Girl talk…

So there we were, a group of four moms, togged up in our best smart casuals sitting at a newly revamped Chinese restaurant, a stone’s throw away from my home, doing what four moms sitting together do the best. Discuss anything but the children. Oh yes, they managed to creep in occasionally into the conversation, but by and large I am proud to say, we managed to keep them firmly out of the topics under discussion.

Much calorific fare was ingested, with me justifying my endless round trips to the buffet counter returning with plate laden to horrific proportions to the fact that I hadnt had breakfast. By default. It was a crazy sort of morning.  I ran into the office to realise I had three deadlines sitting on my head and one threatening to strangle me now. I am that organised about my work. I believe in working on an article on deadline day itself. And get down to actually working on said piece due for submission an hour before the panic phone calls begin. And I kid myself I work best under pressure. And am so lazy and laidback otherwise, without deadlines work would grow roots under my feet. Or whatever. You get my meaning, right.

This of course, means that whoever is the unlucky person who is assigned my piece to edit does a lot of hair tearing out and hand wringing and such dramatic gestures. I hope none of them pieces have ever compelled anyone to hand in their resignation, though I did come pretty close to handing mine in a couple of times when I was on the other side of the editing desk and editing an Entertainment section in a Sunday supplement for which the writers were journalists with more knowledge of the sexual shennanigans of them stars rather than any serious knowledge of cinema that they brought to the table.

So what is my typical day? The alarm rings. I hit snooze. It rings again. I hit snooze and snooze some more. The husband who is wide awake and anxious for his cup of tea yells at me to get a move on it, do I plan on lolling there all day. And not very seductive too, the intonation, I might add. I run into the bathroom, apply toothpaste to them cavities and wince with the pain and the procrastination of visiting neglected and rueful dentist type. Run into the kitchen, get the tea made for the household. With sugar for some. Without sugar for others. With sugar and loads of ginger for me. Without sugar and with loads of ginger for some others. By which time I confuse myself totally about what goes into which cup and end up tasting all the cups to ascertain their ingredients before handing them out to their rightful recepients. When I PMS, I add sugar and ginger to all the damn cups and bang the tray on the dining table with a sullen gaze that once bitten family members know better to argue with.

Then comes the getting ready busy. Getting breakfast ready, getting the brat’s tiffin box packed. Luckily, the cook is generally here by then and I can leave that onerous task to her, flitting in occasionally to supervise the proceedings with an eagle eye of complete ignorance and absolute panic. The child is awakened, depending on mood and PMSing situation, either with tickles, hugs and kisses or deep, growly, threatening barks. Milk ingestion, bathing, dressing, etc happens. People generally tip toe out of my way at this point, I have been known to run over innocent bystanders like a vague and disoriented maid who was unfortunate enough to stand undecided as to which room she should attack first with the broom when I was in full panic spate, with the clock clonking on eight am.

We, mother and child, bid our adieus to the household, which breathes a perceptible sigh of relief which I hear as I slam the door shut behind me. The child dwaddles. In that infernal way that pre schoolers can dwaddle when one of the lifts deigns to come up and open gratitiously for us. “Not this lift. I want to go in that lift.” A short sharp bark rectifies the recalcitrance and any lift is deemed good enough to get away from Virago Mom.

Drop the child at school where a peck on each cheek and a pat on the head, and a dash to the car later, I move onto the office. Where I have my said two hours to dash out whatever work needs dashing out. And then dash off back again to pick up child from school. Take him to his tuition classes. Take him home. feed him, etc. Yup. Couldnt be more exciting. Even bungee jumping couldnt give one such a rush. Sometimes, gasp, gasp, I even go out for lunch.

Which is where this post started out. So there were we, four moms, trying hard to pretend we were young and free and unencumbered with the invisible chains of needing to get back home before afternoon nap wake up time, and evening class routine drop time, and such wonderful wonderful activities designed by the powers that be to convince us that we were indispensable and keep us blind to the fact that, come on, face reality, these four year olds we birthed, had a social calendar and life more hectic than we were ever going to have in the near future at least.

