IntroductionPicture this situation. Two professors in a Government aided college are not only colleagues but very close friends too. Each would know even the bank balance of the other. For the slightest of any problem in either household, the entire families would get together and would pool all resources to overcome any problem. If there was a wedding in either family, the entire family members (the concerned relatives) would only consult the other friend, as he would know every single detail, far better than any other relative at any point in time.
If the reader would think that this is fiction, the above narration is based on a real-life observation of a close relative and his friend and the entire family, in a semi-urban town of Tamil Nadu. Such friendships are not rare at all. They are often the stuff that some good movies are made of. They might even sound fictional. But they are not fiction. True friendships of the kind described above happen as a routine in some parts of the world or the other. They happen with a rather regular frequency and are far more intense in terms of depth and absolutely true love and affection that makes the very definition of friendship transcend into sort of blood relationships.
Be that as it may, it does turn out that true friendships are a) Totally beyond commercial considerations b) A test of patience c) Based on absolute trust d) Never the "here and now" relationships and e) Tends to be perpetual across generations.
Totally beyond commercial considerationsThis is one important aspect. As it turns out, any true friendship is based on caring and sharing that cannot be easily put into words. This has to be seen to be believed. In the course of my career, I have seen in totality in the farmer community in Pollachi. It happened that the students I taught were from a particular lovely village near the Kerala border. When I visited them on a weekend, they were deeply involved in working out strategies to get a better price for their coconut output. I was made to sit in the same room and the discussion went on for a full ten minutes. Relatives on either side simply took over. I was pampered with affection that made me feel as if I had known them for decades. Yes. They were very rich. Their houses were huge structures with at least four air-conditioned rooms. The climate was cool anyway and I did not feel the need for air-conditioners at all.
Both families shared how they worked together. The men who spoke to me were 75+ in age. They were hale and healthy. Both had one son each son abroad working for IT MNCs. They showed photographs of their children and grandchildren. Each of them had another son and his family staying with them. Within the next couple of months, I was invited to a family function and was shocked to find everyone present. I could not believe that this could be true. It later transpired that both the elders had done good social work and were very much appreciated by all in the neighborhood. Even the Government officials admired them. There was absolutely nothing commercial between both families. The daughters-in-law had their own small businesses and one even dabbled in capital markets. They were educated alright. But the outpouring of emotions was the same.
A test of patience When I quizzed a daughter-in-law in the aforesaid family as to what made them click, they immediately pointed out that they knew the family long ago. There was total freedom and the neighbor was literally more than a relative. They would go all out to help anyone. They had cars and every modern gadget at home. Yet, they would grind the "masala powder" using the traditional tools. When asked why they did so, they told me that it was good exercise and the powder would have a taste that was totally different from the one made in a mixie. Everything was based on patience. None of the relatives were referred to in the singular ( this is very common in Tamil culture).
When such true friendships happen, they do so over a very long time. The ladies did point out that minor differences of opinion would be sorted out at the dining table. The families eat together and cooking was mostly a joint effort. If anyone was sick, there was no problem. Someone would take care of the sick person at thehospital at Coimbatore. They pointed out that sickness was rare, though. To this day, entire families are close friends of mine. Even the name of the village is not mentioned on their request.
Developing such a friendship would mean that one has to go far beyond commercial considerations and also have a good deal of patience. Nothing works in the short term. Decades of jelling with each other, facing the good and bad times together and so on, requires so much hard work.
Based on absolute trustOn one occasion, the farmer family casually discussed "one hundred". When I asked them, they simply said that they had such gold in their bank lockers and would use them for any emergency in the form of jewel loans. Every single woman had gold jewelry on them, but they did not show off. They had servants who lived in their own houses. The sons or daughters of such servants were totally or partially educated by rich friends. Their sons and daughters were all settled in good jobs in the Coimbatore district.
If we want to develop such a friendship, we need to exhibit a behavior based on absolute trust. It is the trust that is based on one hundred percent honesty and integrity. Only such behavior can win true friends.
Never the "here and now" relationshipsIf one tends to believe in the short-term relationships, often based on "here and now" transactions, one can be sure that no true friendship can result. Unfortunately, this is more than ninety percent true in most friendships today. They are not based on emotions and feelings. They are instead based on money. And such friendships can never last even a few months.
Tends to be perpetual across generationsThe grandchildren in the aforesaid case-study are made to interact with their cousins abroad, as often as possible. The skype conversations are so good. The number of contacts that the children have in the village was simply too good. The elders make it a point to ensure that the children abroad do not get commercial considerations into their heads. Developing true friendships based on genuine feelings and emotions involves doing this day in and day out. Of course, I do know that a single case-study is inadequate to make any generalization. However, I can only write on what I know for sure. I can only experience such true friendships at close quarters.
In this instant case, since I have been so closely involved with both families, they would go all out to make me comfortable. For instance, for the full four days, I would spend with them, they would not cook any non-vegetarian food at all. Yes. I have helped them to get some good contacts in Chennai for their business. But the true friendships go far beyond such commercial considerations. The most important point is that both men and their wives ( now into their sixties) go all out to keep everyone in the loop and never ever become commercial at all. Of course, they have wealth that will last six more generations. But they do not even talk about it.
It has taken a full six odd years to become a part and parcel of their households. They do drop into my residence as well. There is absolute transparency and trust. I guess true friendships stand out only when they are made for the long term and also based on absolute honesty and integrity. If one opts for the short cut, such friendships are bound to fail.
Yes, true friendships are rare. I do meet with exactly the opposite kind of people, day in and day out. They are all after money. In fact, commercial considerations run even in families. At weddings it is becoming so common to find birds of the same feather flock together -- the richer relatives and friends would totally shun those who are not in the same economic bracket as themselves.
ConclusionAnything and everything in life do not come without effort. True friendships, al the more so. True friendships are always for the long-term. If we really want good true friendships, we need to follow all the basics discussed above in the minutest of detail.
In Mahabharta if we see, the true friends are Krishna and Arjuna. While requesting Krishna for help in the war, Arjuna said that he need not fight in the war but he can be a mentor and he can be his chariot driver. Similarly, wherever we see there are no expectations of benefits from Krishna to Arjuna or vice versa. What benefit Krishna will get if Pandava wins the war. Nothing. But he suffered for them. It is an example of the best friendship.
If you see the friendship between Duryodhana and Karna, they have some hidden agendas in their togetherness. Duryodhana thought that Karna is the only person who had chances to win over Arjuna. So he made friends with him. Karna is not a king but he is having a wish to be a king. Duryodhana gave him the Anaga Rajaram. So he is friends with Duryodhana. This friendship is not beyond any commercial benefits and also based on here and now considerations.
A true friend never expects any help or considerations from us. At the same time, he will be ready to help us when there is a need. If both parties are of this nature they will be good friends always.
Getting a good friend is always a cherished dream of many and having good friends around us is the treasure to nourish and cherish. What I have experienced is that relatives are no help during a crisis and friends always stand by us. When we borrow some money from relatives, they used to ask frankly to return the same whereas the friends do not pressurize us to repay. A real friend is one who knows all about us and behave with us. That means those who support us or are with us during the bad time of our life are great friends and we should not forget their contributions and reach out in time. In this regard, former CM of AP late Channa Reddy, who had gone through the bad phase of life, and those rank and file who used to visit him during the troubled time, are always remembered by their name and when he became the CM, he called them and offered some post or the other and that was the big gratitude shown on them. So the friends are also eligible to reach out time and again because they need us and we need them. Good friends are forever and there is no two thoughts.