At 80, This Man Younger Than Most Of Us

Friendship doesn’t see border, culture, caste, creed, race, gender and age. I am a witness to all of it and this time, especially with age.

It’s not usual for me to connect with someone so elder to me. But it happened; somehow. Maybe there’s a divine design. Maybe there’s something else.

Maybe, there’s nothing.

Whatever, but I had to tell this one—this story of Prabodh Godiwala who is an usual man with an unusual magic in him.

I don’t clearly remember how I met him but it was in connection to certain social cause I was working on my 4-year long sabbatical. We used to chat on Facebook and speak on phone for a long time, until one day when he called me to his palatial home opposite the beautiful sea in Bandra.

I think what connected us was none other than the legend Jagjit Singh.

We both are ardent fan of the legend; actually he’s more than me and much senior in being a fan of the legend. He’s also written a book on the legend.

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Prabodh is one of the lucky one who used to have Jagjit in his home on occasions. I wasn’t even fortunate to see him face-to-face.

Anyway, but this blog post isn’t about me.

Coming back to my friend, he has been a wise businessman all his life and also a photographer. He’s taken photographs—and autographs—of numerous media celebrities of his time.

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He’s now happily retired and keeps him busy with photography and visiting his family across the globe.

I can’t forget the sunset I saw from him home.

That was the best sunset I have seen from a home in Mumbai. Sadly, the home is no more as he has sold it—at a fortune that was also in newspaper—to fulfill his responsibility before going.

He’s a wise man and he wanted to clear off everything before his final journey. I am surely taking this tip; although I don’t have a palatial home and children like him.

Anyway, but this blog post isn’t about me.

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My new 80 year friend is always in state of motion. There’s so much to learn from him; especially about wisdom, business, travel and joy.

I don’t know if I’ll ever live to see 80 and even if I’ll, I am not sure if I’ll be able to think, move and live like this man.

Prabodh is an inspiration to all of us. He’s the one man I can truly call healthy, wealthy and wise.

 

The Queen Of Good Times

Some memories are gone, some remain. Some memories are joy, some are pain. Some memories are hurtful desert, some are rain.

I found one memory—in the form of human—after 22 years. Do you know WTF I am talking about?

No, you don’t.

You wouldn’t because you don’t care.

You’re selfish.

Just like me.

But she?

Do you know WTF I am talking about?

I am talking about her.

I am talking about my good-old school friend Anju Bhatt; from batch 1995. I lost all touch with her since I passed out from that colourful school life.

I thought that the ultra-colourful college life and uber-cool professional life will make me forget everything.

But, it didn’t happen.

At least for 22 years, after school.

But the heart was longing somewhere deep inside to reconnect with the long-lost ones.  And I finally found most of them—including her—through a WhatsApp group we made in 2017.

She was a heartthrob in school, a beauty-bomb in college and is still a queen of hearts in the present. A close school friend told me that she was the ROSE QUEEN in the first-year junior college itself.

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She’s always laughing.

She’s always shining.

She’s always killing it.

She’s a mother of two cute little children but the child in her is still younger than the children’s age. I admire her joyful attitude, and her curly hair.

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BTW, I can’t take my eyes off the above photograph. It’s a stunning image of an Indian woman.

She has led a challenging life after school but she came out victorious. She was always focused and hence she always made it to her destination; almost. There are secret dreams she has shared with me and I am sure they’ll realize sometime soon.

Anju is one woman who has a deep impact on my heart. Her journey of life can inspire a million ordinary and aspiring people like me.

She always shining and hence, the close school friend I mentioned, has named her MOONSHINE.

 

Meet The Secret Superstar Of My Life!

Recently, I visited my school friend Bindhya Gupta to gift her daughter—Vidhi—a present for her birthday. The meeting was beautiful but I got to know few things that I never knew about my school friend.

It all started with a conversation about my blog she really likes my stuff and is a regular reader. After the conversation, she hit me with an interesting comment that was about to open a gate to another dimension.

