Day 2 : Life lessons – Invaluable when gone

Recently a friend of mine resigned from his job. He was good at what he did. He accomplished tasks in half the time another person would take. Everyday morning he went into the office and delivered his best. He knew he was good at what he did. He was assigned various projects over his tenure of twenty three years at the organization. No doubt he grew within the company as he delivered. He believed in the core principle that if he does his best the money, the recognition, the adulation would come his way.

Nobody can do something alone. There are a lot of people who influence a person’s work, behavior, attitude, work product. So he had various people around him who kept changing over time and influenced the work he did. The output remained constant, however the inputs changed, guidance changed, processes changed. He sailed through them all, because at the end of the day he felt he had done something. He had touched somebody’s life in any small way. He had helped put that tiny stone there to grow the organization.

All people around him didn’t see him the same way because their perspectives on diligence, dedication, work output were different. For about a year now he was doing odd jobs at the organization. That’s what he was told to do. After months of deliberation he decided to call it quits. He found another job and quit.

Once he quit, various people from the organization who recognized his talent tried to persuade him his to stay, they pleaded, gave him time to sleep over it and rethink his decision. He was adamant. One might think it was because his new job was too good a deal. Maybe yes, maybe not. But he had given up inside. He felt hopeless for the way he was treated after twenty three years of dedicated and excellent service to the organization.

At the end of the day it’s “job satisfaction” primarily, that keeps or loses an employee. That made me think about all the people who had resigned on my team. Why did they leave? It is because they were not happy about something. They may convince themselves that it’s the money. But no! I don’t agree. It’s the feeling of accomplishment at the end of the day, day after day, everyday. Period.

It is unfortunate that supervisors fail to understand this. What irked me about my friends situation was the umpteen requests he got to reconsider. The value was understood when he left. Like I told him “they don’t deserve your service!” He moved on.. nothing happened to the organization, nothing would and nothing will. One person doesn’t make a difference in any company, but that moment of realization on the part of his supervisors, that the situation could have been prevented, is satisfaction enough!

The year gone by…

New year is always an opportunity to reflect on the year gone by and renew the hope within you to possibilities and achieve something new. Technically January 1st is just another day, when you reset the calendar. But over the years this day has filled the human with what a system reboot does to the computer. You wash out the junk and temp files, and make the system ready for new transactions.

As I look at the year gone by, it was an eventful year. So many high points, and low ones too, and definitely some valuable lessons, retaught in life’s mysterious ways.

I ticked off a few items from my things-to-do-before-I-die bucket list, and some were direct blessings from above delivered to me through people I love.

All through my childhood years, my parents never owned a car. The lack of it didn’t have any impact on the quality of our life either. We walked, took an auto, rode the bus. The memories created during those walks, holding my parents hands, the endless chattering during those 2km walks from school or my father’s office were filled with stories from my father’s childhood or general knowledge about the world. I am so glad there were no mobile phones then, to intrude into our privacy. The paradox of today’s life is that we drive to the gym to walk!

So it was not until I got married that I owned a car. All credit goes to my husband for pushing me to learn driving. He virtually gave me a pair of wings. Fourteen years hence, we walked into the BMW showroom and bought our first BMW, a black sedan. Honestly, buying a car or even a BMW is no big deal in the US. You get auto loans at good rates, you can own any car you want. What makes it a blessing is knowing from where you came and where life has taken you. Counting your blessing and the luxuries that God has blessed you with. The icing of all of these blessings, was driving my father in the BMW, which was his first ride in a BMW! Truly blessed!

So, you have read blogs about my childhood years, the house I grew up in. My mother always complained that she never owned a house, until her final years when my brother and I together with our parents built a house in Wayanad. After listening to years and years of her grumbling for her own house, she looked so calm and at peace sitting in the front yard of the finished house. She looked like finally she was home. The memory fresh in my mind. Maybe I got this from her, but I always wanted to my own house and didn’t want to have it towards the tad end of my life. I wanted it during a time when I was healthy enough to maintain it. So thanks to my husband again, he bought us our first home. This house is many times the size of the house I grew up in. Again, what makes it special is knowing from where I came and where life has brought me. I now strive to create half as many good memories for my children in this large expanse of space, as my parents created for my brother and I. Again, blessed!

