Why we stay and lose in touch with friends from the past.

Note: While I was writing my first story about laughter and forgetting in my previous blog post, I felt this strange sense of liberation. Like this is what I was meant to write all this while. Like this was the topic I was sifting for, through the folds of my brain during languid train journeys and zoned-out moments at work. And that’s when I realised, I would convert all these snippets into blog posts – move them from memory to blog, where they would serve as reminders of a time long past, a time when happiness was real.

I don’t know what book it was (Milan Kundera’s Identity?), but the book basically says our friends are our tangible connections to our past –  If we lose our friends from the past, we lose our link to the past. And we risk losing a part of ourselves.

So we stay in touch with old friends for the mirror this friend holds out to us. And our friends stay in touch with us for the mirror we hold out to them. The mirror to our shared pasts that shelters shared memories –  a proof of having existed in a certain way in a certain period of time. A window to ourselves. A tangible proof of our existence. A key to our identity.

Which simply means, we need our friends to stay connected to the world and to ourselves.

And so even when we grow up into different people, we still look for those who transport us to our foundation. Who give credibility to our existence.

One of the most painful things is meeting a cherished person from the past and realising you have nothing in common with their present self.

At that point, you feel like you’ve lost a part of yourself with the other person. You feel confused, lost and start scrambling around – looking for your misplaced identity – the part of you that went missing with the other person. And in that confusion, you struggle to rediscover your new self. You are subconsciously thinking, “Okay, so s/he is this. So where does that leave me?” And little by little, the more “changed” old friends you meet, the more discomfort you feel. And after this long and tedious phase (that evolves not ends), you become closer and closer to finding out who you really are.

After the initial enthusiasm in the first few years after graduation – life, career and love swoop right in, tearing us all apart bit by bit. At that time, it gets really tough. For instance, in my case, I would lie awake, missing, hoping with all my heart to go back in time. Back to school when there was so much to look forward to. A time, when there was love in our hearts and fire in our souls. A time, when we were invincible.

And so to connect with the invincible part of ourselves, we call our friends from back in time and make plans. We fix a time and place and arrive there, looking sharp. However, take the setting of the past away, and we’re left incomplete. Two incomplete people staring at each other across the table, wondering what’s missing. Like two halves of different apples wondering how to fit together.

Has the mirror shattered? Are shattered pieces of yourself all you can see?

Sometimes, meeting people from the past is a reminder of all that’s missing. 

Meeting an old friend only to realise they’re nothing like what you remember of them, makes you want to do one of two things:

  1. Shut the door to the past with a firm thud
  2. Wish to time-travel back to the past

However, sooner or later, we all realise that we can’t live with one foot down the back door. We can’t keep hoping for some spell to transport us back in time. And we move on. 

Sometimes, when I meet a friend from the past, it seems as though I am meeting a stranger. A new person with new habits and new tastes, a striking resemblance to somebody I knew a decade ago.

We sit across, exchanging pleasantries, awkward silences dissipating only after a few drinks, when conversation drifts to talks of the past. The past is all we have in common. Our memories the only reason we meet. That’s when the pain gets unbearable. So intense that sometimes I choose to distance myself from this stranger I can’t connect to.

I don’t want my enthusiasm in rekindling the past to end up destroying the past.

I don’t want my memories to be tainted by any awkwardness and disagreements we might face in the present. I want my memories from back in the day to stay sheltered like pink and blue bubbles glowing in the sun. Bubbles I can gaze at as they drift away into nothingness. I don’t want to bring the bubble closer. I don’t want to risk bursting the happiest memories I’ve ever had.

Sometimes, losing touch is all I can do to protect the sanctity of the past.

And so I often find myself losing touch with old friends.

But at the cost of protecting the sanctity of my past, am I losing my identity?

Memories sometimes make life worth living. And stories worth telling.

Maybe, once when I have told all these stories and have shared every pleasant memory from my past,  I can safely attempt to rekindle those ties. To mend the tangible strings tying me to the warm, fuzzy feeling of the past. To repair the bridges now lying damaged by the passage of youth and self-discovery. To gaze at the mirror and hold a mirror out, without fear of it being shattered.

