I am not the kind of person who keeps track of all the special days, except the birthdays I must remember and do something about (or else face serious consequences). The only other kind of days I care about are bank holidays. So, the various UN mandated special days is indeed beyond my cognitive capacity. Add to that various media and special interest defined 'days', and I am sure there are more than 365 of these, and I bet this would go to anyone's mental capacity except those very special people who keep their special diaries which note every such days and who can tell you exactly which day they first had ice-cream. So, I conveniently depend on them, now that there is facebook and a reminder is always handy, to flag up special days, and then generally ignore them.
Friendship Day could have been one such day, but the intensity and enthusiasm on Facebook caught up with me. Yes, this was to be expected - Facebook is one giant 'friending' system and if nothing, it must celebrate friendship (I also have a sneaky feeling that they had invented the day, but may be not). Friendships are so important in my life that I just couldn't ignore toasting for it, though I consider the idea of designated days inherently silly.
As I mentioned before, when I left school, where indeed I made my first friends, my life was destined to be very very predictable. With some effort, I could have sat down and mentioned what possible jobs I could have, where I would live, who my friends would be and who I would marry: The good thing about my generation was that none of those turned out as expected. Indeed, I just had a little Oh My God moment as I wrote the word 'generation' which made me sound so old, but that is more or less an accurate way of describing people who finished school in mid to late eighties in India. We were in college when both Indian economy fell of the cliff and the dismantling of welfare state started, and at the same time, the Indian politics fell of the cliff with a mosque being destroyed in North India and the secular state was consigned to history forthwith. With all these upheavals, our lives were suddenly a toss up, not just in terms of where to find employment, but the opposite - an opening of a bewildering array of possibilities which we never thought possible and which has not yet stopped unfolding. Suddenly, people were travelling from one state to another, even outside the countries border; suddenly, Internet brought the real possibility of chatting with lovely looking Russian girls or forthright Americans in our drawing rooms. The expectations all changed, and with it, our relationships. Friendships, which were so far constructed on pure accidents of place of birth or family connections, were suddenly up for grabs - more people were meeting more people just as they chatted, travelled and went to study elsewhere.
What I am trying to claim is that I belong to that generation which experienced the real two-speed friendships, some old and solid ones, which lasted a lifetime and change of circumstances, alongside many 'weak ties', facilitated by travel, work and the Internet. I shall go on to claim that we may have got some of balance, as our lives were played out in two parts, rather unlike the earlier generations, where friendships were local; nor like those who followed us, whose real friends got crowded out by the virtual ones, and who, as a fifteen year old rightly told me, considered their virtual friends real and the local ones 'accidental'.
This does not indeed mean that I got everything right. I could recount too many broken friendships, where a little time and effort, old style time and effort, could have saved it from decaying: In one case, when we met after several years, we spent an evening silently wondering what to talk about and came back with the feeling that relationships become irrelevant as time changes, never to meet again. Some of my college day friendships were saved only because the other parties, my friends, were forgiving and generous, and they allowed my indiscretions long enough for me to realise my mistakes and how valuable these friends are to me. Also, I had this wonderful circle of friends when I worked in India mid-nineties, who I really adored and loved spending time with, but mostly lost touch as I started my own business and eventually left India, only to be reunited with all of them through Facebook only very recently. But, being in this position, moving from place to place, job to job, doing various things, having various interests, as my life has been so far, I have started gathering several strong 'weak relationships', people who I meet only once in a while, but those I love and appreciate, those who I can spend time with, indeed want to spend time with. This includes several of my employers, with one exception, who I grew fond of and keep in touch on a regular basis.
