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Posts Tagged ‘Friendship’

An Ode to DD

Well not quite an ode. A few paragraphs to be exact.

The man asked why I hadn’t named him in my favourite bloggers and friends post a few weeks back. A silly man I tell ya. Doesn’t he realize that his place in my heart is a special one? He’s had quite a few stories to tell which include me and I think it’s time I returned the favour.

I first met DD in early 2000 when we both worked in Lowe, then Lintas together. A large, dark, well-dressed, slightly overwhelming man, who didn’t wear undies on Friday just for kinks. His arguments with David Blacker were legendary and we’d all pop out along the corridor to hear them. But come 5 pm the 2 of them would be at Old Joes getting drunk together like the best of friends, albeit with some cutting remarks from David which DD would opt to laugh off instead of starting yet another war. It’s from these 2 that I learned the value of not taking advertising personally. We argue in this industry like cats and dogs, but some of us know how to walk out of one of them and still stay the best of friends.

DD told me once that we nutters in the ad industry take ourselves far too seriously. It isn’t this year that I finally began to grow tired of selling soap for a living and began to realize the wisdom of his words. We have brainstorms, we strategize, look for insights into the human psyche… all to sell soap to the masses. I for one have stopped taking my job seriously and I have DD to thank for it. I like my job, I do it well, it pays the bills. That’s it. My life, my real life has nothing to do with the advertising world anymore, unlike years ago.

A bunch of us would go to Old Joe’s after work at least 3 times a week. For those of you who don’t know, it’s a super homey place located on the St. Joseph’s College compound with excellent bites and arrack galore. At 19 or 20 my disposable income was virtually non-existent and most of the time the likes of DD would foot the majority of the bill, reminding the rest of us broke ‘uns that he was also young once and it’s no reason to miss out on all the fun. I’ve had some excellent memories drinking with DD that went on for years and every day we’d sit down together, I’d come away with a new experience.

On my 21st birthday I was at work and way too broke to have a party. I remember he was at home and called me asking me to just drop work and turn up at his house. A bunch of us sat in his living room getting drunk all afternoon. It was the nicest way to turn 21, I tell ya!

But we’ve had our share of legendary arguments as well. We’ve screamed at eachother along the corridors of Lintas and I’m sure he thought I was a right-royal brat at the time, but I wasn’t one to keep quiet and would stand up for my convictions which I do hope he managed to realize even then. But with DD, even the arguments were fun because he’d bring a new, albeit ridiculous perspective to the disagreement just to flummox me, leaving me gaping at him open-mouthed and furious that I had let myself get trapped in a nonsensical argument.

I love ya DD. And I miss having you around a lot more than you realize. Come home soon?

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I have a new friend you see. New in the sense that most of my really close ones have known me for at least a decade. I have a best friend who’s been a part of my life for 20 years or more in fact. But this one & I are different. We met maybe 4 years ago and because of something he said one random night at a gathering of friends, I looked him in the eye and said “let’s talk”. It turned out to be a night laced with half a bottle of brilliant tequila gold. We finished the bottle and in the process emptied our tear ducts as well I think. In just one night, we realized that we were kindred spirits.

And to date we have still had those random nights, a play in which we acted in together, a few vacations, one overseas and the others to Unawatuna. And many, many nights of sleepovers with soul music, excellent intoxicants, DVDs galore and conversation that feed on the inner workings of our twisted minds.

Our friendship has progressed from depressing tequila teardrops to joyous Long Island laughs as we both acknowledge how far we have come in such a short span of time. We get happily high on copious amounts of Long Island Iced Tea and chortle about the years gone by. How different we are from the people we first met each other as, and how we can still relate to the new, grown-up versions of our former selves.

We have come a long way from the multitudinous obstacles that life has insisted must be thrown in our path. We have come through the fire, so to speak and we are both better people for it. The obstacles still keep coming, but we jump over them or even use them like stepping stones now. It’s good to have people you can hurt with, because when the laughter comes, it is so much sweeter. In a very recent conversation we had in fact we realized that the strongest of human bonds are forged as a result of shared pain and not joy.

We have evolved from lonely children to confident lovers of ourselves and found it to be the utterly selfish path to our happiness at last. We both share many things in common like our shared passion for Wicca and theatrics. But we also share a common thread of faith. We have both been stripped both voluntarily and forcefully of our childish notions of religion and church. We talked the other day of how we have nothing left but one tiny thread that connects us with our god. But stripped of all the man made notions, we realized that it is the one thing that no one can take from us. Because it is the way we have built our own personal beliefs and relationships with the great one.

