Italy – You may have the universe if I can have Italy

I had heard of the quote “Italy is a dream, that keeps returning for the rest of your life.” Only after visiting the country did I actually realize the true meaning. I know I will dream about Italy for the rest of my life because it’s so hard not to fall in love with the lifestyle and the place that makes it who it is.  Italy is all about the Italians, food, wine and history. It is the one place that will make you feel very very young, because everything else is so old in comparison. We covered Rome, Vatican, The Amalfi coast (Capri, Ravello, Positano, Serrano), Florence (Pisa), Naples (Pompeii), Tuscany, Siena, Cesenatico and Venice. Every place was as different as the other in character and spirit. Rome and Vatican was all about history, Amalfi was about the coastline and blue waters, Florence was a world of museums and art, Tuscany was the lush green valleys, Cesenatico was the most happening place and Venice screamed romance!

I will talk about each of these places in detail in my subsequent blogs but here I am just giving readers a preview of Italy in general, a birds eye-view to call it so.

The people: Whatever you have heard about italians, is true! They are very good looking, fit, hot and happy people. I don’t think I saw many obese or bald people, and if I did see, they were probably tourists! The people were also extremely friendly and helpful. They seemed very relaxed and full of life. Most Italians are very well dressed and conscious of how they look. On the flip side, if you anger an Italian; just run for the covers!

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There was this one incident that happened during our trip that gave us a brief intro to that side of an Italian. It was late at night and we were in a taxi, driving back towards our hotel with a very friendly driver, who was giving us a verbal tour of Florence as we drove past the city. Suddenly, another car just cut him off and sped ahead. We were lucky that our driver acted quickly and averted scraping the other car. Nevertheless, our driver was no longer Mr. Congeniality! For the next 5-7 minutes we became part of a high speed car chase, which included an audio litany of the choicest Italian expletives and a visual of other screeching, honking cars as he tried to catch up with the driver who cut him off. Meanwhile, the kids were having a ball watching all this unfold in front of their eyes. Finally he was able to speed up in front of him, parks the car,  engages the brakes, and flies out of the car and walks up to the other drivers’  car. He asks him to roll his window down, gives him a good screaming and bangs on the hood and walks back to our car. He then profusely apologizes to us and asks us to give him less money for the inconvenience he caused us but that no one does that to him or his car! It was the most hilarious experience we had 🙂

Food & Drink: I understood food after going to Italy. I understood freshness. I understood the debate about small portions. I understood the importance of just enjoying what you work for; a good meal! In Italy they add work and life to food and wine, not the other way around. People seem to live to eat and they eat in a very relaxed manner. Drive thru eating must be an alien concept there. Every meal in Italy is a 2 to 3 hour affair. It’s slow and relaxing. It was very hard at first getting used to the slow pace of life in Italy. We would get very impatient when our food didn’t arrive in 15 minutes, but slowly we got the hang of it. We would just sit there sipping wine, eating bread and making conversations. The meals in Italy are recommended to be divided in 4 parts, the appetizers, first course, second course and desserts. The first course is some kind of pasta or pizza and the second part is some kind of meat or seafood.  The hot delicious, freshly made food would then arrive and you savor every bit of the mouth watering dish, as you wash it down with some delicious wine. The sauces they use are freshly made and cooked to perfection; just enough that you can taste every ingredient in it. Most importantly, we learned that an Italian kitchen carries very few spices and they rely mostly on fresh herbs and vegetables to get the flavor into the food. Finally the last part of the meal is the ‘dolci’; the desserts. We ate a lot of tiramisu and gelato, and we have to say that every one of them was delicious and different.

Coming to drinks, Italy is all about wine, wine and more wine. People drink from mid day to the end of the day. Food is paired with wine and wine is paired with food. Don’t be afraid to ask your waitress to suggest a good wine to go with your food. Do ask the price too before she uncorks because a good bottle of wine could cost anywhere from 40 dollars and up. The house wines are good and cheap, so take a chance and ask for a taste.

