Emotions are like goodbyes. Our hearts are torn into shards as we wave farewell to times and loved ones knowing fully that we cannot hold forever to moments that segued into our lives. Contrast it to the world of technology and snail mail where both are at odds with each other. The classic dak babu or postmen or postwomen spanning across the world are a pricey species who deliver love and emotions right in front of our doorsteps. At times, I not only wonder what goes inside their minds as they cycle to deliver letters and parcels but also languish the day when the post office will bow out from our world.
There is something fake about technology and the entire gamut of e-world which is making human interacting, sharing of deeply embedded love and connection redundant in the flick of time. I am speaking about the world of beautifully designed Christmas and New Year cards that we once penned to our loved ones and dropped in the letterbox to travel the seas and mountains. In the advent of e-cards, this bond is lost forever and personally, I am dead against the digital greetings that we send to our loved ones, family and friends at one click. It’s not that I have never done it. But, my heart always tilts in favor of the good old postcards. a special pen to pour ink on paper and using a second pen to diligently write the address.
This year, I decided to lend my own personal touch that shall not be devoid of emotions to my loved and dear ones, the selected few who played an inherent part in my life. There was a time during the childhood or growing up days when we would be receiving cards and the entire family, Mom, Dad and me would drool over the letters sent by our phoren uncle or dosts. I remember waiting for the postman for days and would grab the letter to open with a pen or knife to show around to everyone. The early and mid-2000s was the time when I was still sending birthday and greeting cards to Mom, Dad, and friends bought from Archies the place which made one feel like a pampered kid. There was no dearth of choice in the gallery that became a sort of outing of college going kids, shopping for expensive V-Day while proposing to someone would always do the trick. We didn’t realize that technology would one day render the world of creatively and aesthetically designed cards irrelevant.
It all started with a call from my Boss last December. She is British and during a trip to her homeland, she bought pack of cards for the company’s clients which we were asked to sign for the season’s greetings. I think greeting cards are quite cheap in the UK. I marveled at the myriad design of Santa Claus and the snow that brought me back to the childhood days. The idea clicked in the head but it didn’t really take shape until I received a tiny envelope at home which came as a pleasant surprise. Boss has sent me a beautiful Santa card by the snail mail and I decided to renew with the joy of sending a greeting card to close friends. In fact, Mom came here much before me and sent as a surprise gift to our toddler neighbor a cute Xmas card.
It was the eve of new year and well past Christmas time when I hefted two packs of New Year cards from the supermarket and started to ping my friends on FB or WhatsApp for their postal address. Some played the game while there are quite a few who ignored or plainly refused. I dug deep from the old diary for addresses and kept pouring my heart inside the blank pages, not just wishing Merry Xmas or Happy New Year but made an effort to connect the dots in a way I was sure the ecards couldn’t replace.
There are memories, joys, bond and emotions captivated by the soul and void which no technological advancement or gadget can fill inside our hearts. I make a promise to renew with sending personalized cards to close friends and dear ones every festive season. We have lost the art of conversation, love, and bonding that we need to reclaim and in my case, greeting cards play this part in my life.
The humble and priceless Nokia 3310 suddenly behaved like Cinderella not giving me bhav and going blank out of the blue like the girl that you flirts with only to get cold stares in return. There was not a single instance when the battery didn’t conk and was getting increasingly tired with not just that but everyone pulling ironical, ‘Throw it away….change your phone.”
Me being me, I was reluctant to split with my old and personal blue Nokia that gave such homely feeling that makes it easy to flap open, move the battery, remove the sim or switching on and off in comparison to today’s smartphones that are such a pain in the ass. The worst feeling is that I was dying to get a new phone and at that time, the craze during our final year at Fergusson College was the funkily designed and sexy Nokia 6600. Almost everyone owned this handset. I was growing bonkers and getting jealous of everyone owning this prized handset that came in two colors, black and white.