Agastya, can I show you something?

Sure. What is it?

It’s my dairy.

OMG!

I was damn excited to hear this.

She immediately ran inside her room and brought a diary out. She writes moments from her daily life. She writes about things that inspire her. She writes joyful and painful moments. She writes poems.

She writes beautiful things.

I never knew this. I only knew about what she told. I never explored this side but my recent visit brought this secret out for good.

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Bindhya is an excellent human and she works as a human resource personnel. Her daughter is really cute and she writes as well.

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I call it genetic memory.

Both of them inspire me every day and both of them are extremely creative; and finally I got to know the truth about a secret writer in her.

She’s a star.

 

The Man Who I Haven’t Met, Stays In My Heart

2017 has been a year of action. A lot happened over coffee, tea, internet and mainly WhatsApp; since we made a school group.

I met many long-lost friends and made some new ones. There are quite a few who I never met in school or I don’t remember our acquaintance clearly. Maybe, too much alcohol has eaten away my memory. Kindly stay from it.

I mean from memory, not alcohol.

LOL.

Coming back to the point, Alwyn Thomas is one man who has taken a special place since we have ganged-up through the digital conversations we have.

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Although, he’s the one I know least about, writing on him is a sheer joy because I love the unknown.

Alwyn is a reservoir of joy. He’s always laughing and making others do the same. And believe me, this is an art and craft that few in this world possess.

He’s a magician. He has won my heart in no time.

He’s stays in Dubai and this is the reason we have not been able to talk on phone yet. But I am sure with his visit—to Mumbai—this year, we are going to meet and have all the fun available in this universe.

I really feel that the point is not that we have met or not—in fact that doesn’t matter anymore—but the point is that he’s so compassionate that he’s made a place in my heart.

This is the beauty of love.

The body doesn’t need to meet and there is a heart-to-heart communication. The story of Alwyn is the best example of successful long distance friendship.

 

Vitamin Sea: The Saga Of A Goan Shippie

Brother, I had extremely hard times but it’s all good now. Life—and the sea—has been generous.

These words are ringing in my head as I am writing this blog post. These words are of my long-lost school mate—Nativity Alphonso.

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Rewind.

It’s circa 1993-94, I used to reach his home and we use to walk together to the school; every day. I still remember his cozy little home and a loving-kind family—mother, father, son and daughter. Life was hard. The family used to stay in this one little room with scarcities but there was hope, compassion, aspiration and a dream. A dream to change the future forever, and luckily Nativity, was a brilliant student.

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Fast-forward.

It’s 2017. He’s working as a top-most employee in a prestigious shipping company; in India. He’s been around the globe several times. He’s has seen the sea like no one. The sea is his mentor, friend, lover, boss, audience and all of that. It’s been 17 years since he’s sailing; from one corner of the circle to another.

My friend Nativity has seen extremely difficult times in life. But he never gave up or surrendered to defeat. He faced all the problems like a warrior and made them into opportunities.

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Recently, I went to Goa to meet him as he’s on shore for a few months. We were discussing about his life journey. In Mumbai, they lived in a little home and now he’s made a mansion in his native place—one of the most beautiful villages in the world.

The name of the mansion is CASA DE ALPHONSO.

It’s a beautiful and huge mansion—I think the biggest in the village. The top of the roof is painted red and it’s seen from far; across the serene river that flows behind it.

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Nativity has seen it all.

The dance of the whales, calling sunrises, crying sunsets, loneliness of the sea, infinite skies, naughty waves, furious storms, horny men, sexy women, waterfall of alcohol, busy ports, marvels of technology, mega-structures, sleepy eyes, awaken dreams, changing seasons, songs of fire and ice, starry nights, rainbow filled days, no end or beginning and all of that—everything.

Nativity has seen it all.

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While talking to him the other day, I learnt so many things about life at sea. The challenges, pain, fun, perks etc. I learnt that a seafarer doesn’t need a visa to enter a foreign country but they have a seaman’s service book.