Till then, I am going to write. Write till my fingers hurt, and brain drains itself of every shred of hurt and loss. Write till I am empty of past dues. And filled with knowledge of myself.

Will it be too late then? Well, at least I’ll still have my blog posts.


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The blogpost of laughter and forgetting

I don’t know how many of you have read this Milan Kundera classic, but you don’t have to worry about it, as this post (as suspected) has nothing to do with this intriguing-insightful (yet slightly disturbing) novel.

Today, when I heard a colleague laugh it took me back in time to a memory I was on the verge of forgetting. This colleague has a very distinct laugh – one that consists of essentially two syllables or a repetition of one. Imagine a male voice with a slightly nasal twang, go – “Hain, Hain”. Well, that’s his laugh.

Speaking of disturbing laughs, I remember in school, my entire dormitory in 9th standard went on one of those laughter-therapy like sessions without knowing it was a thing. Basically, there was a girl in our class – a skinny little girl with braces and long frizzy hair who had this screechy laugh that would make anybody who heard her laugh, laugh. Her laugh was so funny, and so catchy that once we recognised it, we just wouldn’t stop asking her to voluntarily laugh. Often a couple of us would accompany her on her first “Ha Ha” to ease her into this game, so she didn’t feel awkward starting. And once we heard her, the rest of us would naturally burst into splits, our funny unique laughs causing this gorgeous girl to laugh even louder (and funnier), which caused us to laugh, and then her to laugh, and then us – resulting in a laughing marathon occupying a good party of our 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. rest hours, and disturbing our neighbouring dormitories too.

We’d just laugh and laugh for no reason. Just because it was so much fun. It felt so good, and we didn’t have anybody shoving “laughter therapy” down our throats either. It was something invented in the corner 9th std dorm by us 14-year-olds – one of the many creative games devised to amuse ourselves.

Her laugh started with a loud screech like  – “Haaaaaaiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiin” and would then break into little splutters of “hehehehheheeh” and then again she would take a deep breath and there would be a few continuous screeches like – “Haaaarghhhhhhh- Haaaarghhhhhhh – Haaaarghhhhhhh” – followed by a few more “hehehehheh” splutters –  and at this moment, I would be laughing so hard, holding my tummy with one hand, wiping the tears with the other – that pain itself was forgotten for a moment.

I had forgotten this long lost memory or rather it was buried between the folds of “adulting”stress and brokedom only to emerge at the behest of a colleague guffawing his “Hain Hein”.

Well, let me just say this – the corporate world sure has its moments.

P:S: I know I am digressing from the “Fashion” theme again, but please understand – I am absolutely obsessed with my schooltime shenanigans.

P.P.S: Stay tuned for more “forgotten” stories of laughter and other happy moments from boarding school.

One hostel room please.

When you’ve been in hostel a lot, without realising it, you begin to get inspired by it. So much so, that even your aesthetics assume a boarding school vibe.

Actually, what am I saying ‘you’ for? It’s me whose sensibility has been taken over by a hostelesque vibe. 1 single bed, 1 cupboard and 1 study table, please. Yes, leave those shelves bare. Yes, I know they’re ‘shelves’ but please do not stuff them with your belongings. Leave the counterpane on. And yeah, do pick up your shoes. (Joote-chappal-uthao-joote-chappal-uthao).

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I recently moved into a new house. A new room in a new house, to be precise. I wanted my space. I am almost 27. And I have been living with girls for far too long ( 18 years) to be excited by late-night-gossip and girlish banter. So, April this year, I decided to move to a place where I’d get my own room, my own privacy, so that after years of sharing room-space, finding wet towels on my bed and dealing with aesthetics that didn’t match my own (read piles of laundry fighting for space on the bed and cigarette ash competing for attention on the floor), I would finally be able to keep my room the way I always wanted to.

