I always thought that after a certain age, it is difficult to develop friendships that are based on zero judgement, mutual respect and acceptance; since it’s a common notion that bonds of friendship that develop in school are the only ones that last, my belief became stronger.I have a very close circle of school friends that have been with me through everything and so I thought it would be difficult to find friends in Bombay that would be as non-judgemental, as loving and as caring as my friends back home. Little did I know that I was wrong.
For the last two years, I stayed in a PG with 11 other girls. Luckily, I had a small room to myself, so I didn’t face a lot of problems when I moved. In my first year, I initially got along with all of the girls in the PG, but I became good friends with two of them: Medha and Aditi. They’re both poles apart- Medha is extremely diligent and focused while Aditi is opinionated and whimsical. What these two share, though, are values like respect for one’s privacy, perseverance and patience. I love exploring and trying out new restaurants, cafes & monuments;Aditi is a big foodie and loves travelling so my bucket list became hers and she became the first person who would come to my mind when I read about a play screening, a restaurant opening or a new Terribly Tiny Tale. Medha, on the other hand, shared my love for old Hindi songs and Indo-Chinese food. We bonded over cheesy fries and “Urvashi Urvashi”. In my first year, the three of us were in separate rooms but in my second year, we shared a room, which brought us closer(not just physically!). Since I love exploring, we would fully utilize our Sundays by picking one area and exploring it. We had a Bandra day, a Powai day, a Fort day, a Mahakali caves day, a Byculla day and a Mandwa day trip wherein we would visit places of interest, eat good food, sit by the lake or the sea. One of the things I love about the two of them is that we don’t necessarily have to talk all the time. We understand and appreciate each other’s silences.
One of the things you learn while living with someone new is how to adjust. Since we were in different rooms in the first year, we didn’t have to adjust too much, but in our second year, we did. I sleep earlier than the two of them so they had to keep quiet. Medha studies regularly so we had to use our earphones. Aditi sometimes comes late from college and naps till the evening so we had to maintain silence. We often had to adjust when we had to dry our clothes since the three of us had one drying line in common. We couldn’t get our friends over when someone was ill or had an exam; we also spoke softly when someone was sleeping. These things seem very small but when it comes to making these small sacrifices, one often becomes very egoistic. I learned how to adjust and talk softly when someone was sleeping, how to use the bathroom and get ready without making noise, how to watch movies on my laptop at a very low volume and most of all, I learned that this process is mutual, and that if you find people who will sacrifice for you as much as you sacrifice for them, they are meant to stay and that is how life is.
I always refer to my school friends as my ‘bestfriends’ because for me, the word bestfriend means someone who will always be there for me, someone who won’t judge, someone who will always listen, someone who I can bare my heart to and someone will sacrifice for me, just the way I will. I’ve learned not to use the word bestfriend for too many people since it comes with a lot of insecurity, jealousy and expectations. When I came to Bombay though, I realized that it’s not how you label your friendship that matters. Medha, Aditi and I have never used the term bestfriend for each other, yet we’ve been there for each other, been each other’s pillars of support, seen each other through thick and thin, laughed and cried together, celebrated each other’s victories and divided each other’s sorrows. Medha was the one who comforted me when I lost a relative while I cried on Aditi’s shoulder the night I was at my lowest. They taught me that sometimes, it’s best to leave some bonds undefined. “Batane se behtar hai nibhana”
Although we’ve never expected a lot from each other and we’ve respected each other’s privacy, there have been times when I expected them to do something that they didn’t; but those instances didn’t change anything because I could talk to them when I felt something was wrong and sort it out with them. We have had tons of tiny arguments but we’ve never fought once. I feel that you may not be able to live with all your friends, but if you’re able to be friends with the people you live with, those are the bonds that are built on a solid foundation of trust, acceptance and love.
Aditi and Medha will graduate this year and move out of Bombay. I will also move to another PG. In order to mark the end of these amazing two years, the three of us decided to go on a weekend trip. We saw this link which said that an eco-resort named Avanti Kalagram in Mulshi(which is 30-45 mins from Pune) was the perfect getaway and that it was regularly visited by families and that there were a lot of trekking options nearby. We managed to convince our parents to let us visit the place and we hired a cab and went. Once we reached there, we had no signal on our phones, the place was deserted, there was nobody staying there that night except us, the staff consisted only of men, there were no phones in the rooms and the door of the balcony didn’t lock properly. There were only rocks there and the roads were too narrow; there was no route that we could trek on. We were alarmed and I immediately called my dad; I asked him if we should go to Pune since we felt Mulshi was unsafe and he told me to do the same. Since we had to go to Pune because the situation demanded that, we decided that we would be together that night, which was a Saturday. We let our cab go and went partying in our camping clothes and enjoyed a lot. The next morning, we separately went to meet friends and relatives in Pune and we came back in a bus. When I was in Mulshi, I was worried because things didn’t turn out as I had planned but that worry didn’t turn into fear because I knew that the three of us would be together and that we would get through it and even though the trip was definitely what we planned, the sense of security I experienced in that one moment reminded me of why we were so close and why we decided to go on a trip in the first place.
The realization that they won’t be there with me next year broke my heart because they had become my Bombay survivals, my daily diaries; Aditi helped me aim for the stars while Medha helped me stay on the ground. I don’t know if I’ll ever label them as my ‘bestfriends’ but they’re both living examples of what friendship stands for- mutual respect, care, sacrifice and understanding. I’ll surely meet them soon but it will be very hard for any roommate to fill their shoes. What helps me though is the fact that both of them will be just a phone call away. They’ve made me realize that at any point in your life, you can find friends who will last a lifetime, if you’re willing to try; it won’t be easy, but it will definitely be worth it. They taught me that not everyone is your ‘bestfriend’ and not all friendships are built on expectations but the ones where you do things for the other person without expecting anything in return are the best ones. Which is why I feel that the person you live with in a new city is the one you’ll remember for the rest of your life. Before I end, here are a few of our happiest memories:
I came to Bombay to study in a good college and explore the city but I realized that my so-called ‘exploration days’ would be incomplete without them. I’d like to quote Aisha from Wake up Sid at this point:
“Inn goals ko paane ki khushi tab hi mehsoos ho sakti hai jab unhe baatne ke liye koi saath ho”
If you have someone like this in your life, tell them how much they matter, tell them how much you love them. Unadulterated, non-judgemental bonds of friendship are rare these days. Cherish them. And as far as Aditi, Medha and I are concerned, we’ll always have each other!
“Ho bin kahe, thehra tu har mod par, oh yaara, mere liye,
bhula tu khud ki dagar, oh yaara, mere liye,
har kadam, sang chali, teri yaari ,
Iss bedhangi duniya ke sangi hum na hote yaara, apni toh yaari atrangi hai re!