dust and sparkles from a distant star

L to R: GP, Shilpi, Reena, (Me), Varsha and Kakoo, Anuj (not seen here, because he is behind the lens).
On the way to Abu from Ahmedabad, 2005.
Some of my dearest people on the planet and the next 20 undiscovered galaxies.
How long back has it been since I made a friend? And I mean the word in its truest sense. Not acquaintances, not people that you just 'hang out' with, not relationships of convenience... but friends who have shared gore, joy, humiliation, pain... the grain and the chaff... the entire bloody package that is you and that is them?
Does it become harder to make friends like this as you grow older? Does being married make it more difficult? Do we get crustier and clogged in our judgement, our likes and dislikes? Thus building a narrow constricting band of familiarity and staying put in it? Or like foggy, old, circus bears, all we want is just a snooze in the afternoon sun?
Will we wake up from the stupor and find the troupe gone? Or is it just the inevitable course that life takes? We eventually return to the quiet sounds of our own breathing?
I like this picture. It reminds me that I am privileged. It reassures me in the knowledge that even after so many years... a phone call; and each of us will be there for the other, as soon as they possibly can. Maybe the truth is that trust and affection like this only happens a few times. And the wisdom is in recognising the magic and keeping it safe, rather than look elsewhere.