Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Slipping partners

“Hi XYZ,
I was wondering if you received the email I’d sent you last Thursday. I have to send this month’s issue to press in two days, so I’d appreciate a quick response from you.

“Hi Sayesha—
Sorry about that. I'd received your email but it must have slipped through the cracks. Here’s the info you need...

Slipped through the cracks? So this person received my email but did not respond because it “slipped through the cracks”? Man! What cracks are these??

And here I thought the only things that could “slip through cracks” were friendships.

Lately I've been thinking a lot about friendships, especially of the lost variety.

Long long ago, there was a Big Bang and the universe was formed. And according to scientists, everything in the universe is still reeling from the effect of the bang - moving away from one another at very high speeds, expanding towards the unknown. And that is what is happening to our lives as well. Not only are we physically moving away from one another, we’re doing so emotionally as well. The things that bound us together are slipping through the cracks. When we were kids, we could not make up our minds about who our ‘best friend’ was. Today, we still can’t make up our minds about who our ‘best friend’ is. The reason, however, is different.

The older we grow, the smaller gets the pool of people we can become friends with. The busier we get at work, the less time we have to meet people who are not gonna buy stuff from us or appraise us. We meet new people but we don’t have time to follow up. Over time, everything slips through the cracks. Sometimes, we get so cynical, we stop looking at people as potential friends. We look at them as “someone I work with” or “someone I randomly bumped into” or “someone whose blog I read” or “someone I know through someone else”. And more worryingly, "someone I'm eventually gonna lose touch with or have a fallout with, so no point investing in this". We stop investing our time, our effort, our emotions into friendships because we have seen them slip away. As far as friendships are concerned, time froze the moment we left college. At most we look back at our old friendships – school and college friends - with fondness. Our yaars, our buddies, our partners, our dost-log. Sometimes we’re lucky to have them still around. At other times, everything, everyone slips away. Right in front of us and there’s nothing we can do.

In a world where ‘home’ has been redefined as not a place, but a concept, where everyone including you is on his or her way to somewhere else, how do you stand still and stay friends? Perhaps the only way you can stay close to your best friend is to marry him or her, a strategy applied rather successfully by many people. But then of course, there is a limited number of people you can marry so this doesn’t really work.

When I was a kid, I had a favourite cousin. He and I were so close to each other that when all of us cousins played monopoly, I’d become the banker just so I could slip him a few notes here and there when no one was looking. When I grew up, I found out that he was actually not even my first cousin – he was not even remotely related. His grandma and my grandma hailed from the same village or something like that, and that was why we'd been hanging out all our childhood, not because "he was my cousin". But that did not change anything. He was my favourite cousin, and more important to me than my own sister. He was the brother I never had. Fast forward 15 years and not much is left. We do see each other every few years, and it’s apparent that both are aware of how close we used to be, but we can’t do anything to bring back that closeness. That has slipped. Slipped through the cracks.

Nine years ago, when I landed in Singapore, I was pretty much a reject. There was the Delhi bunch, the Mumbai bunch, the Bangalore bunch and the Madras bunch. And then there was me – born in Orissa, brought up in random cities, hailing from seven schools most of which fall under Jharkhand now – and not fitting into any of the coolness quotients. We were all there on the same scholarship, but we were not quite the same. My spoken English wasn’t too good (I was used to thinking in hindi and translating it to English, and discovered that doesn’t really work when people speak as fast as my classmates did). I was by myself - friendless because I could not identify with my own classmates. Yet, somehow I managed to make friends with a bunch of third-year guys who smoked and drank and did all the things that ‘bad guys’ do. But we were friends who hung out without judging one another. They were themselves around me, and I was myself around them. It was the most comfortable kind of friendship you could think of. But over the years, it all slipped away. Yes, they are all on my Facebook, but I have practically nothing to say to them. We've all added one another, but not even a “Hello” seems to be in order. I just watch them fling sheep at one another, and tell one another how drunk they got at the last party they attended. Everything sounds the same, but it is not.

