Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Staying (dis)connected

One of the greatest wonders of life, according to me, is the ability to communicate with a wide set of people, identify a select few with whom you think will share an unknown closeness, back your instincts and give it all you can to be in touch with them. Many a time, I have pondered how much a new face means to us after some point of time.

How many of us really keep in touch with our old friends? All of us have met so many people since childhood that the number keeps increasing by the day. We lose track of some of them just due to the sheer number of new faces that we meet everyday. Obviously, you give it your best shot to stay in touch with all, but the inevitable slowly seeps in. The good old days of yesteryears is slowly forgotten. The hourly phone calls are replaced by daily phone calls, which soon turns weekly and before your realize, it has already become bi-monthly, until one fine day it dawns on you that you haven't spoken to your friend in a year. You think, by then, it is too late, and the shameless guilt in you prevents you from reaching out to him then on. It's quite a sad story, really! But, why is it really difficult to stay in touch with everyone? Let us consider the statistics. I had about 100 people in school, 150 people in Pre-University college, about a 200 during my Engineering, another 200 during my Masters, and top it off with another 300 away from the academic circle (jobs, neighborhood and common friends). The accumulation process takes the count to close to a thousand people in the last few years, and the addition has just not stopped. Obviously, it goes without saying that I am not close to everyone in the group. It has always been a handful at every stage, where you get to know a few of them really well, and the rest just make up the numbers. Considering that I was close to at least twenty people on an average (the number is really high during Masters and abysmally low when it comes to high school) at every stage, that brings down the figure to about hundred people. Keeping in touch with hundred people too can be a daunting task. That's when the importance of emails and social networking sites are realized. Just to keep in touch, Orkut is phenomenal, but for all other purpose, it is nothing but an absolute time consuming exercise leading nowhere.

Imagine the prospect of meeting all these people sometime in the future. That would be phenomenal, but will I really have the chance to meet them is the big question. It is a scary prospect to realize that I will never meet some of them again in my life. There are many with whom I have spent all my time talking loads and loads on issues that mean nothing to others, waging little wars that have no economic impact, trying to gain an upper hand in trivialities, boasting about nothing, when finally you realize that whatever is happening is so momentary and on-the-spot. The sad part is, you have no idea how all those wonderful moments translate to nothing but memories for the future. I am sure I have used this quote many a time in my blog, but some sentences can be repeated time and again. Your guess is as good as mine; the quote is from R K Narayan, who in Bachelor of Arts says, People pretended that they were friends, but the fact is they are brought together by forces of circumstances. How much more can a sentence be plain and hard hitting!

Everybody is on the run, all of us wanting to be something in life. So, on the way, you meet some and bid goodbye to some, and in the process, you realize that you might never be meeting the person whom you bid farewell. In plain words, the farewell is as good for life. I know I have to stay in touch with many, but in the quagmire of daily chores, I am sometimes lost in the absurdity of life where short term relief masks everlasting happiness, giving me a chance to reflect on these uncertainties, bringing me to reality with a question that pounds my mind often Why?


  1. I feel every experience, every person that you come across, will add something to your life, to your thoughts; some can be good and some can be bad. Life is different for each of us and if you notice, we somehow try and keep in touch with the ones that we want to, and we do that unknowingly.

    Its the worst to think that you may never meet a person all your life, coz there's something called 'Hope' and there's something called 'Circumstances'. So you never know! Let certain mysteries of life remain mysterious, else there's no fun.

    That's the right way to think, I feel. :)

    By the way, please turn off this word verification thing, each time I comment, I have to type this out! :(

  2. Hi Pravin,
    Well thought and written. At least you had the mind to think of them and even spend time to put those thoughts here. It's possible to stay in touch with old mates, but with a little bit of effort and time-sacrifice. Where there is a will, there is a way! I'm proud to say here that I was mainly responsible to bring together after interesting hunts for whereabouts of old primary classmates [46 out of 80]. We haven't yet met as a large group like our seniors did a few years back. People are eager to meet and see the faces again. It's possible man! It'll take time to collect the whereabouts. And you must see the joy! It's unique. It'll be the most joyful achievement than any in one's busy career! Some are eager to stay in touch while some will not be for their own reasons. But it's good to renew old contacts, esp. school. I've a collection of memories in one of my blogs too - some old school pictures....

    E-mail has really helped in this respect and I agree that the purpose of Orkut is being abused.

    Answer to your 'why?'... we do not take this seriously enough! Yes, RKN's quote is simply in truth.

    BTW, this word verification is a turn-off! I agree with Chiroti.

    Best wishes.

  3. "R K Narayan, who in Bachelor of Arts says, People pretended that they were friends, but the fact is they are brought together by forces of circumstances".