People don’t drink water in Italy. They just drink wine. So if you want water, you have to buy and you have to specify if you want still or sparkling. Asking for tap water at a restaurant will be frowned upon.

If you are outside, make sure you carry a bottle with you as there are drinking water fountains all over and the water is clean and tastes much better than the pricey bottled water.

Some tips:

  1. Once your food arrives and you try to enhance it with added salt, spice or cheese and it was not offered to you; just know that your chef will be offended.
  2. If it’s a restaurant that makes freshly made pasta, then know that your only options are spaghetti, ravioli, pappardelle, taglierini and rigatoni. If you ask for any other kind like penne, rotini, farfalle, etc then they will either say they don’t understand what you are saying or they will tell you they don’t serve packaged pasta.
  3. Scallops and scalops do not mean the same thing!
  4. Try the mussels in every restaurant. Each has a different flavor and they are all good.
  5. If you don’t understand a dish, google it before you order, so you atleast have an idea what you will be digging into.
  6. Try the Limoncello! It’s a must. Try to get your hands on some limoncello from Capri or Sorrento as they are considered to be the best. Better still, try to get some home-made limoncello for the true, crisp taste of Italy.
  7. If you want something spicy, ask for ‘Arrabiata sauce’. It’s the closest to spice that you will get in italy.

Shopping: Italy is fashion central and we all know that. It is known for its leather goods, glass factories and intricate lace work. Don’t be afraid to bargain, start from the half-way point and work your way up until you both agree on a price. If buying clothes, try them on before you buy them. Italian sizes are much smaller than regular USA sizes, so make sure they fit you right. I loved shopping in Rome. If you walk around the streets and get yourself into those little boutique shops, you might just get lucky and get some good deals. We bought some clothes (mostly good chiffon) in Rome and some leather goods in Florence. Most stores take credit cards and all street vendors take cash, so be prepared. I found some really good clothes at great prices at Balloon (Rome) and Zara (Florence).

The only things that could have made our trip better was the weather. Unfortunately, this was Europe’s worst summer and the heat during the day was unbearable. Some places were very crowded and there are long lines to visit the attractions, so book ahead of time as it will help you skip the lines and the crowd. There are many people trying to take advantage of your tourist status, so be careful and decide where you exactly want to go. Google maps is very helpful. Download the ‘Rick Stevens Europe’ app, his tours are very helpful and easy to listen to. Download it ahead of time and listen to them as you walk around the monuments or museums, it makes it all so much more interesting when you know the story behind what you are looking at.

Overall, it was a wonderful trip and I hope to revisit a few places leisurely and redo them at a slow pace. The quote below, sums it all up!

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Regrets, Mistakes and More

Another school year has ended and as part of my yearly ritual, I sat down to reflect upon the year gone by in general, the mistakes, the lessons and regrets. But before I could answer that question to myself, I was stumped at the question itself. How does one define a mistake or a regret? I did what any hardworking researcher would do. I asked around! I got various replies and here is a summary of the responses.

Mistakes are actions done in haste, or  an error made in judgement, poor reasoning, calculations or plain carelessness. It is something you would not repeat if you had the maturity and growth you do today.

Regrets make you sad. They could be something you did or didn’t do because of a decision you made. It’s a disappointment, a sorrow, a yearning or remorse.

Lessons are what contribute to growth and maturity. It’s the learning that happens over time and what you carry with you as you move on.

All these three can stand alone on it’s own or be intertwined with each other. It depends on the situation and the issue.

Over the last few days, I have had many exciting conversations with family and friends about their thoughts on regrets and mistakes and surprisingly, most found it very difficult to answer the question. It is one of those things that just sits at the back of your head, you never think about but important enough to revisit every decade or so. A self-assessment if you can call it so. Talking to people about this topic, gave me a deeper understanding of most of them, and in some cases helped people understand their own selves better.

