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August 2015

Finding A Lost Friend In The Age And Times Of Social Media

I am one of those who has lived substantial years of my life before 2000s.  We weren’t clearly the generation born with the world on our fingertips and phones in our hands. Hand written letters, trunk calls and telephone booths were how communication worked.

Meeting in person or sending letters if not in the same physical location were the common means of saying hello as opposed to texting and even calling each other by phone was a rarity. During that pre-cell phone era of my school, I had a good friend. Someone who would qualify to be a BFF in my 10 year old daughter’s language today.

We were in the high school together for two years and then she left for a different school. Initially we kept in touch. We wrote letters to each other and called each other few times a year. I would give ourselves credit for keeping in touch off and on till about the time we graduated college. We even managed to meet in person while staying in different cities. And then quite unintentionally we fell off each other’s radar for several years. No letters, no phone calls, no news and no clues where we were, our connection was lost.

It is almost unthinkable in this era of Whatsapp, Twitter, Snapchat and Facebook but such things happened very often back then. It was not as easy as typing someone’s name on Google and finding them in the vastness of this world.

To wonder is what we do when we are not connected. We remember the person among the hustles and bustles of our own life And if you have wish and will, you find ways to make and keep friendships in your lives.  

By the year 2009, Facebook had made its way into our lives. I was still getting used to it when one day a Facebook message popped on my screen.

“Hope you still remember me. Will wait to hear from you. Wanted to add you to my Facebook.”

I was then, as I admit now, “social networking delayed” and responded to the message if you will fast forward to 2011, exactly two years later. Yes for some odd reason, it took me two years to respond to her. It actually took me two years to get used to social media.

Being friends in a funny way is like cycling or swimming, you never forget being friends. We connected over FB and then picked up the phone. 15 years later and 2800 miles apart, there was still no gap.  We did not pick up from where we left. We did not catch up on the long lost years either. We just fitted our friendship into the context of our current lines seamlessly. 

This summer, we covered the distances in years and miles. Much awaited and yet I would say there was bit of anxiety. We were going to meet not just as friends but along with our families.  The men whom we had fallen for and married, the children we had bore. We were not little schoolgirls any more. We had assumed many other roles in life.

Thankfully we really did not change too much, still quite crazy as we were always. It was just like someone had used a clear tape to paste the life before and after so many years as far as our friendship goes.

Our kids were surprised at the 15 years gone missing in our years of friendship, a concept too alien to them. They heard our stories with reference to the “Walkmans” and “Cassette Players” with wide eyes and amusement. The fact that their mothers did not have any digital pictures from their school days made them giggle. Sitting with them and talking about our old life was wonderful yet we felt like cavemen at times.

Our spouses connected too and found something of a common interest. We were happy to lose them to that. The kids played together and found their own things to do. Everyone just fitted in as if we had all known each other all our lives. The house was enveloped in chatter, laughter, happy noises, late nights, good food and overwhelming portions of love and affection. It was like early Christmas with family.

Coincidentally, Facebook reminded me on the last day of my stay with my friend that it was Friendship day. Yes, it was social media again. Nothing of this sort existed in our old days. Every day was pretty much a friendship day.

Still we felt it a wonderful coincidence. I could wish my long lost friend in person and not through a letter, a message, a text, phone or even Facebook. So like old times we gave each other a hug and a silent ‘Thank you’ to the revolution called “Social Media”. It certainly has its own perks.

Picture: Google Images

The Lost and Found Case Of Mr. Pinocchio

On a beautiful cobbled street, in Old Town Prague, sat Mr. Pinocchio smiling at the passerby tourists and shoppers. The sun was extremely harsh and strong and scorching our backs.There was a little shade by the window where Mr. Pinocchio sat. So we took a break from walking and sat there by his window. 

He looked at us and we looked at him. Such warmth and life in him and he seemed exceptionally happy. After a while, we headed to where we were meant to go. 

But there was something very special about Prague(we fell in love with the city) and Mr.Pinocchio. For as many times we crossed that street by the Old Town Clock, he smiled gleefully at us. He stayed in our mind all throughout the stay in Prague. The day we were leaving Prague, we decided we cannot leave without him. We could not bring Prague home with us but we could absolutely bring Mr.Pinocchio home with us. 