So, here is my final toast to friendships: I am only beginning to realise the value of the distant ones. It is not just that my circle of friends have expanded as I travelled and lived abroad, it is also my nature of friendships that have changed. Suddenly, I feel connected to people who live in a world completely different from my own, and while earlier I would have treated that as a barrier to friendship, it is the norm for me today. In a way, I don't have many friends who I see everyday or talk to, mates to go watching football matches with, but my life is surrounded by many extraordinary people who inhabit different realms, do different things, watch different sports and live in different places, yet all of whose lives intersect with mine whenever both of us need it. Yes, I may not find someone to go to pub with right now, but I have many who I can share my anxieties and dreams with, though this blog or elsewhere, who value and love me, and I do likewise.
It is only appropriate that I am reminded of friendship day on Facebook: In my life, the idea of friendship seems to have changed irreversibly.
Popular posts from this blog
A friend has recently forwarded me a quote from Lord Macaulay's speech in the British Parliament on 2nd February 1835. I reproduce the quote below: "I have traveled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such calibre, that I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and, therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self-esteem, their native self-culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation." The email requested me to forward me to every indian I know. I was tempted, but there were two oddities about this quote. First, the language, which
Nations are ideas. We try to fashion them as territories. But how can a river, a mountain ridge or sometimes an imaginary line in the middle of a field can explain the wide division in the lives, thoughts and futures of the people who live on different sides? Nations are not the people too. Indeed, people build nations and become its body. But the soul of the nation is an idea: People come together on an idea to build a nation. While that's what a modern nation is - an idea - and that way exceptionalism is not an American exception, very few nations are as completely defined by an idea as Pakistan. There was hardly any political, geographic or military rationale of Pakistan other than the idea of an Islamic homeland in South Asia. [In that way, the ideological brother of Pakistan in the family of nations is Israel] This, abated by the short term political calculations of some backroom colonialists, created a modern state which must be solely sustained on that singular idea. Religi
This post is a reaction to Aatish Taseer's evocative obituary of secular India in the Atlantic ( read here ). While I agree with it mostly - and share the reservations about the direction and the future of India - I differ with the author on one key aspect: I do not agree with his portrayal of a resurgent Bharat eating up a secular India. In fact, I believe while Mr Taseer regrets the Indian elite's loss of connection with the realities of day to day life of the country, his very presentation of Bharat and India as oppositional entities stems from that incomprehension. While I understand that he is only using these categories as RSS uses them - to effectively other the English-speaking elites and non-Hindus - I believe it is a mistake to describe the profound changes in contemporary India as the ascendance of Bharat. I grew up in Bharat. I never learnt English until late in life, when I started working. My growing-up world was one of small-town India, vernacu
Today, Helen Goddard, 26, a highly popular music teacher of a City School for Girls, has been sentenced to 15 months in prison. Her crime was to carry out a year long lesbian affair with one of her pupils, who appeared in the court and admitted that the affair was consensual and it was she who pressured Helen into the affair. For Helen, a bright musician and a devout Chistian, this is an extraordinary lapse of judgement. Also, she was teaching in the £13,000 private girls only school in London. She was surely aware what the consequences of her action will be. The fact that she still could not stop herself tells us that lovers do not always act rationally, something we always knew. There is more in this affair than personal tragedies. For a start, this has all the dramatic elements: a bright, beautiful teacher more in Julia Roberts mould [as in Mona Lisa Smile], a stiff upper lip school [not unlike Wellesley] and a story like Notes On A Scandal with an added twist. Indeed, Helen was gui
Introduction : The Business of Gift Giving Business gift giving has always been common and contentious at the same time. Business gifts are usually seen as an ‘advertising, sales promotion and marketing communication medium’ (Cooper et al , 1991). Arunthanes et al (1994) points out that such gifting is practised usually for three reasons: (a) in appreciation for past client relationships, placing a new order, referrals to other clients, etc.; (b) in the hopes of creating a positive, first impression which might help to establish an initial business relationship; and (c) giving may be perceived as a quid Pro quo (i.e. returning a favour or expecting a favour in return for something). The practitioners of gift-giving generally argue that doing business is often an aggregation of personal interactions and relationships, and gift-giving should be seen as a natural way of maintaining and enhancing these relationships. ‘Business gifts, especially one given in the course of the festive s
