Monday, October 13, 2008


In my 48 years, 7 months and 10 days on this planet, I think I must have met, on a rough estimate, at least 200,000 people, right? So how is it that one strikes the right chord of friendship with so few? I guess I can count off the names of my close friends on the fingers of my hands! I know thousands of people right now, in real time, and have a passing acquaintance of another 8-10 thousand, but when I sit back and think about how many bridges remain to be crossed before I can say that person X is no longer a known moiety, no longer a passing acquaintance, no longer a good friend, but a close friend ...and I have to conclude that seldom, if ever, will all those bridges be crossed and a close friend added to my list.

What, then, are the ingredients that go towards fostering a close friendship? Ask a hundred people, and you will likely get a hundred answers. To think off the top of my mind, I can think of the following:
-attitudinal match
-ability and opportunity to interact
-comfort in each others' presence
-mutual acceptance of pluses and minuses of each other
-tolerance of each others' bad or nasty habits/behaviour
-enjoying each others' conversations
-keeping each others' secrets
-lending shoulders to cry upon

I guess the list is endless, as you can see!

Aside of the physical world's friendships, the internet has added a fourth dimension to the discussion: we make friends so freely over the net, and what do we have to judge the other person by, except for the way they write/chat/interact? Nothing. Pictures and photos need not be genuine. Nor blogs, nor profiles, nor locations, or even sex. Thus, our friendships on the net hang by a thin, easily breakable thread of belief and faith - in the friend, in our own self and in God - or cyber God if you will.

Having said all this, I can say that once a thread of friendship is formed, maintaining it is even more difficult ... and taking it to the next, higher level ...even more so. We mostly maintain relationships at the same level of comfort, but we never try to "test" our friendships to see if the friend does come in "good" when the need arises. A mere statement that "a friend in need is a friend indeed" is okay for writing a school essay, but do we really put pressure on our so-called friends to see who our "real" friends are?

To do this, we need to sometimes create "crises" and call up our friends and see their level of response/reciprocation. To give you an example: announce to all your friends by email, phone or SMS that your car has stalled at ..... location (the location needs to be *inconvenient* for the friends to reach) and could they help by coming to you and fetching you ... or rendering some other form of help to help you extricate yourself from this situation.

Now, sit back and enjoy. Over 90% of those you call will feign that they are too busy to come and pick you up, or cluck in mock sympathy. Around 5 % will show genuine concern, but will not go beyond, say, giving you the number of the local police station or towing agency or Automobile Association etc.

Only the last 5% will discuss the nitty-gritty of the problem and offer to come and pick you up.

They are, in my opinion, a few notches higher than the remaining 95% whom you contacted.

That does not mean that they are the only true friends you have. Someone from the 95% discussed above still may be your true friend, but how will you know that? Therefore, keep creating "crisis" situations from time to time, till you are sure who your real friends are.

Did I make sense to you? Will you try this method to test your friends? Do write back and let me know!

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