Who are the people we think about most often? Which incidents and experiences flash across our minds and eyes every so often? What are those things that make life worth living? I am not sure I know the answers to these questions, but I do know that my life has been beautifully painted with the love, warmth and friendship of a number of people, and, I feel that a few days before my first wedding anniversary is the perfect time to remember them, thank them and God for having brought them in my life.
MAA and PAPPA– Easily the best parents in the whole wide world. Apart from owing my life to them, I believe I owe my existence to them. The two words might seem synonymous, but my existence for me is the sum total of my experiences, values and beliefs. They are what differentiates me from others -what makes me, me. Maa and pappa havent just taught things- they have always led by example. The greatest comfort and assurance for a daughter is the fact that no matter what happens, she will always have her parents for her, and I am very proud to say I have that assurance. Cheers to the best parents ever!
GUDDI- Only sisters can appreciate and understand the bond they share. For quite some time, I regretted not having an elder brother. I was really sick and tired of being the elder one and showing understanding toward my younger sister. However, as we grew up, I realised how lucky I was to have a sister, and that too someone like her. We still have our share of fights and take turns at putting each other in a spot, but I do know that I really cannot have a better friend than her. For all her wisdom, patience, love and care, this is a great time to say thanks!
SHRIKANT- Well, he’s someone who really knows what it is to be there for someone, what it is to be a friend. Now a year into my marriage, I can safely say that this has been the most eventful year of my life. I have discovered more things about him which I love and have also discovered a few I HATE! However, I have also realised I love being married to him. For all the tomfoolery he does all day, he’s brought a quiet maturity to me. I have seen a new way of seeing things with him. We don’t always agree, in fact we mostly never agree, but DAMN! he’s right on most occasions and I hate to admit that. I have seen how forgiving and giving he is. He has always dug into the food I make with gusto and has braved my culinary experiments with a smile on his face and a pat on my back. He has always made me feel a part of his family and has eased me into his family with such dexterity that I now have not one, but two families. In this last year, I have only loved him more for what he is and hope it will always be this way. Thanks buddy!
DILOO- I don’t know if she’s an elder sister or best friend. She’s both, actually. My best friend and soul sister. The way we think, the number of times we have telepathy, the number of things that have happened to us together is just spooky! When I had first joined the organisation where we met (she was my boss), a lot of people told me that they found us to be similar in a lot of ways. We had the same sun sign, we were both left-handed, Gujaratis, who had graduated from the same institute and department! We, of course did not find anything common between us for a long time, till we became friends. I thought she was cold and “khadoos” and she thought I talked too much :). Since becoming friends, we have been almost inseparable. The amount of trouble and planning we have undertaken to be with each other at the slightest opportunity is phenomenal. I don’t think I would go through that much for anyone else. She’s weird in her own way, but I love her to bits! In the 4 years that we have been friends, we never really had a serious fight until sometime last year and though it makes me laugh to think about it now, it brought us even closer, if that was possible. Not a day goes by without me thinking of her. She’s the best thing to have happened to my life in a long long time! So, thanks baby, for being my best friend and soul sister!
SHARAD BHAI– Outside of my family, if there is a person who means the most to me, it is undoubtedly Sharad bhai. His love for me and Guddi is evident in the fact that he always, happily, did EVERYTHING we asked him to without a frown on his face, even when we both were irritating little kids! Whether it was taking us out to eat ice-cream, or simply taking us out for a ride on his bike, or getting chocolates for us, or taking us for garba during Navratri-you just had to tell him and he would do it with a smile on his face. Although he moved to the US many years back, and I miss not having him around like before, he makes up for it in a number of ways. When I had scored reasonably well in my 12th Board exams, Sharadbhai had not only called, but had also sent a huge packet of sweets with one of his friends who was coming down to India. It’s not so much about the sweets (though I love them), but about the fact that he genuinely cares. He never, ever forgets to call on birthdays! I can go on and on about him and still not be content. For now, it’ll suffice to say that he’s one of the most important people in my life and I cant thank him enough for all the love and affection he showers on us! Thanks Sharad bhai!
