I was nine and it was my first day at a new school. My oldest brother walked me up to my classroom, after gently nudging me in he disappeared into a vortex of green uniforms and shiny Bata shoes. As a morning hymn broke out over the intercom, I could feel the tears coming. The prospect of being Forever Alone in a classroom of 53 students is a bleak one, you know. So when a girl in pig-tails smiled at me and spoke to me, she became my absolute best friend. For the next few years anyway. In those few years we co-authored a Nancy Drew rip-off, exchanged friendship bands and Elle18 nail paints, we memorised 'IfYouWannaBeMyLover' and cherished every newest form of 'Raj' that Shah Rukh took on screen. When I eventually moved away, we wrote letters for a few months and although we are Facebook friends now, we don't share much more than an obligatory 'like'.
Of course, it was simpler finding a best friend then, it could begin with prolonged exposure to the neighbour's kid or sharing the same bench in class. But as we get older, the clauses get tighter. We begin to seek similarities and look for people who like the same stuff or at least hate the same stuff we do. Whatever it's foundation, friendship is fascinating, the idea of simply liking someone for no reason than to hang out with them, makes it possibly the most unselfish of relationships.
For this Soup story, photographer Anish Sarai and I indulged that fascination and documented friends across age-groups and social backgrounds in an attempt to understand what makes random people click.
"We have to be best friends with Kartik, he's the best batsman on our team," Pradeep
Me: What do you have in common?
In unison (laughing): Salman Khan
"She's a better cook than me, I hate her for it. And respect her for it," Suman on Yashoda.
"I've always gotten along with gay men so it's never been a point of discomfort for me. I actually think in a lot of ways I'm a gay guy who just happens to like women," Mikhail.
"I want to wear salwar kameez because she's wearing salwar kameez."
"We have been best friends for very long," Nurul.
Me: How long?
Nurul: Since 2015
Me: What do you do when you hang out?
Prachi: We chat and take selfies.
Me: What is your Whatsapp group called?
Written by: Meera Ganapathi
Photography: Anish Sarai