The huge surprise was spoiled because of you knowing me well enough and that blasted intuition of yours but atleast it was a surprise dear Hareesh !!
I don’t remember who introduced us in Pace Elcot way back in 1991 … I think it was during the lunch break that Babu Chitappa (Mr. Chari) who introduced us. And like I said to many of your cousins on Monday, our being colleagues was for a short while but our being friends has been forever. From those crazy Kinetic Honda rides to drop me home to your being worried about my walking on the road yesterday morning – what a distance we have travelled together. Then our bankruptcy and do you remember paying the last few instalments of my sewing machine? I don’t remember paying you back and if I haven’t then it is remaining as dues :).
Then off you went to the US. Krishnan and I have always admired that single minded focus on getting a better education and your deep belief that it was possible only in the US at that time. You were right of course. India had not even gone through the first cycle of liberalization and I remember Amudha sending pictures of his leaning on a swanky room sized car from the US. So your plan was just the right thing. In the process we lost contact for a few years as you went off to the US and we went off to Hyderabad. Then came the internet in full force and you were amongst the first people I searched for. Managed to find your email ID from your college scholar list and I sent you an email. You hadn’t seen that email box for a long time and then you opened it sometime and we got back in touch around 2000.
By that time you had married Swapna and Ashwin was born. Swapna and I became friends as easily as you and I became friends because I guess the values and outlook towards life were similar. I came and visited you all in Houston in 2004. We went to the NASA space centre and then to a “mock” meat restaurant where they used Soya to make all the non-veg dishes. My first experience of eating “meat” which wasn’t meat at all.
I don’t know whether you remember this – in 2000 when we got back in touch, your first question was about the status of our loans and you offered to give me $1000 which you had saved at that time. You were just starting out in the US and it wasn’t as if you had a huge bank balance but still you wanted to help. That spoke volumes of you as a person and what our friendship meant to you. Thank you Hareesh – that gesture touched us more than you will ever know.
We kept meeting on and off over the years since 2001 and that memorable train trip from Agra back to Delhi feels like it happened yesterday. Ashwin telling me “Bindu aunty, as long as you are with us, we are safe” hahahahahaha… all because I fought with all the people in the coach who had encroached on our “reserved” seats :):).
On Monday as you celebrated your golden birthday, it was a privilege to be there amongst your relatives as a close friend. Finally you got to eat a “decent” cake without icing and made by a bakery that supports an NGO and you almost tried to draw a PC’s motherboard on the cake as you tried cutting it into pieces. Thankfully Swapna rescued it in time and we were able to get a slice instead of gathering the crumbles :):).
Your cousins, uncles and aunts spoke about your stellar qualities and I agree with everything they said. Some of them spoke of your guest lectures – and I wanted to say that I was your first student. You taught me everything I know about hardware and that knowledge has helped me all these years. Its no wonder that the colleges want you to keep coming back for more lectures because you are gifted. For Krishnan and I, you, Swapna and Ashwin are very very dear and our friendship means the world to us. As I told you, Amma has shifted all her loyalties to Ashwin. She remembers him almost daily – especially his going to the kitchen and asking her if he could help with something and then the one Hindi word that he used effectively “khatam” !! Guess that is to be expected because grandchildren and grandparents always gang up.
All of us wish you the very best always. A very happy 50th birthday and many many many happy returns of the day. May logic bless you and rational thought keep you healthy and may you learn to love Hindi …. guess you can give up the fight now, TamilNadu has slipped on so many parameters that Hindi imposition is irrelevant :).
The orange looks good on you and just to set the record straight, am wearing a handwoven pure cotton sari. The weave is a double ikkat with the Telia Rumaal motifs. And I don’t dry clean my sarees because that harms the environment, I use soap nuts to wash them. Btw check out the Sri Krishna sweets store at the airport – they use compostable bags that look like plastic bags but aren’t. I will post a picture soon about them.
Looking forward to seeing all of you in Dec. Till then enjoy, let go and chill.
p.s – am not explaining the “decent” cake stuff. Wonder how those boys are doing though 🙂