She is the first lady in my husband’s family I met. She welcomed me into the family with the warmest hug and a heart full of love. In all the fourteen years I have known her, she has only given love. Such selfless love, I have only read in books. She battled the worst illness during her final years and even in those times, she spread the warmth she had been blessed with. It was only befitting that she named our eldest son, Nitin. The nicest soul life introduced me to along the way, moved on to find her place in heaven. In that leaving, she redeemed me and blessed me for the years when she wouldn’t be around. Blessed to have been part of her loved ones!

Then my appa! The seventy year old, handsome fella who applies hair dye so carefully and wans to look young as he gets older. His bald head being the only obstacle. After years of nagging, he finally boarded the big bird and crossed the seas to come see America! He saw less of America, and just more and more of Walmart in Bentonville and rain and snow in Seattle. The six months he spent with my brother and I comes to an end this week. Yet having him with either of us is so much of a relief than when he is alone in Bangalore, where I call him everyday just to make sure he is okay. As he has got older he has developed some irritating habits like all old people do (which even I will, I am sure) but what he has done for me over all these years, is our personal story and is so important in shaping the person that I am today. So blessed to be born to him!

I always love spending time with my parents and sibling. We relive our childhood years, like everyone else. This maybe more important and dear for daughters who even partially adopt a different family strain through marriage. Being yourself with no strings attached is so endearing and happens only with your own parents and siblings. I got a week of this bliss when I went to Seattle to spend time with my brother and father. As I left Seattle there were underlying fears that I kept hitting down like whac-a-mole arcade game, yet the happiness of that one week is a treasure. Blessed to get that one week of me!

When you stay in a different country and miss your best friends often, getting even a 24 hour time period with them is a treat! 90% of the time is filled mostly with nonsense chatter, laughs, laughs and more laughs. At the end of the day the memory of that time brings a smile to your face. When life doesn’t offer you the best, this is where you huddle into, your punching bag, with no promises and explicit professing of the depth of the relationship. Its the knowing that they are which makes all the difference. The two nonsense-chatter people in my life have stayed on for sixteen years straight now. I can’t imagine my life without these two. Blessings!

Grandparents are a treasure. My children were blessed with another set of grandparents and their unlimited love throughout last year. My children are a bit more affectionate, softer, respectful because of the affection they were showered with by these grandparents. I am ever so grateful, that my children got this opportunity at love during these years of their life which will definitely play its part in the people they will become. Blessed again!

Letting go is difficult. Dipping myself in that cold water early in the morning, following the steps the priest dictated, putting rice and reciting those mantras supposedly frees my mother. It is not sadness or tears that I felt, its a frozen state accentuated by the dip. With my father beside me, its like she tied the bond a bee wit tighter. It was a low time, no doubt. But in the knowing that I was born to a fighter with a never-say-die attitude is the biggest blessing I have received. Her attitude to move on in spite of all obstacles is what she passed on to me. Blessed!

There were low times, but at the end of the day who wants to remember them. They are best let go. People whom I misjudged, people who helped you sail through during tough times, everything a blessing, a learning. There were days when there is no light at the end of the tunnel, just then the ray of hope shines in the form of a person or the inner strength or the force that helps go on. Through it all, God has been the invisible strength either directly or through people whom he placed in my life.

Yes, new year is a Ctrl+Alt+Del system reboot. Bring on the new challenges and blessings!

May 2017 be filled with blessings, again!

Of Bread sandwich & Maggi noodles…

So these were the engineering days. I lived in a hostel with a wonderful roommate and a bunch of cool girls next-door. It took me a few weeks to understand the know how’s  of a “hostelite”, but once I got the hang of it, there was no looking back, and they are the most memorable years of my life. 

