In one of the many tributes to Sachin Tendulkar, a sports journalist recalled what the legend said when asked how he stays so grounded and keeps it so real, despite the adulation and frenzy surrounding him. Tendulkar simply said, “When I need to relax I meet my childhood friends, the ones who knew me before I became a cricketer playing for India.” Tendulkar’s prodigious talent, a life full of fame and glory lived under the relentless public eye, isolates him more than the rest of us so he values the few relationships he has left that come with no agenda. Recently, Shah Rukh Khan also famously (and cynically) said that he has no friends, but he keeps up with a couple of guys from his time in Delhi’s St. Columba’s School. One of his childhood buddies even had a bit role in his film Main Hoon Na. Rahul Gandhi’s closest friend I’m told, remains someone he’s known since they were both toddlers.
Tendulkar’s much appreciated humility probably stems from these friends who treat him the way they always did. I feel sorry for mega celebrities if they allow themselves to be deprived of this essential connection with other people which in its own way is as important as a romantic relationship. Even though there are many worse things that can happen to you, in my opinion, not having any real friends ranks almost right up there with bankruptcy or ill health. I’m instantly suspicious of people who’ve gone through school and college and haven’t formed one meaningful relationship along the way. Though friendships formed in adulthood can be fulfilling, they tend not to impact your life in the same profound way. There’s been a lot of debate that the era of BFF (best friends forever), the kinds you call in a crisis and share your worst exploits with, is well and truly over. In our time strapped and increasingly superficial world, it’s more about who’s around in your life at that very moment and it’s true, that with hectic work lives and children’s schedules it’s hard to stay in touch with those you really want to. Forget celebrities, there is a small window even for regular folk for making and keeping close friends, and it’s usually school and college where those bonds form. As you hit your 40s, your priorities change, your tolerance levels are not what they were, and you