Gold Rush in Silicon Valley

A visit to Google Headquarters is more than a glorified playground

They say the pavements of Silicon Valley are made of gold. Touch it, step on it, kiss it - leafy flakes from blocks of bullions will trickle down and bless an obnoxiously brilliant idea.

I say goodbye to my parents and prepare to fight tail to tail, and bite off flesh from another man's self-made venture in place of mine.

I've played enough video games and watched plenty of Donald Trump's 'Apprentice' to know that when it comes down to pitching, it's ruthless on and off screen.

Why else visit without a penchant to hunt into the lairs of ravenous venture capitalists sitting in the archipelago of Google, Facebook and Apple?

It's a stereotypical California beautiful day and like many tourists, I walk around Google headquarters in Mountain View. The best way to describe it is a childhood fantasy of Disney and Universal Studios combined.

Slides circle from one floor to the next, sandy volleyball courts and paddling pools are central features for playtime.

I cycle on a Google bicycle, only to realise too late that the only way to brake is by pedalling backwards.

Crashing my way into a minefield of lanky and awkward geeks, I find myself at building number forty-three. This is the centre of the campus that boasts a Virgin spaceship model, and even a London telephone box.

The employees almost seem amused at my landing, but quickly get back to their free food.

I walk inside a cubicle of 3D vertical panel screens - a live Google map on each divided screen that surrounds into any postal code in the world.

This was a powerful experience at how precisely the mapping can sweep one into any wonder of the world so effortlessly.

I take my time on the keyboard, placing myself outside the Taj Mahal, and on top of the Grand Canyon, which showed even detailed fissures between rock formations.

Suddenly, I spot a man with two young children that had been patiently waiting behind.

"Oops sorry I took long!" I blurt out.

The man was wearing Google glasses, shorts and a polo shirt. Nothing out of the ordinary, except one thing. He looked strangely familiar.

"No problem! You had a good time?" says Sergey Brin. The multi-billionaire and co-founder of Google.

He chuckled, and so did I.

Although my search didn't warrant me with nuggets of gold, I discovered a sense of humility that is prevalent of Silicon Valley.

You're cool in a Prius, and a stud in a Tesla.

Shorts and t-shirts are the norm uniform, and flashy brands are just not paid attention. It's not frowned upon, but people are just too busy changing the world.

It's famously said, "the alchemists in their search for gold discovered many other things of greater value."

For a company that's dominating every inch of the planet, the air is clean from pretentious fumes, which the rest of the world seems over exhausted by. This was rare and priceless, in my opinion.

P Harjani

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