Saturday, January 21, 2012

My friend Sanjog

I met an old friend yesterday. Someone I had known since I was 17. We were meeting after almost two years. Incidentally, in the eight years that we knew each other, we had met less than a dozen times. But I still like to call him a good friend. Funny, considering that there are people I meet on a more frequent basis but who don’t yet qualify as good friends.

Many of my good friends, I realise, are people I have met just a few times. Invariably, it is an accidental meeting that turns into a conversation, which in turn results in an enduring friendship. There are times I have made friends without even meeting them. Letters. Yes, hand-written letters and emails have resulted in some beautiful friendships.

Sanjog was one of the first friends I made through letters. Or rather, through emails. Sanjog happened to read one of my travel pieces in The New Indian Express. In that piece, I had written about how I backpacked alone across a few towns in Tamil Nadu. I received quite a few emails for that particular piece. But his stood out. Perhaps because like me, he too was fascinated by goat shit. Or perhaps like me, he too was a Virgoan.

We began writing to each other. Long mails. Really long ones. And then we would talk occasionally over the phone. I still remember the day I told Sanjog I was quitting The New Indian Express to travel. He was at once shocked and happy. Happy because I was going to travel to his state.

And then, after almost a year of emails and phone calls, we met at the Cuttack railway station. I stayed with his family for a whole week before heading off to Kolkata. And what a delightful stay it was. Sanjog was busy filling in applications for universities so I ended up spending a lot of time with his mother. Tripti Aunty is a beautiful woman. One of those ideal women you read about in your history textbooks. She and I would have long conversations on spirituality and psychology. She cooked me many Oriya delicacies and treated me like I were her daughter. I shared her joys, sorrows, her wardrobe and her life. A few days before I left, she told me, “Don’t call me Aunty. Call me Chitthi (mother’s sister). I am like your mother only, no?” I had to look away, lest she see those tears of joy in my eyes.

Later that month, I returned to Cuttack to travel around Orissa with Sanjog. We went to Keonjhar, Kondodhar and Khiching – three lovely places that I will dwell upon later. When I left Orissa for the second time, we both knew we wouldn’t be meeting each other in a long while. And even though we haven’t met each other in almost a year now, Sanjog and I remain close friends. In fact, like I was telling him just the other day, he is one of the few persons I would label “Best friend”. It might sound juvenile, but who cares.

Since last Feb, which was the last time I saw him not counting the 10 minutes I spent with him in the railway station on my way back from Kolkata, Sanjog and I have been in constant touch over phone. We talk twice or thrice a week. He is now my friend, philosopher, guide and punching bag. We have shared many laughs. I have cried to him a couple of times. And we have discussed almost everything under the moon. We have eaten rosogullas on the highway, almost met Maoists, explored ruined bungalows in the middle of a jungle, met a 94-year-old sadhu who survives on berries, and cooked Maggi. No wonder I call him my best friend.


kinni said...


Conversations make relationships. Also, I'd like to hear more about the "almost met maoists" bit!

Going Solo said...

You write about everyone except me and you tell people I am one of the few persons you call your 'best friend'. HUMPH.

That aside, I LOVED the last few lines. The post makes me want to meet Sanjog and you.

despoparadise said...

aweeee....i wish i had a best friend like you.... :)

sunny... said...

awww so nice..

Shilpa Krishnan said...

@Kinni: I will expand on the "almost met Maoists" bit soon.

@Going Solo: You are one of my BEST-EST friends. And I will write about you. Like I promised. You must meet Sanjog soon.

@despoparadise: Bum!

@Sunny: Thankoo :)