Friday, July 28, 2006

"It is always nice to see you,'' says the man behind the counter

I met up with my colleague Tall today after a long time. She has just come back from a long break, and we ran our old routine of unwinding over coffee. Tall, Maddy and me. Only this time we met at a different coffee-shop--a rather fancy, sprawling outlet tucked in a quiet corner of the road. Tall was late as usual, and just when Maddy and I had begun to fret (the AC was killing us, it was so cold!) she arrived like a whirlwind, and suggested we go for a walk.

I have hardly gone for walks with friends in this city. Not on happy walks at least. Like when you are all peaceful, and you don't talk. When you just stroll comfortably, listening to the beat of your heart, enjoying the companionship and the evening settling down slowly around you. Like a lot of things that I have left behind in my city of joy, this is one habit that has become rusty from disuse.

But today we did. Along a long stretch of the ill-lit bylane, the three of us walked, talking about our careers, talking of the future, talking of crises, of dreams and ways to live them out. As the halogen street-lights came and went, we talked of the divergent cross-roads our lives were poised at. Usually with Maddy around, it's difficult to have a sensible conversation, with one of us bursting into laughter every other minute over some antic of hers. But somehow today we were all mellow, and as is the way with old acquaintances, we were comfortable in our simultaneous roles of listeners and counsellors.

This year has been a whirlwind so far. So many things have changed in the space of a few months, so many old faces have fallen away, so much of our lives have passed us by, even as we have shuttled through the days with the speed of a jet plane. It's nice sometimes to stand still and catch our breath. Suddenly the kaleidescope slows down and you are left looking at the picture with new eyes. So much has happened to you. So much? Really?

It felt refreshing, our walk this evening. Sometimes we under-estimate the potential of easy camaraderie because we are so much in the habit of classifying relationships in to compartments. I know I am much more attached to Tall and Maddy than I will ever allow myself to believe. I like being with them. I like the certainty of their Tropical Icebergs and my Espresso Americano. Of Maddy's insistence on sitting outdoors so she can smoke, and Tall's knack of surprising us with little nuggets of gossip. We know they don't mean much really. That we aren't quite `BFF', as Maddy would say. But there's a warmth in our equation with each other and an honesty that we don't feel the need to question.

And nothing else really matters.

Then, the busy years went rushing by us
We lost our starry notions on the way
If, by chance, I'd see you in the tavern,
We'd smile at one another and we'd say
Those were the days, my friend...


Blogger nobody you know said...

beautiful as always! thinking abt SS and Illusion...just wondering...........

6:16 PM GMT+5:30  
Blogger Arthur Quiller Couch said...

When you cut them all away with your old skin, it doesn't hurt. Later, it hurts like hell.

That's a good reason to never let them grow on you.

6:48 PM GMT+5:30  

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