    I disagree with R K Narayan. Friendship ensues when prople indeed are brought together by forces of circumstances. During our lives we are all forced by circumstances in schools, colleges and in work. The closeness of our houses in my street in Mysore brought together us kids, and my friendship with them developed as we played together. If I have one criticism about R K Narayan , it is that he had a very narrow circle of friends and was very ill-at-ease to talk to any others. His 'friends 'explain this as the attitude of a private person. Others said as he worked alone in a room in his house and getting out only for a lonely walk, there wereno forces which brought him close to those who could have been his friends. In late 1950s and early 1960s I used to see him walking alone in the then hundred feet road acknowledging the greetings of those who recognised him with an unsmiling face.

    When circumstances change friendship changes, old friends are replaced by new ones. For example, I left India more than 30 years ago for the West, and it has been an uphill task to engage my old friends who were my best mates in schools and colleges. Only up to a point we could traverse in memory lanes, each of us branch off in his old directions at the fork when we got separated. the frienship in strain is palpable. In my opinion, above friendship is a live thing and he who has the capacity to absorb new friends (as circumstances change) is some one worth admiring. It was said of Jawarharlal Nehru that he consulted only a narrow circle of friends one of which was VKK Menon! When J.F. Kennedy met Nehru in the White House, a person whom he admired and with whom he wanted to develop close frienship, it was said Nehru was staring at the roof and answered with monosyllables. When friendship narrows down and does not regenerate itself to include new friends who are brought nearer, the person concerned develops a narrow out look and the result can be discouraging to say the least.

    By the way, the word verification is staring at me!

  4. GK, nice article as always. I recd a fwd last month about "types of friends. It is divided into 3 categories....Friends forever, for a season and for a reason. Forever friends are few and u dont need more than a few but the second get to know them for sometime and although you do get to meet them or hear from them once a while, they are not someone u ould go out of the way to keep in touch.....Finally, there is a specific reason or circumstance in which you meet a few people and once that is achieved, its over.

    Anyways, will fwd that mail...i felt i could relate to it!!!

  5. nice one praveen..a hardhitting one..

  6. True, so very very true! The fact that time is slipping away, and I have less than 3 months to enjoy second PU is haunting me. These 2 years have been the golden years of my life--I've laughed more than I ever have, felt happier than I ever felt. When we do say goodbye to freinds, we often think that there's no big deal, we can stay in touch, but I know, it's not so easy. We loose people. We'll sometimes forget their names or foget to miss them. I've maaintained touch with many people from school, but I have already lost some. I just wish, when I'm older, I will stay in touch with all those people who are by best buddies now.

  7. Chiroti,
    What you say is perfect! We keep in touch with only those who we feel comfortable with. As you say, it happens unknowingly. Actually, hope leads to the right circumstances, and more often than not, circumstances translate to nothing, when you do not want to take it forward. Thanks for a nice comment!

    Mr. Dinakar,
    Sir, welcome to my blog, and thanks for a nice comment. It is great to know that you got in touch with so many classmates. It is worth the effort, I really think so. It would be great to meet up with your friends who are with families. The nostalgia of the moment can be too overwhelming. I had goosebumps when I wrote the comment itself, so I can imagine how you must feel, when you meet your wonderful bunch of classmates. I would love to visit your blog. Will catch up with them sometime, since you have quite a big collection of write ups :-)

    Mr. Guru,
    Sir, welcome to my blog, and thanks for a thought provoking comment. I have been so absorbed in RKN books that his writings have had a big impact in my life. Very difficult to imagine RKN having a narrow outlook. His books speak so much about simplicity, I feel it is difficult to imagine the contrary.

    To keep in touch is a difficult thing. Our lives are intertwined, yet branching off in different directions, that we are unable to keep track of it sometime. It is very important to absorb new friends and not forget the old ones. But the problem is, we absorb the new ones, and lose in touch with the old ones. That is really sad to imagine. Though i make it a point to keep in touch, I have never really been able to keep up in pace. Thanks once again, sir, for coming to my blog.

    Thanks a lot!! It is nice to know that you are so regular to my blog. Sameer told me about the mail. It is very true as to how much you want to keep in touch with mail. As Chiroti said, it is just that you want to keep in touch with a select few, and you do it unknowingly. At the end of the day, it is upto you as to with whom you want to stay in touch.

    Thanks, yeah it is hard hitting!!

    It is always not easy to keep in touch with old buddies, but the effort is really worth it. Enjoy your PUC life, it is a once in a lifetime experience. Staying in touch with old buddies is difficult, but is also the most important aspect of our life. So, it depends on how well we reach out to people.

  8. PS: I have removed the word verification on my blog. I have always felt it to cumbersome, and with your feedback, I thought it would be a good idea to be done away with it!!

