Now that my husband and I can watch TV together for the first time, we end up having some really profound conversations with Don Draper who values loyalty above love. I place them on equal pedestals. I think it’s hard to be loyal if I’m not in love. And it’s definitely not love if I can’t be loyal. As someone who has been traveling throughout her growing up years, I see that the idea of loyalty and connection also gets diluted over time. If you change houses and often cities 10 times in 3 years, how do you define loyalty or make friends? In 2010, in a communication workshop at work, the trainer told us that he was habitual of skimming through his phone list every 2 years. Like a snake loses its hide, every once in a while. A lot of times, I lose friends, not just to travel but imaginations that stop growing. Some stay, forever. The power of being rooted, he said, wasn’t about being stuck, but being comfortable with where you came from. I’m perennially grateful for and attracted to people like that.
I’m now less intimidated with the fact that I have few friends. I find parties and large gatherings add to my anxiety. I like connections where I don’t need to look at my phone while I am talking or trying to fit in. I find people’s poor listening abilities inexcusable (especially where I meet them and repeat what I had said in the last meeting). As a person, if you can’t fully commit to being present and listen well, then we’re not meant to be. It’s not the lack of pathological empathy but just missing love. If I don’t feel it, I am not willing to share it. The two people I wanted to share my gratitude for today both come from very rooted existences, and in many ways are the opposites of me in people relationships. They are both well liked and have a method to their madness which I can’t replicate but am inherently a part of, for the longest time. They’ve seen me in my terrible naive states to a much more improved version now, but that didn’t change their behavior towards me. I feel just the same whenever we meet. And that says a lot about them than it does about people around them. It’s a superpower.
Day 16: Real friends say, tell me more.
Vishal and I know each other for 25 years now. We’ve had our offs and ons of poor communication, led by one of us. But every time we speak, we recognize each other’s voices. The reason why I talk about him on a professional gratitude project is because I owe him my writing dreams. I write and share because of a little diary he gifted me on a birthday at 14. He thought I could write. I believed him. I poured my teen heart out, till I found blogging as a medium. He’s also been privy to the largest piece of writing I managed in a wrung out state 6 years ago. The ugly first draft of a play that I can’t bear to look at now. It’s hard editing something that has preserved a part of my emotional innocence but is just badly written. And yet, he encouraged me in detailed ways. Tell me more, why George. He’s a reminder that I will constantly improve, because that’s what persistence brings you.
I was in sunny Ludwigsburg when I drew this picture of a cowboy. It reminds me of Mathew McConaughey in the Lincoln ads. Profound but casually so. There’s a ton of things Vishal can do, say and impress others with. He’s on an imaginary yellow horse that gives his ideas flight. He passes on this childlike inspiration and nostalgia that can’t be stymied on WhatsApp. He has a superpower of asking questions that are open and deeply involving, as if I were going to write a book on the Vodafone network in Kalindi Kunj. He remembers the strangest things in the middle of a weird discussion over the Modi Mill flyover. Like how Hum was a great movie.
Day 17: Some friends show me the power of being rooted
This time when I met Prakash again in Washington, for the third time, I realized I was grateful for him being who he was all these years. I have changed considerably since (there’s a God, thank you!). Perhaps we change when we’re constantly on the move, emotionally or trying hard to identify roots. As I have grown up, I have been able to connect with people who are rooted about themselves.
At work life, it’s the most empowering characteristic to stay connected to who we are and what we believe in. Sometimes, we get people in our life who show us how it’s done. I’m grateful for being able to see this side of Prakash and more newly Veena. It’s taken me a while to stop rebelling against the feeling of what I am. I may have spent years not to sound boring to people who didn’t care. Friends accept you in all your boredom. It’s so liberating to be able to go to a quiet temple, eat homemade food and just be.
Veena asked me a question as we started talking about college. I probably had the worst experiences in Pune, although I did meet my best friends there. But in general, it was not necessarily pleasant. There were a ton of people I didn’t like or stay in touch with. Veena was confused about who Prakash didn’t like. Because he’s consistently nice to everyone. I found that so amusing and heart warming. I don’t think I have that ability. But, Prakash does. He’s nice because that’s what you do. Likes and dislikes aren’t vanity metrics. You can only control and stay true to who you are. What others do is not your problem. It amuses me as I note this down. I find it so refreshing to meet and know hi-flyers who are sorted :-).
ps: the photo is my imagination of him from college and his antenna obsession on the top of our college roof 😀
As I was painting and thinking these over, I’ve realized I’ve become very yellow focused. I blame the sunflowers in our room. But it feels right. I’m done with a lot more paintings, so more coming soon!