Saturday, December 11, 2010

Old Friends

The inspiration to write this post came from some old friends who were over for a housewarming dinner last night. Now here is the thing...I am rather old. So old friends to me always meant really old friends i.e. from school and Dakshina park days, basically childhood friends.

I never ever thought I that would have a different set of ‘old friends’. And here I must add- old is referring to the amount of time I have known these friends and not a dig at anyone’s age. But last nite got me wondering about the different sets of ‘old friends’ I have now gathered. The ones in Singapore are still relatively ‘new’ compared to the ones in Bombay- but after a decade plus of being here, well they have reserved their spot in the ‘old friends’ club as well.

OK, so what is the point of this? Actually am not sure myself! This is so going to be one of those rambling posts (even more so than the others!). So brace yourself (if you are still with me that is.)

This morning I woke up and the first instinct was to thank God for all my wonderful friends. It was almost of a reflex prayer and something I do not do enough of- thank God, rather than just ask for more. And that is the reason why I started writing this post. Am still not quite sure where I am going with this...but I shall make it up as I go along...

Friends are God's way of taking care of us. So starting from the oldest to the newest, here are my forever friends:

1) My Cousins- I am extremely lucky as my family counts as my closest friends. My brothers and sisters are the very best! Jyoti, Deepu, Kamal, Bunty, Heena and Vinky- without you childhood would have never been half as much fun!

2) Dakshina Park friends- They are the oldest friends I have ever had. I am a very different person now from what I was when they knew me. My good nature ;) and bad temper is consistent- which frankly my each set of friends will vouch ( for especially the bad temper part- they all will have at least one story each about when I have completely lost it). I used to be a very shy child, did not make friends very easily, was rather chup-chup. You had to get to know me to see my friendly and talkative side.

And here’s is a big thanks to ones who thought it was worth spending that time. Special mention to Anubha, Rashika, Monika, Bijili/Nikki, Chaitali and Sadhvie. Many of the others have gone different way, some still live on Facebook and others I meet every year when I go back home in Dec (which is in a week’s time!). My first old friends are my DP friends.

3) School friends- Now here is the thing- I had a hand few of close school friends. Goes back to me being terribly shy. And those close ones- I can’t find them on FB! And one of my regrets is that I did not try hard enough to keep in touch after we left school. So Shakuntala, Jaspreet and Ujju- wherever you are, hope you are healthy and happy.

4) College friends- Life kinda went into top gear when I was 16 and started ‘college’. FYJC and SYJC (first year junior college and second year junior college) were the most fun years of my life. And the friends I made there have stayed with me since.
From ‘do you think he likes me?’ to ‘do you think I should marry him’. From crushes to crashes. From miniskirts to halter neck sari blouses. From sitting next to each other in class room (or Ladies Common Room) then to brunches now. From sharing our first drink (and smoke) then to finishing bottles of wine now. We have grown up together and seen each other through many ups and downs. Unni, Sash, Daisy, Rash, Janu, Mich, Geeta- the best girl friend gang EVER.

I read somewhere "A good girl friend is a sister that destiny forgot to give you." And this rings true for you Unnati!

5) MBA friends- This was supposed to be the time I got serious in life- about growing up, planning for the future, choosing a good career path. Yeah. I never did any of the above. I had more nonsensical type of fun in my MBA days than I had in ungrad. And planning for the future...well I could not choose my major until the absolute last minute. I actually had to pull my application out of majoring in HR into Marketing just the evening before. And finally I ended up in advertising! For which you don’t even need a graduation degree let alone an MBA.

But it was all worth it! Pallavi, Nikhil, Tewari, Meenal, Apruv, Sumi, Aps, Sree, Deepak, Pat- thanks for making the 2 years super fun!

