Exactly a month ago, I was traveling by the bus to a place I had never been before, to meet my online friend for the first time. Little did I know it would turn out to be one of the best days of my life loaded with love and joy.
Hazel and I have been friends since long, almost eight years to be somewhat specific. I had met her on a blogging platform and we became good friends thereafter. The bond we share has grown strong over the years and so has the distance between us. She was in Mumbai when we met online in 2015 and she lives in Canada now. She visits her native place, AAA whenever possible. On the other hand, I have rarely left my hometown NNN since I was put on the planet. I did spend a couple of years in other state but returned when I switched my job for good.
When I look back on our journey so far, I feel lucky to have found her. She is one of the best things that has happened to me and I feel glad to have her in my life. In this long, eight years old friendship, we have lived our share of moments together, through calls, texts and emails. However, I must accept the fact that long distance friendships are not a walk on the carpet. You go through different phases in your life and that does affect your virtual relationships. It takes a lot to stay in touch with each other, especially when the friendship you are in lacks the physical presence of the persons. Staying there, naturally becomes difficult when you don’t get to see and meet each other often but I am glad we have managed to stay, together. The only thing we both always wished for is to meet each other in person. This short memoir is all about our first meet up which eventually turned out to be a beautiful memory for me.
We were chatting on WhatsApp as usual during the first week of the new calendar year. While talking, Hazel expressed her willingness to meet me on her next visit to India. How could I deny as I had waited for the day with equal excitement. This was not the first time we were talking about this meet up. It had never worked out in the past eight years so I was a bit sceptical about it happening this time. Still, I agreed and showed my interest as well. To my surprise, she was all ready to visit India in the very next week. I was full of joy when I came to know about her plans.
A week later, she confirmed her arrival at AAA, India. I asked her to take a rest and enjoy her stay at home. She was going to be in India for a 2-3 weeks. We chatted whenever possible throughout the first week. It has always felt different whenever we have shared the same time zone. This time I felt more connected with her than ever before. While I was wishing her to invite me to meet, I intentionally avoided having the conversation about our recently agreed first meet up. A week passed by taking all my excitement out of me into the air. I wasn’t sad but inside me there was this feeling of missing on something wonderful.
We had more text conversations in the second week but the meet up topic remained undiscussed. I had lost all my interest in meeting her by Thursday so I finally gave up on the plan which had become just a wish once again. However, there arose this urge inside me to talk with her on a phone call. I have always loved listening to her voice. It calms me down whenever I hear her voice. I left a late-night message for her on Thursday, expressing my desire to talk with her on a call.
“Hey, wanna catch up on a call?” The next day morning, she replied.
We talked on the phone later in the evening that day. The conversation lasted only for 15 mins but it made me enter into planning mode. Hazel had invited me to visit her house before she would leave the country. I had a whole week to plan a single day return trip. The task wasn’t as easy as it looked. The only good option for the NNN to AAA journey was travelling by the bus. It was a 12-hour journey from one side so it was an extra day considering the entire journey. I didn’t want to trouble her visiting her place just a day before, as she needed to pack and get ready for her long journey too during the next weekend. The most important part was to take leave approval from my manager which was a big ask considering the work situation in my office.
I skipped Monday being her brother’s birthday and Thursdays being the republic day of India. I was visiting her place for the first time so we spent hours deciding when, where and how I would reach her place. Thankfully, everything went well and I confirmed my arrival at AAA on Tuesday.
I bought my city’s famous snacks and sweets to carry along with me. As they say, you should never visit someone with empty hands, especially when you are visiting their place for the first time. I couldn’t agree more with this.
“Do they eat onions and garlic? I don’t think so.” I asked my mom.
They don’t on some occasions but otherwise they do. Mom said in confident tone.
I wasn’t convinced so passed my doubt to Hazel and she asked not to carry the snacks. It wasn’t because of any Jain thing but because her parents didn’t like it.
“Take the small packet with you instead of a large one.” Mom asked seeing me taking the snacks out of the bag.
“Ok mom, as you wish.” I replied with little disagreement.
I spent some time packing the bag and took a nap in the afternoon before I left the house in the evening.
To be continued…