A dash of Pepper…

…with a splash of Mint

On friendships

Posted by Pepper on January 30, 2016

I’ve never had too many friends in my life. I do have a lot of people I call my ‘hang out buddies’. But friends? I can say I have a total of 3 or maybe 4 real friends. And in all honesty, I have been quite content with this number. I know these are people I can count on. And I will not hesitate to rely on them. The rest of the hang out buddies, they may be willing to help me in times of need, but I am too hesitant to even ask them for help. It is a reflection of the equation I share with them. In my head, they’re good to just hang out and have fun with.

I’ve now reached a phase where I find myself wishing I had some good friends close to where we live. You see, while I do have a few good friends, I have nobody in close proximity to me. Not even my so called hang out buddies. All my friends (and even Mint’s for that matter) are scattered. Even the ones who are in the same city don’t really live close to us. So every time Mint and I have to meet our friends, we have to plan, coordinate, schedule and then travel a fair bit to meet them. While this isn’t too bad, it does make me miss the spontaneity of it all. Meeting a friend shouldn’t be a project. And that is what it has really turned into.

I miss the feeling of  having a friend over in the evening just to chat over a cup of coffee. I miss going to a friend’s place for an unplanned dinner. I miss the ability to step down for a night walk together. And most of all, I miss the support that comes with having friends in close proximity.

I’ve wondered if I have gone wrong somewhere. I live in an a very large apartment complex. Why have I not made any friends here so far? Almost everybody seems to have friends and support systems. I haven’t been able to figure where I went wrong. Maybe I suck at striking conversations with random strangers, especially without the ease of an opportune moment. But more than that, I think I haven’t really found too many like minded people.

There are the million kids, some in school, some in high school. They have their own groups and seem very happy playing chor police or football, depending on their age. Then there are the salwar kameez and sneaker clad aunties, taking walks in clusters. They seem to have formed solid friendships with each other. There are a few young parents too, watching over their kids in the evening. Now this group, I tell myself I can probably try tapping into.

But every time I have tried, I have faced rejection. The conversation wanders and invariably reaches a point where I feel judged for my choices. For marrying somebody from such a different community, for not having learnt his language yet (this one comes from people who belong to the same ‘different’ community), for not cooking myself on a daily basis, for not having had a child despite being married for so many years, for living in a nuclear set up and so far away from my inlaws. It just goes on. It makes me feel a strong disconnect. I feel like we belong to different worlds.

What makes it even sadder is that I do see some people who I suspect I will connect with. They look like us and I want to believe we will get along. Unfortunately like I mentioned, I really don’t excel at approaching people unless I find a suitable opportunity. And so far, I haven’t seen them show any inclination to talk or connect. So all I do is stand at a distance and wonder if we could have been friends.

I have a few friends who tell me having kids offers you a whole new avenue to make friends. It lets you connect with other parents and gives you a wider net. Chances of meeting like minded people is higher when you have a vast group to interact with. Maybe that is true to an extent. But on the other hand, I often see parents judging and being too critical of each other’s choices. So I wonder how it works. I think judgment is not conducive to friendship.

I don’t know what it is, but my theory is that it is much harder to make friends as we age. I also think, for a friendship to grow, you need to share some common experiences. That is probably why we make friends so easily in school. We are all in the same stage of life, studying the same subjects, hating and loving the same teachers, working on the same assignments. Even when we get to college. Other than the daily interaction, there is a certain sameness to our life that facilitates bonding.

As we grow though, the sameness gives way to differences. And when the core framework of our lives differs so greatly, we find it hard to fit in and align a piece that belongs to a different shape. And so we restrict our friendships to people with frameworks just like our own. Making friends is never as easy as it was. I think that is something I must accept.

20 Responses to “On friendships”

  1. My Era said

    This post is so me.
    Though, my reasons for not being able to make good friends with kids of my daughter’s age is my marital status because the minute they learn I’m a divorcee, something turns off in their mind and I can almost see it in their eyes that we can’t be friends.
    It is utterly disappointing, but yeah, I can so relate with your yearning to have good friends close by.

    • Pepper said

      Damn.. I can totally understand how hard it must be for you. I think us Indians love to judge, label and sit on our high horses. Sigh..

