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.
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.
I guess I just miss my friend.