Family or friend ? A rare family friend, Rajesh !

We were told by Anand, long before we met you on the Mangar ride, that we need to be careful about not littering non-biodegradable stuff during our ride or we will be asked to leave the group by you….. And I thought, “Mera bhai lagta hai”. :):) Well, as things turned out, I had guessed right.. you turned out to be my mother’s son in more ways than I was. 

There are many things to remember… Your dislike for tea stops while on a ride and Anand, Atam, Jasbir, Sanjit and my love for it. Just to state it for the record, your sudden love for tea stops hasn’t gone unnoticed. Your easy ability to talk to anybody in any village that we passed through and your dislike for those who came late for a ride. Well, it was nearly career limiting move when I asked Mohit to join for a ride once :). The fetish for roadside samosas and the recce ride at Bhondsi with Anand and you …. You guys did the recce while Mom, Krishnan and I enjoyed the peacocks. The first PY T.shirts to the amazing ones we have got made now, the first 100 kms ride, the Mangar challenge planning in your office and Manish getting delayed for it because he went chopping off his wayward locks, your pet dogs that chased Manish, and the very special ride when you, Ajay, Navjit and I got lost near the lost lake …. All special. 

We don’t miss any of these as much as meeting you and Manish early in the morning and the good morning hug … It started off the day well as did the ride. 

There are many things people will say for you, many names they will call you, some to your face and some behind your back, but for us, you are just family or just a friend … Actually a family friend. You are the first person I call when I need help because you will always pick up the phone, any time of the day or night and your number is our “ICE” number when we travel. You had the keys to our house when we were in Bangalore, but you had the keys to our heart from day one. You were more proud of my picture on the front page of TOI for ISB than I was and you suggested we do every district as part of the ShikshaDaan Yatra. 

Ok, enough of the good stuff, just like family, you are stubborn, difficult to deal with, you don’t listen to doctor’s instructions or Seema’s or mine and you don’t know the meaning of the word patience (just like my mom doesn’t). Just like family, you say nasty things about my non-riding days, ok months, and you know exactly when I won’t come for a ride after promising I would. But we tolerate you because just like family, you stubbornly refuse to let us down, or behave with less integrity or love us less. :):):)

We won’t say many happy returns for just this year because we know you wouldn’t want the last few weeks to be repeated…. So wishing you a happy birthday and may the years ahead be each better than the other. Lots of love, loads of best wishes and a big virtual hug till we can give you a real hug. 

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