A Fine Weekend

Aug 21, 2014

Chandrika - a college junior and a dear friend - visited Bangalore over the weekend for some work. Since we haven’t met since graduating from college four years back, we naturally decided to touch base once her work got done. We spent a couple of hours at a restaurant called “Punjabi by Nature” in Koramangala catching up. I was taken aback back how much she’s changed, both physically and in the way she thinks.

In college, she used to be this somewhat shy girl with some baby-fat that gave her a very cute-but-kiddish look. There are two memories of her that stand out to me from our college days. The first is of us sitting on a lawn trying to decide what she should do about a romantic proposal she’d received from a mutual friend. She liked the guy well enough, but they had been close friends till that point and so she was worried about how this might affect their friendship (and so, as it turns out, this is actually something that girls think about and not just something that they use an excuse). In addition to this, she was also worried about what sort of future their relationship might have; you see, she is a Rajasthani of some caste, and he is a Jain of some other caste. Both of their castes are very rigid in terms of who is allowed to marry whom, and their respective parents are also quite orthodox. As such, she had a whole heap of worries besides figuring out whether she was actually attracted to the guy, and the weight of the world on her shoulders kept bringing tears to her eyes.

The second memory I have of her is when I was bidding her farewell during my last week on campus. This memory is also colored with tinges of blue as I can distintly remember the way her eyes teared up as she asked me where I was going while thinking about how it would be a long time before she got to see me again. I did my best at the time to console her and assure her that the meeting was not the last we’d have, and that we’d definitely end up running into each other at some point. I did turn out to be right in the end, but even I had no idea at the time that it would take four whole years for that to happen.

Constrast these memories of a sniffling kid with the confident young woman I saw before me on Saturday, weighing 20 pounds less and dressed in a smart-looking suit and skirt. Instead of shy smiles I was treated with witty retorts and sarcasm. In that moment, I felt rather proud, as though she were a younger sister I’d raised by myself into the successful woman standing before me. Ridiculously irrational, I know.

Anyway, she was supposed to meet up with a couple of other friends of hers who are also in Bangalore. She had originally planned on seeing them before meeting me, but since her work took longer than expected, she ended up meeting me first. Drawing on her memories of the way I used to be in college, she tentatively asked me whether I would mind meeting two random strangers, but the new version of me happily obliged. We hopped-and-skipped our way to Fenny’s and spent a couple of hours there with her friends Mahima and Dheerain. At this point Chandrika’s cousin Poorva dropped by with a friend of hers. This cousin’s place is where Chandrika was going to spend the night. The original plan was for us to disperse after her cousin arrived, but Poorva had different plans. She put up a suggestion that all of us could put the party on hold and go over to her place, where we could then resume it in earnest. And it turned out that her place is at Purva Fountain Square, which is right next to where I stay! So the four of us made our way there in her car (Mahima and Dheerain dropped out) and stayed up late into the night just watching videos and chatting. I also got to know Poorva’s friend Tushar (who is also a gamer!) and her flatmate’s persian cat, Snappy. I had a ton of fun, and I hope everyone else did too. Tired but happy, I regretfully rejected the invitation to sleep over and finally made my way back to my room at 4 am when everyone had either dozed off or was having serious trouble keeping their eyes open.

I think I need to expand my circle of friends. I have friends who care about me, and they are invaluable indeed, but I also need some friends who know how to just have plain-and-simple fun. I have friends who have planned their lives and who gauge every decision they make carefully, weighing the pros and cons before taking the leap, but I also need some friends who live for the moment and don’t really try to peer too far into the future. I have a lot of friends who are like me, but I need a few who are the complete opposite, just so that I can develop a more varied outlook. For too long have I been stuck in the same old rut, thinking the same old thoughts and spouting the same old wisdom.