Yes, Together We Can
by (Capt) Ravi K Mahajan
14. FRIENDSHIP - RELATIONSHIPS
True Friends & Meaningful Relationships, are Life’s Most Priceless & Enjoyable Assets, more Valuable and Cost-effective, than Millions.
Man has taken millions of years to evolve for what he is today. Evolution research indicates that during the Evolution, those species which lived in groups, have fared better than those living alone in seclusion. Modern day, common crow, is one example of Social Beings, surviving better and outnumbering other species. Common crow is the most seen bird these days, because crows are very social and always at each others’ beck and call. Kill a crow and see hundreds of them storming the place, where dead crow is lying. Same way, Lions mostly live in groups and hunt in groups. They are coping much better than their closest counterpart, the Tiger, which may be facing extinction with only little over 1400 tigers left in the country. Reason is simple. Tiger is a loner and except for mating, lives in seclusion.
Same is true of humans. Being social animal, human race has far better chance of survival than other physically more powerful species. Since, humans are most evolved social being, they live in groups. That’s how villages, towns and cities have come up. You would rarely find a human being living all alone. If anyone does, you would find something wrong with him. As we all live in groups, natural outcome is that relationships are formed and we live through them. Robust, loving and transparent relationships are boon to anyone and add value to our lives. One derives lots of happiness, strength, vitality and joy from such relationships.
On the other hand, relationships are also tarnished because of selfishness and deceit. Lives thus lived, will always be lived in perpetual rancor and turmoil. Right thinking people will always move away from such people, who cause the relationships to sour. Hence, it is very essential that we nurture healthy relationships for our benefit and empowerment, which would give us true and lasting happiness and fulfillment.
Meeting people or socializing, is the most important part for developing healthy fruitful relationships. Hence, socializing is not a luxury, but necessity of life. That brings me to the necessity of developing excellent social and communication skills, which would make a huge difference in your life. For that, you have to have self confidence and more exposure. Here Exposure means that you are more worldly wise, more mature in your thinking, take time to react to situations, are not afraid to air your considered views and are always upright, do not show bias, avoid taking sides, do not try to dominate the conversation, check your facts before speaking out, say ‘No’ to spreading rumors and admonish those who do, do not make fun of someone for anything or join in, if someone does that etc. etc.
Ego plays a very important role in relationships. Inflated ego is the biggest roadblock to making and maintaining relationships. When ego comes, relationships are under severe stress. When ego goes, relationships are smooth and enjoyable. So maintain good, healthy lifelong relationships by killing your ego. Your gains from healthy relationships are innumerable. Compared to what you get from healthy relationships, you get nothing from your inflated ego which, in fact, is ‘misplaced sense of self importance’. In fact, you become an object of ridicule with your inflated ego. Others may not say or express it, but, believe me, it is there. I am sure, being a person of substance, you would not like others ridiculing you, thinking low of you or in extreme cases, detest your presence or company. If they don’t say or express or make it obvious, it is no reason for you not to self improve on this count.
Friendship is always formed between like-minded persons mostly. Develop the right attitude, positive attitude. Remember, positive people attract others, while negative repel. Always be choosy in making friends. Reject those of poor character, not to your right taste, trying to take advantage of you or trying to mislead you. Simple test is that, if you hesitate to bring someone home, then the person is not worth becoming your friend. Unhesitatingly, shun the person and his overtures.
Always be in the company of right minded positive persons. Most important thing in making new friends is for YOU to REACH OUT. Wait for a friend and you keep waiting. Instead, reach out to be a friend and you will immediately realize that everyone you reach out, is a potential friend. Take the initiative and be the first to say ‘Hi’ and you will yourself be surprised, how others respond. World is full of good people to become your worthy lifelong friends. Only obstruction is your hesitation or your ego. Be the first. Don’t be your own limitation.
My mother was sort of semi-literate. Could either speak in Hindi or Punjabi only, no English. I remember from my school days, she would take us (initially myself and my younger brother who was a toddler, then) to Chamba in Himachal Pradesh (H.P.) all by herself. My father would board us on a train from Agra to Delhi in an ordinary IIIrd class compartment in those days. We (my mother, two small kids with lots of luggage) would get down at Delhi and go to other crowded platform, board an overnight crowded train from Delhi to Pathankot. We would get down at Pathankot in the morning, and go to the bus stand about a km away in a rickshaw, for boarding a bus to Chamba, where my maternal uncle would receive us at the bus stand.
