Friendship is something I value a lot in my life. I recently read that everyone must have some ‘specific’ types of friends. That made me think about the ‘must-have’ friends I need to have especially during this phase of my life, midlife. It occurred to me that even a handful of friends is okay; after all it’s quality that matters, not quantity. I have put them into a few categories as follows:
- Anytime friends: We can rely on them for anything, any time, even at odd times in case of emergencies. They will help us if we have a function or a party at home or a close relative needs help in our absence. We can confidently delegate any issue to them, and they will pitch in immediately.
- Soul friends: We can share anything with these friends, absolutely anything. They are always willing to lend us a shoulder to cry on, if needed. They sometimes act as emotional boosters when we are down in the dumps.
- Bold Mentor: These people will tell us openly and bluntly if we were wrong in a particular situation, and suggest remedies. They will act as mentors by giving timely advice, and we can confidently go ahead with it, without a second thought.
- Foodie friends: They would know all the eateries in every nook and corner of the city, and sometimes even outside the city too. They are always hungry and planning the next meal, and they make us hungry too! And they love to experiment with different kinds of food. Sometimes they come up with some weird combinations of food. But they are real fun. 🙂
- Workout/Yoga friends: These folks are great motivators and get us to do any workout / yoga / meditation even if we’re not in the mood for it. They will also make sure that we do it on a regular basis. Working out with these friends help us to stick to our resolutions.
- ‘Same-passion’ friends: They can help us to make our dreams a reality. We can talk about our common interests passionately for hours together. We may even get new ideas through all the brainstorming that happens.
This led me to think of all the friends I used to have, and those I still have. I scanned through my life to identify whether I was lucky enough to have such friends. In each phase of our life, we acquire different kinds of friends, and some of them easily fit into one or more of the above 6 categories.
Cousins are the first friends we have as children. They are the only friends guaranteed to be there for the rest of our lives. (Hopefully!) We literally grow up together sharing the same grandparents. Our friendship with our cousins develops in our grandparents’ home. They are the ones with whom we would have fought the maximum, both verbally and physically, during our childhood. 🙂
Our friendship with neighbours usually starts before we begin school. They may not be our age, and are mostly plus or minus 3 or 4 years. I was lucky to have one such close friend from my neighbourhood. We used to visit the nearby Althara Devi temple on a daily basis. We were the only devotees present in the temple on Sunday evenings when Doordarshan used to telecast movies. In those days, Doordarshan was the sole TV channel and there was just one movie a week! During exams my friend and I used to make special entreaties to the Devi, giving a breakdown of the exam schedule and the details of those exams where we needed extra help! I am sure, the Devi used to know our public exam timetable better than us! Even though the two of us moved to different cities after marriage we are still in touch. Nothing has changed between us. Whenever we meet occasionally, I still have the same old laugh with her over the same old jokes.
School friends are the ones with whom we grow up while playing and studying together. I started my school life in Sisuvihar UP School which is named after Sri Sarada Devi, wife of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. In those days we used to call our friends along with their initials like ‘Bindu Veeyessay’ (Bindu VS), ‘Sheela Peeyaaray’ (Sheela PR) etc. (In case you are wondering, in Malayalam the suffix ‘ay’ is often added to the name when calling someone, equivalent to the prefix ‘hey’ in formal Sanskrit or Hindi!) It used to come so naturally to us in those days that we didn’t realize that we are adding the initials also. A friend of mine was only known by her initials (BK). We used to call her ‘Beekay’. Another thing I remember is that names like Bindu and Beena were very common, and one method to differentiate between them was to prefix their height to the name. Thus we used to have a ‘Kochu’ (little) Beena and a ‘Valiya’ (big) Beena in my class. This practice was later carried over to our college groups too!
College friends can be classified into many groups; best friends, casual friends, combined-study friends, assignment friends, bus friends, hostel friends and ‘hi-bye’ friends, to name a few! Best friends are those who even know about our first and last crush during college days. Even after these many years we can be sure that those secrets are safe and secure with our best friends! And their secrets safe with us too. 😉
Sometimes ‘hi-bye’ friends or casual friends turn out to be best friends later in life and vice versa— the irony of life!
My postgraduate period was the shortest of my entire school/college life. But since I was living in the hostel those ‘less-than-two-years’ gave me real good friends. I lost touch with one of them, and located her after 8 years on the opposite side of the globe! Nowadays we chat almost daily as if we were still in our hostel room, though I am 12 hours ahead of her! During school and college days we didn’t realize we were making memories, we just knew we were having fun!
Later, after marriage, we may be forced to join the husband’s friends’ wives’ group, especially if we have to relocate to a place away from our home town, where we do not have any friends or relatives. I was really lucky to get a wonderful group of friends in Bangalore when I moved there after marriage. Also my husband’s best friend’s wife became my best friend too! A few neighbours also became good friends at that time. I am still in touch with every one of them though I have moved away from that city.
Then come work friends. During our career development days, we spend most of the time at work with so-called ‘colleagues’, and if we are lucky we may find some good friends among them too like I did!
Time flies whether we are having fun or not. By the time we hit our midlife, thoughts of leaving our job for spending more time with family and friends arise, and then we start searching out our old school/college friends. Again, if we are lucky we may find them in the same mental state where we left them, no matter which corner of the globe they (and we) are; kudos to technology! Then we slowly start appreciating so-called quotes like ‘Time is more valuable than money’, ‘We can always get more money, but we can never get more time’, and so on.
Then we start taking initiatives for arranging get-togethers. Some friends turn up and others may not. An annual get-together would take a maximum of 2 to 3 hours. If we live 30 more years (high expectation…eh?), the total time we get to spend with our old friends is 30 * 2 to 3 = 60 to 90 hours, which is 2.5 to 3.75 full days. This is assuming we have the health and convenience to attend all the get-togethers in the coming 30 years and, most importantly, our children allow us to do so!
Anyway, always remember you can be with your friends just 3 or 4 more days before you die! So whenever you get a chance to meet old friends don’t give it a second thought, just grab the opportunity and relive your old memories. The most valuable antiques are dear old friends!
When was the last get-together you attended?
When did you last talk/text (not the usual forwards) to your school/college friends? If you can’t remember then please do it now!
BTW, were you able to find at least one friend in each of the 6 categories I had mentioned in the beginning of this post? I hope I will also get a nomination in one of the categories when you make a similar list. 😉
Happy empty nesting! 🙂