I’ve bonded with guys before, but it’s not really worked out. If they have girlfriends, then they think that I’m out to steal their boyfriends, which is definitely not true. So I stay away because I don’t want any kind of complications.
Sujata Iyer, 31 years, Editor, Pune
Interviewed by Vinaya Kurtkoti
Why did you decide to give us an interview on friendship?
I have amazing friends. I know that if it wasn’t for my friends, I wouldn’t have gotten through a lot of shit in my life. They’ve really helped me.
Could you give us some examples of this?
Yeah. I went through a breakup very recently. I mean, I knew I was going to go through a breakup, and my friends saw it coming too. Like they promised, they were there for me…They played a big role in helping me get over it as quickly as I did. So that’s the most recent thing I can think of. Even right now, I’m fed up of all the random people at my house, so I keep coming over to my friend’s place. You know, where else can I go?
Has friendship changed over the years for you?
Fortunately, I made the best friends I have when I was old enough. When we’re kids or teenagers we have friends because we are meant to have friends. But I made real friends only when I got my first job. Everyone promises to keep in touch when we are younger, but that doesn’t happen. But with these friends, they’ve actually stuck on. So, I mean, it’s also an effort from both sides. I meet the other friends once in a while, we meet, we catch up, but it’s not as regular as meeting my closest friends.
What about friends you made when you were a child… school friends?
So, I am in touch with three of my school friends. We grew up in the same society, we were in the same class, same everything. I am in touch with them; we met last month and we’re going to meet again next month. It’s not uncomfortable or awkward with them, but we aren’t as involved in each other’s lives as we used to be. We also went to college together. But then, after college, I went for my masters, and there I made another bunch of friends, who I’m still in touch with. But not as much as the ones I made at work.
Have you found it more difficult to become friends with people as you grow older?
Yes. I believe that it is very difficult, because everyone has different wavelengths, right? Finding someone who matches that wavelength is very difficult. Finding people who get what you’re saying, understand it, not judge it, accept it, and still continue to have a conversation with you. That’s difficult, you know. So, I have like 5—6 people in my life who can do that. When I was in college, friends meant Facebook friends and Orkut friends and stuff, which was probably in the hundreds. But now, I can count my actual friends on just one hand. I’ve realized that I don’t want to waste my energy on someone who doesn’t get me down the line. I’d rather invest in people who understand what I am about and still put up with it.
What about your sister: do you think of her as a friend or a sister?
I have two sisters, one younger and one older. My younger sister and I are just a year apart, so she’s like a friend to me. We’ve grown up together and done literally everything together. My older sister is more of a sister than a friend. We’ve gotten close now, since she’s got divorced but I still consider her an older sister. I haven’t reached a ‘friend’ level with her yet. But my younger sister…we’re constantly texting.
How has social media helped you stay in touch with your friends?
I’m not on Facebook, so I am not much on social media. But I’m on WhatsApp, and I don’t really know if that counts as social media. I either block people I don’t want to talk to, or I just ignore them. So social media doesn’t really play a big role in my friendships. Not at all, actually. (Does British accent)
Yes, next question (laughs). I feel like I’m on TV or something.
How do you deal with egos or selfishness among your friends?
As far as ego is concerned, I don’t have a problem with any of my friends. Also, I’m the kind of person who will just tell the other person what I feel they’re doing wrong, and only if it’s wrong. But I don’t expect them to listen to me. But if something is outright wrong, then I just tell them. Fortunately, all my friends are very receptive to this. We genuinely ask each other for opinions, and know that our advice will be taken seriously. It’s not like we’ll just say things for the sake of saying them and won’t really do what our friends say…which happens sometimes, but that can happen with everyone, not just friends. You can give advice to anyone and they’ll probably do what they want at the end of the day. I know that my friends will take my advice seriously when making decisions. Even if they don’t follow my advice, they’ll at least keep my opinion in mind. I won’t say they like it… because no one likes to be told what to do. But I think they just accept it.
Do you have close male friends?
I have two close male friends, but for me it’s much easier to tell my female friends some things, and I can talk about other things to my male friends more easily. If I have boy troubles and I want a guy’s perspective, my girls will probably tell me one thing, and the guys will tell me something else which is more on the lines of how guys think. It’s not just for boy troubles. Men and women think very differently, so it helps to have different opinions, and kind of find a middle ground.
Are you closer to your male friends or female friends?
I’m closer to my female friends. I’ve bonded with guys before, but that’s not really worked out. If they have girlfriends, then they think that I’m out to steal their boyfriends, which is definitely not true. So I stay away because I don’t want any kind of complications. It’s just friendship, and friendship should be easy, because you have relationships and family for complications. In my life, it hasn’t happened just once, it’s a pattern, which is why I’ve consciously avoided getting close to guys.
It’s not like it’s a no-no, but I avoid it to make my life simpler, because I think everyone needs to be a little selfish. Otherwise, we try to please everyone and we get screwed. Our own happiness should be the ultimate goal. I’ve decided to just be happy for myself, which is why I make friends with people I want to make friends with.
I know that with my girls, I can just tell them I don’t want to meet them if I don’t want to meet them someday, and it’s okay. That’s the kind of friendship we should have. You shouldn’t feel obliged, like ‘oh my god, she’s made a plan, I must go see her even if I have a headache’. I think there should be no obligation in friendships.
The last question has nothing to do with your interview topic. But we ask everyone we interview – what does love mean to you?
It used to mean… hmm… giving your all. But now I’ve come to realize that it’s okay to not give your all as well, you can be your own person and still be in love.