Varsha Kakirde’s daughter gifted Soumita some amazing homemade pickles and dips when she came to visit for the first time. The homemade pickles and dips turned out to be products of Varsha’s start up. Excited to know more about Varsha, Soumita decided to interview her for Interviewing India. Soumita’s mobility impairment prevented them from meeting in person, so their very first interaction was on the phone. Read on to find out more about her experience of always having smooth friendships, something which is rather unique.
Varsha Kakirde, 60 years, Entrepreneur and retired teacher, Kolkata
Interviewed by Soumita Basu
Why did you decide to give us an interview on friendship?
Friendship is something that I have valued all my life. My father held a very high position and we used to travel a lot because he used to get transferred to different places. The last two cities where he was transferred to were Pune and Nagpur, and most of my friends are in Pune now. We are friends since class 4. And although they are not physically present with me, they know of my difficult times, and check with me if I am doing alright. And I think that question is very important in friendship.
I got married very early by today’s standards. I got married at the age of 19. So everyone I met after my marriage became my friends. I never needed relatives.
In the beginning of the interview, you mentioned you were one of the lucky ones to have friends. Do you mean not all have good friends?
Yes. It doesn’t happen with everyone. Take my sister for instance. We are three sisters, and one brother. My youngest sister is 45 years old but she hardly has any friend. I feel it is very strange not to have friends. One needs to have friends. It is very important in life.
Do you correct your friends?
Can you share one or two experiences with us when you had to correct a friend?
Recently, my younger sister had a legal problem and she went to visit a very dear friend of mine whom I know for the last 35 years. My friend was at a senior post, and she has made a mark for herself in Pune, but she is not very close to my sister. When my sister went to their home-based office, she hardly sat there for 5-10 minutes. I corrected my sister later. I told her she could have taken out some time to say hello to my friend. It was a sensitive issue for me and my sister, but my sister didn’t make a big deal out of it.
I am very curious to know if any of your friendships have fallen apart.
No. Not yet.
So you have maintained friendships with all your friends in Pune, Nagpur and in Kolkata and none of them have gone sour?
No it hasn’t happened to me.
It is hard to believe this aunty…
If I get a feeling that I am not welcomed somewhere or if a friendship is not going to work out, I just stay away so it has never led to relationships turning sour. But then this is not friendship, because in true friendship this doesn’t happen.
I used to fight with my childhood friends a lot when we were much younger. After coming back from a movie, we wouldn’t even walk on the same footpath; we used to be so cross with each other.
How did you resolve these fights then?
My friend used to come and make up. I was not the kinds to make up (laughs).
Have you ever felt that you could not keep up with the expectations of friends?
Not with my childhood friends, because I have always been away from them geographically. But many times with my friends in Kolkata, there were expectations. They used to invite us for lunch and dinner parties, and there were times when I could not do what they were doing because I was working, the kids were young and I had to take care of my in-laws as well. So there was criticism such as I didn’t want to invite people over, or I didn’t want to do things for them, whereas that really wasn’t the truth.
How do you deal with this then?
I didn’t bother…at least then I didn’t. I think now I have become over-sensitive and maybe if something like this happens now, I will be hurt.
Are your husband’s friends your friends?
My husband’s friends are not my friends. His colleagues and their wives are not my friends. I can’t confide in them. I have always kept my distance from them. There have been under currents because of positions and departments.
When did you and your husband become friends?
After we got married, I shifted from Pune to Kolkata, everything was new and I was burdened with a lot of things. There was a lot of tension with the in-laws but he stood by me like an anchor, and he supported me throughout and he also corrected me when I was wrong. This helped both of us grow. And there have been times when I corrected him too. I am a very open person. Sometimes I even come across as very out-spoken.
On what matters have you corrected him?
I was a very ambitious person earlier (I am not ambitious anymore). My husband is an extremely bright person and I have always felt he has been exploited when it came to salary or exposure. I always thought he should have looked out for a job in other companies. So we used to fight a lot over this. I think fights are part of any marriage. Nobody has a perfect marriage.
How did you resolve the bigger fights? I am not talking about the small ones…
You fight and you move on with your life. Food needs to be made, it needs to be eaten, you need to do all those mundane things and the fights are slowly forgotten.
The last question has nothing to do with your interview topic. But we ask everyone we interview – what does love mean to you?
Love is caring. I feel there are different kinds of love. Love for my husband is different from love for my daughter.