Down the memory lane – Newly married to becoming young parents… friendships and everything else in-between:
It was an incredibly special time of our life; moving to a foreign land for the first time, learning to run a household, getting to know others with similar stories and waiting for the weekend to arrive…this is one of the earliest memories of my newly married self.
On a warm September pre-dawn hour, waiting at the Anna International Terminal, Chennai, clad in a white chikankari salwar-suit with pink embroidery, I nervously waved good-bye to my parents. I had butterflies in my stomach, with a mix of excitement and the fear of leaving my loved ones and going to a faraway land. While I was sitting and sulking, with tears threatening to spill over, I stole a glance across the vast waiting lounge to find a similar scene. A seemingly newly-wed couple, saying good-bye to their parents; there is only one difference though… here the girl seemed to be bubbling with excitement and not in the least bit melodramatic, like myself. I was intrigued and puzzled but couldn’t help admiring her exuberance.
After the final hugs and good-byes, the couple started looking around to settle down while the visibly cheerful girl walked towards me and started making idle conversation; we started talking and what do you know! Wonder of wonders…we were both traveling to the same exact place. Okay… this is just some wild co-incidence. Next, our husbands shook hands and talked about their professions and voila, they both were software engineers and working for the same company. Wow… now, this was getting a bit too surreal. So far, so good; it was really comforting for a nervous-wreck like me to know we were travelling to the same destination and to know that I was not alone in this. So reassuring. And you are not going to believe what we hear next … he was going on deputation on the same project in the same office as my husband! How uncanny is that!
So that’s how I met one of my good friends even before I left my mother land. Of course being newly-weds and taking our first trip abroad were a few things we had in common; which was more than enough to get us chatting. Being an incurable introvert myself, I was a little reserved but not this new friend of mine… she would regale me with tales of her college life and how she met her husband with such enthusiasm that it was easy to fall into an easy friendship with her.
Thus started our journey together on that warm September night; from the time we landed and took a studio apartment to our first meal in the US at Burger king, relishing the onion rings which were as close to our South Indian onion bajji as possible…Everything was going great, with a few exceptions of pangs of homesickness which would creep in quite often. All that is still so vividly etched in my memory…
Together we would shop for furniture and lamp-shades for our new apartment, go strolling around the apartment complex, visit neighbourhood shopping malls and libraries, hunt for a nice used car and plan our weekend trips. Being an out-going person, she would drag a hesitant me to visit other Indian neighbours and thus making new friends.
Soon we had a great big circle of friends and planning lunches and activities together became a norm. A couple of years rolled by, with a few leaving us and new friends joining in… it was also the time when we had our first babies and bought new houses back home.
Somehow, living in a foreign land brings people together like no other. We learned from and supported each other. We were like the family we didn’t have close by. The get-togethers and the parties we had, the meet and greets, the play dates for our toddlers and pre-schoolers; It was a way to keep ourselves creatively occupied, and perhaps, to keep the emotional void, which threatened to crop-up now and then, at bay.
Some friends were a little older than others and they were the wise ones we looked up to for advice. Those were the years of watching each other’s kids, working on each other’s houses, helping each other move in or move out, cooking for each other’s dinner and birthday parties and encouraging each other just by walking along the same path with them.
Years apart can’t erase the memories of friendships like that; we may be miles apart, but those memories will always stay fresh in our hearts. When some of us do meet, we laugh at old jokes and enjoy catching up on the big and small things that have made up life since we were together last.
I am sure so many of you could relate to this post… Do drop in a few lines of your memories of those bygone days!!!