“The akkas'” 

The hostel comprised of girls, matron and akkas’ (how you address elder sister in kannada). Many of them were probably younger than the girls, yet we called them akka. They probably came from families which needed them to come out and live in the hostel, cooking food, cleaning the mess, helping the matron in administering her histrionics etc. To earn some extra money, they washed our clothes, a certain amount for each piece of cloth. We heaped the bucket with dirty clothes, topped it with a sachet of Surf Excel, sold at an essentials store within the hostel and gave it to one of the akka’s. They washed the clothes, dried them and left them folded in the bucket, ready to be picked up and worn by us. 

It was a stark difference between the privileged us who were on our way to earning an engineering degree Vs a few girls, who earned their living by cooking, cleaning and washing. 

“Indu P, Indu P, Indu P . . visitor”

There was this elderly lady, whom we should have technically called aunty, but to keep it uniform called her akka. She was in charge of the microphone and the telephone! There was a room with a telephone to which we could receive calls. So, when any of us got a call, she switched on the PA system and went “Indu P, Indu P, Indu P . . phone”.. if there was a visitor the watchman called her and she made the announcement replacing “phone” with “visitor”. Post this announcement you could hear a loud “COMING” in response. If the akka didn’t hear this, she would hang up or return the visitor. A  thundering phat phat phat of hawaii chappal (a cheap sandal) on the cement floor followed, reverberating around the quadrangle. I know there were girls who secretly kept track of who got visitors, just for the fun of it, rolling their eyes to their closest friends.. 

“PCO Booth”

For outgoing calls there was a PCO booth within the hostel premises. The person who operated the booth was blind, but very capable. His equipment had Braille engraving that helped him operate the booth. After 9 pm STD rates were lower and there was this queue of girls outside the booth waiting their turn. This was the time when mobile phones didn’t exist. Calls to parents, calls to boyfriends, knocking on the door when one person took a loooooong time, kuchikooing, log entry of phone calls, advance booking were some of the daily noises around here. 

“Sunday paratha and ice cream”

Sunday was “I-wash-my-hair-today” day. After gobbling down the every Sunday morning aloo paratha which was a heap of boiled potatoes, barely covered in dough, dusted with a thick layer of flour, served with the same pickle every weekend, the girls took a loooooong bath, washing their loooooong hair. At lunch time they came swaying their long tresses for the Sunday special lunch. The ice-cream served post lunch was something we looked forward to. We could have bought better ice-cream outside the mess, but eating that ice-cream on the steps of the entrance to the hostel, chit chatting for hours, was a treat. A few hours into gossiping and we could see the boys starting to line up outside the hostel. This was a super time pass. The guy comes, gives the name to the watchman, the watchman gives the guy a dirty look, announcement over the PA system, the loud running footsteps, which slows down right around the corner where the steps end and the hostel entrance walkway is visible to the outside world, matron giving dirty looks to the girl, nevertheless, the dressed up girl walks out blushing, the “vela” (local word for jobless) girls on the steps give out a sly smile..


There was a rec-room with a 20 inch CRT TV that was our only source of television, those four years. Monday night 9pm, you didn’t have to look further, majority of the girls glued to their seats or inch of space available in the rec room watching a soap called Saans, which was about a married man, his wife and the other woman. If you whispered while the show was on, the seniors would give you nasty looks. 

The seats were reserved for and by the final year girls while the freshers edged on their friend to catch a glimpse of what was going on. 

“Night canteen”

The akkas’ ran a night canteen during internals and semester exams. They served biscuits, bread sandwich, egg sandwich, coffee etc from 11pm to 1am (I think) since the mess closed after dinner and this fueled the thinking minds before the exam! So after about an hour’s study after dinner, and another hour of chit chatting, the girls raided the night canteen. The yummiest and most expensive  (I guess it was Rs 5) was Maggi noodles. It was served in a small silver plate, filled to the rim. We usually shared this and it was a sure delicacy. So was the bread sandwich which was this enormous piece of bread buttered and toasted. Yumm!!

