Updated: Apr 11
Summers in Chandigarh had been hot and unbearable for as long as Sakshi could remember. But she was very excited about the coming weeks and that made it easy to ignore the loud noise her fan made, an incessant “Tick, tick, tick.” She turned on the air conditioner, but it wasn’t much better because that made a loud “Whoosh” and reset itself every thirty minutes. Every time she wanted to snap at the fan, she reminded herself, “In just 4 days I will be lounging on a beach, sunbathing and drinking a mimosa.”
Her daughter was attending online classes in the next room, and she could hear the teacher droning on about the anatomy of plants. Working from home had been excellent as it gave her a lot of time to bond with her daughter. Of course, it hadn’t all been rainbows and sunshine as the two had tried to manage with having the other around all day long for the last two years. But now it was going to be rainbows and sunshine, at least for a while, for Sakshi at least. She was going to Pondicherry with her best friend Erin, who was flying in from Vancouver for their trip.
Her daughter Tanvi never understood how the two could be best friends even though they lived 12,000 kilometres away. Sakshi had tried to explain to her how friendships changed but also stayed the same as people grew older, but it hadn’t quite worked out. Now, she was packing a bag for herself and one for her daughter who would be spending the days Sakshi planned on going beach-hopping with Erin, with Sakshi’s sister and her most beloved aunt.
The next few days passed by in a blur of purchasing last minute amenities and work calls and making sure she had her Outer Woods bag. Finally, it was time for Sakshi to be reunited with her high school best friend. The two had planned to meet at the Chennai airport and rent a car to drive from there to Auroville.
The air in Chennai was different from that in Chandigarh. Something about being near the Indian Ocean made the heat bearable, there was a crisp freshness in the air. Sakshi stood at the airport gate waiting for her friend, whom she was going to see after a solid three years. Sakshi’s heart filled with joy when Erin rushed out of the gates, dressed in the most hilarious mismatched colours. She loved how eccentric her best friend was, it was sure to make her trip as interesting as it was going to be relaxing.
They hugged and laughed. Erin fished out one gift after the other for Sakshi’s daughter from her many, many bags. Sakshi looked at them all in awe and finally said, teasingly, “What about me? What gifts do I get from the land of Poutine and Maple Candy?”
Erin raised her hands and laughed, “You get a forty-year-old bank manager! Hurray!”
Sakshi laughed and backed out of the parking area. They chatted about the latest updates in their lives as they drove. The conversation morphed into a gossip session about the current whereabouts of their high school friends, the ones they had lost touch with. When they finally arrived at their destination, it seemed like the four-hour long distance had gone by in a jiffy!
They marvelled at the beauty of Pondicherry as they got out of the car. The Airbnb they had booked had an enthusiastic shade of yellow splashed on every wall. The air was warm but refreshing and inviting. Erin smiled at Sakshi and said, “You don’t get this in Canada.”
The two put their luggage safely inside and stepped out onto the balcony overlooking the beach. The waves made a lovely sound as they hit the ground, “Much better than my fan.” Sakshi thought to herself.
“Let’s go have a drink down at the beach before we unpack.” Sakshi said.
“Oh darling, I don’t see anything nearby and I’m too tired to walk.” Erin replied.
“Come on, we don’t need a bar.” Sakshi said, grabbing a navy-blue handbag.
They walked down to the beach and took a seat. Sakshi opened up the bag, the label read, “Outer Woods, carrying happiness”. Sakshi took out a bottle of wine, two glasses, and a pack of diced cheese. “Oh no, I forgot the toothpicks for the cheese.”
Erin smiled and said, “Don’t worry.” She took a glass from Sakshi and stared out at the ocean. The Sun was creeping below the horizon and the water was a terrific shade of dark blue now, very similar to Sakshi’s wine bag. That intrigued Erin and she asked, “What is this bag? How is the wine not 100 degrees? Where did you get it from?”
Sakshi replied, “It is an insulated two bottle bag from Outer Woods. It can keep your drinks cool for a long time, so we can share some wine tomorrow too. I’ll send you a link.”
Erin said, “Well, we’ll have to get more bottles because I’m drinking this one for sure. Boy, this is another thing you don’t get in Canada. Remind me to take seven of these bags with me when I’m leaving.”
"The most beautiful discovery that true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart." - Elisabeth Foley
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