  9. "I have been so absorbed in RKN books that his writings have had a big impact in my life. Very difficult to imagine RKN having a narrow outlook. His books speak so much about simplicity, I feel it is difficult to imagine the contrary."

    I did not say RKN had narrow outlook, but I said that many testified that he had a very narrow circle of people who he called friends ( I wonder how he acquired them without the influence of circumstance- be it reading his writings or knowing his family) and hence I did not agree with the quote. Suffice to say that what I have written about him in my comments is from my experience of seeing him in many situations and learning about him from his close associates and even from his relatives. He lived a very sheltered life to the extent that many wondered whether he was aware of the renaissance that was taking place outside his world, for example in Kannada literature at his time. Much was made of his 'friendship' with Graham Greene, but very few know that Greene was anti-British establishment and a staunch opponent of British empire at that time, and would have encouraged and made frienship with just any Indian writer who bothered to send him a copy of his writing. Same can be said of Yates who was responsible for Tagore's succcess. In saying this I am not ignoring their contributions to literature. Though many argue that novelists' mind speaks through their writings, it is perfectly possible for the novelist to hold the opposite and often uninformed ( some say prejudicial)views. I can give examples from Hardy, Dickens and Arthur Miller writings and indeed from famous Kannada novelists and show how the views they expressed in their writings clashed with their private views and how uninformed views these were. Referring to the quote again, if forces of circumsttances do not operate I wonder how on earth any one acquires friends and friendship. We do not take birth readily linked to a friendship without the influence of circumstances. God do not send us to the earth supplying us with a group of 'real friends'. Friendship by its very meaning is some one close to you. The question here is how would one engineer closeness without the forces of circumstances? Lastly, living in the West I am prefectly happy to interact with my 'new' friends and value their friendship more than say the friendship of my primary school mates which is trapped in a time-constrained space and each of our lives have taken new meanings.

  10. Mr. Guru,
    I definitely agree with your view that circumstances help us find the right kind of people. But, sometimes, it is just that circumstances force us to get in touch with people and then forget about them when they are cut off from our lives. It can be hard hitting, and that's what I felt was captured nicely by RKN. I am sure you have read a lot about him, and I definitely respect your opinion. I would definitely like to gain an insight into RKN's life, and would appreciate if you can recommend me any source of information about RKN. All said and done, he is my all time favourite author!!! Once again, I truly respect and appreciate your comment. Thanks!

    Hello :-)

  11. man...staying in touch with ol pals has become more n more diffcult these days...whoever said that technology has made it easier to stay connected hasnt considered the other side of the coin where you also end up making a whole different circle of imagine meeting a pen pal or in today's scenario a scraps pal/email pal...
    that should be something to look forward to as well..
    so bottomline is you can try and stay in touch with you old buddies (this is also known as business networking..for eg. right now i can more or less safely say that when i graduate from rolla and go to prob any state in the US i can find sum desi rolla alumni to put up

    also just meeting (for no particular reason a good old buddy) after a long time away is a superb feeling...:D:D...

    imagine bumping into a friend from 12 years back on times!!!....too good...

  12. Well I agree that staying in touch has become more difficult with our very busy schedules. But then again , it entirely depends from person to person. I am in touch with almost all my school friends, plus college friends plus rolla friends. I feel there are alot of resources that can be used now to saty connected with the people that matter to us..we just ahve to find some time for it. I am aware tht I am addicted to staying in touch with friends..but then again that's my way of living my life.

  13. Abhishek and Shubhika,
    Yep, it all depends on the person who wants to keep in touch, and with whom you want to keep in touch :-) That makes a big difference. The bottomline is simple, you can keep in touch only with whom you are comfortable with :-)

  14. I know I am late here to comment but not to read. I read it the day it was posted. :)

    Well, all is said here already. I want to add just one thing.

    We female have to face another problem.. many times our gender becomes hindrance to be in touch. I have many friends who after their marriage shifted to another far off places, got busy in their life, kids etc and have no time and (sometimes no inclination) to meet up with friends. Their life revolves around their family. And that is what is expected of them too.

    On the other hand, I know of many males who even after 10 yrs of marriage have some night outs with old friends whenever that is possible, but have you heard of a lady doing it especially in India ? No, she has to think of so many other things before thinking about such union.

    Correct me if I am wrong.

  15. Cuckoo,
    yeah, I understand how lethargic you can get to post comments. I do the same; I read the posts on Reader and then forget to come back to comment!! So, I don't blame you.

    What you say about the fairer sex is very true. The ladies (atleast in India) have to worry about a host of different problems. Getting together with friends would be the last thing on their heads!!! I am not sure whether my mother remembers any of her old friends.

  16. thank you (for removing word verification)...! :-)

  17. Chiroti,
    You are very welcome!!! :-)