Mr.Pinocchio’s old home was on this lane in Old Town Prague

So we rushed to Mr.Pinocchio’s old home, got him all wrapped up and brought him along with us to our next stop in the tour.  Mr.Pinocchio of course did not need a rail ticket or a passport or any kind of visa. He just needed a lot of space in our bag. So we swaddled him like a baby (quite literally) and made space for him in one of the bags

And he arrived with us at our next stop, Vienna, the music capital of the world. 

At Vienna, we felt living in a bag could be really uncomfortable for anyone, specially when the mercury was soaring to about 35 C. So we got Mr.Pinocchio out of the bag and gave him a nice cool spot in the roomy closet of our hotel room. The husband moved him around in the closet to give him an even more comfortable spot. In a few days, we moved again to Salzburg. Remember Love Locks ? It was only while unpacking in Salzburg, we realized we had left Mr.Pinocchio in Wien. A sudden sadness enveloped suddenly. 

Amidst the “who packed”, “who checked the closet”, “how could we” and clothes turned upside down on the bed of a hotel room, the husband and I called the Hotel in Vienna. The connection wasn’t the greatest and the receptionist on the other end had little patience. 

“A puppet. A marionette. It must be in the closet. It’s in a white bubble pack. 2 feet long.It’s a Pinocchio. Room-216. Please check for us,” we must have repeated this twenty times over on a poor phone connection. 

The response back was plain and cold. “Sorry, we found nothing in the room.” 

A Bird’s eye view of the city of Salzburg. 
We were immensely disheartened. But what more could we do. We spent the day in the charming city of Salzburg, heard great music on the street (it is Mozart’s birthplace after all), had the best Italian food of our life and retired for the day. But not before sending one last email to the hotel. I think the good food did the trick. Mr.Pinocchio was hovering our minds as well. The husband coaxed me into writing and I wrote a nice email overusing “Please” to the hotel without putting up my hopes too much. 

The next morning, a surprise reply came back from the hotel. 

Dear Ms.Mukherjee, 

We found the marionette in your room. Please let us know where we could ship this to you.

Hotel Z 

We did a little dance, sent out our address and arranged for the logistics.The kids jumped on the bed of sheer joy. It was now a matter of days that Mr.Pinocchio would be home with us. We reached home and a few days later, Mr.Pinocchio was finally delivered at our doorstep too. We opened the box, unwrapped the package and there he was smiling ear to ear as he looked at us. “I am finally home.” 

We told you how we found Mr. Pinocchio. But how did we lose him in the first place ? 
I am always the last one to inspect the room for any personal belongings before we check out of a hotel room. It is my job. I like to do that and invariably find something important. That one final check before the keys are turned in.  But I missed Mr.Pinocchio. The answer came in through a seemingly important question the husband asked me the night Mr.Pinocchio arrived home. 

“Didn’t you check the top rack of the closet when you last checked the room in Wien?” , he asked. 
“What top rack are you talking about ?” 
“The topmost one above the safe in the closet. I had put Mr.Pinocchio there.” 
“Yes. I thought he would be safe there. What do you mean by Oh! ?” 

From where we stand, my husband and I both see things differently. Very differently unless there is a step stool available for my perusal. He most often forgets the simple fact that visibility is directly proportionate to one’s stature and ours is almost a feet apart.

Pictures and Story By : Piya Mukherjee Kalra  

The one that started them all – Talihina Sky

In October of 2011, Neha and Jay were both in a training program at Deloitte University, Dallas, Texas. This was also around the time when love was making its way in the life of these two travel enthusiasts. So they decided to take a weekend off to drive to a beautiful small town of Oklahoma. One of the many trips that they would make in the years to come. Today they write and share their travel stories with the world at Weavobe

Continue reading “The one that started them all – Talihina Sky”


Can a boy and a girl be friends ? BFF’s ?  Just friends ?  May be. Or may be not. 

I have a man in my life – a man about whom I rarely speak of, but he is never away from my thoughts. A man who isn’t part of my social world, but my existence is incomplete without him. A man I have known for thirty-eight years of my life, but even today I can’t explain to anyone what he really means to me. That man is Aabha!
I have vivid memories of the day I first met Aabha. It was the summer of 1972. I was twelve years old. He was twenty-two.

