Years ago, I started contemplating. That was the beginning of the end.

It was early February in 2002. I had just broken my hand, and was learning my way around the infinitely many tasks that needed to be done, so that I could salvage a couple of university exams using a scriber (so I would dictate and he would write my exam).

So, that day, I went around Bangalore, talking to people, getting request letters signed et al. Finally, late in the evening, armed with the permission letter and the modified admit card and all the other official papers for writing the exam, I walked into a small restaurant called Chulha in Jaynagar, along with Suku, who had come with me to help me out and give me company.

We ordered the usual stuff, and were generally chatting about stuff. Slowly, the conversation leaned towards girl-friends and relationships. Almost, as if on cue, two couples, entered the restaurant.

On our way back, we came up with the pact, and named it Tandoori roti or Indian Masala pact (or something that sounded like that). The pact was that, by May 1st 2005, Suku, Anshu and I would have found our girl-friends, and that on May 1st 2005, we will go on a triple-date.

There was much enthusiasm and ‘lets-do-it’ attitude put later in the hostel, and we spent time talking about the innovative concept for a few days after that, mostly on our after dinner walks around the campus.

Then the holidays came, and the next semester came, and other interesting stuff happened, and the pact was totally forgotten. I don’t remember mentioning it again till, probably the visit to LA last december.

Life rolled on, picking up interesting stories, discarding some, storing some in the deepest recess of memories, and by 2005, the landscape had changed. Suku had found Bhav’s and Anshu, after juggling with so many others, was going around with Shruti.

Later, I found out that, they indeed, kept up the pact, and went to Three-quarter chinese for lunch.

Its October-2008, and Anshu has gone through the breakup that we all wanted, Suku and Bhav’s are as fresh as ever, and are going to tie the knot later in November.

It seems, that marriage is in the air. By November, Suku, Bhavs, Parry, Jassi, Shru and Shekar would be married. News drifts in that other hostel acquanitances are contemplating the knot. Munna would be married, so would Tumul. Orkut updates of random school friends shows up marriage photos. Still, more have found love this year (Shriram had be surprised the most). And, more surprises are yet to come. Hardly a phone call goes by without some discussion about impending marraiges in it.

All this makes me happy. The cliched ‘Settling-down’ is happening. But, it leaves me slightly jealous also (I just hope that it is OK to feel jealous, and that it is not a major psychiatric symptom). My friends are experiencing the relationship of the life-partner, and sometimes, on home-sick nights, I get sucked into imagining mine.

And, I imagine, a lazy evening, sitting in the verandah, and chatting about the crazy bus driver, the over-zealous co-worker, the evil boss, the neighbour we love to hate, her cousins’ ‘perfect’ wife, the home loan, the furnitures etc. And I imagine, late sunday afternoon naps, with music in the background, and the dinner battles and the breakfast wars, the expensive gifts and weekend trips. The kids, and the re-living of childhood as they grow up.

Just sometimes, I imagine.

I hope that this is just another phase of growing up, from the 6th standard boy, who thinks all girls (except his mother) is from another planet, to the naive teenager, who believes that their story would be like ____(substitute your favourite romantic classic), to the 4th year hostelite, who bets about which of the guys will be ruined my marriage first, to perhaps, this one, of thinking about a life-partner, a relationship in which you share everything. (I wonder what the equivalent phase for girls would be, The all boys are obnoxious because they do not understand the monumental games that we play with our dolls and the toy utensils stage to the a Hrithik Roshan is waiting for me stage to college seniors discussing, nah! he ain’t in love with me unless he crawls on all fours and begs and gifts me diamonds, to hopefully!, the stage about respecting your partner.)

And yet, most of the times, I feel like fish out of water. I feel lost while I am talking to them. As though, even though, I have known them for so long, I still don’t know them. A new facet in their personality, that I am not familiar with, and I don’t know about.

And, at times, I still feel like that 4th year hostelite.

Frankly, I have been mulling about this since January, when post the LA trip, all of a sudden, life saw this discontinuous change, and people started calling in about new girl/boy-friends, marriage etc, and went through a phase of confused reaction to the calls, that I can hardly believe myself if those calls would be replayed now.

It has been quite cathartic that I typed this out.

Well, you go through a phase, and come out the better man.

Congratulations to all my friends, and a heart-felt wish that you find all your life’s joys.

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