There was Ruchit who owned the Nokia 6600 and every time, I saw him at our college hangout in Savera and the times we would share the same table, his oval-shaped prized gadget would make me burn with envy. Oh! Nokia! Why have you stopped innovating? Cut to the past, there were the TY exams to concentrate on but the mind was preoccupied with a new phone. I remember once our festivals was in full swing, can’t remember which one and it must be either Oorja or Wallstreet when I hopped from college to Savera for a quick coffee. The man hailed me to join his gang with Gulshan and some chicks gulping coffee and he splayed the handsets right in from of me, ‘yeh dekh! 6600…see how many there are! yahan pe bhi wahan pe bhi.’
I made a straight face, “Mein kya karoon agar tere paas 6600 (What can I do?) Tere Ghar mein aake bhangra karoon kya (Should I come and do bhangra dance at your house?” It was so much fun spending the most wonderful times with Ruchit and people, the fun conversation and hanging out in college together to laughing over tea and coffee. As I look back and time takes me to those near perfect days, it feels like yesterday only. Life was so simple. Savera was one place where everyone knew everyone in our college hang out, laughing together, puffing and gulping the favorite filter coffee. What a happening crowd of Fergussonians! The place where I met and made the most wonderful friends and would spend the whole day ratta maro for the final year exams.
We discussed everything, right from college life, to exams and career aspirations, films, the economy, politics and almost anything. Early morning bird needs only one motivation and it’s the sheer bliss of sitting at Savera where I would hop straight as early as 8 a.m having coffee with a fag before hopping for lecture.
I remember one of the tables that were opposite the side that gave the wall view of Shirke bungalow, a couple of jovial uncles in their 80s used to sit, smoke and laugh on the biggest table that could accommodate 8 to 10 people. The dudes were a jovial lot brimming with life and so amusing to hear them speaking so enthusiastically or reminiscing about their good ole’s days at Fergusson College. How the uncles laughed heartily? It gives you a sense of what life is all about and listening to them gave so much energy to the body and soul. I was so in awe of them, their zest for life and there was never a dull moment for they lived to see the city changing in so many ways, narrating tales. Life should be like that only. Age should be no factor deterring someone to have fun and the intact mojo of the senior citizens deserve respect. I was wondering how life must have been on the Katta (campus) for them in those days.
I remember having a conversation with them and one of them told his friend that he often saw me sitting, sometimes alone or with friends at Savera to read the newspaper and having my coffee. He told his friend, ‘He is such a good boy’ and to me, he said, ‘Enjoy life, man. Make the most of life. Stay blessed.’ In life, there are so many people who make a difference to existence and sometimes plain strangers bring a smile to the face. There was something divinely amazing about them, their never say die attitude and growing with grace in Pune. Often, I would spot the uncles from a distance and would say a hi to them where the greetings would be met with such enthusiasm. The roaring laughter, friendship bonds that grew strong at every fleeting second and crazy souls in the uncles would later become a mirror image of my life. I was a Savera addict. Everyone was!
The best thing was the annas. Yes, I hate calling them waiters and Dinesh Anna was one who knew how I love my coffee, shakar alag se. Everyone in the restaurant was family. So much that once Adi once told the anna, ‘Uska ek putla banao yahan pe (Erect his statue here). Yeah, Adi was wondering how I gonna survive once college is over and everyone would be missing me since I am forever there. The dude even suggested that my statue should be placed right in front of the Savera entrance so that when people enter, the first thing to notice would be my greeting and at least, my shadow will loom large. “Your statue should be built here man,” he told. Ha!
Of course, I was forever sitting in my second home and everyone would joke how we Fergussonians peeps, have done a double BA, one in college and the second one BA in Savera for hanging there forever. I remember watching my latest crush, one of my juniors sitting in the company of her friends and I was on the last table in the smoking zone. Of course, my friends were curious to know about my crush. I nodded them to see her with the eyes since she was with her friends and told in hushed tone on her identity. The moment she got up and turned her face, everyone went aha and of course, I was a bit flustered asking them to behave normally to avoid that she gets a hang of things.