RADHIKA AND RAHUL DADA– Two of my closest friends! The three of us used to be part of the children’s gang of Kutir, who used to play together in the evenings everyday. Radhika always exuded calm and maturity and I loved her for that. The only good thing about changing schools in the XIth grade was that I met Radhika again! I hated the school, but loved the fact that we got to spend time with each other after a long long time. We have had some good times together. I remember going to her college in Anand and coming back in the crowded train. I remember the two years that I celebrated Rakhi with Radhika and Rahul Dada- I miss that now! Rahul Dada always remembers special days and never forgets to call. They are two of the nicest human beings I have known, and though Radhika and I do not communicate as much as I would like (given that she’s in the US and remains quite busy) she is one person for whom I am willing to do absolutely anything. Thanks Radhika and Rahul Dada for being so special!
PALLAVI, DADA, LISHA AND PRASHANT JI– My guardians in Ahmedabad! I was the youngest staff member, and was pampered and spoiled by these wonderful people. Though I hated my work, the only reason I spent 9 months there was these people. And when we left, we left together- and HOW! 🙂 I badly miss the lunch sessions we had together. I even managed to lose a few pounds owing to Dada’s brilliant idea of having only salad for lunch. The fact that he also ate only salad was the reason I could stick to it for some time at least. I remember the times we had planned dinners at my place when my masi was out of town. The Navratri when all of us had done garba together, the times we had been buried in work till the wee hours of morning, the time we had all gone to watch the stupid film “Maine Pyar Kyun Kiya” and the picnic to Taranga Hills are still crystal clear in my memory. I had some great times with these people and they all mean a lot to me! So team members-Thank you!
SAPAN– Easily the most focused person I know, and of course my oldest friend (we have been friends since kindergarten). Old photographs of us at each other’s birthdays still evoke fond memories and some laughs as well. Sapan was my only friend in class till Nakul came along. My disorganization and mismanagement (ya, I was famous for that even in those days) ensured that I rarely had my own stationery to use and whenever short of something, Sapan always came to the rescue. I suppose I was not a much adored character in school, but irrespective of what anyone said about me, Sapan always remained my friend. Be it helping me with Mathematics, or rooting for me in various competitions, he has always stood by me like a true friend and continues to do so. Sapan’s parents and extended family have always treated me like a member of their own family. I have had some of the most amazing times with Sapan and his family and for being such a great friend, I thank him with all my heart.
NAKUL– He’s easily one of the most intelligent people I know. Very well read, well spoken and articulate. And he’s also one of my closest friends. Nakul and I used to hate each other till the IIIrd Standard. In Standard IV, he got transferred to my class and we eventually discovered that the other wasn’t so bad. Thus began a friendship that has lasted all these years. Nakul is not only brilliant, he is also a wonderful human being. He has a disarming honesty about him which is rare to find. Like Sapan, Nakul has been a true friend and someone I can depend on. Thanks Nakul, for being a great friend!
ROHAN– I cant exactly remember how and when we became friends, but Rohan is a great guy and someone who genuinely cares about his friends. You can call him any time of the day or night and expect a patient hearing from him. He has done very well for himself in life and for all that he has achieved I am both, happy and proud. Thanks Rohan for being the genuinely caring friend you are!
SWATI– She’s the craziest friend I have and also the most adorable. I have absolutely loved my time at HDFS because of her. I don’t know how we hit it off, but it was instant and thankfully has lasted more than a year now. She has a whacky sense of humour and I can’t remember laughing like a maniac with any of my friends other than her. (with the exception of Shrikant). She is supremely caring about people who matter to her and can go to any lengths to ensure their safety. She’s also a bit of a hypochondriac like me, but who the hell cares! I love her forthrightness and her sense of right and wrong. She is also one of the very few people who readily accept their mistakes and aren’t in the least bit ashamed to do so. I don’t know how I would have survived my stint at HDFS if Swati was not there. Like I said, I love her craziness and that is what makes her so endearing to me. Thanks Swati- you are one of a kind! Love you!
SHRUTI– Shruti is someone who will force you to spot a silver lining even in a jet black cloud! No matter how bad the day or the situation, she has the ability to say something nice and lift your spirits. She’s very intelligent, extremely witty, and has an amazing vocabulary. She’s someone with whom you can discuss almost any issue under the sun. Be it films, books or politics, Shruti knows her stuff. We have had some great times together in college with all those quiz competitions and public speaking contests. Shruti is someone who always remembers to get you something, no matter how small. She is someone who always grabs an opportunity to gift things to friends! A wonderful human being and friend, thanks Shruti for everything!
