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Posts Tagged ‘Friends’

Hahahahahahaaaaa… No I’ve not lost it. I signed into my Gmail today wanting to clear up the mess in my inbox and ended up reading some of the most enlightening, thought provoking, life altering chat conversations I’ve had recently. They were so out of the world that I couldn’t resist posting some here. 😀 😀

Sample 1

This one was after a bessshhht friend who is an ‘almost’ journalist went to a World Cinema film festival with her first free Press Pass. God save World and Cinema!!

me: how did the film festival go?

padam la nalla irundhucha

u shud ve taken A (A, if you are reading this, note how highly I think of your cinema      appreciation sensibilities. 😛 )

he’d have enjoyed it much

R:   orey bore ya

I have realised I don’t have the patience for non commercial cinema man

me: u have patience for nothing non commercial

not just cinema

R: its soooo long and the camera dwells on each subject for at least 30 seconds and u       wanna tear ur hair out. see I don’t have the patience for looking at a man trimming his moustache for more than 2 seconds and 20 seconds of tat is like whoaaa

me: adhu kooda parava illa .. these film critics will write ‘that scene where he’s seen  trimming his moustache is so profound in detail’

R: LOL

me: as if avan meesai vetradhu holds the key to life

R: bulls eye man

one review I read celebrated him trimming his moustache

and I was like WTFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF

me: nejamava??

:O

:O

na summa velayaatukku sonaen

:O

R: no man SERIOUS

wait

“Basically he doesn’t want to be bothered. He doesn’t want to take the pains of finding a groom for his sister, which he knows will invite trouble about division of property etc. He is a man who is totally engrossed in himself. Throughout the film you see him preening himself; manicuring his fingers, trimming his moustache; oiling his body. He doesn’t share his fears, dreams or thoughts with anyone. He is obsessed with himself.”

😐

idhu ellam 30 30 seconds ku film la kaatuva

aaaaaaaaaargh

oiling his body

George clooney body a irundha kooda parvailla

thooo

me: “the director makes a very subtle yet profound statement by holding his scissors at a 29 degree angle while trimming his moustache in leisure. Shows the vagaries and suffering of having a moustache and trimming it periodically in an understated yet impactful manner”

😀

R: this u wrote a?

me: na art film critic aaga poren ya

R: LOL

can I use it in my review?

me: yeah I wrote

lol

LOL

R: 😀

me: it’s the easiest I think

yaarkum puriyaadha madhri pesanum.

Sample 2

Early Monday morning. This girl, another close friend, pings first thing as soon as I switch on the laptop hoping for a good trouble free day. Confirms that my prayers are never ever answered.

K: Life is like a mountain. Reaching its peak is my aim. However trails are difficult to go through. But what’s important are – The lessons I’ve learned, Challenges I’ve experienced, and the people I’m with in my journey.

me: (thinking WTF) good morning de

K: good morning 🙂

paaru kalailaye am giving u such thought provoking quotes

😛

me: :O

:O

yenna koduma sir idhu

25 minutes later… K attacks again. 25 minutes

K: It’s not the presence of someone that brings meaning to life. But the way someone   touches your heart gives LIFE a beautiful meaning.

me: hey yenna di idhellaam??

yenna problem??

:/

:/

asingama thittu vaanga pora ni

K: status messages de

life bore adikkudhu nu sonnela

so am making it lively

me: (????)

Sabba!! What amazing friends I have!! What lengths they go to, to make life interesting for me!! Priceless!!

Sample 3

This again with my gonna-be journo friend after I gave her a link on how Gabtun is on  a recruitment hunt for Captain TV and told her she shouldn’t miss this opportunity of a lifetime for anything in the world. From Gabtun and cricket to Shahid and Priyanka, the bitching never ends. 😀 Srtictly not for Shahid Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra fans.

R: heyyy

Thanks for the link ya

totally saved my life ya

ever grateful a irrupen unnaku na

me: i know yaaaaaaaaaar

R*happy tears in eyes*

me: gabtun roxxxxxxx

R: totally yaar. captain toh ttly roxxx

me: i had those in my eyes too when I saw the link

felr sooooooooooo bad I wasn’t a journalist or into media

😦 u are sooooo lucky…

R: hey wat u rnt typin lik a moron. Lolzzzzz.. wat uncool lik u r typin full spllings and all?

thnxxxxxxxxxx

vry vry lcky i m

i knw

me: ITS THIS STUPID CHENNAI INFLUENCE YAAR

R: 😀

me: chennai suxxxxxx

R: yaa. suxxx yaar. so hot dis city

alwys swtin

me: so happie dey lost ystrdy

aye balle balle

R: ya. so gld tat our gony (pnjabi guy na. lolzzzzz) plyed bad shots

me: super kings suxxx wonly cuz it has chennai in its name yaar

R: haan yaar. ttly

me: err

R: and preity wuz lukin soo hottt yaar

and yvraj’s tummy was lik so sexxxy

me: hey yaaaaaaaaar.. that trisha TOTALLY suxxxxxxxxxx (this is actually true)

R: shkin and movin and all

and tat ramesh powar toh luks lik southie only

all black

and yuck like southie

lolzzzzzzzzzz

ya. trisha suxxxx, preity roxxxx

me: 😀

:d

hahahahahahahaha

R: yenna achu?