I also learnt that Indians and Filipinos make the best team on the ship. I never knew anything about the life of a seafarer—fondly called a shippie—but now, I have ten reasons to be grateful to them:

  1. Seafarers run the global economy.
  2. Seafarers sacrifice their social life.
  3. Seafarers fight the toughest seas and roughest weather.
  4. Seafarers risk their lives through piracy and war zones.
  5. Seafarers face extreme health hazards.
  6. Seafarers follow toughest regulations and laws.
  7. Seafarers work round the clock with monotonous routines.
  8. Seafarers work the most without the basic rights.
  9. Seafarers are at high risk of decriminalization and abandonment while performing their duties.
  10. Seafarers live with least accommodation and communication facilities.

My friend has make it real big. Big at heart also. He’a nature and wildlife lover. He has made a small forest inside his residence premises in Goa; that also includes composting using Trustbin. And all of this is managed by his loving-kind wife—Mayo—while he’s away on the ship.

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Seafarers are probably all around you, throughout society like silent war veterans. The struggles of ship life are shared by all who’ve spent nights listening to the waves crash against steel walls.

Forget any romantic notions of life on the ocean wave—most modern-day seafarers are simply prisoners with a salary.

Life is at sea is hard but Nativity is harder.

 

Businessman By Head, DJ By Hand, Environmentalist By Heart And Philanthropist By Soul

This is the story of a four-in-one man named Leon Periera from the heritage Christian village of Kurla, Mumbai.

Leon was my class mate in HCHS. We had good times together but after school we never met until we created a school WhatsApp group; 22 years later.

After we met recently, I came to know so many new things about him. He has transformed into a beautiful human being; not just a human doing.

Previously, he was damn good at sports and music but he’s a multifaceted person now. He’s a private DJ to Soap Queen of Indian entertainment and manages all her parties—always surrounded by Bollywood celebrities.

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He lives in this heritage villa that is actually a home-cum-garden-cum-zoo. There are so many cute little animals and flowers in his place. It’s just a retreat for someone who visits his place and is a nature lover. One can find rare variety of flowers in his garden.

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He doesn’t drink alcohol but he’ll welcome you with the best spirits in town. I asked him about this strange thing but he said that he left in school; apparently the time when others started.

What a macho-man!

He does sort of business to run the family. I don’t know exactly what he does but he’s always traveling. His family is also sweet; with wife and two little angel-cum-monster kids; Arel and Adelia. They’re damn cute and naughty.

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Leon has an inspiring tale. He’s made it till here with pure dedication, honestly and mainly retaining all the fun.

His philosophy—NEVER POSTPONE JOY!

He’s also a secret philanthropist. In fact, he never told me this but it came out while meeting at my home. He wanted me to share some of his resources to the economic disadvantaged section of the society; especially students.

He has a big heart, too big.

Although, I may never be able to explore the depths of this phenomenal friend, people like him give me another reason to rejoice this beautiful life. With people like him, I am sure, the renaissance of peace is just around the corner.

 

He Saw ‘Maine Pyar Kia’ 50 Times In A Row To Win A Challenge!

In 1989, Hindi film Maine Pyar Kia became a rage. The film is counted among the top 10 successful films of India.

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I was in school and we had this crazy challenge of watching the film maximum number of times in a row. This fad was all around. I watched it 25 times.

Montu watched it 50 times.

Can you believe it? Believe it or not but he did it.

Mayak Raval alias Montu is my childhood friend from Ahmedabad. He’s one of those crazy friends in my list who can do anything for love—love of films and sports.

He was staying with us in Mumbai for some years and he went to his hometown for a while. We used to communicate with each other about the score and one day he came back and said he watched the film for 50 times in a row!

He won and I lost.

That means he watched it everyday for many days and he also produced the theater tickets.

I am not sure it was him who really saw the film or he got ticket collected but somehow I still believe him.

We used to do this mad things in childhood.

I miss those days.