Ever notice how women who meet unencumbered without children for an extended period of time talk about a)shopping. b) shopping. c)shopping. We stuck to the script. Apart from of course, occasionally meandering into the realms of fitness and dietary tips and the occasional lapses into, actually, really, discussing our work (yes, of us four, three actually earned our keep through various activities that did not include anything we could get arrested for, including freelancing, working as consultants, and more freelancing. Thankfully, we were once upon a time in professions that take kindly to freelancing that allowed us to keep our professional hats on to cover our moments of temporary insanity. As anyone who has given birth to will confess to.

There are somethings you need to do exclusively with your girl friends. Not girlfriends. Girl friends. As in your gang of girls. Shopping together. Lunching together. Watching Sex and the City, the movie, together. Sitting round a table on a rainy day and downing high calorie foods comes high on this list. As does talking to each other at least twice a day to check on each other’s mental health and whether any crimes of anger have been committed. Or rushing over with sympathy and offers of help when the other is in crisis of any sort.

In the good old days, we used to have best friends. We dont have best friends anymore. We have multifarious friends, each to suit a certain fragment of our lives and our personalities. But I am okay with that. I would rather have many friends I can call onto rather than no friends at all. But vacancy open. Am looking high and low for a new best friend. All my best friends through school and college have been dissipated through time, distance and life. I have new friends now. But I long for that comfort of the old friend who has seen you through thick and thin, who knows your history and accepts you despite it. Despite knowing that you once wore stonewashed jeans with an offshoulder sweater in the heat of the Mumbai summer. And that you were so uncool, that you were the perfect before shot in them makeovers magazines keep having all the time. Nothing much changes in life does it. Except living, which sucks you into a routine of neglect of old friends.

So are you still in touch with your childhood friends? Come on, shame me. And prod me into trying to get back in touch with those who matter again.

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About Kiran Manral

Author of The Face At The Window, ( 2016), Karmic Kids, All Aboard (2015) , Once Upon A Crush (2014) and The Reluctant Detective (2011).
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10 Responses to Girl talk…

  1. Sunita says:

    Kiran, Dont worry, you have company. I am absolutely incapable of keeping in touch with my friends. But the good thing is whenever we meet, we pick it up from where we last left off and work it up. With all my bests out of the country, I have a huge gap and thankfully that is come at a time when I am hands full at work and home. But I miss them terribly. I shop alone or can’t watch a movie because the hubby refuses to come and all other colleagues watch it with their hubbies or boy friends.

    Mini post..sorry.

    So true Sunita. I have thankfully made a slew of new friends whom I can shop with, do lunch with, go for movies with. But it isnt the same. There’s no shared history. But we’re making our own new history and thats good. Dont worry, when school starts you will make new friends from the other mommies.

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  2. phoenixritu says:

    Old friends are precious – but girls turn to women and get married and go live in different cities, sometimes in another country too. These days internet helps …. I wonder where mine are?

    Am suddenly googling up the names I remember these days, like a dork, not realising that most names would have changed. (I am of the generation where we changed our surnames on getting hitched)

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  3. Vidya says:

    Kiran,
    Shall i say that i still am in touch with my childhood friends, and one of them (from std 7th) is my best friend till date? and we call each other almost everyday? Do i see you going green and running to your autograph book to get those old addresses?
    Have been reading your blog for some time now. You write real well, and falanah….
    Love
    Vidya

    Lucky you Vidya. I am truly J.

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  4. Altoid says:

    Actually I am not in touch with any of my childhood friends. Some college friends perhaps, but the ones that I am extremely pally with, can talk about anything on this side of the earth are the ones that I befriended at a much later point of time(more mature, I would prefer to call it!). When I do run into school friends, I find some of them rather stuck in time- they remember you for the person(childhood) you used to be. I guess we have all drifted enough apart to find it hard to catch up on the current personalities. Easier to be stuck in kindergarten, so to speak!