In most societies today, making profits are accepted as moral, if not especially praiseworthy. This was not as obvious as it appears today – people used to be embarrassed about making a profit not so long ago. Crazy as it seems today, it is worth thinking why it was so. Profits, as economists will put it, is the reward for risk-taking, for putting a business enterprise together in the pursuit of an objective. In this definition, remember, profits are not what it is commonly understood to be – the gross middle-line towards the bottom – but a figure net of entrepreneur’s earning [wages for his labour], dividends and interests on borrowed capital, and provisions for building and other physical assets [a sort of rent, offsetting what these assets could have earned if leased out]. This pure profit – surplus – accrues to a business as a reward to its organisation, for the act of entrepreneurship itself. Economists were divided on how this surplus comes about. The conventional wisdom was, as
A lot of conversations about Kolkata is about its past; I want to talk about its future. Most conversations about Kolkata is about its decline - its golden moments and how times changed; I want to talk about its rise, how its best may lie ahead and how we can change the times. In place of pessimism, I seek optimism; instead of inertia, I am looking for imagination. It is not about catching up, I am arguing; it is about making a new path altogether. It had, indeed it had, a glorious past: One of the first Asian cities to reach a million population, the Capital of British India, the cradle of an Enlightened Age and a new politics of Cosmopolitanism. And, it had stumbled - losing the hinterland that supplied its Jute factories, overwhelmed by the refugees that came after the partition, devoid of its professional class who chose to emigrate - the City's commercial and professional culture evaporated in a generation, and it transformed into a corrupt and inefficien
Introduction: Hastings in the history of Indian Education Whether or not one includes Warren Hastings in the history of Education in India is a matter of perspective. If writing the history of education means writing the history of schools, the impact of Hastings' administration would be quite limited. If anything, the rapid implosion of local rulers in Eastern, Southern and Northern India during Hastings' tenure had meant a bleak period for the indigenous education system, as patronage and funds would have dwindled away for many of them. The Company administration really concerned itself with the schooling of the natives only after 1813, as Nurullah and Naik rightly pointed out ( see my earlier post ) and one can legitimately start the story at this point. However, if history of Education in India is to encompass the transformation of Indian Scholarship, on which foundation the new, colonial, system of Education would be built, the story must start with Warren Hast
Introduction Erna Petri née Kürbs, a farmer’s daughter from Herressen in Thuringia, arrived in Ukraine with her three year old son to join her husband Horst in June 1942. Horst, an SS leader inspired by Nazi ideologue Dr Richard Walter Darré, settled in the plantation of Grzenda, just outside today’s Lviv, to become a German Gentleman-Farmer. Erna saw Horst beating and abusing the workers in the plantation within two days of arriving there, which was, as Horst explained, necessary for establishing authority. Erna joined in enthusiastically, settling into a combination of roles of ‘plantation mistress, prairie Madonna in apron-covered dress lording over slave labourers, infant-carrying, gun-wielding Hausfrau.’  However, there were clear rules in the plantation, and Erna was very much expected to play the woman’s role of being a Cake-and-Coffee hostess. When four Jews were caught in the estate while trying to escape from a transport to a death camp, Horst told Erna and her female
The story of British influence on Indian Education, to which Macaulay's Minutes of 1835 belong, has been told in six distinct phases. Syed Nurullah and J P Naik's very popular and influential History of Indian Education calls these 'six acts' of the drama: From the beginning of Eighteenth Century to 1813 The British East India Company received its charter in 1600 but its activities did not include any Educational engagement till the Charter Act of 1698, which required the Company to maintain priests and schools, for its own staff and their children. And, so it was until the renewal of its charter in 1813, when the evangelical influence led to insistence of expansion of educational activities and allowing priests back into company territory. From 1813 to Wood's Education Despatch of 1854 The renewal of Charter in 1813 re-opened the debate, which seemed to have been settled in the early years of the company administration, between the Orientalis
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.