It started with Lindsey who decided to fly in on a New Year day to get a discount. I spent two wonderful weeks in company of this charmingly vivacious girl. There have been trips to Delhi to catch up with many a friend and colleague. The cream of it has been my time with friends at Syracuse and at Madras.
The partner of a friend’s “driving teacher” at Syracuse (of all places in the world) turned out to be a guy who had worked with Colin Gonsalves in India (I too have worked with him). This strange acquaintance turned into a warm friendship with David, Misty and sweet little Noe. There have been many memorable dinners with the trio, Asha and I. Eli was a special friend who acquaintance started with my trips to the Auburn prison complex (he’s in and out of it often). My program mates at SU have been wonderful. I had declared the spring semester of 2007 as my ‘culinary semester’ that I put to great use. Many a bonds were formed as the sambar boiled in the spacious kitchen at Syracuse. I should mention an ever-present gang of Indian friends and roomies at Syracuse.
I could not have returned to India at a better time. Within a week of returning there was the social audit at Villupuram where I got to spend a week with the wonderful Jean. The MKSS gang too was there. For the first time in years, I was not fully involved in organising a meeting. It was great to relax and to catch up with friends in the sidelines of a meeting. I relaxed so much that Ms. Kidambi, who had only seen the “grouchy side of me” actually managed to “discover” a sense of humour! She also discovered that I was a manipulator, but seemed very happy with it.
When I returned to India in July, I was excited that many of my college day friends were back in Madras. I should confess though that I was unsure of how often we could meet since quite a few got married. Hindsight tells me that I did not even consider the up side of this – that my gang of friends could increase with the ‘new entrants’. Our meetings now regularly include the spouses, and more has been merrier. Of course, there have been tête-à-tête meetings with members of the ‘fine arts gang’. We are now celebrating 13th year of sustained friendship. Ram has continued to invite me home so that Ranjini could pamper us.
As the year drew to a close I had many surprise meetings. The first was with Venky with whom I lost touch 13 years ago. A good mark of close friends is that when you meet them after long you just continue a conversation as if there was never a break. That just happened with him and with Sultan, who I met after 3 years. SS suddenly dropped in after 4 years to say hello. And finally I caught up with the impressive Priyesh today. He now manages his social work along with a full time job, marriage and a kid.
As a parting shot for the year, I spent a few hours with Balki talking all kinds of paraphernalia. Thanks to all these relationships, this year has a lot to cheer about. I have at least 7 more months in India and there’s much to look forward to in the New Year. It sure promises to be a Happy New Year.