2019: One Hundred and Fifty Six

Ah, Pune.

Early morning flights haven’t been a particular strong suit of mine. I can do flights anytime before 3AM. Or even at 3:30AM. Anything past 4 and I find my day off to a tired, slow start. As it was today. I literally fell asleep on the couch, and then dozed off to sleep for two hours after eating breakfast. Waking up, I felt like the day had only just begun, although my parents were already out of the house and I had woken up in the middle a couple of times to have chats about things with my grandmother.

For lunch, I managed to catch up with someone I really enjoy speaking to. My mom’s colleague is someone who treated me like an adult when I was in Grade 6, insofar as he tried understanding my perspective on things, asked me some difficult questions, exchanged books, fed me pizza, took me to my first international cricket match. I understand that these are not all examples of someone treating you like an adult, but there was some sort of space he gave me to speak my mind. And he was new in my life – without any other attachment or relationship with my parents, and I instantly knew he wasn’t someone who would relay information we shared with them. He also forced me on my first bus. So of course, I had to trust him.

I can recall all our conversations, because they’ve always come at moments in my life where I’ve needed a sounding board. It’s not been: “Hey, I’m in a bit of a patch, can we speak?”, but even our catch-up calls, which happen maybe once in two months or so have evolved into “Okay, so what’s up, what’re you thinking?” kind of conversations. And maybe I don’t realize it before the call, but I’ve always emerged from our conversation with fresh perspective, or something to consider which I hadn’t before, or some more clarity on a frame I was seeing through.

Yes, I make this sound horribly abstract, but they’re honestly delightful, jovial conversations. There’s a lot of laughter and some great jokes. Some friendly banter, and a lot of pop culture talk.

I’ve sort of also seen the way our conversations have grown, and how they’ve kept pace with the things I’m interested in. What I really enjoy is that my mum’s colleague is very open-minded and curious. He doesn’t mind disagreements that are civil. Where he doesn’t know stuff he asks questions about it. And listens.

And it’s not like he isn’t well-read. It’s rare to find well-read people who are humble enough to listen to others.

This is the kind of conversationalist I aspire to be. And if I’d wish for something more today, I’d like people to enjoy their conversations with me the way I enjoy conversations with my mum’s colleague.

[P.S.: When I told him I wanted to do Law and study for CLAT, he literally drove me to a friend of his who ran CLAT coaching and spent time with me as I understood the basics of the exam. That was when I knew that he was always a “mentor” to me. But without putting confines on things, the fact that he drove me there in his free time stand out. Also, literally. He took me to Blossoms for the first time ever. If introducing someone to second-hand books isn’t friendship, I don’t know what is.]

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