Jan 14, 2003

"Now Prince Abdullah, your favourite Loop-in-the-Loop"
One of the many corporate phrases that plagues newcomers (the worst being "let's take it offline") is "keep X in the loop". But being (or wanting to be) in the loop seems very fundamental to human nature: one wants to know what's going on, not necessarily in the far-flung lands of Haute Volta, but in the immediate spaces around one. (Not everyone is like that of course, but most are so in differing degrees.) It takes the form of gossip, status meetings, friendly chat by the coffee machine, but they all serve the ultimate purpose of maintaining the loop. You are "into" the vital info, a receiving node in a social multicast, or else you may be a minor-outcast. It also ensures that, when you find yourself in a group of people, you're not left out of the conversation. "Did you know what Z did to cover up that?". Now, not having been privileged in the first place to either know Z or what infamous deeds he now was upto, you find yourself in a purely read-only mode, unable to contribute spicily to the conversation. A side-effect of being out of the loop.

Loop-out has strange effects: my mother now watches KSBKBT and other assorted Hindi serials apart from the Tamil un-fare, even though I suspect, she doesn't think much of them. The biggest reason was that she probably was being left out of conversation among the womenfolk, "How could Parvati do this to Kiran?" type laments take precedence over how much onion prices have risen these days. And add to this, being multilingual means learning the vernacular word for "infidelity" in those languages. I've been looped-out before, especially during school-lunches in Madras. My school was right opposite my house. Though this was most convenient in terms of saving bus-fare, it meant that I went home for lunch in the 45 min. break. Lunch would be a 30 min affair, for I had to eat my sambar & curd rice, unlike the mini-tiffin box lunches my other classmates would gulp down. It meant they had time to play and goof off, and worse, make it topics of conversation later in the day. Which meant I had no role to play in that. So sometimes I would take a tiffin box to lunch just to see what this alternative universe of 45 mins in the lunch break was like. At work, we've been told that it is likely some groups (including us) are going to shift to another building down the road. One of the many concerns some group members had was that "Now we won't really know what is going on out here." Quite true, the daily tidbits, the inevitable criticisms, the insider-jokes will be lost for us, and we will set up in place, our own grapevines and intra-loops to fill the void. Sometimes, you don't want to know what's going on - people may think you're a black hole where they can spew their particles of dys-trivia into. At which point, you want to collect your event horizon and vanish through a worm-hole. But that's a blog-post for another day.

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