Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Goodbye, Vinod Podar

Vinod always, is the life of the party. Vinod always, has been the facilitator of good times. With his quick wit, corny PJ’s and ready smile, he ensured that people around him had a good time, no matter however drab the party, outing or social gathering might be. Vinod is a catalyst, for laughter, mirth and a general feeling of bonhomie that leaves you with the feeling that all’s well with the world and that life is good.

Above all Vinod is an exceptional father, a good husband and a loyal friend (despite having jilted me on his volleyball team). Someone you want to be around with, in good times and in bad times. Ever dependable, helpful and full of positive energy.

So tomorrow Vinod is traveling back, to start a life in our motherland, India, to be at the service of his ageing parents, in India’s Silicon Valley, Bangalore. Oops Bengaluru, it is now. And we, our little social circle in Michigan, will be that much more poorer for laughter, silly jokes and corny one-liners. But life still goes on, albeit a little poorer.

We have know Vinod and Nita for over 5 years now. Not a terribly long period of time as far as life spans go, but its not the span of time, but rather the quality of time that one spends with people, that define relationships. We have been to countless picnics, parties, outings, boys night outs, volleyball games, temple functions and other gatherings that Vinod either has initiated or been an integral part of. He was key in organizing a blood drive, at the local temple, for a friend’s son who was dying of leukemia. He would compare birthday bashes and have the audience in splits, organize singing mehfils and have us drunk.

On weekends, much to the consternation of the better halves, we’d get roused to phone calls by Vinod, early in the mornings, for outdoor volleyball. He’s sign us up for leagues and competitions, where to our surprise, we’d fare not too shabbily. At least, for me, Vinod will always be associated with the summer time volleyball games he organized. And much fun we had, despite having to face the music when we’d return home late in the afternoon.

Over the past few weeks, as there have been multitudes of farewell dinners and parties for Vinod, the question that keeps popping in my head is: Are your friends the new family? This becomes more pertinent for NRI’s like me, living thousands of miles from my blood relatives.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my parents and siblings to death, but they are not close to my daily life. Thinking back, growing up in our society complex in Bombay, our neighbors knew us better than our relatives. They knew our lives, just as we knew theirs, inside out. Our illnesses, our school results, career plans, marriage plans, clothing/music/books preferences, were known intimately by our neighbors, almost as much as the family that you were living with. The neighbors were like an extended family, just like our friends circle here.

With the concept of a ‘global village’ becoming a reality now and professionals criss-crossing the globe with alarming regularity, the relationships that you grow and nurture with friends around us becomes of paramount importance. Just like all other relationships, one needs to take time and effort to cultivate these relationships, and let it grow. Have the best fun with the people around you, since you don’t know when they may be gone. All relationships end, just the time that they last for varies.

So this piece is dedicated to Vinod, for his warmth and his friendship, wishing him the best while he reasserts his identity in India, grappling with personal and professional panaceas, and thanking him for the memories that he leaves behind with us. Such is the capricious whims of life, that you can never really tell what you encounter next. Over the past years, I’ve fallen out of touch with close friends and rekindled acquaintances with old friends to restart the threads of our associations. But it never remains the same. Life happens, and you tend to move on. All you have are your memories.

So Vinod Podar, as you make your journey to a warmer land, land of bisibelebhat and aloo parathas, here’s goodbye, good luck and farewell. You shall be missed.

Dialogues from my one of my favorite movie ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ where Red (Morgan Freeman) describes Andy Dufrane (Tim Robbins), on his escapes from prison. Applies to Vinod as well, IMHO

               Those of us who knew him best talk 
               about him often. I swear, the stuff 
               he pulled. It always makes us laugh. 
        A wild burst of laughter. PUSH IN on Red. Feeling melancholy.
                               RED (V.O.) 
               Sometimes it makes me sad, though, 
               Andy being gone. I have to remind 
               myself that some birds aren't meant 
               to be caged, that's all. Their 
               feathers are just too bright... 
               ...and when they fly away, the part 
               of you that knows it was a sin to 
               lock them up does rejoice...but still, 
               the place you live is that much more 
               drab and empty that they're gone. 
        A DISTANT RUMBLE OF THUNDER. Red pauses, gazes off. Storm 
        clouds coming in, backlit by the sun. A light drizzle begins. 
                               RED (V.O.) 
               I guess I just miss my friend. 