😀

me: my senior managers looking at me like I am crazy

R: and yenaala rhomba neram amit madri pesa mudiyadhu

😀

me: I am laughing at the monitor like anything

R: :D. me too

kadavulee

but seriously u should read shahid kapoor’s tweets man

ayyo ayyo

mudiala yennala

me: :O

:O

:O

Don’t tell me

I god damn follow that fellow

stupid

R: “I’m Doin rubbish in da song I think but somehow ahmed khan always makes my rubbish look bearable”

😐 😐

I’m also going to from now on

me: lol

😀

dear mr. kapoor one sumaal correcson. u r not doing rubbish. U R rubbish

R: 😀

hahahah

NAAAYE

stop

😀

me: but by rule I am polite on twitter

should just unfollow him I guess

R: ahh. i dont have any such rules. the point is even if I tweet rudely to him, not like he is gonna read and change

me: and EVERYDAY he says “ok tweeps me leavin 4 de day be bak and KEEP IT REALLLLLL”

saniyan avan

R: 😀

me: i feel like asking him man, are you for real?

unna pethaangala senjaangala

R: keep it real a? what the hell does that mean? *censored unprintable question here*

thoooo

me: that too that good actor pankaj kapoor

I have doubts about his birth these days

R: serious a. perfect a in the middle of UP la oru field lendhu idha thookindu vandhiruppa nu i think. yuckk

me: worse yet is that priyanka chopra

ARRRGHHHHH

R: heyy. i aint following her

adhuvum ipdi dhaana?

me: me neither

sometimes ppl RT her

I think she SHOULD marry shahid kapoor

the child would be a nightmare

R: lolzzzzzzzzzz

😛

(Good news now is that there’s a Shayad Kapoor on Twitter who deciphers what Shahid Kapoor says and tweets them. Too bad it ends our Shahid bashing.)

Sample 4

A totally demented conversation with dear friend RK avargal. Probably Ayirathil Oruvan effect but I really don’t understand why we started talking like this all of a sudden. That too both of us without any provocation like it was the most natural way to talk in the world.

RK: vanakkam 🙂

nalla irukiya?

me: nandraga ullen veti dog avargale

thaangal epodhum pola vetiyaagave uleergala?

RK: ippadi eppadi paesalam M avargale….naan eppodhum busy busy busy

me: hahahaha

ungal ku ore kaamedy thaan pongal

ka ka ka pooooooo (Pulikesi effect vera.. :D)

RK: he he he…mannaruku konjam kusumbhu adhigam dhaan…:)

me: 😀

veru yenna visesham?

makkal yaavarum nalamaaga ulaargala?

RK: neenga sollunga M?…em makkal anaivarum mika magizhchi odu ullargal

ungal rajiyathilirudhu aethaenum nalla seithi undo?

me: oru nolla seidhi… saari nalla seidhiyum illai mannaa’

makkal migundha bore’l ulllargal

R: he he he…

😀

There are say, 100 plus such conversations which when revealed would lead to serious research on the evolution (or de- evolution) of the human brain. Scintillating questions like ‘What is the difference between tomato puree and tomato ketchup’, in-depth analysis of the mental faculties of others when our own faculties are bad enough to be put under observation, depressing rants, unforgivable mokkais and pure, unadulterated crap. Thank you, you mental people, my friends for all the entertainment these conversations provide long after they’re over. Any time, any day, they always put a wide smile on my face!

So, who are you chatting with now?

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I sat crouching on the bed in Shruthi’s room. I watched the blood supply being cut off and the pale whiteness spread onto the tightly clenched knuckles and fists. I could hear excited screams and hushed whispers outside. I closed my eyes shut as if it would block out the noise. My mind went too numb to even pray. What would I tell amma appa? Serves them right. Didn’t I plead and beg that I didn’t want to study this stupid course? Serves them right for being so adamant with my life, I thought bitterly again. Serves me right too. All those bunked sessions, marathon sleeping, unit test cutting, phew. It made me tired to even think of it. Even if it was some interesting paper, I wouldn’t mind doing it all over again. But Artificial Intelligence with all those mind numbing algorithms? Yuck! And if I failed Probability and Statistical Analysis too, that would be THE END. The probability of me clearing it ever in my life was a huge fat zero. I’ll have to flunk all other subjects next semester to clear these two alone. Shut up, I told myself. You don’t have to do badly to fail these University exams. In 2nd semester, I’d read so well for that Semiconductor Physics paper, taught the entire hostel till 3 in the morning and still ended up flunking the exams. So what if by some macabre twist of fate, I manage to clear these papers now? Shut up again. Very unlikely. I heard footsteps rushing towards me and stop uncertainly near the door. There was some whispering and a few shhhhh’s I could hear. I knew at that very instant that I had definitely flunked something. I felt like throwing up. The girls came in one by one sans the usual screaming and shouting. Moti hugged me and sat next to me. Aki stood at a safe distance ready to run away if I cried. Shruthi held my hand with one hand and kept pulling out strands of hair from her head with the other. Something she always does when she’s tensed. JP looked on wide eyed, ready to cry along if I did. I kept my eyes on the opposite wall.

“Guys I know I flunked. Just tell me, ok?”

Moti said in a small voice. “It’s only PST, Mi. We’ll apply for reval. I’m sure you’ll clear it. It was…”

Shit! I CANNOT WRITE THAT PAPER AGAIN!! My mind screamed but I put on a show of calmness and nonchalance outside. “ Oh, only one? I thought Artificial Intelligence would be a goner too. Free. I expected it. Though I was more hopeful about clearing this than AI”.

I looked up to see five anxious faces peering at me, waiting for me to burst into tears and run out of the room any moment. The nautanki I made when I failed for the first time in second semester must be haunting them even now, poor things. They tried comforting words and cracked mokka jokes taking turns looking at my face to see if I was really cheering up or just faking normalcy for their sake.

“I’m ok guys. Seriously. It’s not like I did well and ended up failing. I did badly. I deserve it”

I got up and walked out. The night was cool and dark outside the hostel doors. Inside it had been stuffy and hot. I could hear excited chatter and calculators being passed around for GPA calculations. I could see silent sobs and long faces as well. Ashwini was hysterically screaming into the phone that there was no way she could fail DSP. Degree Stopping Paper. Otherwise known as Digital Signal Processing. I sat on the entrance steps facing the gate. I could see the classroom buildings at a distance. They seemed too distant now. Slowly it all sank in. I was a failure. Yet again. Once could have been chance. Could have been luck. But again? I knew my failure had nothing to do with luck or chance. It had everything to do with laziness and lack of interest. All those algorithms about searching length first and breadth first in stacks and heaps interested me as much as religious sermons on television did. What was the point? What was I going to learn all that and end up as? Frankly, I was scared to think if ever I was going to end up as somebody in life. I hated the education I was getting, was trapped in it, was a failure at it but expected a future with it. Placements would come up in another year or so. All the corporate would arrive with their larger than life presentations and mechanical smiles. I hated the very idea of a corporate job. Hated computers. But I still wanted a corporate job that paid well. After all that is the only reason I was forced to take up this course right? A well paid IT job. Now even that seemed to be in jeopardy. The tears which had stubbornly refused to come out till now gathered on the brink of the eyes ready to spill out any minute. I looked up quickly and blinked. No, I was not going to cry. I walked out through the hostel gate towards the small lawn we fondly called ‘the Triangle’. Even watchman thaatha who hits the roof if we step out of the gate after 8 didn’t say a word after he took one long look at my face. Probably he didn’t want to be blamed if I started wailing. I sat on it staring at the starless sky. Suddenly Moti materialised out of nowhere and stood next to me with her hands on her hips.

“Mi, Come let’s go for a walk…”

“Hmmm.. Now?”

“But I haven’t even got slippers on. And am in these torn pajamas…”

“So?”

“Ok. Let’s go”

Once Moti decides on something, it was IMPOSSIBLE to stop her from doing it. She would bulldoze her way into anything and everything. And I was too weak to be bulldozed now. I could smell a lecture cum pep talk on how this wasn’t the end of everything, how I’ve been plain unlucky, how the University correction sucks, how unfair this was to me, etc and I wasn’t ready for it. Cuz all of it would be outright lies. I deserved all of this and much more. But poor Moti was doing all this to only cheer me up, I knew. I braced myself for the long walk and accompanying pep talk. The long walk happened. We walked and we talked. About food, movies, music. About who was seeing who and about how the same who was seen with a different who two weeks back. About dance practise for culturals. About how many days OD we can milk out of the management in the next few months. About what movie to see that weekend and where to eat to escape mess food. About how to rag those dumb juniors without it technically being called ‘ragging’. The one thing that never came into conversation was the pep talk I expected. I could hear the crunch-crunch of soft gravel beneath my bare feet. We had reached the Stores building, our official provisions place for food, stationary and mobile recharge cards.

Moti stopped suddenly. “Let’s go in for some cup noodles. I’m hungry”

“Mad moti? We don’t have money remember?”

“Juniors irpaanga stores la” She said with her heavily hindi accented tamil. The kind of Sowcarpet tamil that Mumbai import heroines speak in tamil movies. A wicked snort escaped her lips.

I laughed and we both walked in.

“Moti look who’s here. A better option than the poor juniors. Namma Songi” I couldn’t hide my glee as I saw the tall, lanky, gawky Songi buying chips and soft drinks inside the crowded shop. “Let’s wait till he finishes buying all the stuff and then pounce on it once he comes out”

Moti approved my shameless plan with a grin and a “Done”.

Songi’s real name wasn’t Songi but we called him that for as long as we could remember because, well.. because he was a songi. His perpetually slouching shoulders, stupid smile and clumsy Suppaandi-like nature made Songi the perfect nickname for him. He didn’t mind us calling him that way initially cuz we were only two, and we were his best friends right from first sem. But slowly the name spread and now almost everyone who knew him called him Songi. It infuriated him and delighted us, egging us on to taunt him more with the name.

We waited in strategic position and plucked the chips packets out of his hands once he came out of the Stores.

Moti began in the usual bullying tone she reserves especially for him. “Songi! Yenna? All clear ah?”

His wide smile on seeing us dimmed as if someone had just switched off the bulb. “Illa Moti. 4 gone ” He said with a sad face as if he remembered that he failed just 5 seconds ago.

Moti continued in her galeej Tamil. “Ariv illa onku? Fail ayitu jolly ya chips eat pannitu irka? Shameless. Vetti. “ She popped the spicy tapioca chips into her mouth, chewed well and spat out massacred tamil.

“Chi Pah.” Songi gave her his staple wisest reply and turned to me.

“Ni all clear ah loosu?” For some unknown reason, he chose to call me loosu from the second he knew me. It however, has no correlation to my mental capabilities or IQ, I swear.

“One gone” I became self conscious again and the chips I was going to put into my mouth stopped half way through.

“Cha, onnu dhaana?? Me only maximum this time too? Po loosu. Ni yaavadhu company kudupa nu nenachen” He kept his face like his biggest issue was not that he failed four papers but the fact that I failed only one. I burst out laughing.