6) Ambience friends- Ok once I stepped out of the ‘education’ phase (and I use that in quotes) to the “career” phase (and I use that in quotes too- double ones), I thought I would never make real friends anymore. I would meet new people and like some of them and have a good time in office. But that would stay within the confines of office. My friend Divya shared the same sentiments. But to both our surprise, life had different plans for us. 13 years later and we are still close friends- Divya, Sonul (yes it’s Sonal with a ‘u’) and Monisha. And all our kids are almost the same age- which makes us even closer.

From here onwards starts my journey in making and finding friends in Singapore (are you seriously still with me? If so, kudos to you!)

7) First office friends (Lacek and ICLP)- And the friends who inspired this post. My newest bunch of ‘old friends’. I met them in my first job in Singapore and the rest as they say is history. Here is to Kevin, KC, Mas, Christina, Adeline, Neeta, David and Goldie. From old T&T jokes that actually never get old ;) to new experiences that we continue sharing with each other (ideally over my fabulous mojitos).

8) Tanjong Ria friends- These set of friends made family life so pleasurable. From potluck lunches to Diwali card parties. From Tanjong Rhu walks to ECP holi celebrations. I have enjoyed my motherhood and family years in their company tremendously! Alpna, Rashi, Isha, Purnima, Nimisha, Sona, Nidhi, Vijaya, Manjusha, Pamela and Priya. Even though we are not in Tanjong Ria anymore, its lovely to know you all are still a part of my life.

9) The boys- Andrew, Neel and Nadim. Sorry was not sure where to fit you guys. Under “McCann” friends seemed rather lame, as we have been friends much after those McCann days are over. So here is to the best guy friends a girl can ever have!

"A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out."

I read this quote somewhere and it stuck with me. Last 2 years have not been the easiest ones in my seemingly long life. And these friends entered my life at the point when I needed new friends the most. And they stayed. When many other old ‘friends’ chose not to.

Archana, Riva, Manisha, Ashu, Kaushal, Arjun, Aarti-1, Aarti-2, Vidya, Amit, Anushka, Bharti, Rach, Dibyo, Kaylin and Cherylene. The last 2 years would have been almost impossible to bear had it not been for you all. (BTW C, Rach- I don't have any pix with you guys so there is no photographic evidence of us being friends. May be screen grabs of daily IM chats?)

Well I am getting to the end of the post (yes it is ending soon. I now can understand how Ashutosh Gowariker feels. It’s difficult to edit when there is so much to say).

Now that I have so many sets of old friends and new entrants who I sincerely hope will be old friends too some day, is the friendship journey is complete? The way friends have popped into my life- many times when least expected- I think not.

Again to borrow a quote: "Strangers are just friends waiting to happen." So am looking forward to making a new set of friends. And if one of them can be a charming, good humoured, tall, handsome guy with a 6 pack and biceps and intellectual and cultural sensitivities, then life would be kinda perfect. Well...a girl can a dream ;)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Out of my comfort zone

I am a creature of habit. I like things a certain way (yes yes roll your eyes and think ‘anal control freak'), I like familiarity, I like a sense of routine. I will flirt with new stores (Ice at PP strongly recommended) but I seek solace in Zara. I will try new restaurants (Don Quijote in Dempsey- must visit) but I still crave for my idli and filter coffee at Murugan’s. And I am not ashamed of any of this.

I do enjoy spontaneity and impromptu plans and doing things out of the blue- but overall I take comfort in a structure of sorts.

So yeah I am a creature of habit. I don’t like not knowing about things. I don’t take part in activities that I am not good that. I need to be in the know. It’s all a part of being able to control things as much as possible. Though at this point I must add, I never worry about things that are obviously not in my control. Death, earthquakes, stock market crashes, train delays, terrorist’s attacks- these never faze me. As I can’t control them. So why bother wasting time and energy worrying about them? I have Krishna to look out for me on these fronts.

