Monday, January 30, 2012

And We Became Friends..

“Since there is nothing so well worth having as friends, never lose a chance to make them”

They make up for countless memories and a significant presence in your life. You laugh with them shedding all inhibitions and seek them in times of need. Ever thought of how life would have turned out without so many friends around?

Friendships, like every other relationship, go through their ups and downs. Some friends are for companionship, some for convenience and some are there to stay. Once you made a friend, it would be for life, really I would much rather have it that way but all these years of changing places and meeting people tells me otherwise. You forget some of them, several forget you. Some disappoint you when you count on them; while a few others feel let down by you.

I take the quote above pretty seriously. I have friends from kindergarten and I have friends from yesterday, never missed a chance to make friends.

Everybody has friends they can never forget. A kind action or a thoughtful gesture, a helping hand or an ear to listen; these are things you remember of a friend even if the friendship is no more. And though every friendship is dear to me, this post goes out especially to all the friends I made after leaving home and to some of them a little more, for what they did for me. That little more is for the extra effort taken by them to make my life better. Simply put - there are friends you find and then there are friends who find you. And I cherish them here in no particular order with great affection and gratitude utilizing my limited dexterity with words.  

The Savior
An unfortunate accident led to harrowing consequences.  Our car, the only transportation that can take you places in the snow covered paradise was also gone. The helplessness of lying in bed and not being to able lift a finger to soothe your crying baby is beyond words. Adversity makes you miss home even more.

An acquaintance we hardly knew came to know of our plight and paid us a visit. Genuinely concerned, he offered any kind of help we needed. A couple of days passed and things didn’t improve much. Apart from dealing with shock and slower recovery, me and my family were clearly missing home cooked meals. Food, specially known food can be very comforting and God did we need comfort! One afternoon out of sheer desperation I looked up a phone number and dialed. His wife was home and picked up. At a loss of words I didn’t know what to say, just introduced myself and told her how we knew her husband through a colleague. She immediately picked up on the situation and asked me how I was feeling and if there was something she could do for us. My voice choked as I asked if she could send us a home cooked meal that evening.  Even today when I think about it, it brings tears to my eyes, how desperate our situation must have been for me to ask a nearly total stranger; someone I had never met to send over food.  If she was hassled by the short notice, it didn’t show in her voice at all. 

That evening, their whole family came to visit us and brought food, simple home cooked Dal, Rice, Roti and Subzi, just what we were dying to eat. I was lying in bed and she stood at the bedroom door wishing me a speedy recovery. Without my glasses, I could just make out her form and nothing of her face. Dizzy from the painkillers, I nodded my head in gratitude. It may not seem like a big deal when something like this happens in your own country, surrounded by friends and family and somebody steps in to lend a helping hand. But in a foreign land and under adverse circumstances, it felt nothing short of a blessing. She could have nagged her husband for being the kind soul and putting her in a spot. He could have made up an excuse on her behalf later in the day; after all, they too had a small kid to look after and no help at home. But they did what one usually doesn’t do for strangers. They cared enough to help a family in need. They didn’t just deliver food and leave it at that, they followed through on our well being even after that. I can never forget their kindness and I will leave it at that.

The Sparkler
There are some people who just stand out by their sheer presence. The ones who can be distinguished even in a crowd. I met her at a kids’ inflatable zone, the kind where moms have to go up a red colored slide to please their children. We were brand new in town, barely 3 days old and so I wasn’t even looking for familiar faces. After what can be termed as a reasonable period of bouncing and jumping, we settled in the party room next doors for a slice of pizza being served for free. Across the table, she sat with her 2 year old, coaxing him to eat some more, not really an unfamiliar scenario as I was doing the same on this side of the table.  I don’t remember when and how the conversation started but soon we were talking.  We just moved, I told her. “I know how it feels like; we were in the same boat couple of years back. You can save my contact number and call up if you need any help settling down”, she said. I have never thought of myself as a very transparent person, but that evening, the skepticism that comes with a life altering change must have been evident  because that instant I felt like she really understood and that she meant every word. Sure enough, she called a month later and left a message inviting us over.  A known person, a house to visit, someone to ask about the local favorites, sure did make settling in easier.

The Counselor 
I had always presumed that friendships made in school were the ones that lasted forever. Even if you didn’t meet them so often or spoke to them after ages, childhood friends had that special place and the undisputed advantage of growing up with you and hence knowing you better than others. Mind you this was simply my opinion, a notion I hung on to, based on my own friends and experiences (since I happen to have the most wonderful friends from school one could ever have, hell my best friend is still someone I started kindergarten with).  But someone came along and revolutionized that perception.