We never had any problem and always found people and co-travelers, too eager to help us. When I look back, I find positive attitude of my mother towards people, was the reason. As a matter of habit, she would always reach out for people with her charming smile, and become friendly within minutes with any stranger, be it male or female. For our next meal in the train, small eats for the journey and next day’s breakfast, there would always be plenty of things available, since she always carried extra quantity to give to others smilingly and those people would go to any extent to help us board or unboard the train, fetch water or other small things for which we needed others’ help. When she would take out her wholesome food packets, first she would give to everyone sitting beside and then to us.
In one of our journey, she did not hesitate to ‘talk to’ some foreigners, who only knew English and she only Hindi or Punjabi. Only difference was that ‘talk’ was, sort of, in sign language, with lots of smile and joyous mood added in the recipe. Best part was that everyone around in the crowded compartment was looking amusingly and longingly at her and the foreigners. Later years, when she would come to Chennai, she never hesitated to reach out to any one with her disarming smile, though not knowing Tamil or English. Since, she had no ego involved in forming relationship with others, she or others never had any problem. Basic Idea is that when you reach out to people with a smile, they also respond in positive manner. So always be the first to reach out to people. Even if someone does not respond positively, reach out for the next one, who will.
I recall, in 1963, I attended my first and only SSB (Services Selection Board) interview in Bangalore for becoming an army officer. First time, I had crossed Agra, all alone. Few friends, who had been to the same SSB interview themselves, but were, somehow, not selected, had trained me for about 20 days for the interview. SSB Interview used to be three days affair those days. A batch of about 36 candidates would stay together in an army mess. Initially, I was very nervous and lacked confidence to talk to others in English. Though I was M.Sc.(Previous) and our medium of instruction was English, but our spoken English was poor.
But with encouragement and training received from my friends, I became quite confident after about 20 days of rigorous training. They stressed that if I reached out to others with a smile, definitely others would accept me. To my utter surprise and amazement, I found people accepting me as their leader even, though my only intention was to get acquainted to them. It also happens that when others see you very popular in the group, they also try to come close to you.
I, myself, was astonished to see the positive results of this ego-less, friendship-centric approach dealing with people from which I have been forming relationships to this day. And here positive result was that I could accomplish the mission on which I had travelled two thousand kilometers. I was selected by the SSB. Even I was shocked. But looking back, I must say that it was the training imparted by my friends for 20 days in our empty house, when my mother had gone to her yearly trip to Chamba (HP). My friends gave me the first lesson to reach out for people. Because of reaching out, I had become very popular in our group and was de facto leader. The fact could not have gone unnoticed to the selectors.
My intention to give you these examples from personal experience, is that BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS is extremely important in life. Meaningful, serene and happy relationships in life, provide you that extra, which you badly need and without which your life would be like eating a wholesome meal without salt and pepper. Even if you have been successful in your profession or business, unless you are good in developing and maintaining meaningful relationships, you would always find something amiss in life. So, my advise to all young and old. Invest in developing relationships whatever be your profession. It will pay you rich dividends. Even if it does not, you have a battery of friends to fall back upon as and when needed.
And mind you, Happy relationships do not depend on finding the right person, but in being the right person, a loving person in whose company or presence, your spouse or any one, should feel comfortable. Relationships, whether marriage or otherwise, are built by giving, not by getting, by loving, not by being loved. People keep searching for the right person but, in my opinion, if you are the right person, you would have no problem meeting such a person, since like attracts like. Enter a relationship as a giver, not as a getter. When you intend to give, relationship will positively flourish.
We must properly understand the relationships and friends, so that we do not feel let down or disappointed at a crunch time. When I say that you must learn from my experiences, because if you know how things work, you feel less disappointed and take those shocks with maturity and calmness. Coming to the point, often, we have functions to celebrate and invite friends, relatives and business associates to participate. We can collect a big crowd, as big as we want. Because for the invitees, it is big attraction to have a free meal in a star hotel costing a thousand rupees or more, meet their friends, have a good time and also, sort of oblige you for their presence. But please don’t mind me telling that such relationships mean nothing and it is only a collection of fair weather friends, who are there as long as going is good. Where they shall be when you need them, do not speculate.
