Archive for the ‘friendship’ Category

This is a short one.
‘What in the world is a social network’ is the title of the piece I read this morning. Rhetorical as it may sound, I really wonder how effective these sites really are. Some of them claim to bring you and your friends and family closer. Sometimes I wonder whether every person on your list even knows you exist or you know about them?
Take my own Facebook list. Two days ago while going through my list of ‘friends’ I discovered that I had four people on my list who had passed away, two of whom had died over a year ago. One had been in the news recently for the family first wanting her body exhumed and then rejecting the move. I didn’t even know she was on my page, till she died in mysterious circumstances. Two were students who had committed suicide. The fourth was a well known journalist for whom I had proofed a novel he had written. Why didn’t I delete them? Just too caught up in too many things, I guess, to even notice that they had migrated to another more heavenly social networking site. My fault entirely. And then that morning I got fed up of scrolling through the stuff posted by one of the 1278 people on my page, to look for something I was interested in. Which is what got me thinking.
Would anyone even notice if I dropped out of sight from their pages. I wondered how many would even notice or really care whether you’re there or not. At least the vast majority don’t. And in the last 48 hours I’ve proved it.
I deleted 800 people from my Facebook page on Tuesday morning. That left me with 478 friends.Today is Thursday and just one person – a student of a media institute where I no longer take lectures – messaged me to ask (demand), why I had inadvertently deleted her from my page. Nevertheless,, I explained why and her question was “but why me?” Needless to say she’s back on my list.
So this could mean one of two things. Either, they don’t really care for having me in their social network, or they haven’t even noticed I am missing. Which says a lot for ‘staying connected’!


I was reading a Facebook status update by Ramesh Menon and it brought back memories of my days in college way back in the late 1970s. Let me ‘assure’ Mr Menon that even in those days there were hooligans who molested girls and misbehaved on the streets.

I remember one Holi when we were having fun outside Vaishali restaurant on the busy Fergusson College Road. We weren’t allowed in by the management if we intended to spray colours. All that Naik, the manager at Vaishali, had to do was to tell revellers to have their fun outside – and no one objected. It wasn’t what happened inside Vaishali that day that I remember, but what happened outside on the busy street that has stuck in my head till date.

We were, on that particular Holi day, having fun outside Vaishali when two girls from our class came out of the Fergusson College Girls Hostel gate. Suddenly a bunch of guys noticed these two, one of whom was in a white Tee. These guys just surrounded them, before any of us could react or warn the girls. None of us knew what transpired inside the ‘ring’ made by the boys, but when the guys left I only saw this completely shaken girl, her white Tee and pants camouflaged by myriad colours, hand prints in all the ‘strategic’ places. She had been molested (and that’s the only word to describe what she went through) in public view, on a busy Fergusson College Road, in the presence of her peers, none of whom dared to help her. I thought it was a pretty disgraceful thing to do.

I don’t know if all the guys who molested her were from the same college she studied in, but they were not exactly the kind one would like to associate with even if they were last people left on this earth! I still remember the look on the girl’s face. I don’t think she expected to be celebrating Holi in this way. She had wrapped her arms around herself and was shaking in shock. I knew who the girl was and I’m sure some of my friends who read this post also did. It was a sick thing to do but all of us – and we were aged just 17 or 18 then – pretended like we didn’t know anything and left.

Many years later, while living in Salunke Vihar, we celebrated Holi every year, the way it should be celebrated – with colours, guzzling beer, going on a drive with the girls and generally having fun. Sure, some of the guys did take a few inadvertent ‘liberties’ but it was followed by apologies. Heck, we had to live there and the girls we were with, were the ones who would eventually be invited to the parties we had in the colony. Quite a few of them were pretty stunning, so most of us knew which side the bread was buttered and behaved ourselves!

