During my first US visit between 2005 and 2006, I did not have an office cubicle of my own. I was sitting in a lab-turned cubicle which hosted from 2 to more than 10 people at one time depending on the projects that came and went. Although I felt 'left-out' of having a cubicle of my own, I grew fond of my lab-like office setting. It was nice to share the place with others - to talk of this and that when work became monotonous, although it sometimes felt congested and difficult to concentrate when you can hear every single syllable of your neighbors despite their efforts to be soft. Apart from this, my place was a 'hangout' for lot of people. Perhaps it was because I was in a lab and not in a cubicle where one has to talk in whispers, people used to stop by and have chit-chat for some time everyday. When one person has stopped by, others used to join and before long, there were a swarm of people gossipping, making plans for the long weekend and yapping in general. I liked this setting although at times it was annoying when I had lot of work to do.
Then in 2007 and 2008, when I was in India, I was amongst a relatively new team of about 20 folks amongst which I was one of the seniors. So most folks used to look up to me for resolutions, for guidance and when they became closer, started stopping by for general passing of time. It was not long before my cubicle became very much akin to my US cubicle. My cubicle became the favorite hang-out place for planning weekend getaways, for parties and for general chit-chat. We spent lot of time talking about getting away from software engineering and taking up other kinds of businesses such as agriculture, mining, schooling and we were all in the same frequency of discussion and hence it was enjoyable taking absolute rot knowing fully well that we were all building castles in the air. But it was fun. I enjoyed the adhoc gatherings.
After being so used to this position of 'center of attention' (literally) for last 4.5 years, it came as a quite a jolt to experience the pre-2005 era when I was all by myself in my own cubicle and immersed completely in work from start of day to end of day. From mid-2009 till date, I have not had the opportunity to experience this bonhomieness. I was in US again for about 7 months in 2009 and my cubicle (again a lab-turned cubicle) was in an isolated location. When I was back in India in 2010, I got the same cubicle I had in 2007 and 2008 but it was a new team and it did not gel as well as the 2007 team. Now, back in US, my first 'real' cubicle in US (finally) is conveniently located but, again, it is a new team and not many know me well enough nor have time to hang out.
So, just the other day, for the briefest of the periods during the day, when about 4-5 people were over at my cubicle yapping in general, talking of this and that, I had this nostalgia of the good old days between 2005 and 2008. Sigh. How I miss those days...