Save the date

Amidst a barrage of emails in my inbox — that usually brims with the latest neurosurgery journals and questions from patients who want their constipation relieved after brain surgery, blended with random exotic Parsi humour that a pot-bellied Sindhi friend occasionally forwards — there was one that said, ‘save the date’.

One of my closest high school friends — who lived in Andheri’s Lokhandwala complex, travelling everyday to Ruparel College in Matunga, and later migrated to Singapore for multicoloured pastures — was marrying an Australian girl in Bali. There was a sublime smile on my face that reached my monumental ears, making me look like the guy straight out of MAD magazine.

 

I wasn’t sure whether I was happy because he didn’t have to commute those horrendous distances using Mumbai’s local trains anymore, or whether he had found himself an Australian girl to marry, or that, without second thoughts, I had decided to be there for his wedding — not for better or for worse but for good.

 

Knowing that friends with whom you’ve spent the formative years of your life (or chaddi buddies as we call them) have worked hard and achieved everything they have wanted, fills someone like me, who has had no contribution in their success, extremely euphoric. Not that getting married should be given so much importance, but just the fact that a gang of old friends will have another special one makes it ecstatic.

 

As one recollects lovely moments spent randomly across decades, all those memories tucked away safely in the crevices of the hibernating hippocampus come to the forefront, especially if you haven’t been in regular touch with them — memories of dissecting frogs in biology class and wrapping them in the handbags of salwar kameez-clad Anglo-Indian classmates; of dancing through vociferously festive Ganapati crowds just to be able to cross the road; helping this so-called friend find a medical excuse to break up with his girlfriend after he found out she had TB; bursting other people’s crackers during Diwali; using permanent colours during Holi; or of warming our hands on the exhaust of a bike while celebrating an impromptu and cold Christmas in Goa, and then waking up the next morning at 5 to see the sunrise, only to realise two hours later that we were facing west!

 

There will always be road trips and sunsets, airplanes and passports, but it is only with a select few that simple pleasures exponentially catapult into bountiful joy. All of us have a few of those people, and we are those people to someone else — a living, breathing, screaming invitation to believe in better things.

 

In today’s age of fragile relationships and mounting pressures, these get-togethers bring about an unadulterated nostalgia of pure revelry, however trivial it may be. If you hit YouTube and type in the words, ‘Reunion’, a video of two old friends, Yusuf and Baldev — who were partitioned by the Indo-Pak drama in 1947 and who meet after six decades with the help of some tech-savvy grandchildren — shows up. It has more than two million views, and successfully strikes an emotional chord. Watch it. Feel it.

 

As another year comes to a quick end, I notice white hair sprouting from the cleft in my chin. Like little children who’ve grown up before their time, I fear a time will soon come when all of them would mature, and as I carry this façade of a seasoned ripened look, the child in me will await another reunion where we, in sophisticated positions, will suck on kala-khatta ice golas and once again reminisce about times gone by; and no matter how many times we narrate the same incidences of our infantile stupidity, the laughter that emanates from the punch line will only get louder.

 

This year end is also a memorable consolidation for the community as the World Zoroastrian Congress comes to town. It’s another reunion of sorts! Parsis of various sizes, shapes and talents will gather from across the globe. HPYites across 25 years will bump into each other. Those who were in Don Bosco and St Mary’s will unite with their counterparts from Dallas and St. Louis. Pioneers in politics, art, journalism, science and culture will discuss the growth of the community and address the issues plaguing it.

 

There will be people with humble roots from various baugs of the country, now having made it big in North America, Europe and Australia. They too will return with their respective accents and bond with their bosom pals who’ve done the community proud here. The Parsi peg will flow, laughter will roar, and effervescent profanities will be exchanged amidst friends who’ve grown separately without having grown apart. They will excitedly exchange views of their blazing futures by gazing emotionally into their luminous pasts.

 

For occasions like these, you don’t check your calendar — you just save the date.

 

Here’s wishing you and your loved ones a Happy New Year.