Saturday, July 14, 2007

Bloody, bloody Mary

Just so you appreciate this momentous exchange, I was born in September.

***
A bunch of us were squeezed around a corner table in the cafeteria, getting to know one another at the beginning of the first term. As always I was lost, somewhere, and I snapped back at this tremendous point in the conversation.

M: “No way! I’m not a virgin”.

Not quite sure of where this conversation was going (or coming from), but suddenly aware that this was probably a good point to enter it I said: “so, you weren’t born in September, hanh?”

Thankfully none of the others heard this. Only M did.

M: “No, I’m not a virgin, or a virgin!

H: “Oh. That. I just... er... get excited when I hear the word vir...gin...go...virgo. See, I’m a virgin… go. Virgo-virgin. As in, the Sun Sign, y’know. [and a virgin, but you needn't know that just yet. Especially not yet].”

***
On the 14th day of July, Today, we complete ten years since the Best Friend and I met, a couple of days short of a decade since this luminous exchange.

While much has changed [and we’ve grown into swan-like sophisticated women, is what I’d like to be telling you] I’m still a virgin. In the solid, Linda Goodman sense of the word, I am.

I’m also pleased to report that over the years the Best Friend’s learnt much more about me. In fact I think she quite likes me. I too now know pretty much all that there is to know about her, which is why, since we’ve exhausted the reservoir of exciting-discoveries-to-make-about-each-other, we thought we’d celebrate ten years of being best friends over a couple of bloodies and a rich, expensive, not-counting-calories dinner at an exclusive restaurant, to bring the swing back into things. To rediscover what a joy it’s been to have made each others’ acquaintance etc.

Of course, this is beginning to sound very Sapphic. This celebration of girlfriend-anniversaries and all, but then, I think a decade’s a good time to celebrate togetherness with anybody, especially if they become a best-somebody in your life, and better still, through 10 years. And even more so because they aren’t family, which means that they weren’t forced/ arm-twisted/ incriminating-blood-group-on-birth-certificate-black-mailed into remaining ever-lastingly bound to your affection. They actually chose to stay. Self-inflicted.

Wow. I need to blow my nose now.

So, about the best friend. She’s the smartest, bravest, un-funniest, quirkiest, most tolerant, and sometimes most unnervingly exasperating friend I’ve ever had.

I admire her.

I love her.

I feel like pulling her ears. Sometimes.

Like the time she marched through this really unsafe dark dingy deserted narrow gali in Bombay at an hour approaching midnight, in the sort of place that gives you the shivers even during broad daylight, and worse still, with me in tow. I argued with her. I thought I saw shadows lurking. I said it felt unsafe. I said I had a strong instinct for this sort of thing. I said everything I could to not go there. But instead of just arguing like respectable people, she scoffed at me, which is a very bad thing to throw in the face of women’s instinct. And so, belittled and defeated [did I mention that I simply CANNOT argue with her?] I followed, clutching my large yellow umbrella in shaolin readiness. And all this for what? Ask. Go on, ask, dammit. All this for some soggy-arsed, ridiculously overrated biscuits from a famous Bombay Irani restaurant, which happened to be SHUT when we got to it. To celebrate her birthday, no less.

With M, I have realised, there is no limit to being unreasonable.

With M, I have also realised that loyalty can mean unimaginable things. Especially with a pissy person like me, it can mean holding on to, loving, and supporting your best friend even if she’s the rudest, nastiest, most disagreeable person to have walked the very narrow, very fragile path of non-blood relationships. It’s really fascinating how she’s held on, considering that even I’ve been tempted, often enough, to say to myself, “Look H, really, it’s been an absolute ummm…errr.. I can’t say pleasure, but it’s been a bloody intense experience knowing you. I love you and all. I mean, there’s no doubt about that. But listen, I really don’t think this is working out. You get?”

I get. Dammit. I do get.

But M obviously has a heart of gold and the hide of a particularly well-fortified rhinoceros.

M also has the most fascinating self-authored dictionary of definitions. Not just any kind of definitions. Definitions that map the many wondrous stages that relationships or non-relationships go through. The subtle, inconceivable and often unfathomable distinctions that must be observed, noted and acted upon while doing useful things like labelling and indexing a relationship.

Often she has, not without a hint of scorn lacing her indignation, exclaimed exasperatedly.

M: “No, no no no no H! How many times have I told you, that doesn’t yet make him a boyfriend!”

Under her fine tutelage, I can now identify, with the ease of a somersaulting chimpanzee picking fleas off her knees, the 4,581 stages that must be transcended before a boy becomes a boyfriend.

On my part, I can proudly claim to have taught the Best Friend a thing or two about National Food Conservation. At first I did it by patiently being the [uncomplaining] dustbin that has over the years hoovered up all the food she’d order like a princess.

M: “H, let’s order this, this and that. And that. And then, let’s finish with this.”
H: “Is that all? Are you sure? I mean there’s me AND you. Have you accounted for all two of us?”

But obviously, such silently dignified, suggestive sort of remonstrations did nothing to improve her ordering manners.

I had to resort to harsher measures.

H [sternly]: “I’m not leaving this restaurant till you finish, M.”
M [whimpering]: “but they’ve turned off all the lights, and they’ve upturned all the chairs.”
H [coldly]: “I don’t care. Polish that off, or we’re going to be here to greet the morning staff too.”

Such is my patience. Such is my conscience. Such is my relentless commitment to saving the Best Friend’s soul from great volumes of embarrassment when she is accusingly stared down by hordes of hungry disembodied eyes in the Afterlife.

