Understanding the meaning of friendship in a multicultural world

Understanding the meaning of friendship in a multicultural world

By ANIRUDH VOHRA | | 20 February, 2016
“There are friends, there is family and then there are friends that become family.”

“You can choose your friends but you sho’ can’t choose your family, an’ they’re still kin to you no matter whether you acknowledge ‘em or not, and it makes you look right silly when you don’t.”

— Harper Lee

We have to accept our family due to our blood relations, but friends are just random people we happen to meet. They like us for who we are and tolerate us for all we are. They have been charmed and swept of their feet by nothing but our personalities, or at least we’d like to believe that.

Our relationships with our friends are treated as frivolous and expendable. And it’s not uncommon for us to hear things like we can skip going out with friends and stay home with family, after all family is more important. Even though friends are not bonded to us by blood but in a sense they are like our extended family.

If you have never shared your living space with someone, you may have some difficulties adjusting. You may find that the other person is very different in character and he or she doesn’t suit you as a companion. Will the person be clean and tidy? Will she eat the same food or enjoy the same music? How should you react to your mate’s friends? And of course, there is the issue of telephone bills and shared expenses. For some people, the lack of privacy is the biggest challenge, while others may find their roommates over-sensitive or distant.

Fun, yes, because there are many positive aspects to share. For one we are far away from our families and friends, and may experience loneliness and homesickness. Both may also be facing new challenges in their studies. Sharing offers companionship to people who might otherwise have to face these problems alone. Furthermore, since life is not just about academic learning or making money, sharing is an opportunity to develop communication skills so that a good atmosphere is established. Both can learn from each other about new interests and explore new activities. However, it is important to realize that your flat mate does not have to be your best friend. In fact, the most desirable feature when living with someone else is respect for the other person’s needs. Neither you nor your flat mate will be right all the time.

Relationships with friends are treated as frivolous and expendable and it’s not uncommon for us to hear things like we can skip going out with friends and stay home with the family — after all family is more important. Even though they are not bonded to us by blood, friends will still treat us as if they were. In a sense they are like our extended family.

Recently I moved in with a couple of my friends, all different in so many aspects, be it culturally or nature wise. Since, no two people are alike which in turn leads to a new fight every day. The fight can be about anything: who ate last orange or who last cleaned the dog’s poop. Now here is a word of advice never let your flat mates get a pet. For it’s like bringing a tiny ball of joy and playfulness home without realizing it is a living creature that poops and pees everywhere.

It’s always fun and a great feeling to have a pet but it also brings in responsibilities which the residents of J3/45 didn’t realize. Now this tiny dog opened the pandora’s box of arguments and resulted in numerous clashes of opinions. One can’t even comprehend the reasons for these fights, the last one was about who loves the dog the most! Heights of idiocy but just imagine living among such a bunch.

Imagine a large house with seven people living in it, four guys and three girls. Who are these people you must be wondering? Well, two lawyers, a journalist, a chartered accountant, two MNC executives and a hostel manager.  Yes, we fight everyday passionately on many lame reasons like who left the water heater on or whose turn it was to clean the house. We bicker about how three of the residents are always drinking and smoking while two never leave their room.      

However not all is bad in living with friends. Sometimes, the drama that comes along makes it all the more interesting. Be it the early morning discussions about the texture of one’s poop and bowel movements or the hukka sessions in the balcony during power cuts or the late night karaoke sessions that force the neighbors to call the cops. To be honest I’ve always had a great life but I can say without a doubt that sharing space with six others is the one of the most entertaining phase of my life.

This adopted family or our handpicked family is more dependable than our real blood family at times for there was a time when I was unemployed and broke but not once was I made to feel inadequate. My bills were always paid on time my wallet always had cash and my car always had gas. The tiny thing that people do makes you realize how special you are to them. Imagine getting a hot cup of tea while you are working on a story at two in the night or finding a cigarette on your bed stand when you had already finished the last one at night or your friend lending you his tablet for months at a stretch as you don’t have a laptop.

And how can you forget the cultural shock you give your friends and family back home when you tell them you are sharing your living space with three guys and three girls. “Sir, wo jo madam hai wo aap mai se kisi ki patni hai, ya behen hai,” was the first thing our apartment watchman asked me when moved in.   

As the famous saying goes “There are friends, there is family and then there are friends that become family.” I can gladly say among these six completely different people that I live with I have managed to find a safe haven, a little place we can all call home, our quantum of solace. Every day here is like a festival and a massive party, no wonder we call our house the party mansion. 


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