Friendship Redefined

She drove all the way from Iowa to Kansas

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Lynette in her SUV

Getting ready for another outing

Miles to go

Sight seeing at the university campus

Wouldn't be complete without a photo shoot
Wouldn't be complete without a photo shoot

The grand stone wall buildings at the university

Sight seeing after shopping - all in a day's work
Sight seeing after shopping - all in a day's work

Fairy Godmother

As we stepped off the plane and went towards baggage claim to identify the suitcases yet again and pull them off as they came careening without a care down the baggage carousel, many thoughts rushed through my mind. Divya sounded anxious. Will you be able to recognise her? Of course, I’ve seen her photo on FB many times. When did you last meet her? Now would that be forty four years ago? Gosh, are we really that old? Seems just the other day. What will she be like?

But then, no time for thoughts….grab Divya grab, here comes the red one. Is it ours? Yes, love, that is. That seems to be the new green one. How can you be sure? They all look alike, don’t they? No, no I’m sure, it’s ours. I tied the yellow ribbon through the zip runners. Having collected all five suitcases – big and small, in various sizes and hues, we trundled towards the exit, heavily laden like mules.

It was a short walk, no buses, no elevators or escalators, no moving walkways. Such a relief not to be in one of those huge airports where you need a train ride to go from one terminal to the other. This was small and cosy, intimate not intimidating. For those of us, who come from crowded cities where you have to jostle even for elbow room, the very idea of being able to just walk out of an airport without so much as being besieged by touts, taxi wallahs, auto-drivers and without having to push through well meaning relatives bleary eyed with sleep, waiting for several hours for their near and dear ones, this was pleasantly overwhelming.

And suddenly, there she was!

Head tilted to one side, a little smile playing on her lips. The same sweet smile. The same face, maybe just a little older, with a few lines which marked her journey through life. In bright blue trousers cropped at the ankle and a light summery floral shirt, she stood there with arms outstretched to welcome us. It was surreal.

The two of us had travelled halfway across the world. Why couldn’t you have found a university in some familiar place? Where we would have known someone? Look at this, in the middle of nowhere. This had been my refrain for quite some time now. Stemming from anxiety and nervousness of course. Nervous about landing at an unfamiliar place without the reassuring presence of a husband or a son.

A question asked casually on FB message, close to the date of departure had changed everything for us. Yes, I’m in the next state, no not too far, about 300 to 400 miles away. Many questions were asked and many answers given. Often the chat had to be diverted to Divya because I did not know all the details. All facts and figures that exchanged hands were absorbed. Still unsuspecting. How will you go from the airport to the city? Oh I believe there is a shuttle service and we’ll book it in advance. I tried to sound more calm than I felt.

Then came the offer. I’ll come and pick you up from the airport. Shock and disbelief. No, no it’s too far for you. Or if you’re tired that day, and want to sleep it off, I’ll come a day or so later and help you settle in. Not easy without transport. Remember, no autos as in Delhi. But you’ll drive three-four hours one way and then three-four hours to go back…it’s too much driving for you. Actually, I think I’ll stay for a couple of days, take you to the stores so that you can get all your requirements and then go back. Unbelievable. Too good to be true. Work pressure is low at this time so it won’t be a problem, really.

I hugged the secret to myself for a few days so that I would spring a surprise on those who knew us both, thrilled with the excitement I was going to cause in a few days.

And so she came - like a fairy godmother, in her maroon Lexus SUV driving down to the strains of popular numbers and humming along, with swigs of Diet Coke to slake her thirst. And like a good mother she had thought of just about everything: water, kitchen towels, draining sheet, a frying pan, groceries, bread, eggs, butter, cheese, crackers, granola bars, chips, olive oil, detergent for dishes, liquid hand washing soap, toilet rolls, sheets and even an iron. Potatoes, onions, ginger, garlic, carrots, salt, rainbow pepper, chilli flakes, seasoning…..she’d thought of everything we might need to start our life with.

So from the airport we just wheeled our bags into the spacious boot of her SUV. As simple as that! She drove us to the real estate agent’s office where we picked up the keys and from there, found our apartment.

Lynette stayed with us for four fun filled days. Every afternoon she took us to the stores nearby and helped us buy things for the household, patiently guiding us to select what was necessary, indefatigable in her efforts to help Divya settle in. She would remember every little thing Divya had talked about and drove long distances to get us the best product at the best price. Never impatient about our confusions, she had even thoughtfully brought coupons that would entitle us to some dollars off.

We tried a new place for dinner every evening, happy that all of us enjoyed food and eating out. And we made sure that we carried back the large portions for the following day’s lunch. Back to the apartment and we would flop on the sofas and sink into them for an after dinner adda to sips of nothing stronger than Diet Coke or water.

What a huge, unstinting effort. And smiling all the while. And to think she had suffered from debilitating cramps the night before. And a possible dip in her blood sugar that made her feel really, really sick, so much so, she thought she was going to have a heart attack and had to phone her son from the floor above for a bottle of water. And in spite of this, she drove down about 400 miles to the next state to receive us at the airport. What a gutsy, feisty person.

Divya, you have been very, very lucky indeed! For Lynette not only gave you a soft landing but held your hand in a foreign country and foreign city and eased many of the teething problems which you and I otherwise would have faced.

As for me, I am humbled by God’s kindness and grateful for our very own fairy godmother named Lynette.

Thank you Friend!




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