The nights of being plainly bored at the apartment on FC and running across the road towards Savera in the hope to meet some people was something very normal. You can always be sure to meet friends or acquaintances. It was 9 p.m one evening and I hopped to Savera in the hope to catch up with some folks. I did saw the usual suspects and didn’t take the main entrance in sheer excitement but waded my way from the pavement to shout like a mad person, ‘Kya re bhai log!’ There was Tootoo, Sane and a host of other dudes who are our seniors and they bobbed their heads up to see me. I didn’t know what fell on their heads or what went into mind for they blinked for a second and started laughing. We chilled out together and the soulful conversations with them, in particular, Tootoo who is passionate about everything gave wings to the bond and friendships that I shared with my seniors. He has always been someone whom I looked up to it and a magician who can lift the mood, make everything so easy and remember he would always urge me to create my platform than waiting for someone to do it for me.
There is also Ajitabh bhaiya with whom I recently connected on FB after nine years and he was one of the people who played an immense part in my formative years. A senior who was always passionate about cinema and we would booze together, having tea and coffee where conversations would veer to psychology, human identity and not losing one in the crowd or pointless to live for others lent so much perspective to a life of self-worth. I remember there was a Doctor who would come to Savera, the time I was trying to learn Marathi and he would urge me to repeat with confidence, ‘Bhariya’. Of course, the broken Marathi that I started to learn in those days and the reason that I am able to follow every conversation is by sitting with people like Tootoo, Sane, Suhrud, Amol, Sudhendhu, Chanda, and Koko.
There was no group or clique as such in my book of friendship. Friends are friends. Right from fun moments, pep talks and crazy cum wild times, there was no limit to living life and the next chapters you will be introduced to those amazing friends, quirky characters and of course friendships that bore no expiry date.
A lifetime may not be sufficient to add zing to existence as we revisit old papers, certificates, and postcards spanning over more than a decade. The memories carved and wreathed in our soul makes it feel like a dream that never happened and burst like a colorful balloon the moment we are up in the morning. Friendships, silly pranks and silent wishes or wisp of happiness, fun, and bonding billowed like smoke disappearing in the sky and dust.
One often wonder where have all those years smacking of goodness or jelly moments disappeared in the flit of seconds. It feels so unreal when one harks back to the past that empowers and continue to define our present. Maybe our future, too. I just feel like blowing colorful balloons with tiny messages in paper chits and let them flow and soar higher in the sky. I never thought that after 11 years or more, I will laminate mark sheet, revisiting the first dash of Mumbai Monsoon in 2007. It was in those days when I received the TYBA results and landed in Mumbai just after the train blast to speed up procedures for past grads. I just graduated in Pune. I remember calling friends to tell that I am fine and not to worry post the terror attack. It started raining in the morning when I woke up and crossed the road towards the Xerox shop that was opposite the hotel to get the fresh mark sheet laminated in Mumbai Central.
But, this time it was the best friend’s FYBA’s mark sheet that I laminated and sent to him by post two weeks back. It’s intriguing how his first year mark sheet staying with me for more than a decade. In the earlier posts, I told you that he got married in Mumbai but yours truly missed it. So, I decided to send him a wedding card. Yeah! I still prefer hand-made cards to this whole online wishes in the form of a card. I am old-fashioned that way for I doggedly believe that a proper card with ink poured over paper and writing a postal address brings so much warmth. The surprise gift was the mark sheet and last week, he whatsapped and so happy that he got the same. We tried to remember how his first year result stayed with me. There are two possibilities, one when he travelled with his ex and gave me some documents since I was the one who collected his results and secondly post our final, I had to get him some paper from college. But, I ain’t sure how the document conspired to land in my personal file. In the hum-drum, I hastily moved to Mumbai since our results came late and one year later, he hopped to the Kangaroo land, Australia.