Turns out, my aesthetics (contrary to what I believed) are nowhere near that of interior decorators and people with supposedly “good taste” in high society. It’s more of a clinically clean, orderly aesthetic, with books stashed so neatly in their shelves that I hesitate before reaching out to read one. In the fear that I might upset the entire beauty of it.

My own room | Orange curtains from http://www.ebay.in/ and Fabindia bedcover from Snapdeal | Chai High is an Indian Fashion Blog started by Shivani Krishan

In anticipation of this shift, I got 4 paintings of mine framed. One of which you can see in the picture. As for the other? Well… well, turns out my landlady is so particular about her interiors that we aren’t allowed to hammer nails! *sniff* And to think that hanging my priced paintings up was one of the reasons to shift home…

Anyway, not to be deterred (since I had already moved in and there was no other option), I looked for ways to hang stuff without hammering nails and after reading one of those listicle-thingys (1o ways to…), I decided to ignore everything I read and just placed my drawings on a cardboard box masked as a table by putting a cloth over it (yes, as boarding school people, we do have a trick or two up our sleeves. “Jugaad” as they call it here), and lo and behold, I was satisfied.

My framed sketches placed against a wall on a makeshift table of cardboard boxes and cloth | Chai High is an Indian Fashion Blog started by Shivani Krishan

Yes. Even I don’t like the floors. It gives the room a hospital-hostel-bathroom feel and inspite of my acquired hostel aesthetic,  I am still a diehard fan of wooden floors, but yes, like I mentioned in a previous post, my salary wasn’t getting any higher, so I just told myself “beggars can’t be choosers”, packed my bags and moved in.

My very orange room with a messy bed and scattered books | Chai High is an Indian Fashion Blog started by Shivani Krishan

 

The first thing I did, was buy those orange curtains. I wanted my room to feel really bright, and welcoming and I read somewhere (I think it was one of those colour therapy articles) that orange stands for vitality and energy and people suffering from depression must wear orange underwear or something like that; and even though I neither own orange underwear (the only one I did got flicked in boarding school when I was in 10th std and irritated I was one entire semester as I really loved that one), and neither am I suffering from depression (even though there are days when I am convinced that I am), I still chose to go ahead and envelope my room in vivid splashes of oranges, yellows and reds.

But before I changed my sheets to orange, I had a blue and white check cover on it.

Weird, as it is, I only recently realised that my hostel room at MICA (the first image) is strikingly similar to my new room (the second image). So much so, that even the bedcover used is the same, not to mention the large window on the opposite wall and the bed on the left and the white tiled floors.

That’s why I changed my covers. Get it? Get it?

 

It’s almost subconscious I’d say, that I gravitate towards smaller rooms with single beds and large windows. Maybe it’s a desperate means to grasp my younger, freer days. Or maybe it’s a subconscious preference for clean, clinical spaces, thanks to 10 years of boarding school life. I really don’t have an answer.

However, it only came to light when I showed my friends the picture of my new room, and all they said was that it reminded them of their hostel rooms.

So then I went and dug around for old college pictures. And, man was I surprised at the uncanny resemblance?

Which comes to prove that hostel life has indeed left a deeper mark on my subconscious than I have realised. From choosing a room that takes me back in time, to probably eating food that reminds me of school (Maggi), I am drenched in nostalgia so deep that I can barely even notice it.

And the fact that my new room’s scrubbed clean, single-bed, no-air-conditioning, clinical vibe is in fact inspired from my years living in different parts of the country, in no way should be taken lightly. It’s definitely worth a study, I’d say?

It’s weird, and I hope to discover other aspects of my personality that have been shaped by hostel life. And yes, I will definitely blog about them too (provided, it’s nothing embarrassing). 😉

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Anyway, it’s getting late. In case you don’t follow me on Instagram, do click here. You’ll find me putting up pictures of well-dressed people interspersed with some random out-of-blog shit like today’s post.

“Shit” you’ll like. (hopefully, at least).

Chalo, I’m going to read my book. Bye.

(Yes, guess I got the abruptness from boarding school too. We would just pop into another dorm and pop out saying,”Chalo, I’m going to read my book. Bye”.)