When I look back at my own life, there are many mistakes I have made and I have learned from every single one of them but I don’t think I truly regret all of them. They have all contributed to making me who I am today. Yes, I am blessed that none of the mistakes were scarring but they definitely changed me for the better. Regrets are few and I have always tried not to have regrets in life. It is just my personal motto. Even if it is as simple as regretting walking away from that beautiful dress on the mannequin which was priced too high… or as complicated as wanting to choose a different education path, it is something I have tried to minimize in life.

In my own assessment I would say, it was a mistake to get into engineering when my interests were more creative. It did nothing to me other than give me a college experience and be a springboard for my future masters and career. It was a mistake getting married at a young age and I wish I had a few more years behind me before I took that big plunge. I would have definitely had a much smoother landing into wifehood and motherhood if I had some more maturity.

I do regret not working for a couple of years before I got married. That experience would have done wonders to my confidence and I would have been more responsible for my own actions and decisions (now I just blame my mom for everything!). I regret not learning how to play a musical instrument, I feel I would have been good at it and it’s sad that I never attempted to do that. And then there are those smaller regrets that come from being immature, at how you handle people and life. These are regrets that have turned into lessons and now I know what not to do. Regrets of leaving people hurt or being insensitive to their stories. These are the sorrows you carry in your heart, hope for time to heal and a lesson to never do it again.

Regrets, mistakes, lessons and more are a part of growing up. The more you age, the more regrets and mistakes you have to talk about and you have just as many lessons learned from all of them. They are all just a bitter-sweet part of life!

So take some time to introspect and understand yourself. What do you consider as mistakes in your life? What regrets do you carry forward? And what are some million-dollar lessons you learned from life that has made you who you are today?

 

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Solitude

Moments in life just slip away,

Some just stick and stay,

Falling slowly onto the earth,

Today is all we have at hearth,

Some words impress the heart,

Some just hurt till you fall apart,

Few tears express the joy in the soul,

Few smiles hide the sorrowful hole,

Solitudes are precious reminders of friends,

Sinful happiness and playful interludes,

Traveling on a path you look behind,

A solitary journey with nowhere to go.

Dear Zindagi: It’s not so complicated

This is not another movie review from me. Let’s just call it a review of my thoughts post watching a movie! The movie in focus here is the latest offering from Gowri Shinde; Dear Zindagi. I will not go into much details about the movie but I will sum it up by just saying that it forces you take some time and look at the youth today and somewhere you might end up connecting with your own youth. There are a few moments from the movie that sparked some discussion within me and my family. One of my kids loved the movie and the other didn’t. The spouse would have much preferred a song-dance-fight routine. Nevertheless, the ride back from the movie was not silent. There were questions flying around from everyone, spouse included and any movie that can spark an animated conversation, in my eyes is worth a thousand stars!

Some salient points from the movie that we were teased into discussing were as follows:

  1. Only 2% of the world is good looking and it’s important to have a good looking face to look at when you wake up. A friend and I were discussing the movie and we were arguing if that was a shallow thought. But the truth is that’s how the world functions. Looks are important. If you have the looks, the initial path is made easy, sustainability is completely a different ball game and that is where substance matters. But if you already have the looks, your first impression is a cake walk, the red carpet has already been rolled out. All you have to do is walk without tripping!
  2. If you do not hesitate to go to a doctor for a physical ailment, why hesitate when you have a mental ailment. This is something society has still not come to terms with. How easy it is to tell someone, I am going to see the doctor for a colonoscopy or a pap-smear but how often do we hear someone say, ‘I am going to see a doctor because I have anxiety and depression or anger management’. Nil. It is still considered a taboo topic. The truth is it’s a rough complicated world out there. People live in a nuclear world. We bond with ourselves. We keep others away. We carry many burdens and we have no time to share it with others. Result: Utter chaos in the mind! It needs help and it’s important to recognise that need and handle it accordingly.
  3. The inability to express our true feelings. The lack of expression. I am going cultural here. In the south asian culture, it is not considered prudent to express your feelings. Its an unsaid, untaught rule that you should keep your feelings in. Do not show your anger, even if you are burning inside. Do not laugh loud. It should be subtle and sweet. Do not hit anyone even if they deserved it. Do not…do not…do not lose control. End result: Botoxed faces! You learn not to share your true feelings. You fail to express your love, or anger or disgust in a timely manner until it’s too late and everything explodes!
  4. Why look to one person to fulfil all your needs. Really why? Let’s take our body for example, you eat carrots so you can see better, fibre to poop easy, okra to grow some brains, onions to keep the testosterone up (breath mints a must!), Spinach to keep the blood clean…so on and so forth. So when we use so many different foods to supplement our body needs, why do we look for all qualities in one person. Why burden him or her so much? They are not made to order, they are what they are even before you met them. Don’t try to change that. One person alone cannot be handsome (remember only 2%), be humorous, be sensitive, be courageous, be an intellectual, be polished, be rich and so on. Manage your expectations. The result will be a fairly simplified life.
  5. All tough paths are not always the right paths. Somehow we are trained to think that life is supposed to be difficult. The easy paths are wrong and the difficult ones are right. Not at all. Not everyone wants to swim across the dead sea with salt stinging their bodies to make a point. Some just sit behind their laptop, write a blog (like me!) and feel satisfied they did their piece for the world. I am totally using Dr. Khan’s words here because I can’t say it any better than him. Sometimes it’s not necessary to chose the difficult path, especially when you are not ready. Why set yourself up for failure. Take the easy path, grow, learn, toughen-up and then take the tough path. You will have a better chance at success.

These are some of the churning thoughts that we were discussing. In talking with the kids, I told them an important takeaway for life. The importance of self-awareness and communication. You can easily tell when your head hurts but you need self-awareness to realize your heart hurts. The reasons can be many and not important right now but accepting and respecting those feelings is extremely important. Do not ignore it or push it away. Treat it as you would a physical pain. Once you recognize it, the most important final step is communication. Yes, talk about it! Choose your person but choose someone who will make you feel better not worse. Someone who can tell you there is an issue without judging you. And when you find that person amongst the other 98%, treasure them. They are hard to come by. In fact statistics says that, in a lifetime you will only meet one or two (if you are extremely lucky) such people. Just learn to communicate your thoughts and feelings, clearly and in a timely manner. Not just to that friend but also to the person who is the cause of those feelings. This will help mitigate any future arising issues and nip the molehill from becoming a mountain.

Yes, life is not easy. But there is no need to complicate it any more than it already is. I have a favorite quote, ‘You live life only once and if you live it right, once is more than enough’. So celebrate what you have, exhale, just smile and say hello to life itself.

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Moment Of Metamorphosis

They say growing old is mandatory but growing up is optional. So when does one actually ‘feel’ grown up. Is it that moment when you realize Santa Claus and tooth fairies are a myth? Or when you find out Shaggy is a weed  smoking hippie that talked to a dog and ate all day? Or when you realize Bert and Arnie might be gay?  Or when you realize teenage life was much easier than leading a life full of responsibility?

It hits everyone at different times of their life…or in some cases, not at all!

Thinking about it seriously, there are some milestones to cross to get to that point when you have truly realized that life has changed for you. A change that has made you stronger and better than who you were. The hardest part of growing up is letting go of what you were used to; and moving on with something you are not.