The man was happy to get back his mark sheet which is intriguing to both of us since he told me that he always keeps handy first year Xerox. It’s what you call friendship and the deep bond we shared that always binds us. The past can do wonder to hearts and souls where a simple thing as a document can weave the strings of hearts strummed like the sound of music to touch us in places. Of course, I did make a Xerox as a reminder of those carefree days of friendship, leg pulling, smoking in the pot and alcohol flowing in the veins.
Time flits so easily that it knocks us in such a way that we don’t stop for a while to think about the moments that elapsed in front of us. I really wonder, where have all those days gone when we made the most of life and it was calling living, unlike now. We were not much into social media during that time and warm conversation plus laughter were shared over a cup of chai or coffee. Time is karmic. The worse with Karma is that it doesn’t give you the time to take a breath and hold the memories like pearls flowing inside the palm of your hands. Collecting memories can boost our mind. The dream of the impossible to thrust time backwards to relive those moments is the delusional thing that we humans may not be willing to do. Will time let itself not to flicker with speed? Often, I am plagued with such questions in skeltering with time.
The month of June was also Dad’s birthday where he would have turned 75 years old. It been 11 from now that he suddenly sunk into a coma before passing away. I was in Mumbai and had to rush home in no less than two days. Luckily, I saw him still alive on the hospital bed and one week later he breathed his last at home in front of me. The childhood moments that play in the mind and Dad’s voice whispering in the ear during my sleep is a sign of presence. I shall leave before this whole post becomes emotional and be back in a brand new post next week, speaking about Dad and the signs our loved ones send from heaven.
The night owl flew past the Queen’s necklace and gaped in wonder at the Arabian sea as the tranquil water at Marine Drive buried the secrets, serenaded by train whistles and sky rises in the city. The night was our lover, embracing passion and intensity in our eyes, that rose like the vast sea.
Our lives resembled the chirping of birds and owls, silent, singing happily and boisterous at the same time at the International Students House nestled at Churchgate where we admired the sea and breeze that flew. The girls at Telang were quite a distraction as the window would stay wide open, giving a view of the mermaids singing and laughing as if a riot took place.
Days and nights ushered into the exam period. A race against time after frolicking for a year in Maximum city where we indulged into the extremities of life. In Mumbai, nothing is kept at a bare essential for it’s not called Maximum City for no reason. The warden’s floor is a silent spectator to our books and the open balcony inviting fresh sea breeze wafting to make studying in the wee hours of the night a date we couldn’t afford to miss. After all, studying on the vast and sprawling balcony makes it a memory that will be cherished over the years, bonding with hostel mates by sharing the modest table where our notebooks, pens and textbooks were scattered.
The rattling of trains looming at a not-so-far-away distance from our Churchgate abode and Marine Drive remained our eternally endearing neighbor. Of course, the preening eyes of girls cushioned in their rooms wondering what those guys were doing at this odd hour. The mermaids took it upon themselves to distract us and pulling our necks away from the books like the new age Menkas. Of course, a study break meant walking on the balcony to share a smoke as the girls would whistle at the other end and stuttering in towels to grab our attention. We could hear whisper and laughs, “Are they watching?” The Telangites and Ish-ites were neighbors, separated by the white coated wall. Our discreet eyes caught them inside their room where they fiddled with light. A tale of darkness and light switched on and off at their own fancy. We were quite uninterested and ignored them. They only became louder trying every trick in the book to grab our attention, calling us and giggling. The lights went off. It brought a smile to our faces.
Our hungry stomachs were never at rest. After all, when luxury was a walking distance and minutes away from our comfort, how can we resist South Mumbai? It was time to wake up the security Mama caught in deep slumber to open the door, slipping ten rupee notes to grease his palm or the warden sons would make us sneak out. Once, we hustled past the door, there was no qualm jumping the gate and walking our way to Churchgate station.
The coaches were sleeping silently as we waded past the station. There was no roar of engine and whittling which we were so familiar with during the bustling day. After all, it was past the 1.40 a.m ki last local. We walked inside the station and hazily got out at the other end where hawkers were selling tea, Vada Pav and of course, our sweet luxury Bun Maska with jam. A banquet of savouries spread on the table at Churchgate Station entrance on the main road where we faced our much frequented Eros Theatre and an oblique view of the iconic Rajabhai Tower, standing on the vast road.
