FRIENDS reunion (2021)

The most perfect, heartwarming, appropriate, sensitive, nostalgic and long overdue reunion!


The Lone Protestor

I was recently in Hong Kong for a reunion with friends and to celebrate my birthday. It’s a city I have visited frequently and really enjoy. I knew that our planned itinerary would have to be changed according to the current situation in Hong Kong. What I didn’t realise is that it would turn into an adventure of sorts, with fast paced thrilling moments to pepper our otherwise languid sightseeing.

What should have been a quick half hour journey on the MTR to the beautiful Tian Tan Buddha turned out to be an long drawn but interesting ferry and bus trip. An hour and a half after we left our hotel, we arrived in a rickety bus to an almost empty village with a handful of tourists to flank the enormous and serene structure.

After a quick visit to the nearby monastery we rushed to catch the one bus which would take us back to the fast ferry back to the Island, only to see it deliberately driving away from us, five minutes before it’s scheduled time.

One taxi stood idly and kindly responded to our request to call for more taxis to accommodate our group of seven as he drove off for his prior appointment. We had 40 minutes to reach the ferry. Two taxis turned up, one of them was infuriatingly hailed by people who weren’t in the queue. Time was ticking by. Another one turned up soon enough. We had 30 minutes and the drive time showed 35.

We told the driver to step on it and he did, taking his cue from the speedy lady driver in the taxi ahead of us! Racing on hills and cursing at one ways, we finally got to the ferry with 3 minutes to spare! We made it to the Island on time to get on with our evening.

This was one of the many days in the vibrant city of Hong Kong which has been greatly affected because of protests. One night as reports of activity closed in on our location at TST we decided to rush back to the hotel. 3 taxis were needed, only one agreed to go.

I sat in the first taxi with my heart racing as we drove directly into a barricaded area, full of a crowd of protestors dressed in black in the distance. The driver turned around swiftly, thinking of alternate routes, manoeuvring around bricks, trash bags and a blocked path to a tunnel. As we alighted the taxi near our hotel, we came face to face with a single protestor, who was quietly putting traffic cones back on the road to block cars from passing.

His mask represented everything we had seen on the news, concerning all the activity going on in the city. There was fear and anxiety in the air as we walked away as quickly as we could to the hotel. One group managed to get a taxi after waiting for 20 minutes, another group walked around the affected areas along the promenade as they made their way back to the hotel.

The above was a little window in to a city which was a thriving hub, safe and prosperous which is now facing closure of schools, MTR stations, an economy in recession and many questions about its future.

It was a thrilling time which was filled with hourly updates on where to go, what to avoid and trying to stay safe in the process. We saw everything on our itinerary thanks to the wonderful planning of our guardian angels, Ekta, Veer, Rakesh and Manisha. Nothing stopped us from having fun! From Sheesha nights to parks, great days out sightseeing to beautiful dinners, foot massages to enjoying desi music, we did it all!

In a chance meeting I got to meet my brother Vinod who was there for work. Thank you for braving a night out from your hotel to spend time with all of us.

Thank you Hong Kong for standing tall and welcoming tourists. Hotel, restaurant and public transport staff were extremely helpful and kind to all of us. Hope things settle down soon and see you again to enjoy the buzz and energy you have in so much abundance.

It’s the same year

As the year is reaching its final month I look back and think how it started out. We had resolutions. We had dreams. We had check lists. We had desires which were not on the list or probably not even dancing around in our conscious mind. But somehow without our full intention, they manifested from our subconscious. One friend lost considerable weight and attracted great opportunities. Another expanded his business. One flew to places he has just wished for and another made new friends. Some found love while some found work. Some moved and some contemplated a move. All in the same year. In the very time they didn’t think they would. Or even should because they were not ready or ‘deserving’. But time my friend, will present what’s good for you at the right time, and prepare you for the right time in ways that may not seem right. Trust Time.

