Life has been very stressful today to most of us. You have to navigate through a maze of challenges, face bitter experiences, and live through fear, anger and frustrations. The situation is getting more difficult day by day.
According to my Professor friend, one very powerful solution in such difficult times is the company of “right” kind of friends. Such friends in your life can make a huge difference. It is an “asset class” that many just forget. You may not have great bank balance, property, or investments, but as long as you have good friends around you, you survive well and in fact your life can be bold and beautiful.
I asked Professor what is the “ideal” mix of friends one must have.
He lighted his cigar.
“Given the precarious health conditions in our old age, you must have some good doctors in your circle of friends. The world of medicine is today so much commercial and competitive that you often need both genuine advice (when opinions differ) and connections (when you badly need a bed in the ICU)”
Professor was absolutely right. In my numerous visits to the Hinduja Hospital in Mumbai, I was always comfortable because of my doctor friends. Important was that we met not just for my ailments but even otherwise. For example, post the series of kidney dialysis I had to go through, I worked with the post graduate students of my senior nephrologist on statistical analyses of the data from dialysis machines. I could help them in “reciprocation” as I know good enough biostatistics. Such a collaborative relationship between doctor friends was always very productive. I knew that any time I am in “trouble,” all my doctor friends will help me on a call.
Professor continued as he heard me
“I would add to this list of doctors, friends practicing law. Lawyers are so important now a days.” He took a deep puff from his cigar and said, “May be include an Income Tax Officer (ITO) friend too!”
I realized that I was lucky enough to have a lawyer and an ITO in my friend circle though not by “design.” Though they were not my very close friends, our relationship was certainly more than a sheer acquaintance. For example, I had personal mobile numbers of all of them and I could reach them even after 8 pm! I thought I would add in the list an IAS officer (IAS – are the officers in the Indian Administrative Service) who can either make or destroy your life if they wish. So I decided to call an IAS friend and offer his daughter an environmental internship at my company. We had not spoken for a while.
“Good Dr Modak, you are pretty resourced then,” said the Professor. “But don’t add a Politian friend in your list of friends.” He warned. I saw a smirk on his face. Of course, I knew that no politician is a true friend.
I felt happy and secure. I sipped coffee and looked outside the window. It was calm outside and lush green after the drizzle of rain. Now I was ready to take a storm anytime and head on because I was in the company of important friends. I knew I could survive any surprise.
But do you always have to look at friends only for your “survival”? Shouldn’t a true friendship be beyond the purpose?
For the past few months, I have been going for morning walks around Shivaji Park with my school friends. We kind of reconnected. We walk easy but over an hour and end the walk at the Shivaji Park Gymkhana. We have tea with “brun” (crusty bread) and “musca” (butter) that you dip in the glass of tea in between the sips.
We speak on different topics, give opinions as if they matter, tell how “yesterday” was and what’s in the store for “today.” All happy and challenging moments are shared. Each one of us whether resourceful or not try to address each others challenges to the best of our abilities. The concern is perhaps much more important than the problem solving. I thought this is a case of pure friendship without any purpose.
You walk into Jahangir art gallery near Mumbai Museum on a Saturday afternoon. There is a moist and warm breeze. All of a sudden and as a surprise, you meet an old friend while watching a painting exhibition. Maybe you didn’t see each other over years but the conversations start as if they had never ended. You talk about the good old times and softly share the ups and the downs. You also say something what you never said before and always wanted to say.
You wish you could sit down over a coffee in Café Samovar next to the art gallery like before– but may be the café is not open anymore or she has an appointment elsewhere. You hold hands and naturally so, while alighting the steps of the Jahangir Art Gallery to say “goodbye.”
This kind of friendship stays unspoken. It lingers when you are alone and are in difficult times. This friendship is like the candle that sheds a warm light when the electricity goes off.
I told my Professor Friend that such friendships without purpose are perhaps more valuable to me. While the friendships by “design” sound great – they don’t seem to be real – however warm and sincere they may be.
Life is simple, transparent, and beautiful when you have friends without any purpose.
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Very true sir. Amazing article on friendship. Life without friends is dull. We need a shoulder to cry upon or a person to pat our back assuring us that everything will be alright. Throwing our heart out to them….leaving nothing inside…and this comes from a friend without any purpose.