Its was the first day of college, Sydenham beckoned. I remember my uncle (have written about him here, https://bit.ly/2tm5IBv) sitting me down for a chat.
He goes; Raja, remember two important things:
1. If you ever smoke pot, I will personally cut off your testicles and
2. You will meet a lot of people from now on; learn to distinguish between acquaintances and friends. The first category will be quite large, make sure the second one stays small.
And with those words of wisdom, I stepped out into the world. Not smoked pot yet and my circle of friends is determinedly small. Of that small circle, yet another smaller circle is the Greens Gang.
Named after one of our old haunts, “Greens” restaurant at Shivaji Park -y, Mumbai. Gang members (L-R) featured above:- Praful (Doc),Santosh, yours truly, Abhishek, Vaibhav, Ashish, Kshitish, Alpesh, Sarang (John) and Dinesh.
I have known these guys since around 2005, some knew each other, since even before. We have parted in terms of the company we worked for and in one case, the city we live in. Somehow our friendship has endured and strengthened over the years.
So a few observations about this gang:
- We were not a gang from the word go. Like all relationships, being friends takes a lot of work.
- It is not important for us to speak/chat/message every day.
- We continue to be friends, despite our differences, especially the political ones. Once in a while, a whatsapp post triggers off a heated debate until someone steps in.
- We cannot be more disparate in terms of personalities.
- When we meet, conversations can encompass sports, religion, children, science, conquests of the past, the shares that plunged, some book that was read, any song heard recently, memories of some trip, the political scene and what could have been. A few topics are evergreen and a must in all our meetings — e.g. Dinya’s Aadhaar
- When we meet, the liquor flows — as do the gaalis, packs are smoked, songs play softly, the ribbing is good natured, we gamble sometimes. Games when played are terribly competitive, some tantrums would put McEnroe to shame.
- We revel in our successes and support each other when we fail. We agree to disagree. We fight and then make up faster than Piyush’s train.
- We make an effort to stay in touch; very important this one.
- There is not a moment’s hesitation to reach out. A kind word, a frank opinion and help is always readily available
- All our holiday planning sessions begin with grand plans of Las Vegas, Bangkok and almost always end up in Goa. This year we went to Karjat.
Gentlemen, A small verse in your honor — from Simon and Garfunkel (Old Friends)
“Can you imagine us years from today,
Sharing a park bench quietly,
How terribly strange to be seventy,
Old friends, memory brushes the same years,
Silently sharing the same fears”
To more memories, growing old and Viva Goa….