“Ni thirundhave maata.”

We walked to the huge lawn behind stores. Couples sat at every dark corner and whispered sweet nothings. We sat on the lawn and passed the chips and drinks, cracking PJ’s and taunting each other. Songi polambified about how the system was totally messed up, how it should be made illegal to fail someone in a subject for more than 3 times, how all his profs gave him such measly internal marks and so on. He said he was going to apply for reval and clear all the bloody papers this time. We laughed as usual. He was sure he would. We were sure he wouldn’t. Stars popped up from behind the dark clouds and glittered in the night sky.

As we finished and got up to walk back to the hostel, Moti whispered in my ear, “Mi, reval apply pannu. Tomorrow”.

I smiled and nodded. All was well with the world again.

P.S: I did clear that PST paper on re-evaluation. Deep down I know I shouldn’t have cleared it though.

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Shirley…

(A very long personal post ahead. Not for light reading.)

Shirley weds Antony.

I saw the simple, elegant wedding card lying on the sitting room table, half of it peeping out of the white cover. My mind drew a blank for a fraction of a second before registering that Shirley was actually getting married and I got to knew about it only accidentally. From a card lying on a table. Dad was watching some news broadcast on TV as if his life depended on what happened in the Parliament meeting for the day.

“Shirley’s getting married?”

“Ummm… hmmmm” He grunted, eyes fixed on the TV still. Clearly, my question didn’t even sink in.

“DAD!!!”

“Ok, What???”

“Shirley’s getting married?? Nobody even told me!! She didn’t even call me to tell…” My tone grew more accusatory by the minute.

Dad cut me off rudely.

“When was the last time you called her? Did you invite her personally for your wedding? You only get back what you give” His eyes were cold and he went back to his television news not even giving me a further glance.

I opened my mouth to protest only to close it again not knowing what to protest about. What dad had said was true. When was the last time I called Shirley? So long ago that I don’t even remember when. I couldn’t let myself argue saying she never made the effort to keep in touch as well. I knew she wouldn’t. Not after all that she had been through.

I met Shirley for the first time while we both were in tenth grade. Our mothers were old friends, who had got in touch after a decade or so when Shirley’s family shifted to the same neighbourhood as ours. As the two women caught up with the details of the years gone by, they left their two shy daughters to get acquainted with each other. Both Shirley and I were painfully shy kids back then and I remember how we used to sit in the same room for 45 minutes a day without saying a word to each other, merely looking at the walls and ceilings, not wanting to catch each other’s eye. It took a while for me to open up to the lanky bunny toothed soft spoken girl with whom I spent a lot of time more out of compulsion than by choice. We were put in the same school, travelled in the same school van and were in adjacent classes studying the same subjects. So talk we finally did. We had to. A few words at first. A hi in the morning while getting into the van, a smile when we came across each other in between classes. Later sitting next to each other we would talk for a couple of minutes about zoology lectures and maths problems. Then we would start ‘catching places’ next to each other in the school van so that we could talk all the way home. And then we started dialling each other’s number first thing after getting home. As with all girls, once we hit off, there was no stopping us.

Shirley was shy. She was funny. She was an introvert. She had loads of wit. She spoke softly. Each word was laced with slapstick and sarcasm. She was frail. She was a tough nut to crack. Oh, duh! She was a bundle of contradictions. One minute she’s almost be in tears that it’s been years since she saw her dad in person (he left to work abroad when she was really young and visited very rarely) and the next moment she’ll be smiling through her tears and singing a song, flitting across the room. We loved each other’s company. But what Shirley loved most in the world was her mother. Since the father was away, Shirley’s mom doted on her boundlessly. Her entire being revolved around making life comfortable and hassle free for her daughter. I’d even noticed that most of her conversations with my mother started with the words “my Shirley…”  Shirley had the perfect confidante, friend and guide in her mother. I even remember envying the kind of pampering her mom showered on Shirley. She was a blessed child.

We grew up together for 2 years. When we were in high school, every weekend we used to go for entrance exam coaching to join medical college. We did everything other than getting coached there. We bunked classes and roamed the streets, cola in hand. We licked ice cream cones and chased kids on bicycles. We shared and confided in each other our dreams, hopes and ambitions. And the deepest secrets and darkest fears too. I knew what Shirley feared the most was losing people she loved. She yearned to be with her father and fought to him over the phone almost every day to come back home so that they could live together as a family again. Her father always promised he would but never kept his word. And Shirley was determined not to let go.One day, she seemed hyper excited and started whispering excitedly as soon as she got into the van. “I did it!!! Dad’s coming back!!!! It’s final. Only the paper work remains!! In a week!!” The words came out in gasps coated with joy and excitement. I was happy that the only piece of jigsaw missing from her life was finally falling into place. I prayed along with her for next week to come sooner.

Next week came. It was the morning her father was arriving. I was busy rushing for school when the call came.

“Hello?”

“Shirley here”

“Hey!!!! Dad came??? What did he…”

“My mother passed away. Heart attack.”

I was left standing with my mind numb and the click of the phone echoing in my ears.

The house was crowded. I had never seen her father before but I knew him from the way he was weeping inconsolably, sitting at his dead wife’s feet. Relatives were scattered all around the place like chaff. I scanned the room for Shirley. She was not near her mother. She was not sitting in any corner weeping. I asked a stranger and he pointed me to the kitchen. I went in. She was sitting on the floor by the door, hands around her folded knees, staring at the kitchen sink. I sat next to her.

