The year is 2003 (I thought it was 2001 but thanks to my obsession with not deleting anything ever, I discovered it was 2003). The age od chain emails and Orkut and coming of age, of people my age. The time is Diwali when everyone in India is in this cheerful and all that. And I am being the way I am - frivolous, enthusiastic, and trying hard at being funny.
Some friend sends an email to some 100 people and I reply to that with something apparently funny, which I don't recall now. And someone responds to that email with among the most unique Diwali greetings ever.
And I reply to that.
And then she replies.
And then I reply to her reply.
And then she replies.
And before we know it, we become penpals.
Of course, back then I did not know what pen pals were. But we became friends. And close! As close you can imagine two friends to be. Even though we hadn't met each other.
I would share my deepest feelings with her. I guess this is what anonymity offered by the Internet did. She was in the US, some saat samandar paar and there was no way she was going to rat on me. And how would she? And if she did, why would she? I guess she was the first person with which I let my guard down (apart from this blog ;P).
She of course shared updates on her days at her college. I remember pining for a life abroad when I read her mails.
And like with such things, our
friendship relationship started with josh unparalleled to any. And then got milder with time. To a time now, where we hardly speak.
Which is cool. Not complaining. Such is life.
But this person is among the most special parts of my growing up. If I were to ever write a biography, she's getting a chapter for sure. I may even dig out some of the emails and publish those. I hope they are not too embarrassing ;P
So to cut the long story short, she and I would exchange long emails. At some point in time, it got flirty and yet not crass. I had still not seen her, she hadn't seen me (we did exchange photos). All we knew was each other's letters. Mind you, this was the time before Whatsapp and other IM tools. The email letters were our connection. And those became increasingly rare with time. Like others, we had some really cool and interesting inside jokes and chats. Can't make those public. Yet ;P
While this was happening, I moved from Delhi to Gurgoan to then to Mumbai and then back to Delhi. I don't recall what all cities she lived in the US. And despite all this flux, we stayed in touch. We'd make plans to catch up if we were ever in the same city. But every time she'd come to India, for some reason, we 'd not be able to meet. Apart from her letters and photos, she remained an enigma to me. I don't know what I was to her.
This changed in 2010, 7 years after that fateful Diwali. My parents and I were in the US and she and I happened to be in the same city at that time (I think we were in LA if my memory serves me right). And we met! After 7 years of penpalship. We went to grab, well Chinese. And there was this joke that we often shared - that I know how to use chopsticks and I failed at it and she had told me she was learning but she was as pro at em as Kung-Fu Panda is! And I, of course, made a mess of it! Random trivia - To date, I don't know how to use chopsticks. And I have had multiple bets with multiple people that I would learn how to use em!
And that's that.
End of story.
Been 13 years since that hour-long lunch or dinner or something (can't recall but I do remember that it was Chinese). We have remained in intermitted contact. She has moved on with life. More than her, I think I have moved on. Rather thrown around.
No point there.
Just that, thanks to emails and Diwali, I found this really cool friend that I wish I had stayed in contact with! And no, there is no special ending to this one. Just a record of how some people come into your life by accident and you want those accidents to keep happening again and again.
Oh, if you are reading this (at a time you were the only regular reader of this blog; now there are none), happy birthday! May you live long and prosper :). And in case you've forgotten, here is some blast from the past from our jawani wale din.