Blogger Karthik said...

First of all, Sourin.. Great job ! Your writing skills and vocabulary express the feelings of everyone at this point.

I can't beleive that I will be 'even more' far away from one of my great 'booster'.

Whenever myself and Maha used to talk about missing all the extended family in Michigan, I used to tell her that it is only an hour's flight away to Michigan and we can catch up with everyone during a birthday party or an event in Mandir every 3 or 4 months.

Whenever I used to feel little blue, I could easily pick up the phone and just call 248 854 4338. Now, it might be an international number, but how often could I feel the warmth of the positive energy that Vinod and Nita bring in us.

Talking myself out loud, open and at ease with people like Vinod, Nita, Karan brings in a lot of resurrection in me. I will be missing the frequency of those calls.

I always used to say that everything needs a time, place and a moment for you to realize the full potential of any event. One such great quote by Vinod is that 'Live for today, don't worry about yesterday or what's going to happen tomorrow. Live this moment !'

Vinod finds the right time, right way and the right method to instill the above statement in me. I am not exaggerating if I say that myself and Maha would speak for hours together once a week about how great Vinod & Nita means to us both.

I really look forward to spending those moments with Vinod, either at the Volleyball courts or at a social gathering with some late night chats and just get drunk to open up your talks further.

I wish Vinod & Nita all the very best and looking forward to seeing our 'same old Vinod' everytime I see him in the future !!!


1:54 PM  
Blogger Anshul said...

"Vinod" which means amusing...provides full of life, zeal and enthusiasm. Well, he is absolutely amazing. He very well knows to maintain the relationships inspite of all the odds and evens in the last 8 years.

I still remember very distinctly (8 years back)when Vinod approached me for the first time in one of the parties when I was new to the crowd and made me comfortable amongst other folks. That's his persona!

On the other side of the coin, I must have heard his PJ's (the same ones) 'n' number of times - but, it still gives ripples and laughters :))

He is caring, extremely helpful and a dedicated husband. Do not ask Nita...she might not agree with me.

Wish you all the best Vinod in all your endeavours wherever you are. You remind me of a very old saying "Best friends listen to what you dont say"

Take Care,

2:33 PM  
Blogger Bobby said...

....I share the same sentiments. It feels like I have known Vinod and Nita for a very long time. Its been 5 years of awesome memories and I will always remember you guys. Good luck with everything and will see you in B'hore sometime.

Your friend

3:44 PM  
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6:35 AM  
Blogger Supriya said...

Wow... reading all your "boo-logs" I'm ready to burst into tears. You guys have really taken this hard haven't you?

I guess I'll probably feel the same way once Nita leaves. I'm not thinking about it as yet... kind of like a "Sweep it under the carpet" emotion.

I still remember meeting Nita for the first time when we were about 16 years old and my more ardent memories of her are not fit to be posted. (Peace, Nita!)

Thanks to this kind phenomenon called Fate, we've had the good fortune of living within a driving distance of each other for all this time. I'm almost sure that it (Fate) will continue to bestow upon us its benevolent placement services.

Needless to say it's not going to be easy to express 21 years of feelings into one blog. But yes, no matter where she is in the world, I sure I can cry on her shoulder when I need to.

Meeting Vinod for the first time in Bombay hospital in 1992, was quite an experience in itself. This was when Nita and Vinod had just decided to tie the knot. It was a brief chance encounter, but it left a lasting impression in my mind. During your wedding, Nita, I still remember being the only one sitting with you at the Mandap when all the rest of the girls went to see the fanfare of his baarat. Such was the magnetic attraction of our Vinod.