The best years, treasured memories, abundant happiness, carefree life.. 


My parents took a bold step of paying Rs 50 in the year 1982 to Bishop Cottons for admitting me to Nursery. Then on, their next 14 years of life was spent on raising money to keep me there.

I was this short, stout mallu kid who never had anything fancy. While my friends brought magnet pencil boxes, I brought an ordinary close the lid box. While they brought pen pencils, where the lead from the front went into the back when it ran out, I had nataraj pencils. They brought erasers that smelled of perfume and mine was an ordinary nataraj eraser. Sharpeners were of every kind on display in class and bore no resemblance to the ordinary sharper, the cheapest in the Shetty stores opposite my house in Sampangiram Nagar.

Their bags were fancy which were often pink or some flashy color, while mine was a brick brown bag without clasps, and only had a buckle. When we switched to pens, mine was a local ink pen. My black shoes wore out completely before I got a new pair. My hair was oiled almost always and plaited with black bands. My lunch was always rice. As I moved to 8th std, I got a pair of big spectacles that made me look even more dumb.

Many girls in my class had everything I didn’t have for school supplies. They came in a car with a driver or with their dad on bikes. I went with the automan or walked back home with my parents. Somewhere in senior school my mother bought a luna. Boy.. It was a wonderful feeling sitting behind the luna and going home. She was probably scared to death to ride with my brother, me, our school bags and lunch baskets on the tiny pillion.
In Junior school at the Christmas party Santa Claus never chose me to handover a chocolate. I waited every year to get that diary milk or 5 star. Each time I was disappointed and I convinced myself thinking that only Christian girls got gifts from Santa.

Girls in my class took to sports, since this was not important at home, I just watched. In the 8th std, I wanted to become a prefect. I thought I had it in me to lead, not sure how. But I was not made one. The girl who was made a prefect from my class was an athlete. So I thought maybe that’s why.

As the years went by and I migrated from one class to the other I grew a sense of inferiority within me. I was not invited to other girls house and I didn’t invite anyone to my bare establishment of 300 sq ft of space that I called home. I felt ashamed. I somehow felt I was out of place. I only had 1 best friend all my years at Cottons.

In the 9th I was made class captain ! Phew so I was noticed and I was someone. I loved the title. 10th again, I was made class captain. Double jackpot ! I was an average student all the while, didn’t fail in any subject, was not scolded by the teachers, did my homework on time, no comments during PTA meetings. But this inferiority feeling stayed with me.
My true moment of pride was when the music teacher and English teacher called me over and asked me if I could speak on behalf of the outgoing students during the graduation ceremony. This was what I had been waiting for, for many years, the moment of recognition. Maybe my participation in the debate competition gave me this opportunity. I don’t know. I prepared the speech and read it out in front of the entire 10th and 12th outgoing students. It was the best moment of my life, until then. I remember borrowing a sari from a neighbour to keep up with the dress code – plain sari, any colour.

I didn’t know that the best had been saved for the last. My 10th results. I was the 6th rank in school, missing the 5th by a mark. That was the highest I had scored in my entire years at school!! I had left behind the prefects chosen, the athletes, the captains.. It sounds really silly now, but what I felt on that day was like I had received a present from Santa on Christmas.

My batch is planning for a reunion after 22 years and these memories came rushing back. I have 14 years of work experience behind me now, an Account Manager at an IT firm, published a book, a wife, mother of two kids… I managed without all the fancy stuff I missed to own during those years. But the things I learnt, living in the meagre 300 sq foot house, the years at school, the scarcity of things are some of the best lessons I learnt in life. It took me a few years to realize, I am a little dumb that way.. so here goes.. “Thank you” teachers and girls for the best years of my life !!

