Wednesday, February 11, 2009

An Ode to Friends.

My husband always wonders at my addiction to Friends. “You’ve seen this episode 12 times before!” he’ll cry and change the channel to a music video he’s watched …12 times before. He watches as much as he can, that is, before I clobber him with a chair and retrieve the remote from his unconscious grip.

It’s an addiction that comforts and cheers at the worst of times. I was bereft when Friends ended, and think nothing of watching reruns of the same episode as many times as they show it.

I know every ‘Oh-My-GOD”, every “How YOU doin’”, every “Could you BE more …” in the 10 seasons of Friends. Yet I laugh when they laugh, shake my head patronizingly (“that Joey”), and hope Ross and Rachel won’t break up; like it’s…maybe not the first time…but certainly only the fifth time I’m watching that episode. I feel like I’m sitting on that couch with them in Central Perk, ribbing the others (sometimes cruelly) about some trial they’re facing at the moment.

Sad, I know.

I think it’s because it takes me back to when people had time to be friends in my own life. I’m particularly attached to this sitcom because it reminds me of my gang back in college. We were a mix of girls and guys (apart from three of us the combination changed when we graduated to Masters Degree), and we would hang out all the time. We would sit on the back staircase on our floor in JU and pass the time of day just like the characters in Friends. Of course we weren’t half as good looking, and were students rather than working people alone in the city -- but it was much the same.

Just like them, we would josh each other about sometimes sensitive things (I got no end of grief for my Bengali. I thank God I wasn’t overweight at the time, the teasing would’ve been merciless!). We would just be glad to be in the company of like-minded people and laugh uproariously at each other’s jokes. Conversation used to be stimulating—we would try to outdo each other in wit; sometimes there would be flashes of profundity in our naïve exchanges that I find SO hard to come by in my “adult” conversations nowadays.

I guess when I watch Friends all of that comes back to me. That feeling of belonging, of wondering what madcap thing your friends will come up with next; of that sudden flirtatious spark with one of the gang because you’re young and happy and attractive and everything is right and fun.

Now I’m still friends with most of the group from that time, though except for a few who I consider my closest friends still; everyone has got on with their lives and rarely get a chance to catch up. Not one is in the same city as the other; and I doubt with the sundry trials and tribulations that a near decade can bring, we could ever share the light-hearted banter that was at the heart of our closeness so many years ago. I know for a fact that we’ll never ALL be in the same room together, and in fact, there will be some who won’t even agree to it.

Now, 8 years down the line, some of us have done better than others, some have got married (not to each other; none of the Monicas and Chandlers made it oddly) and had kids, others haven’t. I find it strange that a group of people who shared such a close bond could be so different now. Yet, I feel confident that however happy or busy our lives are now, every one of us have a flash of nostalgia when we think of the staircases and window ledges we used to haunt for hours every day, chattering about everything and nothing.

And that’s the time when I switch on the telly and watch Friends re-runs.

14 comments:

db said...

Lovely post.

Each time I'm in Cal, I drop by JU at least once. And with each successive year, the faces get newer - last year, except for a few research fellows, I recognised none.

It's always good to meet the professors, though... Tintinda and Ananda Lal always find the time to have a chat. :P

shreyasi said...

Like you, I love 'Friends' and have watched every episode a hundred million times. Steve bought me the complete set on DVD and knows not to interfere with my daily communion but my life has been very different from your's despite being sisters and in my case, watching 'Friends' has nothing to do with missing my gang from college. I have had some great friends along the way in school, university and work, some of whom I'm still in touch with, others with whom I'd like to re-establish contact, but the larger group in each case, the peripheral members as I like to think of them, I have absolutely no need to ever meet again. I suppose that's partly because when I close a chapter in my life I consign it to the dustbin of my personal history except in very rare cases and partly due to my focus on family (like our mother) almost to the exclusion of all else. Anyway, this has set me thinking, Sistuh, I feel a post coming on!

Haimanti said...

It's been 10 years since we first met! Can you beat it?? and still we ARE kind of together, calling up each other, laughing at each other or bitching about someone or the other or of course, crying our eyes and heart out (that's me). I am soooo glad i went to JU and sooo much more glad that i met you guys. In fact, i hardly have any other friends. And let's do try to be in the same room some time this year, i am sure things wont get out of hand!

Debjeet said...

ekhane esheo friends... jaliye puriye khacche!!

Rashmi said...

Sorry Ushashi, I have to agree with Debjeet on this one. I never thought I would say this, but I think I have FINALLY got tired of Friends (please note, I AM talking about the TV variety). I did enjoy the first few seasons but thought the last one, was at best painful. However, I think Joey and Phoebe can still light up any episode :D Yes, JU was special - I do like your brief comment on the group changing in your Masters - charming!! Oh, I love you guys, eeeeesh, please ekta get together kor. I'm completely with Monty on this one.

diya said...

pusshycat! ami abar tor blog porcchi! sorry babu, onek din por, but still porcchi to! am sorry too, but i've moved to the dark side with rashmi and debjeet - aar no more Friends! i think i have loved it and watched it enough - and there's more cool stuff to watch! ei, do you remember we had a pact to meet up in 10 years' time? are we halfway down 10 years yet?

Rashmi said...

baal sala, I really need to meet up with you guys... eesh ki mojai na hoto...

db said...

It's sometime in 2013, isn't it? So, we're past midway...

I feel old.

diya said...

au contraire, db, i feel ridiculously young! :-)

db said...

Er... that's probably because you're the only one in the 2013 meet-up gang who will NOT turn 30 this year.

I'm beginning to sound like a sitcom... which brings us back to the original post. Full circle. :P

diya said...

it's got absolutely nothing to do with turining (or nor turning!) 30! i feel much better than i ever did when i was younger! :-)

diya said...

but i've forgotten how to spell!

rider of rohan said...

nice job!!

this one really touches a chord with what i have been feeling lately. I haven't talked to people in months with whom I used to share even the smallest of my day's details.

Some have stuck around, but conversations on gtalk dont feel the same, do they!

Shrimoyee said...

Same Pinch! I am another die-hard Friends follower and totally with you on this one. I have seen them all so many times that half the dvd's have stopped working. Now I plan to order one whole set from the internet.
I get the 'oh-please-no-more-friends' thing too and IGNORE. Sometimes out of fellow feeling I oblige and watch something else. I have watched it so much during my pregnancy and taking care of my baby that even after all these months Aadi runs to the TV and starts dancing if he hears the Friends number. I am surprised he isn't tired of it yet.
It reminds me of my friends and its hilarious but most importantly it stops me from thinking.