    Agree completely, have a college friend who was the alpha female of the pack and still sees herself as such and expects me to be servile and kowtow to her whims as it used to be back then. She just doesnt realise that I dont care for those equations anymore, and have grown a bit since.

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  5. Anamika says:

    I completely relate with you here. My girl friends…2 of them…and I talk everyday even if it is just for 5 minutes. They are relatively new in my life, as in I met them after I moved to the city I am in. Old friends, best friends…well, life happens and you drift apart but then internet happened in the recent past and orkut, facebook, email…everything helps. I am not sure if I am in touch with everyone but I am aware of most of their whereabouts.

    I agree. My new friends are the friends I made after I became a mother and the kid began going to school, same points in life make for better bonding. My other friends are still perched on career ladders, some single, some divorced, none with kids. Though we’re quite ancient now.

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  6. Read through that at breathless speed, now gotta run back to Vathek or Lacan or print history or the search for a uni to do PhD.

    Well… no best friends for quite a while now. Fragmentation rocks – I don’t end up expecting much of anybody, or investing that much in anybody. Less scope for bitching, backstabbing and narstiness.
    You making me miss a certain girl pal who just went off to Delhi. She was the one I’d run across fields on a stormy evening with, eat kebabs and parathas balanced precariously on our knees sitting on steps of a closed shop with. Nice times.

    Same here. Miss a schoolfriend who sat next to me from kindergarten to Std X, and by then we’d grown to hate each other. Thankfully we went to different colleges and different suburbs and then kindof lost touch. But would love to meet her again sometime.

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  7. Priyanka says:

    I now label my erstwhile best friends as school best friends and college best friends. Don’t seem to have any sort of best friends after college. In touch with them? These days, thanks to Orkut, at least we know which part of the world they are in and what they were up to the last time they updated their profiles. But can that be called in touch? Sending a scrap in 5-6 months – you know, just a how-are-you?hows-the-kid? is not I think what you mean when you ask if I am in touch with them 😉
    But come on, you are lucky aren’t you? You will always have the distinction of being in touch with one of your best friends throughout your life – your husband. Now, thats not something everyone can say, right? 🙂

    Priyanka, losing touch is dreadful, I know where most of my friends are of course, but have been terribly lazy about making the effort to get back in touch.
    Is my husband my best friend? I dont know, I dont think so. There are so many things one cannot discuss with the husband. Include my cribs about him. Need a best friend for that.

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  8. Vidya says:

    Kiran,
    I so agree with you on your reply to Priyanka… your hubby can’t be your best friend…. and i so agree on the cribbing about hubby too… 🙂
    took the words out of my mouth,actually… you need some space, someone else to discuss your woes/and stuff…. Hubby? No ways!!!!

    I rather the hubby and I retain an element of mystery between the two of us. Am old school, I dont even want the husband seeing me have my baby.

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  9. Dottie says:

    Kiran, first things first. You have a few award winning books in you. you know that, right? you write so amazingly well. Subtle (ok some times no so) humor with such acute insights. The thing about us no having best friends anymore touched a spot. I don’t have best friends. I used to, now the relationship is tenous. kid’s birthdays, visits/calls over diwali and christmas. that’s it. no longing to share that secret with anyone. no secrets either, not the sharable kinds anyway. Do I feel sad? perhaps. But also relieved that I do not burden a single friend with my baggage. Its spread over several.

    Thanks Dottie. I need to get down to writing them down now dont I? Laziness.

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  10. kbpm says:

    this was really good Kiran. I had missed reading it last week…
    It is damn hard to be in touch with girls. The name change is one reason. I myself moved around a fair bit, and lost touch with a lot of them. I am still in touch with several of my college pals, but even there, equations have changed somewhat. The problem with me is that I dont do well on the phone, which is real important. I like emails and messages a lot better, but I guess phone calls feel a lot more personal and most people like it better! Oh well! New mommy friends then.

    Exactly. Am so bad with phonecalls, am trying hard to rectify it. But mommy friends will really make a difference. Give them a chance. They’re my new sisterhood now.

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