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Meeting old friends can rekindle the strangest of things in your heart. All of this is sparked by the fact that I met an old friend of mine – whom I had last heard from in 2015. Some context: Buddy and I grew up in the same building complex, and spent time with each other every single day for 6 years. Buddy moved to Bangalore – then Bombay – then US – then Bombay. I moved to Bangalore and then Ahmedabad. Buddy and I lost touch because we only had each other’s e-mail IDs (and I had his institutional ID – which he lost after graduation).

Reached out to Buddy over social media and fixed time and place of meeting. Starbucks.

I reached Starbucks an hour earlier because they had free WiFi and I wanted to sit there and finish off some work – so I was there well in advance. I could only concentrate for about 40 minutes though. As it got closer and closer to our scheduled meeting time, I started to think about what it would be like to meet him after so long – especially because even when we met between 2011 and 2015 – it was fleeting. We never sat face to face and had conversations for hours the way we used to as children.

And all I could think about was, what if he’s changed? What do I say and do then? Will something I say today upset him? Have I changed a lot from when he’s last seen me? I mean, I’m sure I have – but will he still be comfortable with who I’ve become?

A lot of overanalyzing and peeing later, I saw him. And that set off a lot of nostalgia. Him and I running with our other friends – we were a group of six, running down slopes and across the parking lot. And as we met – all I could think about was how different our lives might have turned out if all six of us had stayed in that building instead of moving out for various reasons.

I was still nervous though – and started off conversation with something we shared a lot of love for back in the day: cricket. As we eased into conversation, we had to order stuff, and we went up and ordered Hot Chocolates. The same exact drink. And that’s when I knew things hadn’t really changed in all these years.

It’s weird, and super emo/sentu. But read this.

My biggest childhood memory is cricket. I was CRAZY about the sport. I’d spend every moment watching cricket highlights or playing cricket and thinking about the game. I even watched Ten Cricket shows and wrote to Cyrus Broacha for some contest for cricket trivia.

Buddy was spectacularly gifted at the sport – and a role model in terms of his fitness and ability/flair for the game. We used to spend hours in his house playing test matches – and they’d go on forever. It’s how I improved at the sport a fair amount. That, and breaking the chandeliers in his house with his bat. Till today I will maintain that it wasn’t my fault. Buddy bowled a very fast ball so I hit out instinctively.

In any case, because of how much time I spent in his house, I’d often be over at his place in the evening and sometimes even at night. I’ve eaten countless dinners at his house. But more crucially, I’ve had a lot of Bournvita with him  – in front of the TV watching cartoons, as a break from our test matches.

And while we were sworn enemies as we played those games, we were such pals while drinking that Bournvita. His mum used to tell the house-help not to make my Bournvita as hot as Buddy’s because I could never handle hot drinks.

When we ordered our Hot Chocolate Buddy told the server to mix in some cold milk into mine – so as to reduce the overall temperate of my Hot Chocolate.

That’s when I knew nothing had changed.

Meeting Buddy has been a highlight of my Bombay trip – because it showed me the value of childhood friendships. And it reminded me that those 6 years of my life – the ones I’ve tried saying I no longer identify with – because they’re in a city that now feels foreign to me, are still a part of my fabric, my DNA. They’re a part of my definition of “home”. As is Buddy – the friend who broke my first milk tooth for me.

 

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