Old friends and good times

Ever yearned to take that trip with your good old friends, a time to break out from the norm? A time where you can revel on gossip, fun and laughter, accompanied by good food on unknown terrains. A journey into friendship, a journey into the known with people you have known for as long as you can remember. This post is for my buddies – Ren and Resh and this is.. our trip.


The planning for the trip started over a cup of coffee on any normal day, and that the trip turned out to be extraordinary. There was no disagreement about the fact that all of us wanted to breakfree from the mundane and just be us. So we started with Goa which Ren thought was boring and common. Then we moved to Kolkota, but Resh’s uncle lived there. Next was Mumbai, a place that Resh and I had never been to, but again Ren had family there and we could not visit either of these places without paying a customary visit to family. So I rejected both the options. We then moved to Hyderabad, a neutral choice, but what would we do there. That is when we went international. Why India? Why not out of India? So what were out options, let’s see – Andaman – too expensive, Laskwahdeep – not exciting, Thailand – Urggh, Sri Lanka – YESSS!!

So the decision was made – we were going on a trip to Sri Lanka in February sans family – the best part 🙂

I booked the tickets the next day, lest they change their minds. Ren was a little surprised – so we are really going – is what she said. I took charge of the visas, delegated the where to stay to Resh and what to do to Ren. Resh and I knew that Ren wouldn’t start looking for what to do until we boarded the flight. Now this was the topic of conversation at every lunch and evening tea – what we would take, what we would wear, how many pairs of shoes, the list was endless. Resh the manager sent out calendar invites and set meeting times to discuss our upcoming trip and these meetings were serious.

So finally the day came – Feb 22 when our spouses dropped us off at Trivandrum International Airport, with the biggest smiles on their faces happy to be free for a couple of days. If it was evening, they would have celebrated the happiness with clinking glasses. We tagged along with our luggage which was quite a lot for 3 days and 4 nights. As we waiting to board, Resh got into a conference call to keep the lights on and Ren was seen leaning against a pillar kuchikooing with Subz – she did this so many times during the trip (aaah!)..

Finally we hopped on Sri Lankan Airlines and sat next to each other with a gleam in our eyes and smiles stretched from east to west – We were actually on a flight to Sri Lanka and just us! We observed everything and passed comments on everything. The air hostesses were kind of plump and dressed in Sri Lankan attire – seeing that Ren wanted to dress up in their costume and take a picture. We thought they showed off too much skin 😉 The men on the flight looked a bit scary to us, but probably they were scared as surely we must have appeared as aliens. After an hour of flying, during which Ren claims she saw the tip of the Sri Lanka, we landed at Bhandaranayake International Airport, Colombo.

The hotel we finalized was Galle Face which is a 4 star luxury hotel founded in 1864. We got our on arrival visas stamped and went on to convert some Euros (courtesy frequent flyer Jayan) to Sri Lankan Rupees. We also bought a calling card to inform our families that it was sad but true, that we had arrived safely. While Resh and I were doing this, Ren hooked up with a travel agent who gave her his number and promised to call to book a day’s trip to Kandy (more about this later). By the way, Ren did finally find some places for us to visit and also conjured up some Sinhalese words, which she alone knew.

As I was the hotel in charge I called them to find out about the Airport pick-up they had promised on arrival. After walking up and down the terminal, a 6 foot dark guy walked up to me and said – Galle Face Airport pick-up. We hopped onto his dirty, stinky, dusty car which had no A/C praying that he was genuine and would take us to the correct place. After an hour long drive, which seemed like forever, we reached Galle Face Hotel. On the way, we felt we had been transported back to Kerala. There were road-side shops, traffic with no idea on who went where, honking and people jaywalking.

We checked in and and went to meet the person at the travel desk to arrange a tour of the city. He arranged a chauffeur driven Merc to drive us around the city. We went to check out the room, and boy it was HUGE!! With colonial chairs, a huuuge bed and wooden floors, it was just perfect.

