(Author – Soma Vyas)
“So tell me, according to you what is the process of friendship?”… a casual question from my passenger seat suddenly made me conscious of the fact that I am not alone in the car. After a successful business meeting and practically a whole week on the road I was looking forward to reach home and in that relaxed mood I totally forgot that my boss was still accompanying me. ” Well, to be honest I never thought about it that way … I feel it just happens, we just click …isn’t it ?” I gave a questioning look to my boss whose favorite time pass was throwing random questions and then pulling you in the conversation where he will keep putting his ideas, learnings in an interesting way. Most of the times such conversation left me bit wiser than before so I also engaged him and asked his opinion,” So what do you think about the process of friendship?” I knew he loved sharing his opinions or learnings and I was a patient listener.
” I feel boys form friendship in a different way than girls, their process of making friends is altogether different. For example when boys meet boys their friendship is more transactional, they might not share details of their lives but they connect through similar activities like playing same games, drinking/ smoking together… You know partners in crime types” … My boss smiled at me as we both recalled our partners in crime. It was true, boys really bond more through doing activities together rather than talking. You might be best friends but have no clue about each other’s family or personal lives.
” So what about girls?” I rolled another question, testing his theory.
” Well , with girls it’s simple, very simple … If they like other girl they will talk ,lots of talk and by talking only they will become good friends, will share all the details of their lives and then there is no limit to talks… Talks, talks and more talks .. “He finished by rolling his eyes and we both chuckled as to some extent it was true….even the science proved that on average girls talk more than boys.
This theory got validated too once I reached home and my wife informed me that we were hosting a party that weekend as it had been a while since we reconnected with our friends. While I was an introvert she was an extrovert who basked in the social company. It was not as though I didn’t enjoy meeting friends but the group she was calling was such a diverse one binding by one single fact that we all came to USA around the same time. So this was another basis to form a friendship if you have gone through the same phase of life, same set of problems, same situation you will connect.Other than that we all were so different that sometime discussions will be heated, professional rivalry and office gossip will reach such a peak that it becomes suffocating, bragging for some while humiliation for another….it’s not that there were not good moments, we all shared many firsts, our dreams, aspirations, expectations but managing a group chemistry in a big crowd was not my cup of tea…with a sigh I braced myself for the approaching weekend.
It was our first meeting with old friends after we moved back from Boston to New Jersey… I could still remember how each and every one use to be when we first met ….it would be interesting to see how we all have changed so much in a 8 year span. How each of us had a different ideology back then and how and what extent it changed now? We welcomed each of them with warmth and I had to admit that it felt good. I could still see old me in their eyes and vice versa…. But also the realization that though we all started our journey together, different paths were taken and so now we all were facing and accepting the newer version of ourselves…. This journey changed each one of us in a unique way. Initial pleasantries exchanged and after everyone got settled with a choice of beverage in their hands small group talk started which wander from one to another, job changes, location changes, addition in families,kids’ education, vacations taken and settled on political scenario in India with one remark ,” Anand, how come you went to attend PM Modi’s speech in Central Park? I never remembered you as ‘deshbhakt’ types… What a transformation!! From a videshi’ to pakka desi….bhaiya tum to bada badal Gaye?”….this remark came from yash and I could see that he hasn’t changed much….their disliking for each other was not a secret and he wouldn’t miss a chance to humiliate Anand then also. In my opinion Anand was a better person..though Yash’s remark was bit sarcastic but was true to some extent. Anand we knew back then was so much in awe of USA that he earned the nickname of ‘American Desi’. I could sense the tension in the air while all eyes were fixed on Anand for his reply. Surprisingly Anand didn’t lose his temper and gave a very candid answer proving that he has matured enough to maintain his calm and balance. ” Haan bhaiya badal Gaya…. Your experiences changes you. My life in India was not as privileged as yours ( he mildly pointed out yash’s preveileged status due to his father’s high govt.post), I had my own share of experience which you will never know because you never shared my journey. So yes, when I came from India I got carried away by the life style here, common man’s life is much better than a common man’s life in India. I lost confidence in myself and in my country. I didn’t feel bonded because I didn’t find enough reason. Over the years I did realize my mistake and tried to reconnect. Yes, I went to see PM Modi’s speech at Central Park because it made me feel alive, I could share the passion and love of my country with a leader who gives hope and resonant my thoughts. When I speak his name among my American colleague I see a flicker of recognition in their eyes which I never saw before and it gives me confidence. Confidence to be myself again, confidence to be Indian , confidence that if our PM played his card rightly India could not only solve its problem but will prosper. I could see it changing and I would love to be a part of that change.” Anand’s passionate answer made everyone silent. Not knowing how to respond to this Yash played his last trick,” So Sumit, what do you say? Did our PM changed your mindset too? Waise tum to pehle se hi bade deshbhakt aur samajsewak bane rehte the ?” He tried to pull my leg. Everybody was looking at me with expectant eyes as I was considered an objective and reasonable person in the group.
“You are right Yash!!We took pride in being Indian while at the same time started appreciating the good things about US too. What we use to take for granted in India we started finding value in that and we did keep our culture alive in the house. But as Anand said when our PM attended the global event in an open Central Park and embraced Indian culture and heritage on a global stage, it gave all of us the confidence to take our culture outside our home too. What can I say Yash,I always felt like an American being in India and it took a living in America to feel Indian.” And I knew instantly that I didn’t only answered Yash’s question but spoke for each one presented in that room.