I had a traditional Thanksgiving — a puja at our family friend’s house, which as per tradition, we (minus my mom) skipped in order to smoothly arrive at noon, just before the food is served. But as we walk in and hear the sanskrit chanting, we realize, as per tradition, our attempts have been foiled because everything is running on the usual Indian Standard Time. Somehow, even after a lifetime to practice, my friends and I still have no clue what to do when it’s our turn to go up to the altar. Our mothers give us the look, and in loud whispers, they start scoldingly coaching from the sidelines—use your right hand, rotate the plate three times, throw the rice over the flowers. The only change in the whole arrangement is that when the banquet begins the traditional banana leaves have been modernized and replaced by leaf-shaped paper plates.

Nikki finally arrives last and zooms straight to me. “I saw your laugh from outside,” she says. Everyone laughs and teases her for the “saw”, but then upon reflection agrees that “saw” is more appropriate than “heard”. Suddenly we’re all reminiscing about this or that. Remember when Rohit thought those palm trees were real, remember when Lavanya was the tallest, remember when Puneet ripped that band-aid off my knee.

It’s been years since we’ve all seen each other. Growing up, we fluidly roamed in and out of each other’s houses, sleeping at Pratyush’s one weekend, at mine another, at Mani’s the next. It wouldn’t be right to say any of us grew up in a single house. We grew up in all of our homes.

As if it were the most natural thing in the world, the seven of us spend the next thirty hours with each other. We effortlessly switch between roasting each other, impersonating scammy swamis, and dancing anywhere and everywhere. We stop by Nikki’s house because we have to light 365 candles. Why? No one knows. We get lost infinite-looping in a roundabout. My sides hurt so much from laughing non-stop. Nikki and I have our first drink together. The boiz update me on their relationships. I suddenly realize I’ve missed out on a lot, being away.

“I know Kiwibots are cool and all, but we’re cooler”-Prat

It’s true. I miss them. I don’t know what moment we all became so close, but us “chaddi buddies” are inseparable.