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Sunday, August 03, 2008

Friends in my life

Today is friendship day...and like most of us who have given thought to this day's existence in the calender year must have one question in mind...who are the real friends in our lives? So far as my life is concerned...I have my shares of trials and trivia to find out who true friends are. At the foremost its the family. Values that have been inculcated into my life and have kept me afloat through a quarter of a century are obviously gifted by them. Their support or rather influence is always there with me and is like a fixed asset. Through most of my early childhood parents and my sibling have been my best friend. Outside them was there really anyone else?
I think Draupadi, a local fisherman's daughter was a closest friend both for me and my sister outside our parents as long long as we had not been to school.
She's the one who will play the whole day with us when mom and dad will go to work. I remember her teaching us numbers, dancing, and our favorite castle building in sand. She left quite a long lasting impact in our lives. She for first time taught us to become creative.
Draupadi, I last heard was working with her husband for some large farmer in Bathinda district of Punjab. In 2006, during a reporting assignment I even tried to find her out in Saddepur village, near Gidderbah...(address as given by her parents)....but she was not be found...

After Draupadi it was Saroj for me. At the age of five I met him first in the school and we became the best friends. It all started with competition in the school and suddenly started appreciating each other's academic performance. I think he has been instrumental in deciding my future career. In a competitive environment I would always stand first and he followed, ut in mathematics he was 100 from class one to ten. I started with 100 in class one and ended at 75 by class ten. I did really well in every other subject. But losing in mathematics to him made me hate the subject and never strive for it. The result I'm a journalist today.
But remember at least 20 people who were worse in mathematics than me in school are either --techies, professors or managers --but all in the field information technology.
As expected Saroj is a techie too and lives in amchi Mumbai.
In intermediate days i had no friends from college. I was in the best science college in my state and though I was open to friendship no one else was. For everybody it was IIT-JEE or cracking some state level engineering or medical entrance.
This was the time when my female language teacher in the science college became my best friend. This woman was feeling out of place in this cutthroat island of IIT dreamers and equally fierce know-all science professors. In the period of two years we had discussed it all. The bad ones like the boring atmosphere, the fear of dreaming surroundings, her domineering science counterparts and the deadly subject mathematics. The most illogioal of all subjets. Where everything is based on 'let us assume.' The demons --Calculus and Coordinate geometry-- simply sucked.
She was like an oasis for me in that desert:) Here my friendship chapter ended in the eastern Indian city of Bhubaneswar. The language teacher continues to teach in the same college.
At 17, when I entered University of Allahabad in the true North Indian city, I discovered a whole new world of experience. The people here were too different from my earlier notion. I feared to have any friends here primarily because of severe ragging during the first year. Later I realized the social fabric here is torn unlike in Orissa. Caste and religion undertones dictated relationships to great extent. I was not to accept this. My best friends here were all Keralite Christian guys and girls. I just loved their temperament. Joshua, Edwin, Jincy, Sommy, Parthiva and many more names. All 44 in my batch were like great people. Being in the Christmas chorus, evangelicals...I liked every moment with them.
Bidhos Paul from Koraput, - a district whose per capita income is as low as Ethiopia -is another man who had been a great friend and philosopher in my life. Bidhos today works in rural development projects in interior tribal districts bordering Orissa and Andhra Pradesh.
Javed Jan from Kasmir and Junwa from Burma were two more.
After Allahabad came Banaras Hindu University. Here I had encountered brilliant people but simpletons. Here I like the Univeristy and its lirary the most. The Yoga classes, the evenings on the banks of Ganges. The city itself was my best friend this time. It changed me internally for sure. I nearly discovered my soul here. Friends who made my days here were Amit Kanaujia and Tripurai Sharma..both have been very influential. Whole dairy technology batch, laboratory, library and hostel staff, my Yoga guru. Islam barber, Bihariji chaiwale. Dr Prabha Singh, the law professor, Swetlana, the russian tourist were a part of my life here.

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