They Made Me More of Me

They Made Me More of Me

11 mins

What is life without a thick group of friends? I had read this somewhere. Well, I have never been that kind of a person who had many friends. I just had one in college and we always used to tag along everywhere together.

I don’t really know why, but I have always preferred to have many – one – to – one friends. And surprisingly it has never been a conscious choice. It always evolved that way with most of my friends. As a result, I have many friends from different spheres of my life: college, professional life, my music class, my room-mates and friends in my residential area but I usually don’t meet them in a group. I cannot tag all these friends as best friends because I do not believe in that concept anymore. Nevertheless, they all have been with me through thick and thin in some way or the other and thus I do consider parts of them as my best pals!

There are times I feel how will I react or be if I happen to meet them all together. Few years back I had tried doing this. Bringing friends from different areas of my life together on my birthday and had realized it isn’t that difficult. But that is what I felt. I am really not sure how each of them was feeling that day. Whether they were comfortable or not? Off late I have stopped arranging for such mix meets as a result.

If I happen to look at it, it is very difficult to write about a day in my life with my friends, because I have had many days with many friends! I have been with these same friends in group meetings also, but those are not the memorable times that I have spent. For me, the memorable times were those when I went with these friends alone at different times in my life and it will be absolutely unfair on the other people if I name one person and talk only about her and forget about the rest. So, no matter how daunting this task would seem, I am going to write memorable incidences about most of my friends to as much precision as I can!

Back in my childhood days I had a friend who was slightly elder than me and a part of my playing group. Each day after school all the children in the society used to play different outdoor games together and this one friend of mine had become close when for a few days everyone had gone to their native place or on a winter vacation with their respective parents and we both were the only ones who were in town. It made no sense to play anything outdoors and thus we would end up chit chatting. She used to admire the way I spoke. I remember she belonged to a conservative and strict household. Back then in 1989 or so her parents could not afford a television and so she would really miss watching films that used to be relayed by the DD channel.

I, on the other hand was privileged to have a T.V. in my house and used to watch all the movies as well as T.V. series. Whenever we used to meet, our favorite time-pass used to be story telling. I used to narrate stories to her from the movies that I would have seen and she would happily listen to me, her simple face changing each moment with my detailed descriptions of the movie, sometimes even re-counting the exact dialogues! We spent approximately 15 days of our winter vacation doing this activity after which the rest of our friends started returning back and then we resumed our outdoor playing activities. I believe I was 6 when we bonded and then I made a good friend only when I was 14. She used to live in the building next to mine and we used to go to the same tuition together. Hence, it was a part of our routine to travel together to and fro or even sometimes do our homework together.

This friend of mine was very studious. I too was. But she was particularly good in certain topics in Maths which I was never good at and thus, most of the time I used to be in awe of her. The days when we used to study together in the afternoon at her house were interspersed with some free time to watch T.V. or listen to music, play Mikado or chess and have some crunchy snacks before we headed for class. That was my favorite part! There were times her mother used to prepare things for us and those when even she used to cook. It was good. Being part of a different household, understanding their ways of being and living! We parted after our tenth class as she wanted to pursue engineering and I had zeroed down on either taking up medicine or a graduation in some subject related to biology. Although today I repent having taken science. I would have done much better in the arts field, particularly English and marathi languages I feel. Anyways!

I remember despite trying a lot I could not get into medicine and then I decided to take up a Bachelor’s degree in microbiology when I met the friend who stayed with me for more than 17 years of my life. It was unusual, the way we met! I was standing in the queue to fill up my application with my mother and she was there ahead of me. I had similar percentage to hers but had gotten a bit late for making the application and thus I had not got the desirable subject, and, she had. While I was whining to my mother about not getting my subject of interest, she suddenly started telling my mother very confidently that I would definitely get into the course with so much positivity that I felt as if I was pulled out of my disappointment. We finished the required procedure and headed back home and after six months I indeed got into the course because some people had left their claim as they got admission into engineering and medicine.

