This is a guest post by Floh Member, Lakshmi Rebecca, who is Creator and Show Host at Chai With Lakshmi. This post first appeared on her blog here. We’re delighted that Floh is able to connect singles in the city to meet like minded people across the country.
It was a warm Sunday afternoon. Chai flowed out of a big pot on my stove and into a myriad of differently shaped cups to keep up with the variety of conversations in the living room, at the dining table, in the garden, and in the kitchen. A game of Monopoly began. Laughter, teasing, scheming, cajoling, egging on, child-like fighting, riotous challenging, friendly nurturing, munching, spilling… we were children again. No thoughts about the hard week that was, the pressures of marriage, no wondering about challenges in the week to be, no consciousness of age… we were friends in this lightheartedness, friends in that laughter, friends in those moments away from each of our stresses, friends in our silliness, friends who suddenly relished being child like and without a thought of the beyond. Friends. A dozen of us huddled together around my small brown coffee table, just being friends.
A year ago, I didn’t have these new and dependable friends. Yet here they are – the friends who will bring me a choice of packet-soups when I am down with a viral, who will surprise me with home-made food and keep me company when I am down with food-poisoning, friends who won’t mind when I am low on cash and will happily eat a meal at some place cheap, who will follow me home from an outing to ensure I’ve reached safe when its past midnight, friends I can spend evenings with talking about nothing much at all and everything, friends who will tolerate each-other’s idiosyncrasies like we were just meant to. Friends who will watch every movie worth watching once, will eat ice cream in the middle of the night with you – because – ‘just like that,’ will dance to their own interpretations of a beat, won’t mind the flirting and will lap up all the attention you can give, will eagerly connect you with acquaintances and other friends to help you along professionally, will believe in you and tell you so on days you need a dose of that, will refer you to the right doctor and the right stylist, who graciously love the chai I put them through… men and women who have added humanity to my life. Men and women about my age, single, figuring out careers or second careers, divorced or single and fighting crazy pressures at home to ‘just settle down’, educated, independent, thinking, down to earth, figuring out life, cherishing positivity, successful, beautiful people. Most of whom I met through Floh, the singles network I joined about a year ago.
The two-dozen balloons my friends put up in my home urge me to write about these friendships. It was my birthday last week and on a day least expected, I return home from visiting an unwell friend, take the lift to my apartment-floor, step out of the lift and find the front door of my apartment wide open. The lights inside are on, but it is eerily quiet. My first thought: ‘what happened to mom’? I’m on alert and I call out to her as I enter. And, there they were: a dozen friends standing with party hats on, around a cake beautifully adorned with a dozen lit-candles, huddled under colourful paper ribbons and two-dozen balloons. I can’t remember the last time I received a surprise such as this. There were chocolates, bottles of wine, cans of beer, lots of hugging, loads of cheer and then a game of Bluff.
Today, I take down the ribbons and balloons, and share the moments that will stay… thanks to Floh.
To be independent, divorced or single post 30 is a new experience for many of us. Almost everything in our pasts did not prep us for this. India is largely not ready for this group that is increasing in numbers. Our parents are mostly breaking their heads over how to handle us. Often, we find ourselves choosing between working longer hours, work-related networking events, the gym and hanging out with married friends who may already have children, childhood friends who are in a different place in life, colleagues who we may not want to flirt with, choosing to do dinner with either nice people who are way younger or wise people who are way older, and going to bed alone after a hard day’s work wondering where that affectionate and cheering hug is or just that understanding conversation. An avenue such as Floh brings you face to face with people like ‘us,’ the rest of this group.
Floh started up just about the time that my company, Red Bangle, did. Today, it is about 120 events old and active in 3 cities. Floh organizes a range of events where singles in its curated network can come together to participate, meet and mingle. Group dynamics, of course, reveal much about personality types and that’s a good thing if you are single and looking.
Around a year ago, I went to my first FLOH event – a vintage cars experience followed by a delicious brunch. Needless to say, as with most men and women who are looking and find themselves in a strange new place with a bunch of new people, many of us (first-timers, at least) were unsure of what to expect. We mingled cautiously, dressed up for the occasion, enjoying the beautiful range of vintage cars and bikes available for our experience, graciously posing for all the cameras thrust at us, drank much wine and did our chit-chat. Now, a year into my membership and participation in half a dozen of Floh’s myriad events (including foosball wars, city walks, bowling afternoons, art and theatre events), I look forward to more. And, I’m not at Floh anymore to meet a ‘man.’ I’m there to make and meet friends. I go to have a ball of a time and if I meet a really interesting man I end up going on a date with, that’s just fine. (Just to clarify to you that Floh does work as a dating service: I know of four marriages that are already happening this year between people who met through Floh.)
Back to the red, pink, blue, green, orange and yellow balloons colourfully bouncing on my staircase railing even as they gradually give away the tired breaths of my friends… cherish your friendships. Cherish humanity, cherish the moments of innocence, laugh without a goal, style for any day, share for happiness, challenge and learn, preserve silliness, talk to discover, run along to smile, cry to losses and hug to console, be brave together… make friendships that enrich you.
Happy Friendship Day to you, to friends at Floh and to my dearest (other) friends too!
PS: More on FLOH in the video link below. This is an episode from Season I of Chai with Lakshmi (i.e., 2011).