Saturday, February 28, 2009

Friends in the times of facebook


In my early school years I was almost an outsider- watching other kids play. Having spent my first few formative years in Muscat, I was not aware of the games children played in India. I watched on most of the time while they played all the usual games of our childhood.
As times passed and I grew more comfortable with my surrounding I made friends more easily. In the '80s when there was not much T.V, no internet and hardly any contact with the rest of the world, my friends filled a part of me that I now know was void. They made me whole and enriched my life in so many different ways.


The world of a child in the '80s was like a dream. We played. We laughed. We ran barefoot in our neighbourhood and the parents never told us it was ill-mannered to barge into our friends' house at any given time. We played stupid games, watched the Sunday evening movies together and broke into meaningless laughter without any provocation or reason. Every morning we would eagerly wait for the school bus to take us to school so that we could meet our classmates. And we would be equally eager to go back home to we meet our friends in the neighbourhood. Life was a continuous cycle of fun and frolic. When the school broke for summer, we went to our home towns with our parents to visit our grandparents, to Kolkata, Lucknow, Bangalore... We would write letters to each other during the break and look forward to joining them again two months later.


College was different. We had learned to be more responsible. So life was no longer just a game. It was also going to the college canteen, (we responsibly split our expenses) bunking lectures, (one person was appointed to be the responsible one who would industriously take down notes for all of us) and going for movies. We would responsibly carry our ID cards so that we could sneak in to see an adults only movie even when we were below 18. Throughout my college years, my friends formed a support system . They helped when I missed lectures, accompanied me when I had to go to distant libraries or any other places for any work and gave me courage to face the world when my heart was broken. We would call each other at odd time and just talk for hours.


Every thing changed when we started working. Financial independence gave us that extra confidence but we also learned the key words that later helped us to navigate our lives better. Team work, deadlines and intercommunication skills. Coming from diverse backgrounds we slowly learned to depend on each other, have faith in each others abilities and give each other enough space to bloom. No more barging in unannounced. At work with my friends I learned to work hard and party harder. I had my first drinks with them, and learned for the first time to live my life away from my parents. Truly coming of age moments. There was still no internet and cell phones. At least not in India. My friends still communicated over phones.
Now, after so many years, when I started to track down my old friends, I discovered a totally new world. In the times of internet, friendship has taken a new status. So now I know every minute as I follow them on twitter or facebook what they are doing at that precise moment. I know when they have a showdown with their kids, when they feel overwhelmed at work and when they simply feel bored. My friends who are now in distant lands like Melbourne or Washington or Hongkong, know what my home looks like or what interest my children even without coming to my house. The social networking sites have completely changed my idea of a friendship. I love it and can not get enough of it. I comment on their photographs, join their fan clubs and take part in their quizzes. Though, sometimes, just sometimes, when I am a little sad and need a bit of encouragement, I miss the days I could just drop into my friend's house for a cup of tea and a little chat. I wish we were still living close to each other or meeting every day at work. No amount of status updates can ever replace a warm hug and a friendly laughter when you are down.


At least not for me.


1 comment:

sujata said...

I agree wholeheartedly, nothing beats a cup of tea and a simple 'adda' with friends..definitely not hours of netting and hollow status updates