We changed to dress #1 and went down to have lunch. It wasn’t lunch, it was a feast!! One of the best buffets we had eaten. The restaurant was sea facing with the Sri Lankan flag hoisted on the beach. A lighthouse, the sea, the flag, benches on the porch and the endless ocean filled the view. Bliss!

After lunch the travel desk informed us that our car was ready, and we hopped onto the Merc, and the driver – old chap, showed us around. He spoke pretty good English and this was a blessing. He drove around the World Trade Center, Independence Memorial Hall, Bank of Sri Lanka, Indian Bank, the President’s house – with the army guarding his residence, on the streets where cricketers lived, war memorial and to Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple. We got our first jolt here. This place was on Ren’s list of must see places, and as we entered there was an old guy who demanded that we leave our footwear with his agent who charged an exorbitant price to take care of them. Our instincts got the better of us, and we decided to leave the premises. We stood outside and watched the other entrants into the temple, and they kept their footwear in a separate place where they didn’t have to pay money. That is when we realized that we were FOREIGNERS and we could not go by local rates.

On our way the driver told us that we should probably have dinner at one of the restaurants at the Dutch Hospital Complex. This was an open quadrangle with various restaurants offering a bistro style dining. The entrance smelled of cigarettes and liquor. We paused to think if we should enter, and we even walked up to an army guy and asked him – is it safe for three girls to go in here? He laughed and said, yes. We walked in an OH MY GOD – this was going to be one of the best dinners of our life. It was not only the food, but the ambiance was just so good. We sat on one of the cement benches in the open air quadrangle, ordered food from one of the restaurants and felt the cool wind in our hair. The world trade center rising up to the sky right behind, lit up brightening up the dark sky. It was noisy yet peaceful. We were in a place many miles away from home, in the company of each other, just having a good time. The icing was pending. We walked back to the hotel, on the walkway alongside the beach, late in the night, the mellowed sound of the waves, stars shining above us and world to ourselves. We yapped, we laughed, we sat in silence on one of the benches looking out at the sea. One of my fond memories from the trip.

Day 2

This was a day of adventure, not so much for the places we visited but for the mode of transport to Kandy. Remember the guy from the Airport who told Ren he would call. Ren set up a cab with him to take us to Kandy. So after breakfast this guy calls Ren and says that he driver was waiting outside the hotel. We gave him a few instructions and to each one he replied with the word OK. We three were off to an unknown place with a stranger in an unknown country. Some courage we have! Just to feel safe, like in the movies, I told Resh, ‘hey my uncle is on duty at the military post today, but said that we can call him if there is a need’.. For people who have watched Kilukkam would recollect Revathi telling Mohanlal that “Uganda-de pradhana manthri ente ammavan aanennu”.. After all this bantering we understood that the driver apparently spoke no English – except for the word OK! Ren called the travel agent and gave him instructions, which was translated to the driver in Sinhalese.

Our first stop was the Elephant Orphanage at Pinnawala. It was overpriced, but we were phirangi and had to pay a heavy price to see the orphanage. The skeleton of the elephant was a sight. Apart from some real phirangi’s we were the only visitors there. And like the original phirangees we too rode an elephant. Ren and me on one, Resh by herself. This thing is really huge, how does it carry its weight.. ? After sweating it out in the hot sun, we called the Sinhalese driver and hopped on his cab and continued our sight seeing trip. Next stop was Royal Botanical Garden which turned out to be acres of green carpet. Pine trees towering into the sky, orchid garden, a huge park with kids running around like the bogies of a train, couples romancing in hide-away corners – it was all there. We had lunch at a restaurant inside the garden overlooking the pine trees.

Outside the garden we bought 3 identical bracelets as a keepsake from the trip. Our next stop – Buddha’s relic temple – Kandy.

