FRIENDS… A NOMAD’S FAMILY ALWAYS!

Returning to the city you love the most, where you remember you were the happiest… How does that sound? Lovely right! How does moving away from family, leaving behind an uber sweet toddler just because life demanded it sound? Definitely not that great! This combination of lovely and not so great was how my 2020 began. I resumed a hostel/PG life after 5 yrs in my most favourite city Chennai which I had left 4 yrs back.

Chennai wasn’t new to me but the happening OMR definitely was. Thankfully I found a good PG in a beautiful gated community nearby. I did not have much expectations or anxiety about roommates for I had dealt with 7 before – some good and some bad. I moved in and just in case you aren’t familiar with the ambivert world, I was that extreme introvert which our world defines us to be until we get comfortable with anybody 😉

My roomie was K, while there were 3 other flat mates. The mentally healing soul I was, rebuilding a full-time career, there were days I would stay cooped up in bed battling with my overthinking brain. K walked in on one such day knowing nothing about me with a plate of piping hot dal chawal and potato sabzi. Our friendship kickstarted and I am sure she had days wherein she wished it hadn’t, for all the torturous leg pulling I did to her later 😀

Then there was a new girl M who moved in to our apartment and became an acquaintance. She being from Bhopal, our interactions were rooted on her learning 2 Tamil words in the morning and 2 Tamil words in the evening religiously and it was fun. These girls already had friends living on other floors and thus our interactions were limited to a bit of chat after dinner time. I, on the other hand knew none and found solace in solitude.

As the Govt.announced a lockdown, people in our PG block fled home while me and M couldn’t, for various reasons of our own. With work from home becoming the new norm we ended up seeing each other’s face regularly. Our gated community had very strict rules and the only time we stepped out was to buy groceries. Amidst jumping on to the trend of banging on utensils and showing our mobile flashlights as the nation did, M and I discovered that we had a common love – DANCE!!! From a random conversation with her, we decided to practice, deck up, record and even upload our amateur performances on social media 😊 It was fun and well received, although a few in number.

One key thing lockdown taught all of us was how much we paused from our busy lives and looked closely at the people around. Such was our case as we met the twins N & J, who happened to live across our floor (and probably one among the few occupants left) I never knew they existed on that floor, thanks to M’s bit of extroversion who had known them in a “hi-bye” stance. How many of you knew the old style of friendships made between neighbours by borrowing coffee powder or any essential? Well.. I have seen and so that’s how this friendship started. M & I were craving to make some fried fritters and these guys had the necessary utensil for it, a kadai (although they themselves didn’t know it! Men and ignorance, I say 😉) Considering the fact that we had borrowed a kadai, we were under the obligation to offer them the fritters (lol). I would also like to register the fact that it took us 3 hours to make a few fritters considering our super-duper slow induction stove.

Slowly the friendship built and weekend movies in our own living rooms became a ritual we looked forward to (Well, not me in 100% considering they scared the hell out of me with horror movies! ☹) Jokes apart, this trio definitely made the lockdown beautiful and memorable. This lockdown friendship would stand testament to the fact that you do not need anything fancy to make connections with people. All we had was an apartment, some movies, dumb charades, few walks when allowed (Of course, my amazing culinary skills too 😉). Those who follow me on the gram would have seen the couch in front of which my yoga shots are clicked. The same couch became our comfort zone for the movies (while I ended up dozing many times). Things as simple as watching a sunset together can foster deep friendships and I must say we played the most hilarious dumb charades ever! However, this did not last long for me as the three of them packed their bags to their hometowns, heading towards their future opportunities. Little did I know it would leave a deep void in the residence and the heart. We ambiverts are a weird species I say! As much as we find happiness in solitude, our hearts place way too much value and attachment with the people we connect with. Quite a messy game oxytocin plays in us!

While I was trying (struggling) to get adjusted to an empty flat and empty corridor, a couple of my colleagues moved in to the same floor and one to my same apartment (Gi), while (Na) became my neighbour. (Gi) brought in her fiancée as well into the circle (Ga) and thus I had some amazing times with this trio too. While the former trio fueled the heart, this trio fueled my passion. (Na) was an outstanding photographer who gave visual life to my singing videos. (Ga) was a pro of the digital media and taught me a lot. This worked so well that I even bagged a prize in a virtual singing competition hosted by my PG. These two men also fulfilled one of my long pending dreams of learning to ride a bike with all the patience in the world without batting an eyelid. The three also went all out to celebrate my 30th birthday. (Gi) and (Ga) were promoted from friends to family and me becoming greater friends with (Gi)’s mom & sis than her :P. (Ga) royally took on the role of the brother I never had. For someone who did not know a single soul while moving in, a lot of my colleagues moving in made me feel like a ‘Don’ I can say.

Life went on like this for more than 6 months until a sad news came. Our PG asked all of us to vacate as they were closing down the building. Not even in my dreams did I think that such a day was going to come, not until I decide to move out. It took a lot of time for me to digest it and look for a new place. As much as this place had become home away from home, I at least did not want to step out of the gated community we were living in, for I still cherish the walks here. So here I am amidst the shifting saga, taking a walk around the community to reminisce all the memories here.

My parents migrated out of their hometown for their careers and I never grew up amidst relatives. Friends of my parents became family and similarly my life isn’t something which revolved around cousins, but only friends who took on such roles. I guess for migrants like us that’s how life is. This move, probably being my tenth one in the last eight years, sums up the myriad of experiences life has given me. For somebody who expected a hostel life last year, I was blessed with a feeling of home which made things like meeting my family only once in a quarter bearable. While I now hope the new hostel stint would be shorter, I hope it is sweeter too.

Amidst my anxiety, the only thing I keep repeating to myself is, “Change is the only constant”.

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