To Poonam, With Love From MICA

24th June, 2011

Hi, I’m Poonam. I’m from Mumbai.
Hi, I’m Ritu. I’m from Rajasthan. Nice to meet you.
Ritu, meet my family. My bhaiya, bhabhi, my niece Drush….
Wow! Looks like your whole family came to drop you to campus. Meet my papa.

And this is how I met Poonam; without whom my MICA story wouldn’t be complete. Wait, actually won’t even start. Here was this girl who casually started talking to me while I was having lunch with my dad on our first day at college. Lots of families were on campus that day. Some came to see the campus where their loved ones were going to stay for coming 2 years. Some came for the bank loan document formalities (yes, that beast). Some came to make sure that everything was in place for their kids. I’ve come to know that the elders in family never cease to treat us like kids, no matter how much they keep asking us to grow up. It has and continues to confuse me all the time. However, my dad came for a mix of all of these reasons. I like to believe same was the case for most people.

My dad had to stay for longer than we had originally planned due to some glitches with paperwork at bank. He wasn’t keeping too well at that time hence we managed to get a room for him at the college guest house Ashoka after requesting the authorities (thank you, Chandwani sir). Thus he was going to stay there for at least 4-5 days. He had come all the way for me despite his poor health and clear difficulty with travel at that time, and good thing was that he was staying at campus. So I decided to spend as much time with my dad as possible. I thought, I’ll have 2 long years to make friends and spend time with them. Well, how these 2 years fly by without even a warning, is another story altogether.

Before Poonam, I had already spoken to 2 more  people – Ambuj and Soma. Ambuj was sitting beside me in the Audi while we were completing the admission formalities, which by the way took the whole day (whoof!). We seemed to have hit it instantly. He was also sitting silently, just observing other people who were busy making a lot of talks with people around them. He seemed and behaved like a perfectly chivalrous gentleman (Yes, we’re still talking about Ambuj. No seriously). Well, he went on to become our PJ king and one of the funniest people you would ever meet. There truly never would be a dull moment around Ambuj. Now who could have seen it coming that day, with his calculated and silent demeanor? First impressions can be so deceptive at times, I tell you ;). Soma was sitting opposite to me, on the same table during lunch hour. Before Poonam has started talking, I was talking to Soma. She came across as jolly and unpretentious (a trait to be treasured at a b-school) and I had fun talking to her.

So this girl Poonam, seemed like a chatter-box, talking non-stop during lunch. But she exuded something which made her very likable, for me at least. I couldn’t point out what it was at that time. Soon I realized that it was her striking simplicity. I generally don’t open up to new people so soon. And that’s not a personality trait; in fact it’s exact opposite. I’ve hard time struggling to stop myself from opening up to people. I trust people easily. Actually, problem is that I start with trusting them. My philosophy is to believe in the basic goodness of people unless I’m provided with a reason to believe otherwise. I used to argue, why someone would do something bad to me unless I do so to them. But over time, I had learnt (through hard way of course!) that world doesn’t really function that way. Thus I had started slowly and consciously closing myself. Better be careful than to regret later. Since it doesn’t come naturally to me, things get awkward at times. I’m still trying to find a better approach to deal with this. Anyways, Poonam was made of different elements. She totally shrugged off my cold shoulder to her warm behavior. She kept catching me at random places and times and every time it was the same vibrant simplicity in her behavior towards me. She would hunt me down to have meals with me, to walk with me, or just simply to crib about random buggers; and it was so charming and difficult to deny. My strategy to spend maximum time with my dad also didn’t hamper her warmth towards me. In fact she made it a point to spend time with my dad whenever I was busy. This girl was being too sweet to be true, I reminded myself.

We had started having all our meals together. We used to have our breaks at Chhota together. She would walk with me and my dad. She would accompany me to my dad’s room in Ashoka. She would check on him in my absence. We would chat for hours at stretch. She would make it a point to accompany me when I would go to see my dad at nights, whether we have drinking water or not, whether we need something and the list just goes on. Without even realizing, we both were totally inseparable within few days of our first conversation at that lunch-table. And I didn’t really mind having her around. She wasn’t doing all this in an interrupting or annoying way but rather in a sweet caring way. My dad was also clearly growing fond of her. I was slowly accepting the fact that I had found my first real friend in that strange place, and that without any efforts. And I knew that I would be fine and would sail through the next 2 years simply based on this friendship even if I don’t find any more friends like her. It amazes me sometimes how even 1 person can make you feel so content while on the other hand, at times you feel so terribly lonely even in a crowd. I had found my buddy and I was content. Life was good and we were going to rock the next 2 years together. Or at least that’s what we thought.

Punnu and Me

We were in separate sections and hence our schedules were a little different. However, she would come looking for me during breaks, would surprise me with something at times and do so many sweet things like that. Once, I was still busy doing something during break between classes and she couldn’t find me outside. So she came looking for me in my class. I was engrossed in whatever I was doing and had no clue of her presence (Ok, ok. I’ve that annoying habit of silencing out every distraction whenever I need it). She waited patiently. Noticing that I’m finishing the task at hand, she decided to surprise me. She broke into singing a song for me while other people watched and I really was caught off-guard. This was so blissful to be loved so much by a friend, without any ulterior motives. Ah! The simple joys of a simple life.

Lunch break used to be quite rushed for us with constant classes and so little time, especially during the initial days while we were still trying to get a hang on to so many things. There used to be huge queues and sometimes, we either ended up on missing lunch or having a very rushed one (which is a crime considering the sumptuous food of MICA mess). One such afternoon, I was having lunch and then all the people from other section came rushing in as they had just got free and there was mad rush for food. Poonam was also standing at the far end of the queue. I saw her and I knew she was going to miss her lunch that day. She had already missed her breakfast. And by the way, I forgot to mention how big a foodie she is. She hogs down so much food and still stays so slim (I hate you Poonam). I’m still behind her to know the secret behind this. Anyways, I knew that she was gonna starve if left to this queue and that would drive her mad for the rest of the day. Suddenly, an idea came to my mind. I called out to her and asked her to come. She was puzzled and clearly didn’t want to lose her place in the queue. Then, through signs I explained to her that she should come and eat with me from the same plate. Her eyes lightened up and she came running. We had awesome fun sharing our food and she was clearly touched that I came up with that thought. After that we always used to do this thing whenever required. Also, sometimes just for the sheer fun of it, as we had started enjoying this camaraderie between us. Now, I know all this sounds really simple and ordinary. But, I’ve felt this again and again that life eventually happens in these small magical moments. Happiness for us was the culmination of these shared memories and it was happening then and there. We didn’t need to wait for some big things to happen to be happy. We were happy.

And blah blah…

P.S. This is called Pfaff in MICAn lingo. More pfaff about pfaff later.

(Yeeey, I finally did it)

To be continued…..

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