A friend tested is a friend gained

Time and life events decide friendships. For we don’t find our friends in the first handshake. Rather we find them years later, in the commiserating squeeze of the hand. It is only when the fair-weather buddies have fled that you look around and discover your true friends.

Sadly, due to the pace and flux of modern living and increasing professional mobility, most of our friendships are not subjected to the cleansing power of time and life events. So, we often assume friendship where it does not exist.

Those living in gated communities seem to be slightly better off. Sharing a common compound wall and many facilities within it and a larger geography creates situations that test the strength of bonds. In other words, interdependence serves as a stone, testing and proving the value of friendships.

While visiting gated communities on Old Mahabalipuram Road (OMR), I have noticed how community living forces residents into situations where they have to make close and inseparable connections. Here are two situations.

On OMR and surrounding areas, some gated communities are located in the interior sections, which requires residents to pool their resources and ensure last-mile connectivity. Sometime ago, while I studied a WhatsApp-supported car-pooling service run by residents of DLF Garden City in Semmanchery, I noticed an interesting feature. In this free service, there are two groups — givers and takers. Givers have their cars, and takers depend on others’ cars. In a common WhatsApp group, givers make an offer of a free ride and takers seek one. Here, the spirit of volunteering and adjustment comes to the fore. Some may be extremely generous in offering a ride. Some may go the extra mile, waiting for a while to ensure one more neighbour can travel in the car. Some takers express their gratitude in small ways, such as paying for the toll, if necessary.

Such voluntary services are an area where one can discover good friends.

Another area where people may have to turn to their neighbours is medical emergencies. As seniors, mostly parents of young software engineers, constitute a sizeable section of the population at gated communities, many of these are putting emergency response teams in place.

I recently learnt about two such initiatives. Ceebros Belvedere in Sholinganallur has introduced an emergency number ‘9999’ that will bring a security guard to the doorstep of a household in distress. From there, an emergency team, consisting of resident-volunteers, takes over. Mantri Synergy in Padur has a Synergy Medical Emergency Team consisting of resident-volunteers. The mode of communication: A WhatsApp group. The success of these and other such initiatives depend on the quality of volunteering.

In these situations, certainly, some volunteers do much more than what is expected of them, and become someone’s friend for life.

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