Thursday, November 28, 2013

Of Dum Biriyani and Dumdaar Dosti!

“Hey, how much should I pay you,” Harish asks. The guy in the sweatshirt nods his head, looks animatedly towards the ceiling, taps his chin with his finger and says, “I forgot!” Harish looks at the lady, expecting her to give a straight answer. She shakes her head promptly, from left to right, tightlipped. “Hey, this is not fair,” protests Harish, saying, “This is our dinner party, we should be paying for the biriyani!” The lady smiles the best of her trademark smiles. “Tera party, humara party, it’s the same thing yaar. Abb tu hume paise dega, do packet biriyani ka,” she says. The guy in the sweatshirt smiles, ‘#win’, written all over his face…

There are friends who are the typical ‘you pay for what you’ve eaten, I’ll pay for mine’ and then there are friends for whom money, bills, calculations hardly ever matter.

Meet Sangee (Sangeeta) and Srikkanth, two of our closest friends in Hyderabad. Yes, of dum biriyani and dumdaar dosti. Here’s where it begins.

Hyderabad. I’d heard a lot about it, and I couldn’t wait to finally start living here. Afterall, ‘home’ is where the heart and the sweetheart, both of them are. As we inched closer to my ‘new’ home, I couldn’t conceal the excitement bubbling inside me. I didn’t know how it would be. Two feet-like floral patterns on the floor (one big, the other, slightly smaller) greeted me as soon as I was ushered in. A beautiful cake, a big bottle of mineral water and a decorated bedroom...I looked at Harish, puzzled. Yes, friends...they were the ones who had arranged my ‘homecoming’ beautifully!

When the first weekend plan was rolled out, I was a bit sceptical. “Will they like me?” was a question that kept bugging me. Over the next few crazy weekends spent digging into biriyanis, rumali rotis and other sinfully edible stuff, I discovered home. A home filled with peals of laughter over dumb charades, anecdotes and food. A home filled with friends.

When a friend spends her entire Sunday baking a cute little cake for your big day,
you’ve got to understand that you’re talking about someone who’s just a part of ‘guestlist’. She’s family. When a friend travels three hours one way from Warangal after a two-hour class early in the morning, just to honour your invitation, and rushes back to another three-hour journey to teach at 6.30 the next morning, he’s not just another friend. He’s a yo-bro! When a new friend takes all the liberty to walk into your kitchen to conduct a raid and then emerges with a victory sign pasted on his face saying, “Look what I found here -- toffees!” you can be sure he’s in the league of these special people. Sangee, Srikkanth, Avinash, Avinash Chapter II, Rajgo, I dare not call you ‘just friends’...

And then, there is an extended family. The Abhyaas family. It’s like my second home. From a welcome lunch to get-togethers celebrating every milestone that Abhyaas crosses, I’m never left out from any activity that Abhyaas conducts. Enough for me to smile the biggest of my smiles when I see Abhyaas ads anywhere on the streets. Naresh, Sirisha, Rakesh, Sahitya, Padma, Sonal, Venkatesh, Sahiti, Hari...thank you for welcoming me to the Abhyaas family with so much of warmth.

And then, I bumped into this wonderful lady, Bhavana. Warm, caring, vocal, knowledgeable. The activist. She’s inspired me to be like her -- fearless and fantastic!

Yes, Hyderabad is a great place. Great because I no longer feel alien here. Great because it has given me great friends. Great, because it’s home.