We were sitting at the Subway in Phoenix Mills trying to recover from a very filling dinner. I had just finished telling him how a classmate of mine was now working with Koltrain. This whole ‘small world’ topic is a recurrent theme in our conversations. And despite whatever his statement might seem to imply, he was referring to my social life.
My social circle, you see, apparently has a radius of about a centimetre. As it turns out, everyone I know seems to know everyone else I know. People I’ve met for the first time end up being the long-lost second cousin of the guy who shares my parking space. Or profess to having once worked with someone who knows the third girlfriend of my last neighbour. Or more often than not, happened to have schooled, colleged or worked with one of my hundred classmates from Pune.
It’s like a mini-nightmare. And frankly, Orkut isn’t helping.
Yes, sure, it’s a hell of a conversation-starter. Nothing breaks the ice like “You’re from Xavier’s Kolkata? Do you know XYZ? Oh, you do? He’s such a darling na?” yadayadayada. But on the flipside, it means that sooner or later, everybody knows everything about you. There is no such thing as a carefully constructed professional image – they know how you got yelled at for letting that typo slip by in the seventh month of your first job.
And, of course, in Indian advertising this makes things much worse.
Before I joined my new job, for instance, my boss asked around a bit, I’m hiring this girl, have you seen her work, do you know anything about her, that kind of stuff. Standard enquiries in an industry where everybody really does know everybody else. One guy in my team, on being asked this said, much to my boss’ amusement, “Oh yes, I know her ex and I know the guy she’s seeing right now also.”
Oh, so much worse, I tell you.