A close friend posted recently that he'd begun to feel old.
During the last year of our teens, I'd wished him a happy birthday as best I could sitting in a different country, and without a credit card. I was hopeful the "thought-that-counts" would go a long way :)
Anyways, here's a letter I sent him, it's obviously fairly personal, and dripping adolescence (which in my case may just be a terminal condition).
You turn twenty soon. Older than me.A year. Not that much of a difference really. Not agewise, not otherwise either. I'm sorry I'm not around for that monster hug. Only email sending possible. Could've sent an e-card also, but that's not worth even the thought.
Maybe on this day, we could've gone to Angeethi, and settled ourselves in for a stuffing the likes of which the manager's never seen before. Maybe we could've gone to watch the James Bond flick after that..Of course, we'd drown the movie with our snoring. And at the end of the movie, we'd be back out on the streets..Normally, we'd just get out our respective modes of transp. and head homewards (Marvel and yamaha 100cc)..But not this time..Bday doesn't come every month. This time, we'd draw up a list of chaps from school or elsewhere (max of three), and then buy bus tickets to Kodai. Give call to old uncles/aunties, let them know we'll be back in three days. So, no luggage, minimal amount of money (definitely enough for return trip), three other chaps (optional), and we're Kodai bound by nine pm sharma travels bus. Reminiscent of that Jaguar trip last year? well, what to do? I'm just real predictable..
But this isn't any distant future..this is happening now. We polish off dinner at some darshini, and get on the bus, with only the clothes we're wearing. We're pretty gung-ho about having some major discussion through the night, but we're asleep by ten..wake up at 5:00am, bus is climbing some weird hills..it's still dark outside..not black, but maybe a deep blue...some retard left his window open in the front of the bus..bloody cold..Sharma's given each passenger a thin blanket..wrap yourself up well..through the window, you can make out the silhouettes of stunted mountain trees..you can see the valley down far below..and you can see misty clouds enveloping the rocks, the way sleep's enveloped the other passengers.
Wake me up..Wake up other guys if there are any..all have terrible breath...For a moment, we're a little stunned, as to why we aren't in our bedrooms..then it comes back. And we realise how young we are, and yet old enough, so we can chill..It's all good, all good.
Bus stops at small tea stall, for driver to take a leak, and a sip of tea. We trundle out too..He's surprised..didn't expect anyone to be up this early..Nothing like overboiled tea leaves in a syrup of milk to drive away the sleep. Three rupees..each..highway robbery.. People around the stall busy themselves over their kadai-s, pumping up their small gas stoves, heating the oil to start frying the morning bondas..pretty cold at this altitude..We're still celebrating your birthday, so we get the first order of fries...even the locals are wearing sweaters and monkey caps..we've only got thin blankets..but the hot batter fried stuff does wonders for our chilly insides.
And this, saar, is just the journey..We haven't even gotten to the party. We will. Real soon. Happy Birthday man.
It's been a few years since, and we still haven't gotten around to it. We're at that age now where we think we've outgrown this teen/tween sentimentality. I hope we haven't, but we'll know for sure only when we actually get on that bus.
Saar, you listening?