SUJATA– Sujata and I were introduced to each other by a mutual friend, and ended up being great friends. She is one of the most patient people I know. I have hardly seen her lose her temper or say something bad about anybody. In fact I feel she’s patient to a fault. I remember how happy I was to see her at my wedding-considering she was tired of having traveled a lot prior to the wedding, I had not expected her to make it. But, she did, if only for a day. We have had a lot of fun going for those so-called morning walks and eating Dahi-puri on the rasta . Sujju- Thanks for being my friend!
SARAT BHAIYA– One of the coolest people I know. Stays calm and unruffled, no matter what. Whenever I have gone to meet him, I have always been gifted something-be it a box of sweets, a funky kurta or a beautiful mug. He was actually my first friend at work, and I almost bitched to him about Diloo (that was before Diloo and I became friends). He is honest, dedicated and a gem of a person. Thanks Sarat Bhaiya!
VICKY BHAI– Technically speaking, he is Shrikant’s cousin, but has been kind enough to adopt me as his younger sister. Given his training and professional background, (he is in the Indian Navy), he comes across as surprisingly unassuming, down-to-earth and calm. He was the only one in Shrikant’s family who knew about the two of us before anyone else. I know how happy Shrikant is in his company and how much he trusts him. Needless to say, I too feel the same way. It is honestly difficult to find someone as genuine as him. Shrikant and I always knew that whether anyone else supported us or not, Vivek would always do. Shrikant, Vicky bhai and I were always a team, and I used to eagerly wait for Vicky Bhai’s letters to me, which he would slip in with his letter to Shrikant. He’s a great guy and it has been a pleasure to see him be a part of our lives from the time Shrikant and I met, to our wedding, to now, and hopefully, always! Thanks Vicky Bhai!
ECHI– Shrikant’s sister and my sister-in-law. Wait- there’s another way to describe her too. She’s the Buddha of our family, or, the only human being I know who comes close to being a Buddha! Devoid of any feelings of malice, envy, anger, ego or greed, it is actually difficult to believe that a person like her exists in this day and age. She’s also the coolest sister-in-law I have ever seen. She’s a fan of peppy music, loves to dance, doesn’t care how you look or dress, and will never have a negative thing to say about you. Can you imagine what a relief it is to have someone who will laugh at even the stupidest of jokes, someone who is broad-minded enough to discuss anything under the sun and someone who is completely accepting of you? Shrikant and I both adore her and honestly, we can only aspire to be like her. Thanks Echi, for being the Buddha!
AMMA AND ACHAN– Any newly married woman will have some amount of anxiety as to how she will get along with her parents- in- law. Thanks to amma and achan, any such anxiety that I may have had was quickly put to rest. They have always been accepting, yet non-interfering. I have never felt the pressure of being a typical daughter-in-law in their home. In that sense, they have never discriminated between me and Echi, which is why I respect them so much. Going to Kerala is something Shrikant and I always look forward to, even though every trip means losing money to Achan in the game of rummy!
KANDI VELIAMMA AND FAMILY– My most enjoyable times in Kerala have been spent with Kandi veliamma and her family. They are a truly boisterous lot and in that sense are closer to my personality. I love trying to communicate with Ushechi in my halting Malayalam and her halting Hindi. I love the fact that Mimmi, Unnu and Kukku are such adorable cousins. I just feel like an integral part of their family. They are an amazing bunch of people and they add a lot of zing to Shrikant’s side of the family. Thanks to all of you- I couldn’t have asked for anything more!
JAGAT MAMA, MENABEN, CHARUBEN, JI MAMI- My most favourite family members. Right from my childhood, I have seen how they have stood by each other in times of need. It is from them that I have realized what it means to be a family. I also know that they constitute a huge and important part of my mother’s life and have brought a lot of fun and happiness to her life. The times I have spent with them in Ahmedabad over the last few years have been truly memorable and I love them all!!
ATUL BHAI AND BHARGAV BHAI- My cousins with whom I bonded at the time of my wedding. Atul Bhai came in early and helped manage most of the things. He was there when anyone required anything! He came for the wedding all the way from Kolkata, with his son’s board exams less than a month away. He holds a very special place in my heart. I was 12 years old when I had attended Bhargav Bhai’s wedding and it was great that he could attend mine! My brothers made my wedding a success and for that I’ll always remain grateful! Thank you, Atul bhai and Bhargav Bhai.
As I wind up this post, I realize I must be God’s favourite child for Him to have embellished my life with such amazing people. Whenever I have felt low, beaten or sad, thinking about these people has lifted my spirits and made me count my blessings. I can only hope that I will be able to bring a fraction of the love, light and warmth that you have given me to your lives too.