There are some tell-tale signs that experiences bring forth that show us how much we have changed over time:

  • Life makes you stronger and you realize one day that you are strong enough to let go of your friends. You don’t need to cling to them or identify with them for everything.
  • The day comes when you stop chasing girls/boys and start chasing your dreams. When you know you have a dream and are passionate about making it come true.
  • When you realize your ‘gut’ is your true friend. Because it’s the only one that knows you, understands you and will give tailored advice for you.
  • The day  when you stop thinking about who you are, who you should be and just enjoy being ‘you’. It’s about not needing anyone to tell you how good you are, because you already know you are awesome.
  • To be courageous enough to love or tell someone you love them and not worry about getting it back.
  • You also develop a higher level of empathy towards all people around you. So much that you can listen to all sides of the story and empathize with them.
  • Then the day comes when you realize, being selfish is a good thing. Because you know now that unless you take care of yourself first, you can never take care of anyone else.
  • Learning to use social media for what it was meant; to socialize. To not use it to seek attention or gossip about others.
  • Knowing what your passions in life are and making an effort to follow that dream. To take time to pursue it everyday and feel that inward satisfaction.
  • You realize that you are strong now so you don’t have to stay and fight every little fight and argument. You choose to keep your dignity and walk away, with your head held high rather than fling insults and lower yourself to their level. You know you don’t have to prove yourself to anybody.
  • When it dawns on you that when you cry, you cry alone. Only you can wipe your tears, pick yourself up, and move on.
  • When you realize that as you grow up, you find out who you are and what you want and the friends who you have known forever don’t see things the way you do. So you keep the wonderful memories but you find yourself moving on.
  • And finally, when you are able to look back at your past and realize there are a number of things you would have done differently… if only you were grown up!

So where do you think you are? Or like Rugrats would say, “Are you all growed up?”

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Shadows

In the brightest light, 

You stand beside me,

Silent as ever,

Rising like the blackness

That comes from within

Always a part of me,

Like the evil within,

You make me whole,

As you follow me around,

A body of the soul,

Silence without you,

Cos without the sunshine,

I would cast no shadow

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My Journey through Life —with love {Part-4: Befriending love}

Befriending love

Next, we come to a complicated relationship. That’s the relationship between friends. Actually it’s a very simple relationship but tends to get complicated over time and people make it more complicated. It is also one of the most important relationships everyone goes through in their lifetime.

Friendship is important because by the time you realize about this relationship a person is grown up enough that the people around him or her can make an effect on their personality. The people that surround you are the people that will most likely define what you become. These are people who give their love, respect, friendship and trust to believe in you in every step and help you make the right decisions. It’s very true when people say show me your friends and I will tell you who you are. That is how important friends become in defining a person.

A person just chooses a person as a friend for what they are, something they like about the person and they tend to grow together and help each other in evolving as a better person. They are happy to just be together and are able to share everything about themselves with ease. These are friends who always look out for the well-being of the other and want the other to succeed always in life and share every milestone crossed with happiness.

Though it starts out in a very simple manner, very easy, no pressure, no rules it very soon becomes difficult sometimes. The one problem many face is the boundaries of this relationship, how far can it go, how many liberties you can take with your friend, what are the expectations etc etc., and these things tend to weigh the relationship down. More often than not other feelings creep in, jealousy, protectiveness, possessiveness etc., This is one emotion creating lots of problems in this relationship and also puts the relationship thru lots of stress and tests. Unlike other relationships so far discussed, one has to know the other person completely and trust is the most expensive gift one can receive or give to the other person. The foundation of the whole relationship stands on trust. Its very hard to get it back once you lose it in a person.

It is said love is like a violin, the music may stop now and then, but the strings remain forever. Similarly for friendship it is said that, friendship is like a china dish, once broken can be mended but the crack always remains. What it means is that love can be rekindled but the trust in a friendship is hard to find once you lose it. Feelings in a friendship are very deep rooted and every emotion here has taken its own time to develop.

As kids we really don’t know the intensity and gravity of feelings that goes into a friendship. Therefore the person, the kid hangs around with a lot becomes the ‘best friend’ but as adults we delve more into the persons likes and dislikes and we pick and choose our friends. Then you start sharing everything with the friend, every success, every disappointment, every idea, every little thing you do, in happiness and in sorrow friends are always together.