On the contrary, if you want to see a person’s true social standing, see how many people come to the cremation ground? How many people stand by him in his hour of trial? It is, when tears are falling, how many of our relatives and friends are there to share our moments of agony, trial, and loss. On how many friends, we can really count when we need them most. Always be realistic about the friends and relationships, always correctly estimate them. You will feel very much disappointed if someone, whom you always considered a real friends fails to turn up when you needed him most.
In our Indian households, specially those lucky to continue with the joint family system, normally atmosphere is very noisy and vibrant. Noise thus generated, is gratifying and it means, the things are going fine. Here, relationships flourish with the noise created in the household. During festival times or functions, noise level can be ear splitting. It is a very hearty and healthy sign. However, when things go wrong and relationships deteriorate, slowly but surely, noise levels go down. It is a sure sign of problems and relationships deteriorating Everyone goes to their room and speaks very little. Something must be done in such cases. Same heartening atmosphere can be brought back only with communication or ‘talking the matters over’.
Here, safely, it can be said ‘Silence of the dear ones, is more disturbing than the noise of the strangers’. Same is true of spouses. When relationships are going fine, they talk and communicate. But, so unfortunately, partners do not talk or talk to the point, when things go wrong. It means something needs to be done. Mostly relationships deteriorate not because of any significant matters, but mostly on petty issues. Things can be set right by talking things over i.e. communication. Loss of communication means, loss of relationship or bonhomie in any relationship.
Healthy meaningful relationships formed during earlier part of life, are most secure and wise investments. They are of help when you really need help and are a source of great strength. Without that support or assurance of help, your whole being is fortied. I must relate here a very old instance, when I might have been ten years old. A relative family from my mother’s side had migrated from Pakistan and settled in Agra along with other families of our Biradari (Community). Family was well educated and were better off financially than all other families of the community. Immediately, they bought a big bungalow for themselves, while other families of the community still lived in shanties, small houses or makeshift arrangements. In their arrogance and high lifestyle, they ignored other families of the community, avoiding attending social functions or inviting them properly for their functions. They simply avoided mixing with other families of the community or developing any worthwhile relationship with them.
The family had three daughters who were married in due course. Since their immediate relationship with my mother and considering us little better off than most other families, they maintained little social relationship with us only. They were member of an elite social club and would often have parties in their house inviting only those members, occasionally us also but never any other member of the community. As things happen, old age came uninvited with just the two of them living in a high walled palatial bungalow. Their health started failing. Though they had a servant and other help but it was not of much solace. Daughters, settled abroad or faraway places, were of little help.
To cut long unfortunate story short, one evening my parents had gone to see the ailing old lady. How serious her condition was, could not be made out since attending doctor was busy elsewhere. My parents came back quite late. Only next morning message came that the good old lady had expired in a bout of cough immediately after my parents had left. Telephones being not common those days, gentleman could not inform anyone during the night and imagine, spent the whole night all alone with the dead body of his wife. In spite of his rude behavior with community members all through, community members only came to the family’s rescue for cremation and other functions after death. By then, the gentleman had become quite old to develop any new relationship and when his unfortunate end came, story was no different, dying all alone in that palatial bungalow. Fight between the daughters which, by then, had appreciated phenomenally, was another chapter in this sordid forgettable affair.
Friends, relatives and healthy relationships developed at young age add strength, fragrance, support, comfort, sense of belonging and comradeship, help when we most need it and spirit de core as they called it in army, to our lives. They add renewed vigour and vitality in our lives adding love, joy, peace, patience, harmony, goodness. We must always be thankful to Him for giving us an opportunity to form such relationships which are no less divine. Unfortunately, our present day generation of young people, give little or no importance to the relationship aspect since mostly they are flush with funds and think that money can take care of everything. Very definitely, it cannot. Money can only take care of good things or good times which don’t last long. When things go wrong which they often do, relationships come in handy, specially relationships, which are made from heart, not from head.
When I was young, school going and college going, we were total ten cousins and used to have swell of a time playing, fighting or eating together. I remember so many anecdotes, which are so fresh in my mind. Not that I am against family planning, but ‘cousin’ breed is soon likely to be found only in Jurassic parks like those dinosaurs, with one or two child norm these days. During those day, marriage in a household meant that friends and relatives would start assembling in that house for singing, dancing and eating, many days prior to the marriage day. It used to be a great fun and reunion for entire clan meeting and chatting with cousins from far and wide. There used to be so much of bonhomie and togetherness. Most of it is already gone. Whatever is left, will go in due course. Those were the days, my friends, I thought, would never end.
