Conversation on meeting a random person yesterday:
Me: Hi I’m Priya
Person: I’m X
Me: Where from in India?
Me: Me too! South Bangalore?
Me: 4th Block
X: Ohh… 8th Block.
Me: We shifted to Bannerghatta Road, though
X: Vijaya Bank Colony.
Me: Studied at Oxford School
Me: Oh, did you know Y, Z and A?
X: Course I did! You must have had Mrs. SD teach you at some point?
Me: Yeah, heard you guys drove her out? Good job!
I keep finding folks from South Bangalore wherever I go. And we normally have a dozen common friends. Remember, this was in Irvine, on the other side of the world from Bangalore.
And this is not the only So.Ba. meeting so far…. There’s this other So.Ba. guy, and it turns out I’ve throughout studied with one or the other of his cousins, through school, through PU, through NITK. And the cousins were all from different branches of the family, and never knew each other.
Over the years, I discover that me and any other South Bangalorean have less than three, or even four degrees of separation between us. It’s amazing, shocking, brilliant and scary all at the same time.
Like this time when I quoted something random at office from a friend’s status message, and two-three others around me were like “I’ve seen this recently…. on my friend’s status message….”, and we found that we all knew the guy in question.
Or the time when this guy in some Phoren Univ was too scared to hit on a So.Ba. girl because it transpired that she knew his ex (also So.Ba.) rather well.
Or the many times when I find that some commenter on this blog and I have a dozen common friends from our school days, and/or have met at one point or the other much earlier on, and live in the neighborhood of each other, and frequent the same hangouts. And also have a dozen people in common to gossip about.
Or the time when I was speaking to a college friend and she had to cut the call short because her schoolfriend R was frantically calling on her mobile. And the next day when I met up with my schoolfriends, they were telling me a story about a girl called R who broke up with her boyfriend just the previous day.
Or the time when my friend A had a crush on someone in her college, and the news travelled all the way to Mumbai, Surat, Rourkela, Chennai and back to her college, where the crush in question was the last to know.
Or when someone I know travelling to the UK for higher studies happened to come in contact with a long-lost schoolmate of mine who happened to be his senior there… and tried putting us back in touch.
Or when I went to write the Manipal entrance exam and met every friend of mine and her secret crush, and at one point sat down gossiping silly about everyone I’d ever known.
Or my father’s colleague’s daughter and I putting two and two together to make five – piecing together different sides of the story of my (rather er.. reputed) neighbour who happened to be her classmate.
In my office, there were four of us, three of us from South Bangalore and the fourth one who’d lived in Indiranagar for the most part. The three of us had never met before, but had enough common friends to gossip about, while the fourth person would stare blankly during these conversations.
I really wonder if this is normal; if this is a common feature of most places. But then, I don’t find others picking common threads with new people as easily as I do. I don’t see such a connect within the network of others as I see with mine… all my friends seem to know each other one way or the other. And it’s not because I call them and say “X, Y, Meet each other”.
I remember reading on some other blog that the North and South of Bangalore were two totally different cities, with even a toll gate between them, and so the cultures are very different. I have no clue about the rest of the city, but folks from my part of town tend to be very similar. Somehow, the upbringing, the values, the language, the backgrounds were similar enough to hold us together, and varied enough to keep us from getting bored. And most of us seem to have grown up the same way, and the same middle-class motivations behind our ambitions.
We’ve all gone to the same schools, the same tuition classes, and the ubiquitous BASE and ACE, apart from Gopu Tuition, Venky Tuition, and a million others… and most of us tend to have similar career paths. We know each other, and each others’ friends from one or more of these places. And it’s not just friends… uncles, cousins, siblings… our network extends that way, too.
Like, I have my schoolfriends, my playhome friends, my tuition friends, my Gopu tuition friends, my PU friends, my ACE friends, my NITK friends, my office friends… and from a dozen other things I’ve done, and it turns out atleast one friend from each stage of my life knows atleast one person from one of the other stages.
It all seems to fit in so well, I really wonder if other cities/regions have similar phenomena… I mean, of course there must be. I would generally expect this from some smalltown where everyone knows everyone else. But then, does South Bangalore fit into the notion of a ‘Small Town’? I should think not!
Or is this restricted to me, and a few of my friends who are as talkative as me? Or have I been too restricted in my horizons?
I don’t know what explanation fits this best. It would be an interesting experiment in social networking and all that, or maybe not. But I sure do know that we spread our tentacles all over the globe. Be it some semiconductor lab in Seoul, or a software development center in Seattle, or a university in Singapore, we are there. And so wherever I’m going, I’m pretty confident my Class III classmate’s TuitionFriend’s Cousin, who is also my sister’s maths teacher’s son/daughter will be there, to give me company when I want to reminisce about the perfect Ganesh Darshan Masale, or Subbamma’s Sandige.