One Helluva Ride: My Time at Parallel
My first day at Parallel was rather unconventional. I met my team at 10 PM in the Bangalore airport on a Saturday. I blame Facebook for this!
Parallel was chosen as the design partner for Facebook in India. We would conduct design workshops in India, so our designers were invited to watch a workshop in Singapore. Since I would be heading this project, Robin (founder of Parallel) asked me to also join the training.
It was a quick transition. I had just gotten relieved from my previous company on Friday evening, and we were scheduled to depart to Singapore on Saturday night.
Travelling together is the best way to get to know someone
It was a bit awkward at first to socialise with new people when you are sleepy and jet-lagged. But over the next few days (and after a good sleep), we bonded well by getting lost and finding our way back to the hotel, trying to locate the nearest Starbucks and searching for vegetarian food, phew!
I don’t think I would have got to know my team this well if we had met in a regular office environment.
When we arrived for the workshop, we had a surprise in store. We thought we were there only to observe how to conduct the workshop, but we were asked to co-facilitate the session. We read like school kids preparing for exams the night before and managed to pull through it.
Attending the workshop in Singapore was an enjoyable experience as a designer. I learnt a lot about the impressive products being developed by startups, the role of design in advocating for privacy and the collaboration by the government to craft pragmatic policies.
Serendipity guides my life
Even the way I got the job at Parallel is quite interesting.
I got introduced to Robin through a person I met a meditation retreat. I certainly wasn’t there to discuss my portfolio or improve my design chops, but fate works in mysterious ways.
A casual coffee chat turned into a job offer!
A place to call our own
We worked out of a coworking space for a couple of months. As our team grew, we decided to move into our own office where we could create a space conducive to conducting Design Sprints.
We had a lot of discussions on how the office should look and even created blueprints for the layout. We are sure the interior designer must have scoffed at us, but that didn’t dampen our enthusiasm.
All the hard work and effort paid off, as the space turned out to be more beautiful than what we imagined. Moving from one cabin in a coworking space to 2 whole floors with plants and plenty of sunlight got us really excited.
Fun fact: If IKEA wants to open a showroom in Bangalore, they could just tie up with us, because our office looks like an IKEA catalogue. Also, I got to check one item off my bucket list — assemble IKEA furniture.
The fight for the remote never ends. At home, it is for the TV. At the new office, it was for the AC.
The perk of coming in early to the office — it let me call dibs on the remote. I felt like Thanos on most days. I had the power to make people sweat or shiver at the flick of my fingers.
Knock, knock — who’s there?
One day when I unlocked the office, the lights were already on. My colleagues swore they switched off the lights when they left the previous day.
The air the room went cold, and we wondered if some mischievous ghosts were lurking rent-free in our office. When we checked the CCTV camera footage, surprisingly nothing was recorded! And the mystery continues.
Later in the evening, I was alone in the office to wrap up some work. I decided to shut my eyes for some time and get some rest. Just then, an alarm in the showcase blared and spooked the hell out of me. I had no idea there was even a battery in those alarms. Ironically, none of this happened when others were around.
Maybe some spirit wanted to torment me or my colleagues were pranking me — we’ll never know. But I am done with my brief career as a Ghostbuster.
Bound by the love for design
We had a lot of fun team lunches enjoying yummy food on the terrace and taking in the cool breeze. We did our best to convert our omnivorous friends into friendly herbivores, but paneer could never replace chicken for them.
Like every job, my time at Parallel had my highs and lows. I did some things well, and even goofed up on a few, but I always had a good team who had my back. And for that, I am forever grateful.