She spoke softly as usual. “Remember she used to stand there making coffee.”

“Shirley…”

“She was so particular about the sugar. It had to be just right. She used to pour some coffee separately and taste it before serving guests” She turned to me. “Remember??” I couldn’t stop myself anymore. I broke down and started sobbing loudly. She continued staring at the sink. A relative came rushing near us. “She’s been sitting like this from the morning ma. Not a single drop of tear from her eyes. We’re all scared. Tell her to cry and let it out ma… Ask her to give vent. Tell her please…”I couldn’t say a word. All I could do was sit next to her and sob until her mother was taken away to be cremated. She didn’t come out to see her mother being carried out for the last time. She didn’t budge.

That was the last time I went inside Shirley’s house. Her days after her mother’s death became hell. It was more hell because she wouldn’t let the hurt penetrate and show through her. She came back to school in 3 days as if nothing happened. She spoke of the changes that the death caused as if they had nothing to do with her.

“I plaited my hair myself for the first time today”

“Do you know where I can get a good mop? The old one is worn out”

“I made sambhar today. It was burnt up.”

She only made matter-of-fact statements but I knew how hard it was for her to lose her mother at an age she needed her most. The girl who didn’t even know to turn on the stove or hold a broom was cooking for the family, doing the washing, cleaning and trying to cope up with the loss of the most precious thing to her, all at once. I sometimes felt like shaking her up and screaming at her to let it out. To cry and get it over with. To scream and yell that life was unfair. But I knew she wouldn’t. And I knew I couldn’t do anything to make things easy. We joined different colleges and kept in touch occasionally. She got used to the life she was thrown into or so I presumed. She never invited me home or came if I did. She was topping her department in college and called up every semester to compare scores. I always scored lower and started dreading her calls. Sometimes I wouldn’t even pick her calls especially if they came close after semester results. I was home from hostel for a particular weekend when dad asked me over coffee one evening, if I’ve been in touch with Shirley. Not recently, I said. Six months since we spoke or longer. Why?

“Her father has stomach cancer. Incurable stage. The poor child is running from hospital to hospital but no hope. He only has a few months to live. Give her a call”

I didn’t give her that call. And I regret it till date. When I look back and think about what held me back from reaching out to her during those dark days, I have no answer. I could have been there with her, holding hands and speaking comforting words. But I didn’t. I knew it was because deep down I didn’t have the mental strength to comfort her. I couldn’t hold back tears like she did. I couldn’t pretend to be strong and brave seeing her worst fears coming true. I might have rushed to her side if I knew that she’ll come running into my arms crying out for help as soon as she sees me. If I knew she would sob her heart out pouring out all the mental agony and get soothed by my gentle pats and tears. I knew she wouldn’t. She’ll probably show me hospital reports and discuss the prospects. I was simply not strong enough for that. I did not make that call. I was afraid of her grief. And I did not go to visit when her father passed away a couple of months later. I thought I don’t have what it took to be with her in her toughest times. What would I say? What could I possibly do to ease her pain? Even trying to comfort would seem meaningless, I reasoned. I didn’t realise that I didn’t have to do anything. I didn’t have to talk. Didn’t have to hug or hold hands. I only had to be there. And I wasn’t.

I always used round about means to enquire how she was doing. Mutual friends, distant relatives, her classmates in college, her neighbours who I met in supermarkets… Once when I asked a mutual friend about Shirley, she shot back, “Why don’t you ask her yourself? She always tells me you used to be her best friend but stopped being in touch all of a sudden.” But I didn’t call her once. We used to bump into each other sometimes in Church. I had a thousand things to talk about. A ton of unanswered questions. But all I could manage was the usual how are you and how’s work. She smiled, answered and left hurriedly. I knew she thought I betrayed her. It wasn’t her fault. I was the only one who could have bridged the gap and I never did.

The wedding card still lay on the table. I would go for the wedding even if I was not invited. I didn’t want to go up the stage and tell her how happy I was or ask her to forgive me for not being there when things were tough. But I would still be there, sitting in a corner, seeing her smile. But before everything else, before it’s too late, I would first make that one little phone call.

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Split!!!

I think I have a split personality. No, wait, I think I AM a split personality. Not really. I think I have a multiple personality disorder. But whoever said having a multiple personality is a disorder? There! Four of my many personalities are already out in the four lines I’ve managed to write till now. It worries me that I’m not the same person with everyone I meet. With best friends and family, I’m a chatterbox who can’t stop talking or giggling at any cost. With strangers I’m the Ice Princess. With acquaintances I’m tongue tied and reserved to the extent of being called snobbish or arrogant. With people whom I don’t get along with, I’m just plain indifferent. I’m amazed at people who can start a conversation with anybody and everybody, even with people they’ve just met, and hold the fort talking and talking until the other person gets tired of the conversation. I can hardly get past the ‘hi’ stage if I’m talking to someone for the first time, even if the person happens to be genuinely nice to me. And if there are people around who I know can talk non stop, I’d rather stay quiet and choose to put a couple of words here and there when absolutely necessary. But another diametrically opposite alter ego seems to surface when I’m with people close to me. With them, it’s always a talk-laugh-giggle-fest.

Sample what happens when a close friend calls me up suddenly.

She : Hey!!! What’s up dog? What have you been doing?

Me : *giggle* *giggle* Heyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!!!!!!!!!!!

She : *giggle* So how’s the work going? How’s the studying going? And how’s the project going???

