International Men’s Day.

I got a phone call this morning from a lady friend from Bengaluru. As soon as I saw her name flashing on my mobile phone, I answered with “Happy Holi” instead of the usual greetings. She got quite annoyed that I was greeting her for a festival that neither of us celebrate and berated me for not greeting her for Women’s Day. I apologized and remarked that I did not know that it was Woman’s Day today.

That brings me to the topic of this post. There are days, promoted by various vested interests like florists, greeting card manufacturers, couriers etc for all and sundry. How is it that there is no Man’s Day?

I think that this is discrimination of the highest order and conceited sexism in reverse. I am sure that my male readers will agree with my thought.

What do my women readers have to say to that observation?

SD I hope that you are reading this post and will respond!

Paranoid?

On the 12th of January, I had called up my friends Sultan and Farida in Mumbai to wish them a happy 44th wedding anniversary.

I attended their wedding way back in 1968 and they have always received a call from me wherever they might have been during all these years.

During that call, I found that both of them were well and having a grand time in Mumbai having just seen their only child Shehla, and their two grand children off to Australia.

Earlier, on the 15th of November I had rung Farida up to wish her on her birthday, which too has been an annual ritual that she loves. On the 12th of February, it was Sultan’s birthday, and I rang him up to greet him and found that his mobile phone was not being answered, and Farida’s had been switched off; his land line was not being attended to by anyone and when I had a friend from Mumbai go and check up at their home, no one was answering the door bell either.

I panicked. I thought that something has happened to one or both of them and set in motion various investigations. In the meanwhile, on the 13th inst, I just decided to take another chance and called Sultan on his mobile phone and lo and behold, he answered and laughed when I scolded him for not answering the phone the previous day. They had suddenly decided to fly off to Australia just a few days earlier and when they got a very attractive deal on two return tickets, just took off and did not have time to tell anyone.

My blood pressure came back to normal and I told him to be a little more considerate in future as, at our age, we now keep getting all kinds of news and in the absence of contact, the imagination tends to run riot.

Has anything like this happened to you? Or did I just over react?

Eyes.

Pravin who has very generously adopted me as his Uncleji, has this nice post, “Perhaps, eyes are forever” up in his blog.

Aside from the blog, Pravin and I banter with each other on the telephone too and among the other things that we discuss, vitamins for the eyes, if you get the drift, features quite often.

Oddly enough, just a couple of days ago, I was talking to a friend of mine on Skype and she commented that she was able to see the lights reflected on my spectacles. I removed the spectacles and she was thrilled to see my eyes for the first time. She had not seen them without the spectacles, and was quite taken with them! Or at least that is what she gave me to understand.

This was the first time ever in my life that anyone had complimented me on my eyes. Perhaps it is due to my having been wearing spectacles from a very young age and they were always behind a pair of glasses! I can’t remember ever having complimented anyone for having appealing eyes either, though I have of course complimented many on other aspects of their physique or character or whatever.

Sure felt good. Has anyone complimented you on your eyes?

Friends.

My niece Nina published this in Facebook.

I am blessed in that I have many friends like that. Let me just share a few incidents with you.

It was in 1997 that I got grounded during a weekend due to a storm in a place called Silvassa on the West coast of India. At that time, I was marketing among sailors of all kinds and the storm had kept all maritime activity on hold and I was stuck with nothing to do. I remembered that I had a friend Youhanna, from my teen age days, living close by in a place called Umbergaon.

Accompanied by my colleague Nandu, who was touring the coast with me at that time, we drove down to Umbergaon and with some difficulty located my friend. Youhanna and I had not met each other for over a decade before that day. When we got off the car Youhanna got down from the veranda where he was sitting came and gave me a bear hug and took me by hand and led me inside to his home. My colleague just followed and when the initial welcome was over, I introduced them to each other too. Youhanna’s wife came out and greeted me and the three of us started off talking to each other as though we had not, not met each other for over a decade. We spent a few very happy hours with them, had our lunch with them and returned to Silvassa.

In the car and during subsequent meetings, my colleage, Nandu found it incredible that despite such long disconnect, we could simply start off where we had left earlier. Subsequent contacts with Youhanna have been on the telephone and sporadic, but I have no doubts whatsoever that if we were to meet again, it would be exactly the same.

Just a few weeks ago, I got a phone call from another old friend Nat who had arrived at Pune the previous evening and waited to surprise me the next day. He and his wife Usha subsequently landed up at home during the time that I was still using the walker to move around, and the meeting was exactly as the quotation above states. We simply started off where we had left off during our previous meeting which was also a few years ago.

Anil and Nina were great friends to have during my first hip replacement surgeries way back in 1985/7. They lived very near to the hospital where I was operated upon and would bring delicious home cooked meals for me. After I moved out of Mumbai in late 1987, as did Anil and Nina too, we lost touch with each other. In one forwarded email that I received four years ago, Anil’s name popped out of the list of recipients and I sent an email to him asking if it was the same Anil and finding that it was, we reestablished contact and it was as though we never lost touch with each other.

I have other friends like Vela in Chennai, Sultan in Mumbai and Kashi in Kolkata, with who, I am not in regular touch, but who are dear friends nevertheless. We call or mail each other every now and then and get updated about happenings in our lives.

Friendship is like good wine. It gets better with age.

Coincidentally, my young FB friend Sukriti posted this poster on FB today and I hope that she gets to read this blog post.