta, but that’s not the point.)

The point is, how are the new guys doing it? Am I the only recluse in the world? What about you? Do you get along with people in your office? Do you have to like someone to get along with them? Does it matter at all?