We’ve taken our raincoats off and are ready for our days in the sun and even ready to dance in the rain when the downpours come. For, there is a time for everything. Now maybe our time to laugh with Long Island’s but we know a time to cry again with sad, sad tequila tears will come again. It’s the cycle we have come to accept and expect. But we’re grown now, and we’re ready for the unknown.

Everyone should be blessed with a friend like this, I think. Someone who doesn’t need to necessarily share all of your history or years of knowing you, someone who you don’t need to be in constant contact with for reassurances, but simply someone who can see into your soul & find a kindred there.

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I have a tendency to want to solve things and I’m at my wits end with this one. So maybe you can help me out here. What I need is someone who can give me an opinion without being biased one way or the other.

Here’s the deal, a friend of mine recently said that she had the best sex of her life.

The problem is that from what everyone assumed, it was supposed to be a one-night stand. They come from two different worlds and it just didn’t seem like it was going to lead anywhere. I was a tad concerned for her at first when she seemed to be giving into what was going to happen so easily and then I thought, fuck all these moralistic thoughts. If 2 consenting adults want to have sex, let them! I doubt that I would have stressed about it like that if I was in the situation (all part of my new walk on the wild side attitude I think) so why was I bothering with these thoughts when I knew she was clearly going to have some much needed enjoyment?

That’s not where the problem lies though. That was just my ranting and narcissistically wanting parts of my life in this story as well. Her problem lies in the fact that it was the best sex of her life. Why is that a problem you ask? Well, when one lover makes every other one in her life pale in comparison and the whole incident was treated like a one-night stand… don’t you think it would be an issue? It’s not a case of falling in love. Let’s not over-think it on those levels. But once you have such super sex why be deprived of more of it?

And so my friend wants to find out if he wouldn’t mind repeat performances, much to the chagrin of our friends. They told her to leave it at the fact that she had a good time and not cheapen herself by contacting him. I opened my mouth to echo this trend of thought but somehow the words didn’t seem to come out. And then I wondered, if it was a case of cheapening oneself, the fact that she consented to randomly having sex with someone she barely knew would have done it anyway, right? And like I said before, consenting sex between two single adults isn’t really something to call in the troops about. It ain’t that scandalous. I wish Sri Lanka would get over her cultural quagmire of bullshit so that we could all go to our graves happier to have really lived.

What I did tell her, I told her, with as much sensitivity as I could (freight-train like I think). I said that if the feeling was mutual, he may have tried to get in touch with her, which he hasn’t. So why should she contact him? Men are generally not as awkward about things like this as women, or so that seems to be the assumption with me. If this was between two women, I wouldn’t have thought twice about it telling her to go for it. And this guy isn’t your everyday sort. He occasionally has his dip in a bunch of very nice pools. But she was very different from his usual fucks, to put it crudely. So things may go either way.

But my friend has a fragile ego (don’t all women?) and I don’t want her to get shot down by someone she may have to run into from time to time and feel that sense of shame and awkwardness around him if he doesn’t respond to her. It’s not like asking someone out on a date after all, this is asking for sex. The options in my head right now are these; she could wait for him to approach her, she could go ahead and call him or she could come to terms with the fact that she has one super memory to take with her to her grave. They all come with consequences and some with possibilities.

What say you?

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On the streets of Mumbai.

That’s where I was for almost a week. On a soul search. On a hunt for knowledge. And in the process I met an amazing group of people who just wanted acceptance and understanding. Something I have been craving for most of my life too. You see I’ve been under the misconception that I am the most misunderstood person on the planet. People just misunderstand the things I say and do. In the case of these people, their very existence is misunderstood.

They are technically three groups of people; transgenders, kothis and hijras. Now I’m not going to get into a technical definition of them. Please refer Wikipedia or some other trusted online source for that.

I’m more concerned about telling you about how wonderful they are. How I fell in love with them in seconds of meeting them on the dirty streets of Mumbai. Of how we shopped together and laughed together like silly girls. Of how we ate in precarious street side eateries together, chatting like old friends. Of how one of them, a hijra guru at that, told me that she instinctively took to me because I was straightforward with her instead of staring at her like she was a freak of nature. And then she proceeded to eat very little, telling me that she needs to watch her figure. I burst out into a peal of laughter. And you know what? She didn’t slap me. She laughed with me at her own silliness. And then she winked at me. A wink that would have put the likes of Brad Pitt to shame.

