Friday, July 23, 2010

An ode to my Bulgarian friend...

Someone told me that one should blog about ones most irritating habits. There are two benefits, One - you experience a lot of “self-realization” about how irritating you can be. Two – you might be enlightening some other soul who didn’t know that it was an irritating habit. So I have always tried to talk about my irritating habits in order to get rid of them. But some of them stay, it tough to get rid of them. Like this habit of me pinging/calling people when I am upset, telling them that I am upset and then not telling them the reasons. It gets on peoples nerves. But I have logic for this, if I am sad about something, talking about it, and re-iterating the facts because of which I am upset will only make it worse. So instead of satisfying my friends curiosity about the reasons, I try to focus the energies of everyone to more productive usage of trying to cheer me up.

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

And so I thought I should tell you about this interesting friend of mine.

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.


  1. How sweet. World is shrinking and it is difficult to remain pen pals. But the experience is wonderful. I do have a pen pal..Havent met him, yet we are so close. His dad knows me as well. Thats the level of friendship without having met and its beautiful.

    Person who truly understands you would even find the most irritating behavior of yours sweet and adorable. Your friend did the best. Kudos to her!

  2. :) I love that sing too. I really like the Apocalyptica version though.

    Pen pals! I only dreamt of having one when I was a kid. Felt like a very cool thing to do then. I never really made one though. With Orkut and all these messengers, it is now very easy to break ice with strangers and become friends. But somehow, the charm of "Pen Pals" is something extraordinary :) no?

  3. I was never into chatting, making friends online or having a pen-pal..rather until last year..with blogging, I started interacting with bloggers, most of them became a part of facebook circle and very few made to Gtalk..there are 3-4 bloggers who are now very close to me and I cherish them..

    pen-pal or chat-pal was definitely not a teenage thing for me, it was the silliest, dumbest and the most stupid thing to do..only vella people with nothing else to do did this :P ok, no offense meant to you or anybody for that matter..but perspectives change with time and same thing happened with me as well..

    irritating habits? hmmm, we all have my case, it's curiosity..if someone tells me that he/she is upset and leaves the matter, i get very very restless and curious..

    you are very lucky to have such a wonderful friend in your life..:) *touchwood*

  4. the best things to happen to me were my friends... i treasure them! after i got married i don't get to meet them so often, my 'priorities' have changed, but they never bat an eyelid. they're there for me whenever i need them, n i go rushing to them when they're in a fix. its a bond i can't explain. i just love them, and can't think of how my life will be without them... ur lucky to have sm1 like ur bulgarian friend. hold on to her, coz good friends don't come by often! :) Cheers!

  5. Nice post. I have a couple of chat buddies too whom I have never met but they are my good friends. Don't get much time to chat these days anyhow. I have only chatted with them for a few years, though.

  6. That is such a sweet post, Merlin. :) God bless you and your wonderful friend.

  7. This completes my day :) thank you..
    and when we talk of friendship, we may never talk about this rare one, which when found, is the most real ever :)

  8. Isn't it time you updated!? :)

  9. Merlin will blog, certainly. I am just on a sabbatical :). Sorting out some things in my life. Dying to get back to blogging, so rest assured I will be back :)
    Keep watching this space!

  10. To be honest, hardly read u posts... they being so long. LOL. But this one I did and it touched my heart. Probably the most heart-warming thing this entire month. I truly believe in what you wrote. I have been presented with the most wonderful of friendships of all times through the world of internet, probably not as long the time span as yours! But I happen to consider myself lucky for I got a chance of meeting more than a couple of my net-friends, lucky enough to be in the same city. And I know you can imagine the bliss as I see one of them married and his son calling me Aunty :)
    My wishes to you and your friend.

  11. Today happens to be a very interesting day as one after the other I am getting to read lovely posts.. It was lovely and throughly engrossing.. It is really wonderful how you people have managed to remain such good friends eventhough you haven't met once.. Now this is what true friendship is..When a cord stikes with a person, It's forever..:)