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Friendships and mental health; can you be a friend? (I/II)

Friendship is a crucial element in protecting our mental health. Our friends can keep us grounded, help us get things in perspective, and help us manage life's problems.

“The best thing my friends did for me was that they just accepted me as I was.” even after acquiring a disability!

 

However, last week, an ex-colleague and a friend who with I had a virtual connection broke out into a frenzy of bizarre situations and gave me anxiety. I met him up after a long exchange of ideas and conversations over social media and our enterprise network. By then he had already quit the company I worked for and joined another renowned company in the ITES (Information Technology Enabled Services) industry. Trust me we had never met but were able to relate with each other on varied subjects like humor, social causes and life in general. The day came when I had to meet him for the first time; we decided lunch and the day, date and venue was decided. We settled down at a known restaurant that served godly food for a beggar’s price in a relative way. The weather played a spoilt sport so he reached the venue late, I was already drooling for the food because of the many aromas clouding the place.

 

It's not difficult for someone to find a blind person in a restaurant especially if there is only one of them dining in it. He came up to my table and greeted me heartedly as if we were long lost brothers. We sat; I recommended a few dishes that were served in no time and we started to chomp like there was no tomorrow. In the midst of the chomping, we struck up a conversation about the social cause he was driving and supporting. It's literacy for the under privileged by collecting books for them to read. He had a tie up with a few schools that needed that kind of support and he was responsible to donate books new/ old to these schools and their library. We also exchanged our history and what and where we came from. He was a big head about his heritage and clan of people who did wonders in the world of literature. I sighed as I had nothing but camels to breed and sell as heritage. The meal was over and so were the conversations, we did say goodbye until we meet again. That happened sooner than expected!

Come one fine Saturday; a week after our last meet we met up again and this time it was at a breakfast for South Indians kind of place that served snacks and world's second-best coffee. The world’s best coffee is made by my wife at home. Sorry, that's the truth and the whole truth; coming back to this friend and my experiences with him. This time we were not alone; 2 other interesting people joined us for the meeting; they were all returning after visiting one of the schools that my friend was supporting with the books. I think the 2 new friends were meeting a blind person for the first time; I did be my usual self a conversationalist and added a mix of varied topics on the table to talk about. During our meeting the friend who introduced me to the new friends; kept telling the others that I am blind but I can pay and order for my own meals at the breakfast place. He insisted that I demonstrate my skills to his friends. I had to oblige as there was my reputation at stake and the perception of persons with disabilities. Honestly, the place was so crowded that I did ask one of those friends to accompany me to the cash counter and assist me navigate the table and the crowd that was extremely noisy that day; the coffee there gets you a high. I asked for the bill amount to be read out and to be pointed to a QR code for payment; opened my Google Pay app. scanned and paid the amount. Job done; no point proved. Breakfast was done; we had to leave the friend who was the book keeper for the schools was busy on the phone with a family member the conversation took forever to complete. So, I said my goodbye, this time without the until next time. One of the 2 new friends dropped me back to my house which was a stone’s throw away from the breakfast place. The story does not end here; it's just begun!

To be continued…

Read part II here
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