Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A weekend in memory lane

The last weekend was a trip into heaven and back for me. No, not for my family - my kids who are my universe now; or my ever supportive husband. Just me .... and my memories. The opportunity to discover who I had been when I was still growing up. (I meant in the rhetorical sense. In the physical sense of the word, I continue to claim more space around my expanding persona!)

This opportunity came by way of a college reunion. And not just any college, mind you. It was a college that possessed you from the moment you set foot in it. A college that threw your pompous individualism into oblivion if it interfered with the knowledge transfer happening inside its periphery. A college that put you through trials by the fire within the campus, to prepare you for all the possible tribulations in the world outside.....

The reunion was all that I had anticipated, and much more. While there were instances of me looking out for faces I hoped to see after a decade and did not, there were also endearing moments that etched itself into the innermost corners of my heart. A few beautiful words from unexpected quarters, a few smiles that said all was forgiven, a few hugs that left us wondering how fast the years have passed by........

There were a few instances which felt like the warmth of a hot cup of coffee by the fireside; on a cold winter night:
  • A friend meeting after 13 years, sitting with me and saying nothing for a few minutes; and then commenting "You seem to be very quiet today. All ok?" Just as if we had picked up where we left off...
  • Another friend rushing to my side, and rather discreetly asking, with a worried expression, if I needed something to eat. I realized, upon looking at him, that he probably thought I needed extrication from unwanted attention!!
  • My role model sitting right behind me, and I had somehow missed spotting her. The hoot I let out when I did finally see her.....
  • Someone stopping me in the hallway, and calling me by my maiden name.... something I haven't heard in 11 years
  • Singing and laughing away late into the night, along with friends and seniors (exactly when both became one and the same, is still hazy....) from college - a reminder of the many get-togethers we'd had earlier - in what seems like a previous birth now......
  • A passing mention of a song rendered with the mirth that only rebellious youth can bring, which then contributed to many memories of the same rebel-without-a-cause age
  • Seeing surprised recognition in the eyes of many.....
  • Realizing how far we've come, and yet, how little we've all really changed .... AMEN to that!!
One of the first things I did when I came back was to give my kids a tight hug. I then proceeded to tell them what a good time I had. My daughter came up to me, and told me I was a happier Mom now than when I boarded the taxi from home. And I promised her I would remember to be a happier mom for a long time, and that the next time I get the chance to travel back in time I certainly would take her with me.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Birds of a feather

A few colleagues had a harrowing time in the airport after a missed flight in 'Duffai' (as we Mallus call the land of oversized buildings and atrociously overrated gold shops. Ofcourse, there is more to Dubai than this - but hey, you're talking to a Mallu woman here!)

These colleagues had reached the airport well in time, checked in comfortably a few hours ahead of the flight, collected their boarding passes, completed security checks........ and THEN collectively went off to SLEEP in the waiting lounge. I mean, really! All of them! At the WAITING LOUNGE! Talk about waking up from the wrong side of the chair err... bed here!

But that, mi amigos, is not what today's ramblings is about. One of these 'disillusioned-by-the-airport-announcement' souls related the interesting anecdote, and concluded it with, "Well, I learnt a lot. Times like this brings out the true person inside. You get to know who your REAL friends are, no?"  Well said, oh, enlightened one  (even if it took supreme levels of inanity to reach there!)

I think I must mention here that my brain has a brain of its own - you know what I mean? My brain (henceforth referred to as 'IT') chooses the most absurd of times to think of topics totally irrelevant to the conversation going on. So here I was, sitting in a meeting room filled with serious faces and fatigue inducing numbers, IT chose to think about my 'real' friends. I could only comply, and hope that the others would not notice the silly smirk on my face - the smirk that always comes automatically when I think of my friends. A proud Aquarian, none of my relationships is complete if there is no element of 'Friend' in that. So very broadly, I can categorize my friends into one of these. (Am sure there are more variants out there.... please fell free to contribute!)