And about how I got the best deals in town for my new shoe collection, which upon unpacking made me think I could give Imelda Marcos a run for it. I got them for about 20% of the asking price simply because one of my Hijra friends were standing next to me and threatening the shop keeper or street hawker with the dreaded curse of the Hijra which everyone fears like the kiss of death. There’s more of how I walked along the crowded streets with a group of them and watched everyone nod or bow respectfully because they were more powerful than Uncle Mervin’s thugs.

They laughed with me when I leaned in to kiss them goodnight and found rough stubble on some of their cheeks. One hugged me spontaneously when I told her that I felt we were already friends in a matter of hours. She promptly proceeded to take my phone number and promised to bombard me with calls. After all, once you’re friends you do call eachother and keep in touch.

They are a magical group of people. And I’m not just talking about traditional Hijra magic.They radiate a sense of being about them in their every move, from their shiny saris that dance in the lights on the streets and jingly jewellery to their garishly perfect make-up and beautiful smiles that light up their faces, silently telling me that they are genuinely happy to have known me. And I too am happy to have known and moved among them for a few days. It’s opened my eyes to something about myself that I am proud of. They’re nice people and I like them. That’s all that matters. I adore them for their colourful lifestyle and wonder why I have left the brighter parts of myself in some lonely closet corner. The loudest thing I did was to colour my hair red. And even then I caved in and dyed it black again when too many people started to glare at me in shock on the streets.

I am blessed to have met the apparently cursed tribe of Hijras and Kothis along my journey. I hope to return and renew my friendships with them someday. Who knows when that day will come though? I am blessed to have walked and talked with them for a while on my journey through life. On my journey to change the lives of people like them who aren’t afraid but are still cornered and spat on by the pseudo normative asses of this world simply because of two dirty little words called ignorance and intolerance.

Pooja, Manisha and Nitha. You are beautiful, magical people. Thank you for unforgettable memories on the streets of Mumbai. Simply because you are who you are, I feel blessed.

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Why does everything have to come with an ache attached to it? Just something that was on my mind. It just seems like that. Let’s just leave it there and move on to other things for the moment shall we? There are other things going on in my life too.

I’m flying to India tomorrow. Considering I was little travel bug when I was younger, the adult travel has been minimal and for some strange reason I have never been to India before. It won’t be a vacation though. I’m going to be doing interesting things. I’ll be a part of a South-Asian coalition of gay rights activists being put together to workshop and brainstorm the way forward for LGBTIQ persons in this part of the world. So far, besides Nepal no other country signed the UN treaty to eliminate gay bashing. Does the refusal to sign mean that these countries, including Sri Lanka are in effect saying that violence and legal action against a person’s right to love is ok? I’m not expecting miracles, but I am excited about the workshop and what its possible results will be.

On another note, Brandix’s poem “Perspective” has always a piece of brilliant writing that’s been close to my heart from the day it was written. It reminds me that I haven’t lost my way eventhough it seems that way sometimes. I read it to a friend a few days ago who was feeling exactly the same. Just like its apt title, it really does offer perspective. When you feel like your life has amounted to nothing, when you feel your dreams have died, when you heart is broken, when you’re lonely. This poem just does it for me. I hold on to it as a promise of things to come. For surely, they must.  Have a read : 

Friend, we haven’t lost our way. We are those who’ve been left behind to find our own way. And along that way we’ve discovered truth, freedom and greatness.

We’ve learned ways of life that others have only dreamed of and we’ve learned how to continue loving long after they’ve left with our hearts.

Those who laugh at us, laugh not because they’re superior but because in our presence they feel inferior.

We fear no defeat because they’ve beaten us into the ground and all that’s left for us to gain is victory.

We fear no loss because we’ve lost it all and what we have now, no one can take away.

We fear no death because we’ve lived each moment like it was our last, like tomorrow would never come.

We are a strange kind of people in search of something we cannot find, yet we never give up looking because we know it’s there, somewhere.

To understand us they need to become us and that my friend they can never be. For unlike us they weren’t left behind. Unlike us they’ve never had to hope, to wish, to want, to need, to give, to love, to lose.

But let them wait for us, if they can, for we will find our way soon and when we do, they will watch us do great things.

– Brandon Ingram

Thank you again Brandon. I think this answered my quandary at the opening of this post too.

 

I’m off people. Miss me! 

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