Recently, I was extremely upset about one of those random things I get upset about. And I was talking to one of my oldest buddies. And as usual when asked, “How are you?” I said “I am ok” and then thought I shouldn’t be lying and said “I am not ok, but its just one of those things, it shall pass and I will be ok again soon”. And my buddy very sweetly said “You know you can talk about it if you want to”. And we continued talking about her most hectic schedule at the financial company where she works. Just when I thought that she has probably forgotten that I am not very “ok” she again said “You do know that you can talk about what is bothering you” and I once again said “No, its ok, I will be fine in some time, its one of those passing things”. And she didn’t say anything, she just sent me the link to this song. I was a bit surprised, it happens to be one of my favourite songs of all time. And it did the trick, I smiled and for some time forgot all about why I was upset.
Metallica - Nothing Else Matters
The friend I talk about is one of the people I have known for the longest amount of time, who has seen me through thick and thin, and stood by me through some of the roughest times in my life. She has laughed with me and cried with me, advised me on some really strange dilemmas and sometimes just been a person whom I could talk to for hours when I was alone in a strange city, sometimes strange country where I had nobody to talk to. Someone who has never really expected anything from me, but has given me unconditional support and has undying faith of my capabilities, telling me “You’re the best” at times when I have been really low on confidence. And now here is the shocker, I have never met this friend in real life. For all of you who have laughed at online friendships, for all those of you who have thought that “penpal-ship” and virtual friendships was one of those crazy teenage things, this will probably shut you up for some time, because this is a net friend that I talk about, whom I have now known for close to (or perhaps more than) ten years of my life and never met. When I first talked to her she lived not only in a different city, but in a different country in a different continent. And in spite of knowing that there would be very little chance of us meeting, we became very good friends.
Life sometimes turns out to be stranger than fiction. In my teen years, I was very fascinated about knowing people from different countries. So I embarked on pen friendships through some school programmes and had quite a few pen friends. But considering international snail mail was not the cheapest, the friendships were limited to one letter in maybe 3 or 4 months. And then the internet arrived. I got onto the bandwagon pretty young (little did I know that computers would become my profession and life later on) and was very soon hooked to all things that were on the internet. This of course included my desire to know people from across different countries and continents. I made a lot of friends including a very sweet girl from Bulgaria who knew very little English and was in a chat room to be able to learn the language as she dreamt of travelling to the US. You would think that it might be slightly difficult to converse with a person with very limited knowledge of the language, however it was not so. The blabbermouth that I am, I used to talk and this girl used to decipher me with a dictionary. And this continued, till she, along with help from her teachers at school and other sources learnt the language. There was no concept of blogs, but I remember writing these long memoirs to my friends in long never ending e-mails, which would drive them nuts. My Bulgarian friend also happened to be on the mailing lists, and I remember her telling me that she found my writing very engrossing and touching. I was surprised and I asked her how she could find it engrossing when she hardly knew the language and I still remember her exact words “The language is just the means to convey the thought, and I understand the thought, even if I do not completely understand the language”. Back in India I had limited exposure to how global cultures work, and I was surprised when my Bulgarian friend once told me that she had shown my writing to her English teacher, and her English teacher had immediately said that this is not an American person, it has to be someone British or Indian, because American English does not have such impeccable grammar. And hence I had learnt the nuances of American English vs British English.
Well, my Bulgarian friend did manage to master the English language, went to the United States for a short period, came back to Bulgaria, completed her studies, and being the ambitious and intelligent girl she is, bagged an awesome job at one of the top financial companies. She is in one of those extremely hectic phases of life, where she continues to juggle her studies (she is pursuing higher education) and a very demanding job, and she hardly gets time to talk. But we manage to stay in touch. I never thought that I will end up in Europe but here I am, and we keep talking of meeting up sometime, but it hasn’t happened yet. However after 10 years of being friends, meeting up seems to be just another trivial detail which doesn’t make much of a difference. As I say often, maybe we will meet up along with our grand kids someday 20 years down the line. Till then I will be happy to have her sending the “Nothing Else Matters” link when I seem to be upset without telling her the reasons why.