Tuesday, April 6, 2010

An inconvenient truth

Friendship is not always convenient. There was a time when you dropped everything that you did for a friend. And friends did the same for you. Now is a time when people ask you to drop by “If you are this side” or “If you are not doing anything” and making plans to “catch up” which they have no intention of keeping.

This is an age of promises, of “must do” and of “like.”

Why doesn’t anyone say, “Come and see me?” or, “Can I come and see you?” Why would I want to do anything else if you want me to do something with you? After all, you are my friend and you happened to me much before the trappings of marriage, motherhood et al.

And yet, friendship, unfortunately does not operate on autopilot and takes work. Sometimes much more than a relationship. Since most of us have more friends than relationships, it takes work on different counts. And some people are more demanding, more complex, less articulate about their feelings than others, so you have to read between the lines.

I thought I was good with the motions. I never wanted to be one of those people who ‘forgets her friends once she is married,’ so I try harder to prove myself. Sometimes it is confusing, as people still look at you suspiciously when you say, “Call any time you want to unload, or you feel like a home-cooked meal” (that much therapy I can do for friends anytime)

But when you move from the world of singles to doubles (in my case, threesome, or fivesome, if you count the cats), there is a kind of reluctance that comes in making a plan with you. It’s like you are being punished for leaving the singletons’ clan, or that you have to try harder to be taken seriously, or that you are guilty until proven innocent. I think it’s unfair.

Yes, it is about maximising, and yes there are friends who would club you with airport rides or visits to Oshiwara furniture market, and it’s not that Bombay is such a large city, but I am willing to let that pass.

It’s almost as though the motions of friendships have changed from calls to text messaging. And that’s another can of worms altogether. The instant reply versus the delayed reply. The instant call-back versus the delayed call-back. It’s like saying, “Yes, I know you called/texted, but I have a life full of things to do, so it took me time to reply.” Do people really think that an instant revert means you are just sitting around with nothing to do?

So then, there are friends I have known for decades, now all measured about putting themselves out, and I am left wondering what did I do. Why so? Why has friendship (aside of a few exceptions, and thank god for that) become political? My theory is: it’s the imbalance of life. There will always be someone who has more money, a better job, a dream house, more sex, more friends, better networking capabilities than you, but in my world, friendship has always transcended such politics. Or has it really?


  1. A really thought-provoking piece Lalita - and it holds true regardless of the marriage factor. I can't relate to that, not being married myself, but I can empathise. I just spoke to a married friend of mine, and I always feel so much admiration for friends who juggle everything and still find time to think of me, call me, visit. Life is sweeter for the true friends... maybe marriage weans one off the not-so true friends?

  2. thanks shaista, but i think it's about more than marriage, although that seems to be a transition point of sorts. there are friends you always want to keep, and will do anything to. but what's sad is to go thru tests every time...and not be given the benefit of doubt. some things are just pure, agenda-less, although it's hard to keep proving so

  3. True. Have been following your blog for a while now, and this one totally resonates (the other being the bro, beau and beer @ 2.00am) I totally don't get the "will-not-revert-asap-lest-i-be-seen-as-loser-with-no-life!" Hell, isnt this exactly what makes us friends - being there, whenever, wherever, however - no questions asked, no reasons given. Maybe I'm just a romantic here...

  4. Why does it happen is a question we need to ask. Too much runs our mind as we go forward in life-we had met many, made friends with many. Also situations change and humans behave differently. Whatfore and wherefore you want to meet, call or say something to someone, that someone may not be available.

    understanding of others situation and not coming out heavy on the other is what friends do. True though that this happens and sometimes still when once friends just turn to mere acquaintances.

  5. Never thought in my life before that life can take over u in such a big way.
    But claiming life back has been fun and i hope friends friendships and frills never change for people like us

  6. Lalita, I believe what you experienced stems from a very deep, but very real alienation that single people feel once their friends are married. Having experienced firsthand this sudden downgrade on my friends' priority lists once they get hitched, I can assure you that you are on the happier side of the exchange.

    Maybe what you went through is what many single people resort to as a coping mechanism, a way to protect themselves from being heartbroken when friends are no longer a phone call, a chai or a beer away. Don't take it personally.

  7. Believe me, I have been on the other side far longer, which is why i consciously prioritise my single friends. Somehow, you never get the benefit of the doubt.