Of course, we joked that we didn’t wish to be chased by some retired Fauji armed with a loaded rifle around Salunke Vihar, because we had fooled around with his daughter/s! But the truth is we did maintain some decorum. It wasn’t like there were no affairs happening around, but during any public event or even a private party, we usually behaved ourselves! We drank ourselves silly but were usually well-behaved around the women! There was something else about the Army culture that I liked as a ‘civilian’. People wished each other. We wished all the elders we knew and met at whatever time of day. We also knew, because of the friends we made, that it only took one phone call and a friend would be at our doorstep to help. I don’t know if I can say that today. I guess I really miss those good ol’ days…

On staying connected…

Posted: January 31, 2010 in friendship

Friendship is a funny thing.

You can talk to someone after 30 years and it’s like nothing’s changed in all these years. And you can stay next door to someone for months and not talk to the person over such a trivial issue. Isn’t it a waste of life?

You don’t keep in touch with someone for six months and you hear the guy has gone through a personal crisis – two heart attacks within a week and a heart surgery. And you say, “Shit! I should have called.”

And then you talk to someone 20,000+ miles away, who you haven’t spoken to in 35 years because as friends you had a fall out. And after that one moment of awkwardness, it’s like nothing had ever gone wrong between the two of you.

So when I got a call from a friend earlier in the evening telling me that a common friend Sunny had two heart attacks, it was like a wake up call.

And then there was this other friend who I connected with after almost 30 years. We hadn’t spoken to each other over an issue that today seems like such a waste of time. He tracked me down through AOL and my address and phone number from the Internet. The funny thing is that when he called, my wife wondered why he was calling her after so long – they were colleagues at the hotel after I had quit the same place!

Then he asked her if she was married to the same guy who worked in that hotel and by the end of it all, it was madness! When he called me my first instinct was to put the phone down. Then I gave him a piece of my mind and all he said was sorry for everything that had happened 30 years ago! I guess after that there’s really nothing much to swear about. It made me reflect on friendships and on the importance of staying connected.

The problem happens when two people believe the other should take the first step and neither one does. I too could have sat on my high horse, but I am glad I didn’t. I guess life’s too short to worry about these little foibles.

Sorry is such a simple word isn’t it? Solves so many problems – even if half the time we don’t mean it! Like my son. From his tongue, sorry rolls out like bottles in a soft drink factory. He doesn’t mean a word of what he says, but there’s nothing either my wife or I can do!

I’m back from a class reunion organized by some very enterprising school friends at Brightland’s in Mahabaleshwar last week. It’s been a long time since we all met and as one of our peers said, we now understand the meaning of ‘keeping in touch’! We hadn’t met in 35 years and where all of us have reached in terms of our respective careers is truly amazing and inspiring!

We talked about the old days and about those of us who weren’t with us anymore. I also heard the story of one of our classmates who is still ‘missing’ in the Tsunami that hit on December 26, 2004. Even the wives who were present looked on indulgently at all the horse-play indulged in by their husbands!

The reunion also brought back a flood of memories, which were spent right next door to a girl’s school! Bishop’s is today a co-ed school but during our time it was all boys affair so to be allowed into St. Mary’s or have the girls visiting was every schoolboy’s dream!

The St. Mary’s fete was one we all waited for every year. Of course, our teachers were always around us when we visited next door, because boys, will after all, always be boys. The smart ones were quick to ‘pile on’ but the rest of us could only watch tongue-tied as the blue uniforms swished past us, without even a glance.

I remember the time, when some of the seniors persuaded the Head Boy to allow us to stand on the side of the hall which was closer to the St. Mary’s School wall, right next door. That would allow a lot of the taller boys to observe the ‘blues’ next door as they went through their PT exercises! The good fortune was short-lived, because Mr. Roberts, our then Principal, put two and two together! The next day we were back to our old spot at the other end of the hall overlooking our quadrangle which housed the basketball courts and the bicycle stand!

I also heard an interesting story from one of the guys about how the Principal of a school called an ex-student and asked him to sponsor an event the school was organizing. The former student was ready to sponsor the entire event, till he heard of the amount – it ran into lakhs of rupees and was definitely way, way, above what it would have cost to organise such an event. I mean, I know we must pay back to the Alma Mater, but paying back does not mean bending over and letting the school extract their dues! More later…