A huge temple, four time bigger than the Padmanabha Swamy temple in Trivandrum. After climbing some steps, and passing by a narrow alley we reached our destination. The place where Buddha’s tooth is stored. The architecture and surrounding was no different than a temple in Tamil Nadu. Most of the people there were praying, and we were looking around. We sat on the steps of the temple and took in the peace and tranquility of the place. Around the temple, some steps led to another hall. The opposite side had a door to exit this hall. We entered the hall and looked left to find a HUGE statue of Buddha in white. Standing there looking at the statue of Buddha descended us into a state of peace and calmness. Just looking at the image, we felt the strain of the day, stress of our life drifting away. Another fond memory from the trip.

There was a cultural show in an adjacent auditorium, comprising the dances of Sri Lanka. We jumped in there and more than the dance what we liked was that we found a place to rest our bottoms :). After the hour long show we left Kandy for an adventurous ride back to Colombo. It was dark, and although we were with this driver since morning, not one instance in the entire day led us to trust him. His driving had turned rash, and we took turns in taking a nap. We were scared – shit scared, but on a brave front and sat firm. At 9.30pm we reached the hotel and thanked God that we reached back safely. After dinner we went to see a stage show opposite the hotel. There was this girl dressed in a red flashy dress singing songs in Sinhalese.. made no sense to us but still we stayed on and listened.


Lately, it seems like the only time I get to sit back, relax and think is when I drive to office and drive back home. Those stretched 35 miles of my day, is when Maya can lose sight of the world around and delve into dreams and the world of imagination. My best company during these hours is my Ipod and my collection of melodies.

This evening, while returning from work, my Ipod decided to pick ‘Valai osai’, a tamil song set to tune by Ilayaraja. The song teared me up. The familiar feeling of loneliness sprung upon me opening up the void left by my friends – Chichu, Renju and Priya. When Chichu and me shared an apartment, about ten years ago, she being a classical singer, owned a casette of Ilayaraja hits. It was then that I was introduced to Ilayaraja and his music. On “amazing” never-to-return, lazy Sundays, we would crawl out of bed when neighbours rang the lunch bell. Either a casette was played on her fancy stereo system or Rosebowl on TV, the only electronic gadget in our apartment.

There was a mattress on the floor for me, and old folding cot for her, a bamboo mat in the living room to sit and a stand for the 21inch BPL TV. This was all the furniture we owned, apart from a plastic bucket each. The gas stove was on loan from her aunt. The most meagre furniture, but those were the best days of life. Happy, carefree, do-what-you-want-to-do!!

I feel blessed that these three people walked into my life. Each one had their own timing. Renju, outside a training institute in Pulimoodu, apparently thinking the same thing, I was thinking ‘Where do we stay, in this unknown place?’. The fearless, think-straight, do-the-right-thing, cant-cook-for-nuts girl. ‘I am Renju Pillai, from Kozhikode, did my Engineering in Kuttipuram College’, we had heard that enough, so didn’t need formal introductions. Then walked in Chichu with the question ‘May I join you?’ ever so politely, probably for the fear of rejection. (Laughs). This round, rolly-polly, cute, looks-like-me glasses-clad girl from namma Madras. Jain Engineering College. Priya entered last, the sophisticated, pretty-pretty, rides-in-a-car-with-a-driver girl. I wonder what brought us so close, probably the no-nonsense attitude that all of us shared?

In all the time we lived together, I lived with Chichu for the longest period of time. My bum-pal!! Renju sneaked out pretty soon, to go out with her fiance, Subu. She ever so smartly moved away from the topic when we asked about their whereabouts. A referee in all my fights with others. Priya and I, grew into girl-friends with our daily lunch to Kalavara hotel, while all our other batchmates went to the not-looking-nice-from-outside hotel, Sopanam. A million memories weaved into this thread of friendship, only if we could relive those years again.

I don’t think I can go up again to a complete stranger (lady) and ask ‘May I share a room with you’? But for the one time I had the guts, I sure did hit upon some treasure.

Love you girls and miss you loads!!