But the mortal aspects of life- yes I like to control them. And that’s why over the years I have built and pretty much lived in my comfort zone. This comfort zone is sometimes an actual physical zone. Like my friend used to incessantly tease me about my never having any desire or inclination to leave Juhu (let alone Bombay). Some of my comfort zones are mental like Jagjit Singh ghazals, Hrishikesh Mukherjee movies, my classic novels. MANY are food related- Maggi masala (only the one from India), mom's dal chawal, Awfully Chocolate's chocolate cake- well this lits can just go on and on. And some are more surreal ones like the ocean. So I have many of these varied comfort zones.

Hence at the beginning of this year I made a resolution to do things that are out of my comfort zone. And here is what I accomplished this year. Some big ones, some small ones and some completely trivial and meaningless but out of my comfort zone nonetheless.

1) Non beach holiday: In March I took a trip to Siem Reap by myself. Instead of the usual beach resort holiday- which would be, well comfortable. Siem Reap also marked my 2nd holiday all alone. First being Lagkawi (yes a beach resort).

2) Taking charge of my finances: From someone who did not know (and sometimes still struggles with) balancing a cheque book, try comparing home loans and insurance policies! But with help of some very sweet friends, I succeeded in this too.

3) Running the marathon: And I use the word ‘running’ loosely here. I 'run' slower than most people walk. But for me to run 20 mins on a treadmill was one of the biggest achievements ever! I have never been- and still am not- an athletic person. I do not enjoy sports and PE (or PT as we called it) was my worse period in school. No, actually that would be needle work! PE came a close- very close- second. So to start running on a treadmill, progressing to a cross trainer and then running on the streets was a triumph!

And running the 10K marathon was a dream! I never thought I had it in me. But I did it! The first 2 km were tough as I could see people who started 15 mins after me, racing ahead and I thought to myself “I can never complete this!” But I stuck with it and did pretty good till the 8th kilometre. And then came the F1 pit stretch with the scorching heat, and I was about to stop, sit, take a nap and then continue after an hour or so. But once again, I pushed myself. And reaching the finish line was one of the most fulfilling moments ever!

4) Sushi time: I had never had sushi until last Sunday. There I have said it. It’s in the open now. I am not a fan of Japanese food. The only Asian food I absolutely love is Thai. (India per me is not part of Asia, so Indian food is not Asian food). And the thought of eating raw fish never seemed appealing and it looked so bland! But I had decided at the beginning of 2010, I would eat sushi. And I have delayed it time after time. Fish curry, paella, tapas, red curry chicken, chole bature, paneer chilly, pizza- there are so many much much much tastier things to eat than sushi. So I did what I do whenever I need to get out of my comfort zone- I procrastinated.

Then finally I did it! A celebratory lunch post the marathon was required and it was Sushi! Thanks again Riva and Kaushal :)

The other smaller out-of-comfort-zone activities included:

• Cutting my hair shot (and getting highlights)

• Starting to learn a language. (I have a terrible ear for languages and only know Hindi and English, of which can read and write English only). Trying to add Spanish to my language repertoire now. Olla!

• Not crying every time Sanil is away from me

• Making a mean gajjar halwa (I am a chocolate cake, hazelnut mousse kinda girl)

• Reading motivational books (I am a Jane Austen girl who likes a dash of thrillers)

So it was a rather eventful year. Good things happened as did many bad things. But I survived another year and grew up a little too (and yes grew older also in the process).

But there are many more personal mountains to scale.My biggest one will be to try my hand (or rather mind) at meditation. That will be a toughie! My friend in college used to bet me 10 bucks if I could sit still in class for 5 mins without fidgeting or moving. It could be an easy 10 bucks every time! Except I never got it, as being still for 5 mins is an unaccomplished feat for me!

Another thing I want to attempt doing which will be COMPLETELY out of my comfort zone is learning art of patience and not losing my temper. That battle will be my personal Kurukshetra.

There are many fears to overcome and a lot of courage to build to step out of more comfort zones. But hopefully by end of 2011 I shall be writing a post longer than this one on my out-of-comfort-zone achievements.

Now I am off to my couch to watch back to back episodes of Gossip Girl. Now that is a comfort zone I would never want to leave ;)