  1. The "What were you thinking" friend : No, honestly, what WERE you thinking when you befriended this one?  She / He may be the reason you got into trouble most of your life. From school teachers to the girl/guy you had a crush on, this friend has managed to put you in a tough spot with each one of them! But hey, they can say all they want, but they don't know the time when this person has rushed out in nothing more than a towel and waving a cricket bat to save you from the neighbourhood dog, with no concern for his own safety.... or modesty. (Thank God the dog chose modesty over safety!) On a more serious note, these are the kind of friends whose worth one only understands in dire situations - like when you have been kicked out of your rented place, or when the police is after you, or when the underworld has taken out a shoot-at-sight order ..... you get the drift, right?
  2. The "If I were you" friend : Now, before you jump to conclusions, this friend means only the best for you. Unfortunately, in this case, the best usually means whatever the clever, no-nonsense friend thinks is right. The fact that he/she is ALWAYS right does not help. And the fact that he/she gives you an "I-told-you-so" look definitely doesn't. These friends are the best ones to hang around with - especially if in the vicinity of parents or teachers - they are irritably admirable; Irritable to you, admirable for your parents (who, by the way, ALSO believe in the "I-told-you-so" look therapy). That said, these friends are indispensable when it comes to instant projects, homework, or home cooked food!
  3. The "No Hello" Friend : Have you noticed that there are some people who start talking the minute you pick up the phone. I mean, they don't even wait to see if I am at the other end. Probable opening lines : "You remember we had to go for that movie....."  or  "Where the hell have you been? Why can't you take my calls...."  or better still "Do you really think changing jobs is a good idea?" These friends talk to you like you have a constant chat window with their brains - and expect you to catch up with the conversation. The beauty of it all - you don't have to spend your talk time on niceties with these friends. You can get right to the point, and ask that dumb question, and rest assured - thou shall not be judged!
  4. The 'Akshaya Patra' Friend : Mythology says that Lord Krishna gave Draupadi a vessel that would never run out of food, so that she could be an honorable hostess to all and sundry when they came visiting the Pandavas during their exile. Well, there are friends who are similar to this Akshaya Patra. You need a bike to go catch your lady love before she leaves the country with her evil uncle never to return? (oh ok... an overdose of Bollywood) Do not fear - Mr.APF (Akshaya Patra Friend) to your rescue. Not only will he give you his bike, he will also make sure he fights back the villains while at it! Don't have the right jewellery to go with your sexy outfit? Ms.APF will just give it to you without blinking an eyelid. These friends have the answer to most of your problems, and usually are the first one we turn to when we need help.
  5. The Doctor : Remember our 3rd standard definition of health? 'Health is the state of Physical, mental and social well being' And this is exactly where the Doctor steps in. Have a headache? Take Disprin. Have a heart ache? Eat Ice cream. Have a terrible case of emotional drain. Come home and I'll cook you Mediterranean food. Have a terrible boss? Lets look for a job in Naukri. See what I mean? These friends are a part of your everyday life - like a Vitamin tablet, and the day seems incomplete without having complained to this friend.
  6. The Google : This is the friend who knows everything about everything, or atleast something about everything you want to know. Confused ? Think of the person you would call if you wanted to know where the best biryani in Delhi is made. Or where you can get the movie tickets in black. Or find someone to sue your hairdresser. Voila! there's your Google friend. Now, this very friend can double up as the doctor or the APF too.
  7. The Its-complicated friend : Ok so this dude / dudette is awesome, is one of your good friends, has all the makings of a star and you are positively smitten with him/her. And you know that your heart will break one day... but you STILL want to burn your hands. Now wait for the "IF I were you" friend to break your leg, or the Doctor to heal your heart. For reasons unknown, this friend features in almost everyone's list.
  8. The Enemy turned friend : This is the weirdest of friends. Pitted against each other in some situation, you later realize that it was the SITUATION that caused the other person to behave like a pig (you on the other hand, being sensitive, sweet, and caring, maintained all levels of dignified communication throughout the SITUATION) The person may not be all that bad. Classic Yashraj Film style friendship evolves, making you wonder how you ended up enemies in the first place!
  9. The 'lets take it where we left off' friend : You meet this person maybe once in three years, speak with them once in six months, but somehow, you just pick up where you left off last time. Usual conversations go thus: "So, your daughter still has those asthma attacks?" or "And where did you go for your birthday?" In all probability, these are our oldest friends, and the ones who have withstood time, distance and relationship changes.
Any more out there? Feel free to add on.