Every person who has a true friend knows how lucky they are to have the good fortune of having a good friend. These are the people who stick with us thru thick or thin, these are the people who do not judge us by what we have and what we do not have, these are the people who like us for what we are and have accepted us with all our shortcomings. These people do not try to change us but do look out for our benefit and good always. Now with so many good things going for this relationship, what goes wrong?

Its usually jealousy with a dash of possessiveness!

The relationship between friends is like a close knit family. People can’t get in very easily and once you get in you are not allowed to go out easily too. When a new person enters in then usually that person ends up putting a spoke in the wheel of a smooth running friendship.  For example: Say one of the friends is entering a new business and the other thinks it’s not a good idea and tries to talk him out of it. Sometimes a person might misunderstand it for standing in the way of the other person’s success. Another example is when one of the friends gets a new love interest then the protective instincts of the friend kicks in and when one tries to tell the other what’s right or wrong it’s not acceptable.

Usually when the friend has been protective in other circumstances their judgment is not questioned and is accepted but when the similar judgment is passed under the ‘love’ circumstances or about choosing your partner, its not accepted. The person being judged might be wrong sometimes too because they might be rushing to choose their partner and the ever loving, ever protective friend does not want their friend to get hurt. The person who is passing a judgment might sometimes be wrong because sometimes the friend feels threatened by the entry of a new person into their friend’s life. They are not sure if they can accept the time sharing between friends. The friendship feels threatened. This sometimes causes problems between friends.

But then again we come across those friendships that are so strong they withstand all tests and come out winners. These people might even say that if a friendship can get threatened simply by the entry of another person into their lives then that is not a true friendship at all.

Correct? Wrong.

A friendship is formed between humans and each human is as different as chalk and cheese from the other. And humans err. They have likes and dislikes. They are selfish. They are protective-possessive. And these things define the friendship so some may have gone through all these emotions to come out stronger. Whereas some may not have gone through all these emotions but just remained strong and untested.  This by no means can be called a battle lost and these people cannot be termed as weaklings. These people just did not have patience to explore all avenues, these people were just not confident enough to talk to the other friend about the problems or issues they have. They were just a bunch of unlucky people.

The depth of a friendship cannot be measured with the amount of time/years spent with the friend. People usually get confused and think that the more time they spend with a person the closer they are and they tend to get drawn into revealing themselves emotionally. They feel like since they have spent so much time with each other they have to reveal all their inner feelings. Another assumption people make is that they start thinking that the more they are together the more they have to reveal themselves to make it last, that’s not true; you don’t have to have a ‘tell all’ friend. It’s not a rule or necessary to tell them everything that happens to you. Also the notion that people believe in that there should be no secrets between friends is also wrong. Everybody has a right to live their lives, keep their secrets and if they say that you are not a true friend for hiding your feelings, then they are just trying to emotionally blackmail you to satisfy their curiosity.

The main reason for a friendship to last is RESPECT.

Everybody has to give the other person their due respect. One has to respect the other person’s wishes, privacy and individuality. That is what friendship is all about. And when this is achieved then that friendship is a bond that lasts forever.

I am not saying friends should always co-exist peacefully and should not have fights or arguments. Friendship is not always a walk through the park. There are lots of hurdles to be overcome, there will be lots of fights, debates and arguments but as long as each one respects the other person’s views and lets go of it when they have to then it doesn’t matter. If one can’t point out the mistakes in the friend and if one can’t respect the other person’s views then something is wrong in that relationship.

So we can say a friend is a person who makes you feel better, makes you a better person and puts in so much of his own goodness that together both become the best. If a person can get the best out of the other, if that person can make you laugh or cry, if that person can lead you from darkness unto light, if that person can satisfy some inner need in you however small or big then that person is a friend.

How happy am I with the kind of friends I have? I am very fortunate to have some very good friends but they are very few and I feel sad that I don’t have many more. I have often wondered why I didn’t have many friends.