There was this phase in my life – I think it was quarter-life crisis – when I had a sudden horrifying realisation that my friends and I have all moved away from one another. It was around the time my closest friends were moving to the US to do their MBA degrees. I felt lonely, incredibly lonely. And I started looking for what had slipped over the years without me realising it. Cousins I had not seen in a decade, friends I had not spoken to in years, teachers I had not remembered in a while. I reached out and for a moment, it looked like I could get everything back. But it wasn’t true. I had probably missed the 'window period' - the duration after losing touch when you still can get it all back. Once you miss the window period, even if you get back in touch, it's nothing but odd and uncomfortable. Time had corroded away everything we had in common, everything we could talk about, and even though we got back in touch, it just wasn’t the same.

That’s the problem as we proceed from quarter-life crisis towards mid-life crisis. Sometimes it's the things we don't know about each other that bind us. The more people we meet, the more we get to know them, the more we realise how different we are, and the lonelier we get. The lonelier we get, it becomes a way of life. We stop realising what’s slipped or is slipping through the cracks anymore. And worse - we stop caring.

In a world where we are getting lonelier by the second, what is worth investing your time, effort and emotions in - peering down the cracks and reaching out for what has slipped, or just holding on to what has not yet slipped, but will do so any moment now?


The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

omg i got gold or wot? it is hatrick or wot?

The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

the label says it all "c'est la vie" indeed! i think (or rather hope) that some friends will always stay on, despite growing distances and busier times. but yes, friendship needs an effort to be maintained, and it's all about making that effort- whether to reach out or to keep the present ones going.

shub said...


Harshi said...

Hi Sash,
What a touching write-up. Exactly my thoughts, but I couldn't have expressed it this well. That last para, very well said. I feel, unless it is mutual, things cannot proceed at all. Even then, we don't have control over a lot of factors that might develop that hinder. We can try, but until when? We give up one day. We even stop caring after a while. Sad. Sometimes, the friend returns, but it isn't the same at all. Yes, lucky are those who still have their closest friends with them. Gosh, I have suffered losses in that department Sash...I am still trying to adjust..maybe have become a bit numb to it too. But it still hurts. I thought friends were supposed to be forever. But life always shows what reality is. I really have learned to just be in the present, be more forgiving, and allow to mould myself to changes. When it's mutual, it is really a breeze and changing times don't change the foundation of that friendship. But I have to be prepared - what's today might not be there tomorrow. Hence, to be grateful for what we have today, to be patient, to think positively and have love in your heart. Taking out time for our friends and maintaining that relationship (in person esp.) is always well worth it, but how many of us really stick to it I wonder.

Harshi said...

Oh, forgot to mention - I love the new look! I went wow :-).

GuNs said...

Sayesha, you actually stole the thoughts right from my head! I hope you won't mind if I link to this post on my blog.


oxymoron said...

well said! very well said!
i can relate to each and every word of this post...

senti kar dala!

cheeseandpepper said...

I believe, we only have a limited amount of (mind)space and time for various things all through our life. The % of time we give to playing and friends in childhood/school/college is obviously more since our responsibilities and priorities are limited. And there is a forced proximity. This decreases as we grow older. The number of people we know and things that require our attention follow the "inverted parabola" kind of trajectory. From about 20-40, our basket is crammed up both in quantity and size. And things that are no longer relevant "slip away from the cracks". But, if we consciously decide to make the best of them while they are there, and let go of them graciously when the winds of change come, I'm sure, we won't be so wistful about them later on. And maybe, post 40 (when life is usually "settled" in terms of major decisions of life), we may even go back and pick up some of the threads we left behind.

If I sum this up in a line, I think it's about making "conscious choices" in life.

Wiser in hindsight ;-)

raven said...

Great post sayesha... touched right there... at those bare aging corners of my heart!

moving enough to move the lazy me to click through to the site and leave this footmark... too good.

Hazaar Thanks!

BP said...

Hey Sayesha,

The post is so touching and every line of yours is true. And for your question, second option would be the best I feel.

I've been reading your posts from a while, this time I couldn't stop myself placing a comment.

Take care.


Bit Hawk said...

So true! Wonderful post!!

Kalpana said...

Quite a senti post. All these days I was thinking, I am the only one whoz losing frens, but i guess all of us share the platter.