Me : *giggling for 5 minutes* Going on maaaannnn… I hardly have time for anything but work. (This part is not fictitious. It is TRUE. All of you, stop smirking 😐 ) Remember all those days from college when we never had weekdays and each day was an extended weekend?? It’s just the opposite now. I hardly have a proper weekend.

Now I kept talking and pouring out my woeful busy schedule till she couldn’t take my sob story anymore and interrupted to say that her neighbour’s dog has given birth to a litter.

Me : *giggling starts again* oooohhhhh!! How many?? What colour are they??? Must be cute na… You know when Tommy….. (I talk about how Tommy once broke the curfew to ummmm… befriend a mongrel and got pregnant and made a litter of babies and how we got her neutered and… )

She : Hey I’ve to get down here. My stop’s come. Will call you later.

Me : Oh! It’s already an hour. But we hardly ever spoke…

She : I hardly ever spoke. Not you.

Me : *giggle* Right! Byeeeee!!!

With friends I can laugh like a nut for the worst of the worst PJ’s, talk with gay abandon for hours together and find new topics to talk about every minute. But with acquaintances it’s a totally different story altogether. Now my definition of an acquaintance is someone with whom I can’t talk nonsense. And I can’t talk if I can’t talk nonsense. Now these are people with whom I’m supposed to be prim and proper, to whom I’m supposed to say all the right and politically correct things, the only problem being I don’t know what is right and politically correct most of the time. So I end up either saying all the wrong things or not talking at all.

For example, I was caught with a relative, an old lady who was related to me in some unknown distant ways. We were seated next to each other in a family function and the conversation was something like this:

Unknown Aunty : Aren’t you ABC’s chithappa’s elder sister’s brother’s daughter??

I had no clue who ABC, chithappa, his sister and her brother were.

Me : Ummm… I’m XYZ’s daughter.

UA : That’s what I also told. You’ve grown up so much. What are you doing now?

Me : Working Aunty.

She : Where?

I gave her the name in a mono sylaable.

She : Oh! my maternal grandmother’s brother’s son’s son is working there. The same company. Do you know him? His name is Arun.

I could’ve giggled at this point and told her there are hundreds of Aruns working in my company. Maybe I could have said something to break the ice. I could have enquired more about Arun. But “No” was the only word that came out of my mouth. After an awkward silence she began again.

UA : So how is everyone at home? Amma, Appa… Long time since I saw them… Should ask them to come home one day…

Now as usual I wanted to end it with a ‘Fine’ but it sounded too blunt. Wasn’t it polite and correct to enquire back about her family??

Me : Fine Aunty. What about you? How’s Uncle doing?

She looked frozen for a moment and after giving me a steely stare turned the other side to talk to the silk sari clad lady on the other side. Only later did I get to know that the ‘Uncle’ I had enquired so fondly about, had passed away almost two years back. 😦

So there! My ultimate dilemma is that I can’t socialize for the sake of socializing. I’d rather be alone than be in uncomfortable company. I come out as anti-social with all the people who expect me to be amiable and I come out as extremely amiable with all those people who know me inside out and don’t care whether I’m sociable or not. Most of my relatives know me as a tongue tied, reserved, shy girl, whereas most of my friends know me as a talkative, bold, extroverted person. Now all I’m left with, is an identity crisis. Who is the real Me?? Huh!!

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The Food Bond

The other day I was at Ratna Café, a quaint little restaurant with a formidable reputation for the best idli-sambhar in all of Chennai. I’ve never been there before and as I entered the waft of fragrant sambhar hit me hard. Taking a corner seat, I looked around to see about 30 people eating there and all of them eating only idli-sambhar! I mean, I’ve heard of staple food and all that but 30 people gobbling up idlis drowning in a sea of sambhar as if it was elixir was a bit of a shock for me. Not a single person had dared to order for any other dish. I asked the waiter for a menu card and he gave me a have-you-just-landed-from-Mars look and pointed to a blackboard with some five items scribbled on it. Topmost on it written in bold was IDLI-SAMBHAR. Fine.

“I’ll have…”

He cut me short. “Idli Sambhar? Ok. Anything else?”

“But I never asked for idli-sambhar”

He repeated the ‘mars’ look mentioned above with some added dosage of incredulity and asked slowly as if trying to let the fact sink in.

“So you don’t want to eat idli-sambhar”

So it was some sort of hideous crime to go to Ratna Café and not eat idli-sambhar, I understood.

I gave up. “Ok, idli-sambhar. And a plate of sambhar vada. And coffee” Now he gave me a ‘are-you-going-to-eat-all-this-yourself’ look. Oh please, can’t a girl have a ‘healthy appetite??’ I gave a stare and he slunk away uneasily.

Two minutes ticked away. Our waiter arrived with a plate of fluffy white idlis and placed it before me. He had a large jug in his hand and I adjusted the water tumbler so that he could pour some water for me. Only thing the jug happened to contain sambhar and not water. He emptied the sambhar on top of the idlis. Now I had two large, soft, fluffy idlis swimming tantalizingly in a jug full of sambhar before my eyes. I broke off a piece and out it into my mouth. My eyes closed automatically and the mouth went hmmmmmmmm… Divine is the word to describe the feeling. It’s the closest I’ve been to Moksha. The sambhar drenched spongy idlis just melted in my mouth and I couldn’t stop myself from a second helping. And a third. Err and then there was the vada which was another heavenly experience. And the filter coffee made with the right mix of freshly ground coffee beans and milk with sugar was the perfect way to round it all off

I was still in a trance when I walked out of Ratna Café. I had this immediate urge to sit somewhere and write about food. Good food can do so much to the soul. And being a true foodie, I have a lot of memories associated with food. A lot of interesting, funny or plain day to day bonding over good food, bad food, ok food….