This friend never had to cook meals for me or help me discover a new city. What she did and continues to do is believe in me. Like food for soul, she is fuel for my sense of worth. An intelligent and a balanced person, I look to her for advice now and then. Whether it’s a new idea or a recipe, I can discuss anything with her in total confidence and expect a truthful reaction. Our weekly tête-à-tête covers a broad range of subjects from facebook updates to pondering over future. I do not keep a count of who calls whom first and neither does she, pretty sure that if there’s something to talk about the phone will ring.

And why does she deserve a mention in this post alongside the others? Because, I did not hope to find this kind of a friend so late in life. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

On A Rainy Day..

It is hard not to think about the rain when it rains everyday! When I moved to this place, a few of my friends warned me of the sun-less sky, gloomy weather and the endless drizzle. It is hard to remain unaffected by the surly mood of nature; depression they said was a common ailment around here.

Having been so forewarned, I decided to arrive equipped. I made a mental note of buying brighter furniture and lined up things to make my days more cheerful.  I told myself; it will take a while but eventually I will get used the rain and not complain.

The whole acclimatization process actually caught me off guard. I was so not prepared to fall in love with the Green all around me or the towering trees and the flight of birds that emerged from them every evening or the beautiful pearls that dropped in unannounced not really caring whether you had an umbrella or not. The rain, I concluded was the best part of my day!

On a rainy day I want to get drenched beneath the open sky to my heart’s content
And not worry about catching a cold.

On a rainy day I want to sit by my window, not a thought in mind
And watch the drops slide down the glass one after the other.

On a rainy day I want to drive down the green forest
And lose my path amongst the towering trees.

On a rainy day I want to snuggle up in bed with a book in my hand
Just an occasional interruption of a steaming cup of tea.

On a rainy day I want to rush somewhere with an umbrella over my head;
Scurrying through the damp road, cursing the rain.

On a rainy day I want to slip back in time and call old friends
Remind myself gently how much the first rains meant.

On a rainy day I want to be joyous and content like the sun hidden behind the cloud
Making up for the sky so sullen and shy.

On a rainy day I want to be young and old concurrently like a soul
Thankful to be alive to this wonderful beautiful earth.

P.S.” The right word at the right time and everything changes”. 
Thank you Priya Mahadevan for putting things in perspective!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Holiday Hangover

Interestingly the synonyms for a hangover range from the most obvious ones like “overshadow”, “loom” to the downright scary “menace” and “threaten”. If I had to pick the right one for this post it would read something like this :

Holiday Hangover –something that overshadows the days after the holidays and looms in your mind long after being gone and is a menace as it threatens to disrupt the otherwise mundane every day. There! I used them all, no worries of leaving anybody behind.

With the hangover come the blues. And I define Holiday blues as “that agonizing feeling of touching base with the routine one so eagerly shrugs off for a short period of time”.

Today was the day school started after the Christmas break. Everybody in the house struggled to get back to the daily grind. In the past few days, the bedtimes, wake up times, mealtimes and all other things that have specific “times” had gone for a toss. But then we didn’t think much of it until today when the attempt to re-start the day rang in the form of an alarm. Why is this ringing? Wasn’ t it still mid-night? Disoriented and groggy, clearly our timetable had drastically altered recently. Of course we all knew the night before that it was going to be an early morning, but knowing doesn’t help does it? Who knew it would be so difficult?

And, come to think of it, this day and this exact question props up in front of us at regular intervals, as regular as say 3 times a year?

And by now, I know it is the holiday blues which disappear as quickly as the holidays itself.

On the surface it seems like any other day, the day after the holidays but inside me and the house there is an array of emotions and action going on ranging from loss of appetite to picking up a fight.

Here’s a sneak peek into the day after; what I do and what I DO NOT do.

Don’t feel like cooking, don’t feel like eating either, blame it on the overdose of good food the last couple of days. As tough it is to go back to a normal day, it’s even tougher to get back to normal food.

I feel Sleepy all day.  The mind and the body yet to abandon the leisure mode.

All of a sudden I see unfinished chores supposed to be taken care of by my better half. Yes, they are from a couple of weeks back, conveniently ignored all this while and to my eyes they have resurfaced today. The beloved spouse doesn’t take to the picking lightly. “Now you remind me, NOW??”

I am cursing the weather. This always helps. Blame it all on the weather. Cold, rainy, hot, humid, whatever it is, it’s the day after the holiday and it sucks.

I let the kids get away with watching more TV then they are typically allowed because I am in no mood to watch them.

I am already thinking/planning about the next holidays.

I am calculating and recalculating the numbers and promising myself not to spend a single penny for the next 6 months –these holidays have been expensive!

The list is merely indicative and not exhaustive, but you get the idea.

I am sure everybody has their own way of dealing with the post holiday stress or “blues”. Probably a lucky few slip into the next day effortlessly, but that someone is never going to be me.