For the friends who have used their power and influence over others wisely, I admire you. For the ones who haven’t, you taught us to become wiser in our choice of friends. Today is a day to celebrate those who continue to bring a smile on your face. Happy days to you. Yes you. You know who you are.

What’s your story?

Which is your favourite FRIENDS character? Next time you are asked that, behold! It is a trick question. It’s a great way to strike a conversation, find some common ground (What?! You are not a FRIENDS fan? Shortest conversation ever!).

The trick behind it is that the person asking either wants to know what you connect with most, what you aspire to be, or simply what you are all about.Sometimes it is to communicate what the asking party is like, in a quick non-judgemental manner. Would you call yourself ‘flaky’? No! But you wouldn’t mind calling yourself ‘Phoebe’. See the difference? (I am flaky I’ll say anything!)

The truth is, we identify with certain characters, songs, films, poems, stories. We look for characters that are like us, and hinge our solace on the way their story progresses. Whether it’s Dumbledore, Snape, McGonagall, Hermione or Fudge forbid Voldemort, our qualities or personality traits that are similar have been pointed out by those close to us.

Many times I have overheard people talk about the four diverse girls in Sex and the City. They are laughing and slotting their friends into the four categories and people deny or defend themselves. Why? It’s because they don’t like how that particular character’s story is progressing, or many times, how it ends. Sometimes they want to guard their personal life or traits, and don’t want to be easily branded as ‘Samantha , Carrie, Charlotte or Miranda’.

Popular culture has and always will play a role in the lives of those who consume it. So far I have been talking of Western content. (Some eyes are relaxing now, as the real stuff comes to the fore!) Hindi cinema and songs have had and continue to have a bigger impact on me. When I am not with my 6 friends at Central Perk or laughing at insults from Karen Walker, where Jack McFarland jumps around, Grace Adler stuffs her face and Will Truman looks upset and uninterested, I enjoy watching Hindi cinema, both old and new and I love Hindi songs! (Come on! The Lyrics are so much more meaningful! Eyes roll all around).

Whether its romantic classics or comedy capers, we all have a ‘Raj & Simran’ aspiration, a ‘Raveena Karishma Bajaj Gogo’ laughline, ‘Anjali & Rahul’ friendship, ‘Naina Catherine Kapoor Patel’ saga or ‘Rahul Pooja Nisha’ triangle that we like or enjoy watching more than once.  What I have noticed without meaning to highlight, is that many times, we hide behind our favourite characters. We would all like to be someone else but settle for what we are popularly thought to be, because most stories do turn out ok, so even ours will, right?

But real life is not written by a team of writers playing to the ratings. You are the only audience, writer, director and the main lead of your show. Many times people become the side act, step up, take centre stage. It’s your story and you should get to say it! Yes by all means use the metaphors and references you are comfortable with, but create your own madness!

Having said that, will every Monica meet a guy like Chandler? I would like to believe so.

We’re the Millers (2013)

There is something about sophisticated ‘R’ rated humour that has everyone in splits. I use that word to describe this particular genre of adult comedies, because the language has excellent comic timing in the guise of profanity.

Christened ‘America’s Sweetheart’ by USA and many of her fans overseas, Jennifer steps well out of her comfort zone and image to play a convincing stripper. Extremely fit, with fresh ‘Rachel’ style quips, she is a combo of the character we have loved on TV and a bold babe many of us wondered she could pull off.

Jason Sudeikis is a small time drug dealer who lands in a big time soup, courtesy an incident he shouldn’t have gotten involved in. Emma Roberts plays a runaway rebel and Will Poulter the 18 year old virgin (the judgement age having gone down from 40).

What follows next is a crazy road trip, with family dynamics that make ‘dysfunctional seem normal’. Pure Laughter Therapy!


Happy Friendship Day 2013

Happy Friendship Day everyone! Just like all the other ‘Days’ this relationship is celebrated every minute of every day, all year round. You earn good friends and the true ones never leave you. To quote ‘It’s a wonderful life’, “Remember no man is a failure who has friends.”