Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Last Evening : Old Friends , Memories , And Much Wide Eyed Listening

"I met my old lover
On the street last night
She seemed so glad to see me
I just smiled
And we talked about some old times
And we drank ourselves some beers
Still crazy afler all these years....."

- Paul Simon

A decade , when you are twenty years old , is (yes, I know you can do the math) half a life Quite a long time to remember someone you have had no contact with.

It's been that long since I last saw the scrawny, quiet , bespectacled kid that I held in secret admiration , with the unwavering awe that is only inspired in a ten year old.

Time can change things drastically - The scrawny kid , I discovered yesterday , is now a tall , good looking (I always knew he ,eventually, would be) , twenty-three year old guy. The glasses have disappeared and I noticed, much to my delight , that he has a positively divine smile.

So, No, He (obviously) was'nt an old lover.(lol..though , perhaps , five years down the line , I would'nt mind being able to look back and confer that particular distinction on ;-) )

But I did meet him on the street last night , He did smile , and I was so glad to see him. We talked about some old times and we drank ourselves some rather non-alcoholic drinks. Although , I'm sure he might have preferred otherwise...Lol...It was great. Meeting him.

I don't think he ever knew that he was the object of my very innocent , childish adoration. I was never the sort of girl that bandied her feelings about to all and sundry. Mine stayed strictly in my own mind , any kind of display was mortifying. In some ways , I guess, that still has not changed. Well , so atleast it was a good thing that I did'nt have to deal with him remembering me as the pesky kid who threw adoring , bashful glances his way. Thank god , I was'nt that kid.

His parents and mine were old friends. We were also neighbours . We went to the same school. We spent a lot of time playing cops and robbers and all the other silly games that kids play - Him , his younger , idiot brother , my younger , idiot brother and I . That was until he moved to the U.S permanently. After which I lost touch with him completely. Ironically enough I kept in touch with his brother, off and on ,atleast. His brother came back to India every couple of years. This chap did'nt. Or rather , has'nt . In ten years.

Like he mentioned several times, It was so interesting to see how time has altered so much. Things , places and people in our distant memory seem so much better,so much more exciting and so much more taller

Before we actually met , I wondered if it would be awkward , if we would have things to talk about , if silences would be prolonged , or worse still , if the urge to fill up the silence with inane conversation would wash over me and that I would bore the bejeezes out of him with my seemingly endless prattle.

Mercifully, all my fears were unfounded. (I think) The conversation flowed easily. I did'nt feel the need to engineer or direct the conversation and possibly make an ass of myself in the process . Or search my brain frantically for something , anything to talk about . True , at first , we spoke as strangers. But there was this strange bond that I suppose I can only explain by saying that it comes from knowing someone as a kid. Even if only , that that bond is one held by some vague memories and some not quite as vague ones.

My memories of him , or rather memories of which he was a part of are quite varied. But for the most part , I remember him as the boy who included me in the boisterous games of the neighbourhood boys , despite the fact that I was a mere
He did it in the quiet , firm - "Eyy, let her play da..." , kind of way - No fuss or show. He constantly rescued me from his silly brother who bullied me endlessly. And I guess that in itself probably earned my eternal gratitude , if not admiration . I remember him once telling my dad , " I'll look after her , uncle.." I think it was when we wanted to cycle to the park which was a couple of kilometres away and my dad was'nt too sure if it was safe - At that point I recall being suffused with the kind of smug joy that you can so unashamedly feel only as a child. It's such an innocuous incident but it has stuck in my memory...I doubt if he remembers any of this. I did'nt , could'nt bring myself to, ask him if he did. Because it means much more to me than it would to him. Strange. The amount of fondness that I feel for someone from the oh-so-distant past. No I think , it's fondness for the memory of him and the times which he was a part of.

Now, he is the absolutely fascinating (atleast he managed to keep that image for the 5-6 hours I spend with him yesterday...not a mean task, I should add) guy , that in some vague way , I always pictured he would be. The advantage , I've always found , of being a relatively reserved person , is that you can achieve this air of enigma that a lot of people find very attractive. It makes the people you are around curious about what you think about everything - simply because you are not particularly forthcoming about it. At any rate , that's how it is with me.

And so , we talked.Well, He talked and I asked lots of questions and listened.I discovered , that his life has had such a vast amount of experience. Yes , yes , we all have experiences. But his are so diverse and rich , on account of the fact that he has immigrated to a different country , travelled all over the world - in his short life- met so many different kinds of people. I could go on..

So, with my earnest-but-I-don't-want-to-look-too earnest look that I am wearing , I ask him a million questions about his life. For a change , I want to talk nothing about mine. We talk politics , culture , liberalism and host of other things. I hear about his years at Purdue and the exchange program on which he went to Oxford. About the british political science professor who smoked a pipe and said..."Alright then , laddies..." ever so often. ( that he mimics oh so cutely) . About his current course of study- A Masters in Maritime Archeology.

Uhhh...Yeah...Diving for sunken ships and all that..People still do did a bachelor's degree in anthropology and archeology . When he tells me that , Im surprised. But it's not just his choice of career...It's all this vast amount of knowledge that he has..It was great to be able to talk to a guy who had travelled so extensively- he's backpacked for all over England , Ireland and Europe. I suppose travelling alone gives you a lot of perspective about culture and everything.

We talk about the most dangerous kinds of bears- the time when he saw one when he was he turned and " Didnt exactly walk back" about surfing in adelaide , where he's studying now , and great white sharks and how one of his neighbours got eaten by one...

Yes, I know , I probably sound star struck...But personally speaking, I have never met someone with such a rich amount of experience of the world. And it was absolutely fascinating. In a way , it makes me feel like my life has been so freaking empty and devoid of any real LIFE. But I guess , it was great - I think I probably spent most the evening and dinner , with my face in hands and my eyes wide open - attention completely held. I seemed to forget , at several points in time that it was'nt just him at the table - That his brother , who was also there all the while , was probably hating the fact that I listened perfunctorily to him and waiting to get back to talk to his brother, who was hogging all the attention...Not intentionally even .Even my parents , who have met so many interesting people , were quite charmed at dinner. He was polite and funny - sound positively

In any case , the night , however enjoyable , came to an end. And yeah , this time around, there were noises made about keeping in touch and all of that...I don't know if that will happen. I doubt it. But I'm thinking that maybe ten years down the line - or perhaps sooner , I'd like to meet him and sit down and talk about all the stuff he's been upto and maybe if my life gets a little more off the beaten track , I could contribute to the conversation. Maybe his life won't be as fascinating to me , a couple of years down the line , as it seems to be now - Hopefully because I would have experienced some of it myself and I won't be so naive and star struck anymore...

And then I can look back at last evening and it will be a part of the memories and we will talk about it...and I will tell him I fascinated I was with all the things he talked about, how it infused me with so much determination to get myself out , to see the world....And with the ease and comfort of old friends...we will talk of our old school and how the buildings seem less imposing now and how those were good times , when we were kids. How nice it is to meet old friends.

On a completely different note...

Oh..To be young and in love...