Monday, December 19, 2005

So I lied a little bit

Actually ended up spending this last Saturday and Sunday in Philadelphia with friends. Specifically, Abhra a.k.a. Bong (as in Bengali, not 420head), IIT Bombay friend in whose currently-vacant Princeton apartment I'm presently holed up, and his girlfriend Liz.

There was always the possibility of it degenerating into another "Remember that..." sorta thing, which it did, kinda ("Remember that IIT prof who gave hand signals when turning while walking, and the other one who went on a hunger strike since his students cheated?", "Yeah, and remember that giant pencil sharpener you put on the 10 foot IDC pencil?", "Mess food was BAAAD."), but mostly, it was Abhra and Liz snuggling up (oh so cute watching two I-don't-take-no-bullshit people get all fuzzy-wuzzy :) and me blading around Philly

hence this pic of the tree's shadow on the wall, which reminded me of that O'Henry story - you know which one.

Or, when talking with Bong, wondering how two such different people ended up such good friends.

Exaggeration aside, he and his irascible caustic wit was probably one of the strongest influences on my life at the impressionable time when I was an undergraduate. He'd grown up tut-pseud in south Bombay, and while I wasn't exactly a Delhi yokel, I did have corners sticking out in all four dimensions. This was all complicated by his frustrations on being in IIT, which he didn't mind venting on anyone nearby, and me going through a three-year chirpy phase compounded by the discovery of truly atrocious puns.

Our first conversation could very well have been something along the lines of

"I'm from Delhi. Oh, you're from Bombay? That's nice - it'll be nice having a local friend."
"I hate Delhi-ites. Maybe I won't hate you."
"Whoa - that's extreme. Maybe it's the atom bomb in you. Getit get it? Bomb-A? A-bomb?"
"I think I will hate you."
"Hahaha - you're so funny."

That pretty much set the tone for the remainder of our time in college.

I seemed to get some masochistic pleasure playing the fool to him fulminating about my patheticness (patheticity?). What did I get out of it? Well, he was obviously pretty smart, had opinions about everything, and was in general interesting. Just slightly... dangerous to be around, which probably added to the excitement. In the end, it ended up making me more confident of myself; one had to be, to stand his sometimes vicious attacks. Taught me good-natured self-control. Also provided a healthy counter-balance to the artsy crowd I was hanging out with. What did he get out of it? In the "Remember that..." mode this time around, I asked him exactly that. He replied with a compliment, "Well, you can be irritating, but you're smart and interesting. I don't really hate you."

We've met several times over the last five years. I've become more comfortable with myself, confident enough to stand up to him. On his part, he's mellowed considerably.

And yet, that old chemistry...

"Hey Bong. Help me connect my laptop to your Princeton LAN. I need your MAC address. Haha - pun - see - you have a Mac iBook, and also have a Machine Authentication Code..."

Deep sigh through clenched teeth.

Update: (email from Abhra Mitra to Sidharth)
I like the post.... And while the facts are all wrong the essential spirit is captured.


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