@$ said...

I have had many "best friends" since my childhood. And i am glad to say that they are still my "BEST Friends". All of us have moved on together with times. Yes,it is true that the same old days can not come back but the fact that we shared some wonderful moments and still cherish them is a compensation good enough. The only problem is i can't find any new friends.I get the feeling that most of the people you meet today are just out there to take advantage of you. That unconditional friendship/togetherness just doesn't exist anymore.:(

Life of Mi said...

Just too good!!!

kashika said...

Oh my! Sayesha, you and your friends (those who commented) are thinking about all this at a time when you are all working and have finished with your education. But its so scary that I think about all this while I am still in college. It's just been like 4 months since I left school and surprisingly enough, now when I talk to a few 'close' friends we dont really have anything to talk about and we end up saying 'what's new?' to each other like 50 times in a matter of 10 minutes. I wonder whose fault is all this. I mean, it's not like we dont want to stay in contact. Time? Circumstances? Who is responsible?

satish said...

Great post!

Itna great hai ki i am taking a break frm posting studd comments that i am so famous for!

Gud work!

aequo animo said...

Sentimental, Sayesha,Seriously sentimental. Calls for few on the rocks

Bivas said...

Didn't comment on this earlier coz hum bhi soch mein pad gaye the...Why does it happen so often to so many people?
I guess maybe as we move on in life, and met new people, we make new acquaintances and form new bonds. These need not necessarily be at the cost of old bonds but probably we take it for granted that an occasional Hi/Hello to puraane Yaar/Dosts would suffice. This does happens, at times, coz of the materialistic frame of mind that we poor humans tend to get into...u know that 'it's all about networking' and all that funda. Make new contacts and keep in touch with the old ones somehow!

Dunno how to get out of this or if we should even try doing so:-|

Supremus said...

Beautiful Post! And so very very true.


anand said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
anand said...

i just sometimes wonder that how do u come-up with such wonderful posts, which other sometime just realize/experience but never express.
u should really come-up with a book on relationships...may be a fiction.
keep it up bhai :- ))

anand said...

The new look-n-feel is awesome.

nimbupani said...

Ooo Love this post! coz this is exactly what I feel in my "funk" periods - when I am really down and lonely.

I had a very close buddy when I was one digits old and we played together almost all day and then he and I drifted apart. We recently talked on the phone after some 10 years but obviously that innocent friendship of childhood has been replaced by a conversational one.

Jedi said...

For someone whose "spoken English" wasn't good you sure expressed that very well :)

All of the above gets amplified manifold when one lives in a foreign land, when one has so little to work with in the first place. Almost makes you wanna move back in time.

Loved your post.


Shanks_P said...

hey Sayesha,

This was a nice read and have put in a stream of thoughts ...But what I can see is a cycle through which every one passes. The more we clinch on to the past, the more lonely we feel.
The last bus i took in was filled with lot of good people, but I have alighted the bus and got into the next bus, If i still want the same co-travelers, it is difficult...but lucky once who travel to the same destination might get some ....... so better let it slip and live in the current moment where you get lot more friends ....

Sam said...

Am floored!! a really touching post.. adn i must say.. one of teh best i've read in the past few days!!!
loved every word it.. reality bites!!

Ashutosh Deo said...

nice post there sayesha..

you've very nicely put down your thoughts... These thoughts hit me quite a lot of times.. but there's nothing much one can do..

I believe its a fact of life... People come into your life and then almost disappear.. the closeness just fades away!

I guess we have to make most of the time we're together and cherish the memories later on..

Manikandan said...

I don't know but somehow i could talk to someone whom i have not met in the past 5 years but still could maintain the same intimacy as before. May be time would change that too.. But yes, we are constrained physically to get in touch with our old friends...or we think ourselves as constrained and not knowing on how to come out of it.

with regards

Chhavi said...

Time never waits
It will go like flowing water den why regrets n worries. Life is too short to live..
Enjoy!!!Dnt thin dat u r alone
be wid urself n enjoy. Move on make frndz n help each other
Remember guys u n only u is ur best frnd n nobody else.
Live ur Life