The very first friend I had I think was called Meenu. This was kindergarten in Hindan. I don’t remember her face or what we did together but her name stuck. Then in Coimbatore I remember my first day of first grade and being introduced to the whole class. I wasn’t scared or nervous. I just remember the teacher saying I was new. She said my name and asked the class to shout out a hello. This is where I first picked up on a bad habit. Habit is the wrong word–action would be more accurate. I saw a boy tear up paper from his notebook and with cheers from fellow classmates he ate it and opened his mouth to show that he had swallowed the paper. I remember thinking that’s not hard and after going home and told my parents about my first day in school and demonstrated what that boy did, i.e, eating paper myself. I was probably told not to do it again as I don’t recollect eating paper after that. That boy was an avid chalk eater too. Then there was Sulur Kendriya Vidhalaya (KV). I don’t remember anyone in particular from that school.
After the KV, I went to MUS school in Carnicobar. I remember playing in the nearby forest with friends, making tiny huts with coconut tree leaves, eating lunch at the beach and kicking boys who would scare me with crabs. I remember a boy got a gram seed stuck up his nose and teachers were trying to help him get it out. The poor boy was crying quite a bit. We got to visit the lovely houses on stilts of our indigenous school mates. And then I moved to TAFS in Subroto park. It felt claustrophobic with long corridors, walled boundaries and no views, quite unlike MUS. I remember one name from this school, Anu (for Anuradha I think). We would play in the decorative aircraft jet in our school compound, collect mica and eat snacks before the senior school bus came to take us home. I spent one year in TAFS and then moved to AFBBS. I spent 8 years here. I am in touch with a lot of people from this school. I became closer friends with many more after leaving, perhaps a shared nostalgia of having attended the same school, travelled in the same bus and/or had same complaints about teachers.
Then I moved to the UK to do my A-levels. Made a few friends there as we would study together and I learnt about the local culture and colloquialisms. University was another place to meet new people of various backgrounds. I didn’t make too many friends there as I wasn’t into the drinking and party scene. I would go to uni and come back home. Then came work. I met many interesting people there. Made a wonderful friend with whom I share so much.
Finally my move to California. With no friends and no family it felt desolate. But I have met many lovely people and made new friends alongside whom we have grown our own families, helping me become comfortable in a new place. I would love to get in touch with my very first friends from kindergarten to 4th grade. It would be wonderful to have all the people I know in one garden, sharing stories and just having a good old laugh.