My first brush with bad food was during college hostel days. Having been pampered all along with mom’s cooking, hostel food was a VERY rude shock.

Breakfast: Stony idlis or pathetic dosas with muddy brown sambhar. Those dishes where an insult to the original idla-dosa-sambhar but we had no go. Else we had bread that seemed to have been made during the stone age and a small coin sized amount of a butter look-alike to go with it. And the milk/tea/coffee was primarily hot water with a drop of the actual milk/tea/coffee to provide an illusion of having drunk the thing. My guess is that they made one small cup of tea everyday and added enough water to serve 80 people

Lunch: Rice with assorted insects falling from the mess roof, leftover muddy brown sambhar from morning, greenish algae like concoction which formed the vegetable component and sour curd.

Dinner: don’t remember since I hardly ever remember having dinner in the mess. It always used to be biscuits or cheap tapioca chips or cup noodles. It was later that I understood why the hostel canteen is called a mess. Simply because it is a MESS.

But the bad food always gave us, the gang of friends, so much to bond over. We spent hours in the college stores each night, talking over tapioca chips and soft drinks (paupers that we were back then we hardly had money for anything better), afraid to set foot into the mess for dinner. And when one of us was really famished and starts showing signs of cannibalism we rushed off to the ‘city’ (my college was some 50 kms on the outskirts of a city!) for some real food. Hot Chips (the baby corn crispy chilly fry was our favorite!) or MarryBrown or Pizza Hut – it all depended on the budgetary constraints. Sometimes we used to get ready for college half-heartedly and suddenly change our minds about actually going to college, take a bus to the city to do some window shopping and eat chocolate cake at Nilgiris or if we were high on money, lunch at Wang’s. Later after we all started making our own money, Barista and Coffee day were within reach but still nothing could beat gossip over maanga and molagapodi at besi beach and dinner at MIK. By the way, MIK isn’t some fancy Italian eatery, its our dear old Murugan Idli Kadai 😛 Still remember how some five or seven of us used to yell “butter onion uthappam” all at once at a shell shocked waiter and look at the butter coated uttappam reverently once it arrived. Back home me and dad had this weekend tradition of ending an evening walk with bajjis and piping hot tea at a roadside tea shop. How I used to look forward to those chai sessions which were filled with loads of leg-pulling, teasing and discussions on politics, sports and current affairs!! The joy of laughter, chatter and harmless gossip with family and friends over some good food is something that can never be substituted. Atleast for hard core foodies like me.

The irony now is that everyone has the money to afford luxurious dining but the luxury of spending time together is not there. But bonding over food with near and dear still tops the list of my most favorite to-do things. After all, who can resist the pleasure of biting into a juicy burger or tearing of a piece of butter dripping uthappam when it comes along with the warmth and company of loved ones? Nah!! Not me!!!! 🙂

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FRIENDS. Part -1

Life chooses a lot of things for you. Things that you never had any say in. It sure wasn’t you who decided that you were the tiny egg destined to be placed in your mother’s womb. And it wasn’t you who decided what you were going to be called for the rest of your life. You had no say in deciding when its time for you to finish up living either (unless you take the short cut and kill yourself, of course). But there are some things that you choose for yourself in life. With a free mind, own will, understanding. And you’ll never want to let go of these things in life, come what may. Passions, hobbies, vocations, attitudes, habits and above all Friends. I always used to wonder what it is that makes friends so special in life. What it is that binds us together through thick and thin. And then I realized that it’s the fact that friends are not thrust on us. You are not forced by anybody to be friends. You MAKE friends. It’s your choice and your decision. Some of us make the right choices and some don’t. Some of us make the right choices sometimes and fail at other times. I for one, have either very good in choosing my friends or just plain lucky. I’m blessed with a bunch of people who have been through it all with me, unflinching, faithful, loyal and just there when I need them. I can only write about them in return. Starting with this is a series of posts on friends, the ones I’ve picked and chosen over the years, the ones who chose me for reasons I still cant understand and the ones who I know will be with me forever.

I saw Kavitha for the first time in a jam packed training room filled with computers, small tables and just-placed apprehensive freshers. She was in the row before, just in front of me. I could hardly see her head over the monitor in front. Our eyes used to meet briefly when she turned to hand me the attendance sheet. She neither smiled nor made an effort to talk. Neither did I. but I could see she was as bored, detached and disinterested in the trainings and the people there as I was, from the look on her face which just seemed to say “Oh please, leave me alone will you??” She kept playing minesweeper all day long so much so that I picked up the game in no time just watching her play. So there we were, two strangers silently playing minesweeper in back to back desks, lonely as hell in a room filled with a sea of people. Then one day as I was settling down in a corner of the room, book in a hand, back pack in the other, she turned around and asked tentatively, “You are Amilie right? Akila’s friend?” Akila was a dog (read best friend/room mate/ victim-of-sad-jokes/girl-with-the-worst-handwriting) I know from college. Then it struck me that this was the Kavitha Akila always used to talk about. Her best friend from school who was placed in the same company as me. I had heard so much about this girl but hadn’t known her for a full week after being in the same room, ten hours a day. Then we got talking. Slowly, a word here and a sentence there. Both of us were not people who fall into an incessant chatter with people they just got to know. Initially the talks were centered around Akila. Later we included books, music, life, family and then we couldn’t stop talking. I found that me and Kavitha had a lot in common. Both of us loved reading. Both of us loved our dads. And both of us loved being alone rather than in being in the company of a lot of people with whom we couldn’t connect. When we couldn’t talk during the training sessions we were passing notes and discussing the books we were reading under the desks. During the lunch breaks we were looking out of the window into the wastelands nearby and pulling each others legs.A week or so later, the training batches were separated and Kavitha was put in a different batch. That was the first and only time I cried for parting from someone I hardly knew for a week now. I felt like someone who had been rudely snatched off a treasure chest before even I could open it to see what it contained. But the separation did nothing to daunt us. We spent every second of the free time together. I had never believed that I can open up to somebody so soon. I simply wasn’t that type. But with kavitha all the pre conceived norms and patterns of behavior were broken. The evenings spent with her at the bus stand or the tiny cake shop round the corner discussing the training sessions, family, friends and each others problems were the only things I looked forward to, each exhaustive day after day.

