Friday, November 18, 2011


“You don’t expect me to be wearing THAT???” and both of us smiled. We just knew this is what Anju would have said. Shaila, anju and I had been friends for the last thirty years. We met as 8 years old. Through thick and thin, marriages and divorces, birth and death, across time zones and continents we had stayed connected. For the last couple of years we were all in Bombay and each other’s support system. Kudos to girl bonding, though at 38 none of us would actually qualify as girls!
Sometimes we envied anju’s single status and sometimes we pitied her because of it. She knew that and loved us all the same. She seemed pretty reconciled to singledom and led a full life with her practice and patients, plants and nieces she doted on. Yet it seemed unfair that such a loving, giving person was actually alone.
Cupid struck unexpectedly and soon she was spending a considerable amount of time with her new found “friend” Ashish. He was her co-worker’s brother. A widower who was much of a workaholic as her! Of course our approval mattered and on a dinner organised by me, ashish won hands down. They had similar interests and seemed comfortable in each other’s company. None of the awkwardness and trying too hard that usually happened. They were also old enough to know the differences were vital too. Anju admitted that she liked his company yet didn’t know if marriage was really needed. A holiday in the hills...a bout of flu and she said yes when he proposed yet again. Anju being anju was matter of fact about it even when she told us.
Ashish was a lot more excited and so were we. She wanted the wedding over a weekend so everyone could go to work on Monday. We all scoffed the idea but agreed that a simple court wedding was a good idea. She wanted everything simple and low key and reminded us sternly. We tried to look suitably mature about it but her thirteen year old niece one evening declared that this wasn’t fun. Anju said it wasn’t aishwarya abhishek’s wedding so everyone needed to calm down.
She forced us so we had to do things behind her back. Like organise a lunch post the court wedding at her favourite restaurant with her favourite people. We got her bookings at the fancy spa and beauty parlour. She had to be begged and cajoled to go but came back looking and feeling awesome. Next came shopping and as usual the muted shades and practical saris is what she wanted. So we bought the peach and pink chiffon with zardozi work, behind her back.
She kept working and going through life like it was someone else’s wedding. There was just a week to go and ashish casually mentioned that she was seeming so edgy these days. One evening she snapped at shailia’s daughter when she mentioned a mendiwaali. It was clearly a case of nerves and we decided to do an all girls dinner. We told her it was ok, everyone goes through this before they get married. Whatever age and stage. She stopped mid sentence and looked at me...”really?” then she started talking. She didn’t want any fuss because she was scared. She didn’t want ashish to think of his first wedding, she didn’t want his family to compare and she didn’t want to look silly.
Amidst much hugging and moist eyes, we assured anju that nobody was judging her. she knew she was being illogical. A trait that she was so unfamiliar with. We promised not to rib her about this or tell ashish ever. We told her what we had done and how her masi was also arriving from Gorakhpur the next day.
It was a lovely evening at home, with a dholak and folk songs. Anju and all of us had mehndi applied. Ashish’s mom sang Marathi wedding songs and anju blushed as much as any bride to be...

Sunday, November 13, 2011


“You know why, you’re still single?” a friend’s mom asked him angrily. “It’s because you’re closest pals are single and no one wants to end this party” we laughed out loud..yet amongst the gang I know all of us said a silent prayer and thanked god for having each other.
The gang began with about seven of us who were in our twenties and full of dreams and ambitions. About ten to twelve years later we are about ten of us, with a few from the orginal days. What our gang has is the fact that we are all single and our support system. Sure, we love our married and hitched friends. Yet there is some hesitation that has crept in. Both sides try to deny it. Yet that smug married vibe has set in. And I for sure can sense jealousy too!
For me, it was tough when about five years ago, I wanted in...again. From being a single who was loving it, I suddenly crossed over. Got married, moved cities, changed worlds and thought this was life. My single pals kept teasing me on how I had done a volte face yet I knew they loved me all the same. I did not make time for any friends or family for that matter caught up as I was in creating the perfect marriage.
It went kaput. The house of fog came crashing down. I was woken up with a jolt and all I felt like doing was curling up and going back to sleep. I moved back to my city. Family and friends held me together and almost protected me like I was made of glass. Actually put me back together.
The way parents saw the situation, the way siblings wanted me to be, the take married pals had, it all made sense. Yet what the gang said rang even more true. They were home. They had accepted me back as one of them, I didn’t feel like I was at a half way home. Didn’t have to laugh at couple’s ribbing each other or get ecstatic when a four year old learnt how to say balloon.
I could just vegetate on the couch all day at my artistic pal’s place and know that she would go out and have a good time if I insisted I just wanted to watch tv at her place alone.
My crabby banker buddy who just asked no questions but would land up at the crack of dawn to make sure I went for a run with him. I didn’t have a choice. He never asked me what went wrong and yet knew the answers. My physical and fiscal health was what he took over.
The dadima of the group who had been through hell in her marriage, quietly started nourishing my soul. We just did the things we did before I moved. At first it seemed a bit forced but she just wouldn’t let me brood. It was so endearing this act that neither of us dared to stop the charade.
Then there was the intense brooding pal who never had been a favourite. The truth be told, I had a crush on him and he was the confirmed bachelor. Yet once I was back the unspoken equation we built was comforting. He just bailed me out of situations and conversations that were uncomfortable, with uncanny precision. Without expectations and the complications of sex, here was yet another space that helped the healing. Just a late night drive on a monsoon night with this gang worked so much more than any therapists’ session.
In about a year, my well meaning siblings and smug married pals were trying to get me hitched again. I came back from those evenings feeling like I was being stubborn and unreasonable. So I went on a couple of dates. Most of us in the gang dated. Yet when someone gets serious, it’s stock taking time. So it happened in my case too. Like S the banker says, since each of us is the other’s mom, dad, sister, brother, shrink, banker and confession box. So we have to know what we are going to be dealing with. Am sure it can be daunting for a new comer. All that scrutiny and checking out. Yet it’s fun. So when after a couple of times, we all realised that the guy was just not comfortable in his skin, “we” decided it was time to bid adieu.
It’s been almost five years now. Together we have made it...for all of us. I have my own home, a job I love and the guts to dream again. That’s a lot. We all have to be there for each there and that’s a commitment this amazing group of people has. It’s never easy yet this is one roller coaster ride nobody wants to get off! Someday we will all grow old together. In a commune, by the beach. Single, Successful and Senile....

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Thich Nhat Hanh

“When we walk like (we are rushing), we print anxiety and sorrow on the earth. We have to walk in a way that we only print peace and serenity on the earth… Be aware of the contact between your feet and the earth. Walk as if you are kissing the earth with your feet.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh