Friday, September 23, 2011

Har Ek Friend Zaroori Hota Hai? Or Soulmates?

After living amidst chaos and ‘too-busy-to-live’ crowd in Mumbai, an official trip to the beautiful campus of Indian School Business at Hyderabad turned into a welcome break for me. Although I was staying there for work, I fortunately had enough time to relax and soak in the beauty of the green and wonderfully designed campus. The serene silence created the perfect ambience for self-retrospection and looking at newer aspects of life.

The current favourite ad campaign of the season, Airtel’s ‘Har Ek Friend Zaroori Hota Hai’ had given me many points and stories to ponder over. I have been really lucky to have resided in different places, with different kinds of individuals and meeting a huge variety of characters that have become integral part of my life story. As I look back today, I can comprehend the significance of the Airtel ad. Moreover, since I was travelling with people from different nationalities, I was exposed to a whole new world.

So, is this true? Is each and every friend really important or necessary? There is a popular saying, “A friend in need is a friend indeed.” All the sayings or idioms in this world (whatever the tongue or community is) have a wise reason behind them. And the base of the above mentioned idiom is very simple and valuable, “Loyalty matters”!

We all have heard of this particular species – ‘Frenemy’. I have encountered this dangerous kind at different stages. Although at that time I used to think that those were unfortunate events, now looking back I can say that it wasn’t that bad. After all, I learned a few important lessons.

But it is always painful to witness people getting backstabbed by such frenemies. You trust them but they won’t even spare a thought of consideration before hurting you if they are at the benefits end. It’s always agonizing to experience and watch others undergoing Ceaser’s ‘Et tu Brutus?’ syndrome.

Then there is the seasonal ‘friend’, who is very dangerous. Beware! A very vital word called ‘loyalty’ does not exist in the dictionary of this breed. Such persons are actually so self-engrossed that they themselves are not aware that what they claim to be their loyalty is nothing but a pretension. This is mostly because they are in love with own self, and they fail to see the larger picture. Oscar Wilde once said, “People who love only once in their lives are shallow people. What they call their loyalty, and their fidelity, I call either the lethargy of custom or their lack of imagination.” I agree.

And at the other end of the spectrum stands the eternal debate of the existence of soulmates. A close friend of mine once confided that he is tired of chasing skirts. But unfortunately he hasn’t met ‘the one’. “I am waiting for my soulmate”, he said. I just laughed and simply stated that souls are not specified into genders. So his soulmate could very well be a man! In fact, I have met my soul sisters in my best friends. My friend understood the point.

The foreigners with whom I was travelling tried to understand the concept of arranged marriage in India. They asked me how is it possible to get married to ‘the one’ if he or she is sourced by family! Well, that is the way the Indian society has survived centuries and our society is actually much older than theirs – I replied. We are from the land which gave birth to the concept of soulmates and Kamasutra. Since Indians have survived all odds with arranged marriage and still have not faced the real divorce crisis as in the west, at some point, we definitely stand correct than the firangs – I proudly explained.

Yet they were not convinced. Then when I asked one of the guys if he is thinking marriage with his girlfriend of 3 years, he was surprised and said it was too early for that. I laughed and told him in India, many plan marriage within 3 weeks of dating! And no sir, that’s not even an arranged union. Then I questioned myself – “Do we Indians get married just for the sake of getting married?”

Seriously, in a country where marriage is such a revered institution, we have turned it into a circus, the ‘great Indian joke’. But I will discuss this next. I would love to do autopsy of this amazing tradition, more so because I have been facing the tamasha since some time now.

(P.S. My friends, love you all. The Har Ek Friend Zaroori Hota Hai is dedicated to you. And I know I don’t even have to take your names.)