The fellow expertly sliced the bun and spread butter and jam. The bun maska is prepared in the flick of seconds and our voracious mouths ready to devour them. The tongue gently swirled the jam that frothed the lip to find its way inside the mouth. The hands almost burnt holding the smoking hot cutting chai in the glass to quench the thirst and the steam blowing on the face. The tongue is rolled and twisted to taste the drop of hot tea as the glass is cupped to the lip and inch of the mouth. What an aha feeling! A cup of freshly brewed cutting chai and bun maska made the mind went wild with imagination on what makes happiness so priceless. It can never be traded.
It was the days of bliss. The perfect cocktail of happiness…Mumbai, Bun Maska and cutting chai in the silent morning at Churchgate station. A tale of joy and memories that lingered but only to be relished in our imagination during those nights.
Friendship carved and made during our immature days are always special for they are a game changer and define us for a lifetime. Remember the days of innocence when we longed and tender our hands to be held tightly to proudly exclaim about having a best friend, special one, 4 a.m friend who would listen to our rants. It felt like winning gold at Olympics. It’s true friendship when we laughed, cried and fought together.
Har ek friend Zaroori hota hai, be it a phone call or whatsapp messages on Friendship Day where digital or social media has filled the void of human emotions. A time when we would meet each other, longing to be together and triumphing with silly pranks. The first friends we made in college and running together for classes, gossiping over silly little things and of course the dark little secrets that shouldn’t be out in the open. In life, we do become an emotional wreck but we know that there is a shoulder to lean on. It’s our true friends, the power booster. No trouble can be big enough to tear us apart for we know our friends are always here for us. Cigarette and alcohol brought us together.
It feels like yesterday only when we remember the first friend made in childhood and, of course, college who made us discover ourselves, the strengths that lie dormant within us or the truth told on our face that led to tussle. The parties we had and where we got drunk, throwing each other into the cold pool of water and pulling each other’s legs, calling funny names was pure madness. The cherished moments in life where only a true friend who shouts at us for being laid back and doing things wrongly or flunking exams. Sometimes, I wonder where have all those days gone! Every day was special where we woke up to meet friends, forgetting to comb our disheveled hair and spending time on sms, busy making plans. It was pure bliss.
Intoxicated with the joy of friendship was pure bliss when we grew together to chase dreams, spending years that seems like a lifetime in college where we burned the midnight candle, getting notes Xeroxed. Our friends were the partners in crime and nothing could be done without the other. It was the golden rule of rebel and consuming happiness, loitering throughout the night, getting stoned and heart batting for each other.
Reveling in our joys and passion,we took our friends for granted till it slipped our minds that those days almost came to an end when we parted and drifted in different parts of the world. The near perfect days would never come back and no amount of tears would make us taste this juice of friendship like we did for the first time. Some friends have drifted over small and petty squabbles. Yet! The moments spent together were truly priceless and showers of blessing from the sky. Like siblings, we don’t choose our friends but an invisible force that brings us together to experience unlimited happiness in life to make the sweetest memories to trace ways into our hearts.
Missing those eternal friends who keep defining me and made friendship sacred. Friends forever! Friendship that goes beyond the physical realm of attachment for the strings of the souls are weaved together and the ones who left us early to their abode.
Smokey days of friendship;
Pot of friendship;
Fags and ashes;
Last drop of alcohol;
Money we borrowed from chums,
never gave back.
accounted for memories and times of friendship.
Emotions keep us alive;
Sharing morsel of food, thumps-up, candies or fags.
you were the first one to know, friends.
Stoned to death.
Saturday night frills.
Crush and girls,
Our friends were the first to know.
Where have those days gone?
Only memories remain.
We smile, laugh and cry.
Happy Friendship Day
Friendship Day is celebrated in India on the first Sunday in August.