The first time I met Raji was at the Chennai railway station and she had bought a strand of jasmine flowers for me. It was the start of a beautiful scented friendship…. Then Raji and Mani moved to Chennai and I met Nisha, Vidya and Mani. I became “Bindu aunty” to Nisha and Vidya and Mani and I found Osho as a common interest. Several visits to his office and several more visits to their house cemented an already deep friendship.
Then they moved away from Chennai to Mumbai and we got into our deep hole ! Again they came to our rescue when we had no place to stay in Mumbai, we stayed almost a month with them. Not for a minute did it feel that we weren’t welcome and Raji’s constant encouragement was invaluable. Nisha introduced the “Kachi dabeli” at Vashi, now a lifelong comfort food at a roadside eatery near the railway station and we spent many an evening at the creek discussing many things …. I turned 28 at their home and Raji bought me a new churidar set for we couldn’t afford to buy one. Then we moved out of Mumbai and the Delhi chapter began for us in Aug 1997.
Raji and Mani’s Hyderabad sojourn began and they became friends of mom and dad. We met them several times in those years and Raji had drawn the “Lakshmi Yantram” on a piece of paper that is still in my purse – maybe that turned the tide for us. Delhi became our home, and Mani moved to Malaysia.
Sept 2002 – our first ever trip abroad and we went to Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. Met Mani in Malaysia, washed clothes at his house, went shopping with him at Carrefour and that’s where I learnt about instant tea for the first time. Mani bought a pack of that for Raji … Their love story still as strong as ever. The boy and girl who were neighbours, fell in love and remain in love – watching them with each other is like watching two soulmates who are inseparable ! Beautiful. Theirs is the story of how you rise in love – after the first instant of falling in love.
Today on the Indigo flight from Chennai to Gurgaon I asked for tea and they gave us instant tea mix – just brought back the memory of this enduring friendship.
And now when Nisha works with me – I have the pleasure of seeing Raji and Mani blend beautifully in her, she looks like the beautiful Raji and has Mani’s work ethic. So I get the best of both my friends and the added bonus of Advisor Aaliyah !! Bliss 🙂