      • Deepa said

        Both of you seriously need to move next door to me so all of us can form a happy trio and eat butter cake and gulp coffee. No, seriously!
        But I second both of you in that relating to an ‘other’ is difficult-ter as one gets older. It doesn’t get any easier at 40 for sure. Not that I’m 40 of course:-)

    • parijatshukla2014 said

      era we Indians are probably the most judgmental people in the universe; now am I judging Indians now 🙂

  2. […] स्रोत: On friendships […]

  3. “Judgment is conducive to friendship” totally agree on that and infact its true for all other relationships including husband -wife. “Its much harder to make friends as we age” Not on same page on this one as I believe as we age , experiences grow and the domain of things that could be discussed with a stranger (potential friend) enhances significantly.
    Having said that I notice my wife has a knack of developing friendship with new people and the reason I could fathom is her willingness to take lead in starting a conversation with a complete stranger.

    • Pepper said

      Yes, I guess we’re on different pages then 🙂
      I do agree a lot depends on your personality type though. Perhaps it is easy for your wife because of her inherent personality. But having said that, I still believe it is tougher to make friends as we age 😦

  4. Gayathri said

    Hey Pepper .. Your posts always always manage to strike a chord. I am exactly like this. Very very few friends and quite content about it but always stare at people and wonder if we could’ve been friends. After a lot of unsuccessful attempts, I’ve convinced myself that friendships, just like love, has to happen naturally. Without any effort from either of them. That’s how friends have come into my life at 8 and even now at 28.

  5. Gowri Advani said

    I love this post Pepper…it is exactly how I feel…I hate to burst the bubble…even after kids I find it hard to make friends because I feel I get judged all the time for my choices…if you are the kind of person who is generally friendly and can keep your beliefs to yourself in most cases it maybe easier to find hang out buddies…but for somebody like me who wears her beliefs on her sleeve….I become the topic of discussion after getting rejected…

    I love your writing style… Pls do keep writing…all the very best to you

    • Pepper said

      That’s what I thought too, Gowri! There is so much of judgement in the parenting circle. Wonder how it all works when friendships are involved. But I guess friendships do occur though, because I know of several people who made friends like that 🙂 I think a lot also depends on luck.
      I don’t wear my beliefs on my sleeve (other than this blog), but I still haven’t been able to connect with people in my complex. I really think luck plays a role.

      Thanks so much 🙂

  6. I said

    ditto! I echo your thoughts completely. Btw i put up in bandra. Wanna catch up sometime?

  7. I can so identify with this! Even I have 3-4 very close friends who I know will be friends till the very end. And all are in US :(. 2 of them used to stay very close to us when we were in bay area, and they are one of the main reasons I miss bay area so much. Just the ease of hanging out with each other, without any formalities… I miss that here in bangalore.
    And, I totally agree that it is difficult to make friends as we grow old. I think partly it is because we ourselves become quite rigid in what is acceptable to us in the other person. I can chat with parents of anwesh’s friends, but im not sure if we will be friends. There is no judging on either side, but as you said, it is difficult to form strong bonds unless you share an experience(s).

  8. […] was reading Pepper’s blog post here about friendships and I wanted to write a comment, which ended up being an essay on its own. So I thought, I may as […]

  9. Bikramjit said

    It is indeed very hard to make friends ..I have so many friends but since I come to uk it has all changed. . I hardly have a friend here. . I think I have reached at a age where it is difficult for me to make new ones maybe my needs have changed or maybe I live in a different world. .

    I yearn myself to have thay good friend close myself. . Maybe my expectation are too much or maybe I am just a FRESHY ☺ as they say here and any fit in..

    Some that I thought were good friends are not ad out views are different I am still a lot indian if you know what I mean where friendship means a lot unlike here where it’s more of need basis..

    But I have got used to it.. I go back and spend 3 weeks to cater for all the heartaches ☺☺☺☺

  10. I am at that stage right now where I wish had friends in the city I am living in but I am unable to connect with anyone around. I too feel like I am being judged for my choices. I would rather remain friendless than befriend people who I cannot connect with. You have beautifully explained how hard it is to make friends after a certain point in life. I agree with you on how common experiences play a huge role in nurturing friendships.

    • Pepper said

      I totally agree with you. It is a wiser choice to remain friendless rather than force friendships where you feel a disconnect.

      You know, as much as I hate to believe it, I do think that having kids has made it a little easier for me to make friends. I wish this wasn’t the case, but looks like it is so much easier to socialize through your kids.

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