Saturday, April 28, 2007

Two Roomies - Keya and Anvi's Story

Anvi and Keya were roomies in college and as unlike as chalk and cheese. Everyone wondered how they even tolerated each other in the same room. They did have a few things in common though. Love of reading and wanderlust. Anvi had been able to indulge in more of the later than Keya because she was an army brat.

Colonel Shergill had been posted in some pretty fascinating places including Kargil, Leh, Lakswadeep and near Kaziranga. Even a partial listing of all the places she had lived in made Keya dizzy with longing. How could anyone move so many times in eighteen years she wondered. Keya was a voracious reader with eclectic tastes. Travelogues were among her favorite genres. Listening to Anvi talk about her childhood all over India was her new favorite pastime. Anvi enjoyed the attention and specially her boundless curioisity.

Beyond that the two had little to nothing in common. Music was a major bone of contention. Anvi was into hard rock and heavy metal . That was the kind of music that made Keya want to puke. Using headphones was discussed on occassion but almost always forgotten. Anvi would argue that she tolerated Keya's bland classical music stoically so there ought to be quid pro quo. Status quo prevailed in the end. Keya would find another place to study or read until Anvi had had her daily fix of "noise pollution" as she called it.

They often talked about future plans and life after college. Anvi was taking the GRE and the GMAT. She could not see herself living and working in India - ever. To her growing up in India was a rite of passage before reaching her true destination - The United States. She wanted to be a Wall Street trader and make obsence amounts of money.

To Keya that sounded aboout as outlandish as someone saying their life's purpose was to colonize the Moon. She wanted to live and work in India and wanted to pursue a business management degree after she was done with college. To her, life would be good if she had a sea facing apartment in Mumbai, a decent husband two kids and a job that was both interesting and remunerative.

Anvi was vehemently opposed to even the notion of marriage not to mention any subsequent child bearing. "If I ever get married I'll be sure to chop my tubes off so he can't get me pregnant" Keya recoiled in horror when she first heard that. Anvi would prefer a live-in relationship preferably without any long term commitments to have her "needs met" and then find something new and exciting to move on to.

Men to her were a disposable commodity that only stupid women wanted to hang on to past expiration date. Keya imagined she would fit right in the NYC milieu with those very un-Indian attitudes. It was another thing that neither of them had ever stepped out of India unless you count that odd trip to Nepal.

Fifteen years later, Anvi runs a niche social networking site for mountaineers. It is one of her hobbies. She has always lived and worked in Bangalore. There have been many opportunities to come to the US on business but something has always happened at the very last minute to prevent the trip.

She has traveled around Asia on both business and pleasure. She would not settle for anything less than an Ivy League school with a scholarship and when that did not happen she decided not to go the US for her masters. These days, she is in a long distance relationship with a mountaineer from New Zealand. They met when she was vacationing in Phuket with friends.

Keya started her career in Bangalore too. Business school did not quite happen instead she got married and moved to the US with her husband. Her career is non-existent but its a safe job and pays the mortgage. She has a home in the burbs five hours away from the nearest ocean, two kids and a husband who is obsessed with his career and being a good son to his parents. Keya and the kids exist in his peripheral vision but for the most part she is doing quite okay.

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