One reason I don’t have many friends is that I never had a stand still life in a single place during my growing up years to form a close bond with anyone. My dad was in the kind of job that required him to move around from one place to another so we were constantly being uprooted from our bases and put into entirely new cultures and among new people. But even in this short period of time I was able to find some good friends. Some are friends I am not in touch with very frequently but they are my friends. I know that when I meet them I can connect with them and pick up the relationship from where I left it of. These are people I trust and respect and who in return trust and respect me.

Another pattern I have noticed in life is that in general men seem to have more friends than women. Why? Being a woman I questioned myself too as to why we women can’t have lot of friends. Speaking for myself I would like to say that maybe it’s because of the easy going nature of men and the insecure nature of a woman. Women by birth are very insecure and they constantly have a need to seek attention, security, respect etc from time to time. They tend not to seal a relationship by thinking that he or she is my friend so let me leave it at that, they try to keep it open by constantly having the need to be told that they are important to the other. This is a major drawback because a relationship needs to grow with time and if a person is still stuck at the basics of sealing or defining a relationship then it will never grow. It is bound to fall apart. It would require great patience and understanding from the other to convince them otherwise and who on earth has the patience to do it for a long time? Not many.

I have personally learnt a lot from my friends; each friend has only enriched me more and made me better than what I am. Each person has given me a lot to improve myself. I have always tried to take the good from them but sometimes I did take some things from some friends that would make me more rebellious or more defiant in my behavior. This mostly happened during my adolescent age wherein one gets so carried away with the possibilities around them and the freedom in their hands that one would end up doing things that they normally would not do but would get encouraged to do it in the company of their friends. But then like everything else you outgrow these too and they become just memories for you and your friends to talk about later on in life.

Do I feel I would have been a different person if not for the friends in my life? I would say, Yes. My friends have had a good influence over me. Over the years I have learnt from them and changed myself too. If one friend has taught me to be confident about myself, one has shown me how to voice out my feelings and to be stronger in what I believe in. One has made me realize that its ok to make mistakes as long as we do it only once and not repeat it again. Then there was the one who gave me lessons in human reproduction, telling me things you don’t learn in books. I also remember the friend who taught me how to dress properly and carry myself in public.  I got lessons in social etiquettes, and the importance of a good smile. So definitely everyone in my life has left their mark on me and they are reflected in everything I do and everything I am made out to be. Parents educate us only up to a certain point in our life, they lay our basic foundation but I feel friends take over later on when you are out on your own in the wide world. I have had ups and downs with my friends but I know who I can count on when the need comes. I also know there are some who will count on me to be with them, in their time of need. And you bet I will!

Today, in the age of media that travels at the speed of light, the world has become very small. Social networking sites like, Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In and instant messaging systems like Whatsapp, hangouts and so on have assisted in breeding and breaking friends. We now have long lost friends discovering each other and connecting with each other. People live across continents but are in touch with each other everyday. But then there is a saying, ‘Familiarity breeds contempt’! So the over familiarity has also managed to destroy few relationships. Its wrong to blame anyone or anything for it. A relationship can only be as strong as the people in it are. Over the years, I have lost few, found few and grew apart from a few. One thing I can say honestly is that each one of them have made a positive impact on my life. I can easily think of every friend I had or have and list out the ways in which they have shaped me. They may be out of sight today but they are definitely not out of mind. I salute them for all the good times we had!

Friends are the building blocks of our lives. If these building blocks are good and strong then that decides your future. They can make us or break us and in my case I can definitely say they have made me better and they are my friends for life. Let me end with a few meaningful quotes.

Here is what some famous people had to say about friendship:

  1. Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light. – Helen Keller
  2. Friendship… is not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything. – Muhammad Ali
  3. Sometimes being a friend means mastering the art of timing. There is a time for silence. A time to let go and allow people to hurl themselves into their own destiny. And a time to prepare to pick up the pieces when it’s all over. – Octavia Butler
  4. When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. – Henri Nouwen
  5. A friend is someone who gives you total freedom to be yourself. – Jim Morrison
  6. Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival. – C. S. Lewis

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