Friendship is a slow ripening fruit, said Aristotle, and for me the first seeds were sown when I was 11 and in boarding school. She came from Mumbai, had curly hair and a charming, dimpled smile and attached herself to me.
We all were fascinated by her mixed heritage -- her mother, a beautiful Parsi airhostess, and her Punjabi father, a handsome sanitary engineer. Since she had joined late, I was there to help her and we soon became inseparable and the best of friends.
Her aunt ran a parlour and hair salon in Mumbai and she would give us tips on forbidden, painful procedures that go into making young ladies beautiful, going so far as to even piercing a girl's ears with a needle.
All the girls would gather around her after the holidays, while she filled us in on the film stars who frequented her aunt's salon.
We both went through our childhood crushes together, suffering the disappointments and celebrating the small conquests. Our little quarrels and tiffs only resulted in making our friendship stronger.
Over a period of eight years we forged a special bond that lasts till today, though we live continents apart.
After marriage I settled down in Punjab where the void in my life was filled by a friend who taught me that the only way to have a friend is to be one.
We both were young and new to the town and our friendship progressed gradually, along with our children who grew up together.
School admissions, parent-teacher meetings, unsatisfactory report cards and illnesses were not so grim as we rallied around and that always helped make things easier.
Hand-in-hand, we treaded the unfamiliar territory of relationships and relatives, domestic crises and menial help.
Originally from Canada, she calls a spade a spade and over innumerable cups of coffee and lunches we discovered the truth in Aristotle's dictum, "A friend to all is friend to none." Over time I have come to value her counsel, support and friendship as something rare and special.
Recently, my school friend flew down from the United States and the three of us celebrated New Year's Eve together. I think I was the luckiest person in the room that day to have been blessed with such wonderful friends.
During all stages of life we encounter countless people who play a part in moulding us into the persons we are.
Along the way, parents, teachers, siblings, spouses, our children and colleagues teach us love, kindness, moral values, patience and also diplomacy and tact. Friends take away the tedium and monotony of life. A big thumbs-up to my 'Best Friends Forever'. They both know who they are.