But.

She isn’t just all relationship-librarian, food-waster and H-supporter. There are other endearing, respect-worthy, nostril-flaring-pride-inducing things about my best friend M.

She happens to also be one of the bravest, strongest, and most honest and committed fighters I’ve ever seen. She doesn’t resort to cheap things like yelling and getting pissy [like someone we know] and then settling back into complacency [also like the same someone we know]. She actually does constructive things about the things that move her, make her indignant, and get her blood racing.

Like the time she packed her bags and shifted overnight to Ahmedabad during the Godhra riots.

She went for a month, and returned after two years. She went as a volunteer with a well known NGO. Within a few days she branched out on her own [because she wasn’t satisfied with the commitment levels of the NGO] to bring together a spirited gang of riot affected widows, who, five years down, are not only earning their livelihoods more than fifteen times more successfully than they were earlier, but are also now confident advocates of their right to expression and freedom.

She did this without pay.

She did this without two square meals a day.

She did this, because she cares enough.

Obviously, I’d like to take credit for this, by association and all [you know how it is, being Best Friend to a Star - you become the mysterious source that finds clutches of anonymous fame in confirming rumours - I’m angling for that role].

However, being quite a well known household letter in international blogging circles myself, among all three of my very International readers, I think I’ll just settle for feeling lung-burstingly, heart-swellingly proud of her.

***
Here’s to surviving many crushes, almost crushes, almost relationships, not-by-a-wide-berth-relationships [and the fewer-than-my-two-big-toes reverently-unmentionable real proper relationship(s)] fortified by each others’ excellent counsel, and a certain dictionary-like invaluable tome of wisdom.

Here’s to loving The Bee Gees, Bloody Marys and Chilli Chicken [which is a proper-noun because it’s our National dish at our regular watering hole] with exactly the same intensity.

Here’s to ten years of being Best Friends! [This just called for an exclamation mark.]

13 comments:

houseband00 said...

Here's to you and your friends, H!

Cheers!! =)

Non-Sensei said...

some friend, that. inspirational, in many ways.
and 'nonsense boy'?? my my.

Lizza said...

I feel kind of envious of your Best Friend. She's obviously a terrific person, but I can't help thinking I would've loved to experience those things with you.... if only geographic (and age, duh!) circumstances had been different.

Though it would probably break my heart and ego to have you speaking coldly and sternly to me! :-D

B Ditty said...

I've always wanted a best friend, that wasn't a dog lol

B Ditty said...

although I love my dog very much

pRicky said...

We love you too Darlingest H...
We as in me and my tanhai which aksar sit a and talk...
if H was likt that to kaisa hota if H was like that to kaisa hota...
wet kiss smck on thou cheek...
*I am being extremely cheeky, forgive me but I got emotional*
pucchhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhheeeeeeeeeeeee

H said...

HBeee, thankeeeyooo. That calls for a toast to all of us. Cheers!

Nonsense boy ;-) nice na? Yes, she's quite something. Very very nice to see you here after so long!

Lizza, You shan't be saying that when I visit you. You're going to be rueing the day you invited me ;-) And what was that about age eh? RUbbish. we're practically the same age. Awww. I won't be nasty like that with you... not if you clean out your plate, na? hug.

Ben, Lol. did you say lol?
Lol. hahahahaha. [that's me going manic, in case you're thinking I'm all amused and happy] But I could tell you loved your dog very much from the post you wrote about her. [her na?... the one about having to let go of her]. Aw well, don't worry, you could always join M & me for a bloody [after you're 25].

why thank you Pricky for that most surprising but very welcome siblingly wave of affection! we shall most certainly have an endearing H-Pricky picture for posterity. Just send me your pic. though, once again, tell me, which was it? the frilly frock or the floral bolero that you'd like to be photoshopped onto? ;-)
hug back.

Tsu said...

Boy! she must be one hell of a person! I actually thought of my best friend as well and the crazy things we do that get on each other's nerves! and yet we love each other! (or so I assumed! Should go and ask her, I am sure I'll get an answer like are u going mush on me?? or are u drunk!!!??) :)
Cheers to ure friendship and the many more years to come!

B Ditty said...

I'm sorry for the "lol"...it just slipped :(

Prude said...

Ten years...thats a land mark!! The first thing that my best friend ever said to me was "You look like such a monkey!" I remember loving her even while hating her!!

Kudos to many more Bloody chicken's and chilled Mary's!!!

H said...

TSU, she certainly is! I'm so glad it made you think of your best friend -- that is the biggest compliment ever. Hahaha... You should go and ask her, and tell me what she says. cheers to you and your friend too! and thank you.

Ben. aww. see, you can make it the chorus of your random rant anthem and I promise I won't say a thing again. ok? now pull that smile out.

Prude, it sure is. yes. I kind of know what you mean by loving and hating your closest friends sometimes. cheers to you guys too!
But I'll bet you look nowhere near a monkey. At all.

NanNan said...

Wow-- the honour of being awarded your Best Friend trumps all others-Oscars, Emmies, Gold Medals!! That's what I love about you-- your passion and intensity ---I've never liked being associated with a goat---

H said...

A GOAT???!!!!!! hahahahahaha. well in this case, it pleases me to inform you, darling Nan, that you're associating with a multi-dexterous chimpanzee. who's now your blog-dawtah, no less. :-)))

But I'm not sure the best friend agrees with that.

However, hugs and hugs and hugs to you for being so optimistic.