As I got to know her better I understood that the mind inside Kavi’s petite frame was much more complex than what it seemed to the average outsider. She was super mature at times and a child at other. She loved and valued her friends and parents above anything else in the world. Her whole world centered around their happiness. She fought a lot of very painful battles on the health front and went through very difficult periods when all I could do was just shed tears and pray to God for mercy. But she pulled through with a lot of poise, dignity and sheer conviction.

The friendship me and Kavi share is unique in its own way. We hardly call each other talk for hours but we try and make it a point to meet up at least once a week. Even without meeting, we can still sense what’s going on in each others lives. When either of us is feeling down in the dumps all it takes is a “hey inga variya” message for us to be siting across each other, laughing over sob stories, sharing and forgetting the pain in the process. She has her own group of close knit friends and so do I. But when it comes to the two of us, well, it’s only the two of us. Nothing comes in between. Petty fights, ego clashes, possessiveness, nothing. My days are hardly complete with a ‘dog’ or ‘seruppu’ from her over the Office communicator. And I know I’ll never have to worry about it all ending. I don’t ever have to worry about parting or separation. Simply because I know it wont happen.

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My best friend’s wedding…

My best friend’s wedding. Yes, I finally know how it feels when someone you grew up with, someone who was practically a part of your life till date is suddenly part of another family, part of a new bond. Seeing her up on the stage, glittering in a bright red sari, decked in jewels and flowers somehow brought back memories of scouting through malls for hippie earrings and matching bracelets. Seeing her frown at her to-be husband for a split second brought back memories of mid-road fights and tears. Seeing her accept ‘you-look-lovely’ compliments with grace and poise brought back memories of getting caught for giggling in the school assembly. Everything was a trigger for a fresh memory and there were loads of them. Her brother who used to be half my height, what seemed like a couple of years ago, now towered over me as he said, “Make yourself comfortable Akka” and pulled up a chair for me. Her parents who always thought of me as another daughter they had, were so flushed with joy that it was a pleasure to keep looking at their lovely faces.

And She. How much we had been through together! A huge bundle of joys, another one of sorrows, leaning on each other when we were about to stumble or fall, leading the way when needed and holding back when its time to, well, simply put, we were just best friends. We were best friends when we used to be on the phone 2 hours a day, everyday. And we were still best friends when we spoke to each other once in six months. Time, place, fights, misunderstandings, ego, nothing came between us. Lost in these thoughts and memories, I joined the long line of people waiting to wish the newly married couple. I would never ever say this to her but yeah, she did look lovely today, didn’t she? My mouth fixed itself into a permanent smile as I kept looking at her, trying to absorb each of those tiny details right from the way she held the flower bouquet in her hand, to the smile, to the thank-you’s and hand shakes. Glancing through the crowd, she suddenly caught my eye. Eyes widening with joy, she tugged at her husband’s sleeve and I could read her lips perfectly from across the 20 yards between us. “There! See her? My besssssst friend!!!” Her husband looked my way and nodded with a bright smile. Is there any body else who can make you feel so special when you least expect it expect friends?

I inched my way slowly towards her. Now I was so close I could see the thread work on her sari and the mehendi pattern on her hands. She was shaking hands and thanking the madisaar maami before me. I was next. God! I WAS NEXT! What was I going to tell her?! Wish you a very happy married life?? Congratulations?? Hope you have a great future ahead?? I couldn’t even imagine saying anything half as formal to her. What if she burst out laughing on the stage?? I’d probably tell her not to talk as much to her hubby and drive him crazy. Or to remember not to lick her fingers after a meal in her in-laws place. Or to stop jumping on dining tables and sofas the minute she sees a cockroach ten feet away. What the hell was I going to tell her??

She was now pulling me towards her by the arm. I could see the thin film of tears in my eyes reflecting in hers. Oh shit, was she going to cry? She wouldn’t stop if she started. She’d bawl to death. I quickly looked away from her and held my hand out to her husband and mumbled some congratulations. The photographer was yelling out to us to look at the camera and pose for a picture. I stood close to her and held her hand. The fingers were ice cold.

“Nervous??”

“Like hell.”

“You still haven’t learnt how to tie a sari properly.”

“Neither have you.”

The photographer was giving me the clear-the-space look by then.

“I’ll call”

“Ok”

I pulled my hand away and walked without turning, trying to swallow the lump that formed in my throat.

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