Surprisingly, she too was in the same class as mine and since I was a late entry and had a backlog of six months to make for, she was assigned by our class teacher as the person who should help me with understanding the know-hows! She was always there for me and I could always bank upon her for my difficulties. Our friendship bloomed gradually in that we both started visiting each other’s houses for casual visits which used to inevitably end up in surprise lunches or late dinners sometimes even extrapolating into a night-over. Our telephonic conversations were interesting too where most of the times I used to speak and so were our random plans to go out for movies which were always initiated by her and I used to follow suit.

Even after we passed out from college and went into different professional lives, we continued to meet each other and do so even today, just that now things have become very difficult as she is married and has a small child to look after to. There was yet another friend of mine who was senior to me in college and with whom I have been friends for almost 15 years now. My memories with her are those of meeting on weekends and talking about anything and everything. She has always been very protective of me and I believe for the kind of taut personality that I have; she has fathomed the courage to say to me right in my face when I have made mistakes in my life which I really like her for. I also have fond memories of going for outstation trips with her and I am eternally grateful to her because being my senior she always used to share her journals with me as she always wanted that I should do well in my class. I used to like to write my own journal, but in moments when a certain topic was difficult, her work used to help me gain perspective. And the best part was she did it for her own joy without any expectation from me. She was the elder sister to me in my college and I often think have I given her anything in return?

There is yet another college friend of mine who is settled in Dubai now. But she used to find time to meet me every now and then even after having settled abroad. She used to make me feel that if one really wants to make time there is no reason that can ever come in the way! My fond memories with her are those when we used to have chinese food together because she used to love it and also the day when we had been to Siddhivinayak temple when her marriage had got fixed. The last time I visited her was when she had come down to India and her daughter was about three years old or so. Her maternal family as well as her husband have always been very welcoming whenever I have met them and I always try to make time for her because I really like to do so!

One friend from my college days whom I used to never really talk to because I was always tagging with the other friend of mine that I just told you about, became really close in the past three or four years as we were working in the similar professional area, both literally and technically. Since we both also live in close-by localities we started going for morning walks together. There is a particular day I remember when after completing our stroll we went to her house which was very close to the park and she made a pizza for the two of us and the specialty was the pizza sauce that she prepared which was very tasty! As accompaniments she made some Maggi and a hot cup of chai for the two of us.

Even today we both go to each other’s family functions and keep connected over telephone whenever we find time. I admire this friend of mine for her resilience and her ability to smile through all the challenges in life and I look forward to her wedding which is due in three months really hoping that she always stays happy! Just like her there was another friend with whom I had not bonded really well during college days and did so only recently. She is an amazing cook too. I had once visited her house during Id and she had prepared chicken nuggets for me. They were made with so much perfection in both taste as well as texture that one could easily misunderstand them for a ready to eat product. Yet another time she had made onion pakoras and believe it or not I have never had such tasty ones in my entire life! She also has a quirky sense of humor which can take you off ground when you least expect it and that is what I really like about her. Her ability to keep things light and in perspective no matter how daunting life seems to be.

There is one friend with whom I have enjoyed some trips and my evening chai at workplace and I refer to her as my 'bourbon friend' because she had introduced me to the idea of having bourbon biscuit with tea or coffee. There is another who I remember for an egg dish that she used to make which is called egg shakshuka. It really inspired me to try different cuisines other than the conventional ones that we make at home. Yet another friend taught me to make poha (a Maharashtrian breakfast dish made from rice flakes) which I used to generally fail at. She was my roommate when I was living in a rented apartment away from home. Yet another friend inculcated in me the significance and love for homemade food which I now try to follow but love to fail at! There were two of them who strengthened in me the importance of being bold, clear and self - assertive which I already was and I remember them too! And finally, I also remember all those whom I have not mentioned for small and big reasons alike!

There are many things that I can keep sharing about these and other friends in my life, but what I understand is that these people have shaped me and my existence. Even if I am not able to remember each one of them or write about them, I know they are a part of me in the change that they brought about in me or the way they challenged my understanding of life or even how they tried to make me a part of them. I have had friends from different cultures and religion and likes and we have bonded over food and problems and attitudes and approaches to life. Parameters that break all the barriers that humanity seems to be encompassed in… And that is what makes my friendships very special and cherishable!

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