Continue reading “Aabha”

A Tribute To A Virtual Friend

For a friend, for a mom, for a fighter and for a beautiful life. #FightLikeSarah

I first met Sarah through her Huff Post article around two years back. “Cancer does not define me, I am redefining cancer”.  I have known her since then, though I have never met her or spoken to her or even chatted with her. But like many others,  I have read every one of her published articles, watched her fight fearlessly for the last two years, followed her FB page, website and twitter. The closest I have got to interacting with her was leaving her a message or wishes on her FB page or telling her how she inspires in many different ways. 

Now, that she is gone, I have been secretly grieving her passing away. I have been thinking about her for more than a week now. I am saddened by her going away. I have not been able to put my thoughts aside. So I chose to write about it. Write about a person I knew only virtually yet it does not feel that way. 
Sarah Amento was a fighter, a ferocious and a graceful one. She fought for her kids. She fought to be a mom. She fought to stay alive because she loved being a mother. In her own words – “Fighting Breast Cancer, with strength, laughter, grace and a few tears! ‘Cancer does not define me, I am redefining cancer!’ StageIV Surviving!~Sarah”
In the last two years, if there is one thing that I have learned from observing her, is to live your today.  Live your dreams today. Live the smallest of your wish today. Tomorrow is unpredictable. Tomorrow may never come.Be the kind of person or parent you want to be today. Don’t procrastinate anything.

Yet I have done very little to implement it so far. I still live in the hope of another day, a new day, in the hope of doing everything tomorrow. She is of course not the first one or the only one to talk about it. Most people with life threatening ailments would tell you that.  There is no guarantee of life. 

Sarah never let Cancer conquer her spirits not matter how tough it got. It was not easy for her always but she was a true fighter. She wanted to live to see her five beautiful children grow and to be around them when they needed her. She wanted them to have their mom around to take care of them and just be around them. As a mother, I related to the sentiment the most, the desire for life not for yourself but for your kids. 
It became a habit to check for an update on her FB page. It was almost like checking in on a neighbor or calling a friend. When the frequency of updates decreased, I would worry for her. But she always came back. She always shared her story candidly. It must take a lot to share a slice of your life when walking through such trials and tribulations. She spoke extensively about her treatment and thus helping many in the same boat. It wasn’t just me but many looked forward to those updates. It was re-assuring in a way. We were all strangely interconnected in this virtual world. Some 10,000 or more strangers praying and hoping for a miracle for a person we knew only virtually. 
A few weeks back, the frequency of updates decreased again.  There were new tumors she was fighting with, we knew. There were more radiations, she shared pictures of them. There were more sick days, she wrote about them too.  And then after a while Sarah became too weak to update or write posts herself. But no one ever gives up hope for a miracle.There were whispers of hospice. More prayers and stronger wishes for a miracle poured in from all. Sarah was a fighter after all. 
So when the news of her passing away came, it seemed unbelievable at first and then sunk in gradually. It felt like losing a friend. It felt like losing someone I personally knew. Even while writing this post, I am overwhelmed with sadness, sometimes struggling with my words.

Sarah’s story is not the only one in the social media that witnesses such relationships develop and such outpouring of love and kindness. It is not the only one where people share personal stories with complete strangers. Stories of hope, miracle, agony, loss and lot more. Stories of a lifetime. 

Social media has a lot of perils but then it also has the power of connecting and bringing people together like never before. Just as Sarah touched many lives, I am sure the love from everyone made her own life more beautiful. The love does not diminish here. It stays on for her family, her beautiful children who meant everything to her and her husband who stood like a rock by her. 
As for me, I will keep reminding myself of doing what I love doing the most. Being a mom, being around my kids and loving them. Most importantly, remind myself of doing all the fun things with them and doing it today. Little things, little promises made to them. Little things like taking them to the park with the bigger play structure that they are so fond of or doing the clay project that will create a hell lot of mess or enrolling for a dance class with my daughter or just enjoying them without fussing over trivial matters. All simple things to do but sometimes we all get too caught up in the discipline of life and take it too much for granted. 
And whenever the Fight Song will play on the radio, I will always think of Sarah. (How she loved the song!)


We started on a dark rainy night…

Siddharth Joshi, is our newest storyteller on the block. We had to pursue most of our storytellers so far. This is the first time a very interesting story came in to our Inbox unannounced. The story and the storytelling style is new and left us with goosebumps all over. 

We started on a dark, rainy night.

Continue reading “We started on a dark rainy night…”

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