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For AR: Souls never wrinkle

So few of us have friends that we can be absolutely proud of knowing. My friend Adrian is one of those. On his birthday today, I am so grateful for his friendship and I hope that even with the distance, this bond will flourish. This is the story of our friendship.

I first met AR sometime in 1990 when I took part in a three day residential workshop in Bandra on interpersonal relationships called ‘Choice’. The workshop was tough and I can rightly say that it changed me quite a bit. I left that weekend with a lot. And I had made some friends for life. I stayed in touch with most of them, including AR over the years. In 1998, I did the ‘Choice’ program again and then stayed on as part of the team that conducted the program. It was during this period that I formed some of the most enduring friendships that I’ve had and amazingly, they are all part of the same family. But more about them later.

AR, my friend, has been like a rock in my life. He is one person you can count on any time of the day or night for support, help or encouragement. He’s a good shoulder to cry on and is there for you no matter what. It is a rare quality these days to find someone like him. Oh, he has his faults, no doubt. He can be pretty stubborn when he wants to. And he’ll rather eat ice-cream than dinner. But without him, I would not have started writing and getting my articles published. AR was my writing agent. We had a deal. I would write and he would get my articles published. For every one that was, I owed him an ice-cream. All these years later, the ice-cream count has gone up and I might be bankrupt if I start to repay that debt.

With our penchant for wild ideas, we started a lot of projects together. We began Writers Bloc, a group started to encourage amateur writers in Bombay and Infinity, which was our little ‘company’ that offered training programs. We had dreams, the two of us. We share an almost abnormal sense of idealism and we can go to absurd lengths just to prove that if we try, the world can indeed be a better place.

AR believes, like I do, that anyone and everyone can change the world. He pushes himself and others to absurd limits. His family gets involved with everything, sometimes because he doesn’t leave them an option. But all of us, friends and family who have been at some time, bullied to do things, still love him for his zeal and enthusiasm.

AR gave up a career with an international computer firm to do what he loves and to stay in the city. A decision like that requires a lot of courage or perhaps a good dose of foolishness, you would say. Today he’s a full-time trainer, very busy and pre-occupied with his work, moving between cities for assignments. His non-existent ‘free time’ is spent doing stuff like running a ‘Food Project’ in Khar where every week lunch is served for people who need a full meal. This is our version of the Western ‘Soup Kitchen’ where a hot meal is available for the people on the street. Bring a plate and you’ll be fed. No questions asked about whether you can afford it or whether you deserve it. Slum dwellers, beggars, street children – they’re all there. And are welcomed. The meal has often been cooked in the R family kitchen and then served by the local YCW unit. The Project runs entirely on donations and we could do with a lot more projects like this all over the city. (Shameless plug here : If you would like to get involved or start something similar in your area, let me know and I’ll give you details.)

This whole family of AR’s (All their names start from A – parents, siblings and now spouse!) is quite special. At the Choice program, I got along famously with AR’s sister first and Al, his mad wife. Al and I are like soul sisters. When we get together it’s like a laugh riot. We just can’t stop. For some reason, a visit to their house always leaves me in very good spirits and smiling for days afterwards. Al was my maid of honor for my wedding and that shows how special she is to me. These are good people, these R’s. And I’m blessed to have all of them in my life.

So, AR, my friend, Happy Birthday. You may be a year older, but remember, good souls never wrinkle! Happy Birthday, Grumpy đŸ™‚ Thank you for sticking by me at the best of times and at the worst of times. I have not always been ‘nice’, but that’s who I am and thank you for being my friend inspite of it! For your birthday, here’s a poem to say ‘Thank you’. God bless.

There’s lots of things
With which I’m blessed,
My problems have been few,
But of all, this one’s the best:
To have a friend like you.
In times of trouble
Friends will say,
“Just ask, I’ll help you through it.”
But you don’t wait for me to ask,
You just get up and do it!
And I can think
of nothing more
That I could wisely do,
Than know a friend,
And be a friend,
And have a friend like you.


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