Can any of us imagine Detroit without the Podars? Much as we've relied upon them to be the bond that brings us all together for many happy occasions, let's not make their departure a catalyst to forget our good times together. (One thing I do know is that we'll see each other at least once a year at Rahul's house for Super Bowl) Ha Ha!

So here's wishing them lots of good times albeit without us and all of us a good life albeit without them. Cheers!


9:10 AM  
Anonymous Kalpana said...

Sourin and (Vinod & Nita),

That was a great tribute to Vinod, and certainly very appropriately deserved! So, will you write one for Nita when she joins him in April? There is always a "Good Women" behind every Good Man!!! We all know that!

I have known Nita and Vinod for about 10 years now.. when we all lived in Ohio together. We had some great times then, just like the times you have described. You are right Vinod does have that sincere humanistic streak in him, that we ALL benefit from. Back then I remember feeling as sad (as you probably do now) when they said they were going to be moving to the Detroit area. Without a doubt, they BOTH are a WONDERFUL couple, each having a strength that compliments the other. We wish we could be selfish and keep them in our midst all our lives…. but, as you say, the important thing is to have good memories of all that we do in our lives… I take it one step ahead, and tell myself to enjoy EVERY MOMENT of the day, so when I look back in my old age, I will catch myself smiling for all the things that happened!

As for comments on a couple of lines on your email:
the question that keeps popping in my head is: Are your friends the new family?

I went to a boarding school when I was 6 years old… then, went to live by myself during my undergrad, and have been here in the US now for 15 years… all this while, never having my immediate family in the same household that I lived…. As a result, I have made some very close friends along the way, and about 5 to 6 years ago, I came to the realization that my friends had indeed become my family, and my family had come to be my friends (in both cases, I was the benefactor, as we all know now, from having grown that much older how important BOTH aspects of these relationships are.) In May of 2005 our class (60 out of 95, there were 10 to 15 who are in touch, but could not make it) from our boarding school had our 25th year reunion, and for a YEAR we planned everything… the events, the travel, the accommodations, the meetings, the parties (pre & post), and it all culminated in a meeting for a week at our old school in Ooty… Everyone came from all corners of the world! Everyone had put aside all that they do everyday to be there for that one week. When we met we never felt that we had 25 years between us! And now, we will all, be one big group of friends for the rest of our lives…(absolutely, positively… no doubt there!)and it will ALWAYS FEEL THE SAME!…. The reason I make this point is coz, of the other few lines that you wrote: "I've fallen out of touch with close friends and rekindled acquaintances with old friends to restart the threads of our associations. But it never remains the same. Life happens, and you tend to move on. All you have are your memories."
I am a good example of NEVER having lost a friend I have made in my life..What I mean to say is, it is up to us, to MAKE THE TIME to do the things that bring us peace, solace, and joy in every breath…that is what I believe …to be truly "successful" in life….. Now, it is up to Vinod & Nita, as it is up to us to keep that communication in our lives, and fill each other in on how we are and what is happening in our lives, and keep each other posted on everything…to never ever grow old to feel we lost out on a few good friends. (but, I also agree with you on the point that it is the quality of time spent together vs. the amount of years we have known each other that is important…..and we will certainly miss out on that count)

Hopefully both, Vinod & Nita know I am good at that! ;) Right Vinod? Right Nita?
But, you are right, as they have chosen to make this change in their lives, we have to support them in their decision, stand strong alongside, and be there for them if they ever need us.

Thank you for writing such a nice piece on behalf of all their friends, and to you both -Vinod & Nita…GOOD LUCK, GOD BLESS, and make sure you continue to enjoy your lives… but, keep us close. Lots of love and a warm hug.


10:32 AM  

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