‘Friend’ in other word means, LOVE. Yes, its love you give and get from a friend. You cannot choose relatives but you can choose friends, the person you love. And you will love someone if you are like-minded, whom you can trust because it’s the trust and faith which is at the root of any friendship. Beautiful lines I read long time ago are reproduced here. Though writer has used the word ‘love’, if you wish, read ‘friend’ instead. ‘Love is always patient and kind; it is never jealous; love is never boastful or conceited; it is never rude or selfish; it does not take offense, and is not resentful. Love takes no pleasure in other people’s shortcomings but delights in the truth; it is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope and to endure whatever comes’.
Relationships formed in life, add lots of responsibilities on us because all what we do and its results, do not only affect us. It generates a chain reaction and affects whole lot of people related to us in some way. Whatever is happening now, its foundation was laid long time ago. And whatever we are doing now, its results may be seen only after a long time. Since our actions now, earlier or later, may affect number of people connected to us through various relationships created by us in our lifetime, we must act with considerable caution and restrain. Sometimes, though many decisions we take, may be good but one bad decision may change the whole scenario and put lots of other people in great hardship or stress. That’s why it is said ‘A chain is as strong as its weakest link’. Its not only the decisions, it may be even if we have many good habits but one bad habit, might impair so many others’ lives too. Through our relationships, we become a member of a big family or entity. Our responsibility increases in the same proportion.
When you reach out to someone with friendship, with a kind smile on your face, just saying ‘halo’, immediately other person gets connected. A true friendship is shipload of Love. No need to write ‘true’ before friendship because friendship is always true. Friendship begins when we learn to be our own best friend. Only when a person is true to himself, one can be a friend with love, trust and faith.
All said and done, one relationship stands atop every other relationships. That is the relationship with your parents. Unfortunately, I feel sorry to write that this relationship is under great stress these days. Of course there are many factors to it but main factor is human. Reasons are not far to seek, the ‘thanklessness’ factor prevailing these days in society is the main culprit. Then the arrogance, misplaced ego, lack of human values and compassion, intolerance etc. coupled with economic and housing factors. Remember, when you were a child, how you saw your parents. Unfortunately, as we grow older and older, our respect and gratitude to our parents diminishes. Some time is our mind, other times openly we criticize them even before others. Unfortunately, they may not be able to retort but somewhere sometimes nature will take revenge. How? You will see but you are advised to treat this one relationship sacred above everything else to be on the safer side.
However, single important cause of the failed relationship is failed expectations. Remember one thing always, if you want to be a thumping success in the area of building and maintaining relationships. Remember, ‘in no relationship, all expectations are fulfilled. And in no relationship, all expectations remain unfulfilled’. You may learn now or later, is up to you. But whether expectations remain unfulfilled or are fulfilled, have no or least expectations from others for a happy, contented, satisfying and vibrant living. Very feel of being free from the vicious circle of expectations, would give your life a big impetus.
If you are young, start building on this important aspect of life. This is the right age. Make it a habit to reach out with a smile, leaving your ego home, safe in a cupboard, never to be taken out. If you are an adult with children, then teach them, coach them till they are perfect in building and maintaining relationships, because life is not about having to make lots of money, which would not add much value to your life, if you are not good in building and maintaining relationships. Ultimately, what it will count is how many friends and well wishers you have, not how much bank balance you have.
Friends are light in the darkness of night, older the brighter. Hold on to them with both hands
There is Strength in FRIENDSHIP, that Helps us Overcome Life’s most Difficult Times.
Humans are basically social Animal.
Friendship comes naturally to them.
An Optimist sees an Opportunity in each Calamity,
A Pessimist sees a calamity in every opportunity.
A Couplet in Hindi : Do not ever snap the ties of love. Because, once they snap, they cannot be rejoined.
If they are rejoined, a knot will be always be there.
Friendship is like a book. It takes only a few seconds to burn what has taken years to write.
Good friends are like stars.
You don’t always see them, but you know they are there.
Old Friends are Gold. New ones are like Diamond.
If you get Diamond, don’t forget the Gold.
Because, to hold Diamond, you need the base of Gold.