Friends Of All Ages

A little more than a month ago I visited Priya Living – a Senior living community – in Santa Clara. That experience taught me a lot about what it means to be independent in retirement and that age is merely a biological fact. What you make out of it is entirely up to you.

The positive energy, enthusiasm and love for life of those Seniors made me want to see them again so I invited them to join me for lunch at Google yesterday. I had been planning this lunch for quite a few weeks with Mahesh Uncle’s help who is the CEP (Chief Event Planner ;)) at Priya Living. I also enlisted Mahesh Kumar’s help who is the Head Chef of Google’s Indian restaurant Baadal. He graciously agreed to host a group of 19 of my “Senior” friends and five of my younger friends for his special Biryani Fridays.

The morning of our lunch, Dr. Magal, a regular visitor at the Senior living community and the wife of a Director at Google, emailed me sharing this:

Good Morning, 

Looks like the big day is bringing lots of sunshine & smiling faces. I could palpate the enthusiasm last noon among the Priya living residents. They are all excited like little kids & I was so touched.

See you soon.
Amongst a slew of emails from clients and their agencies dragging their feet to pay heed to my strategy recommendations this was such a nice note and already brightened up my day! Then, at 11am sharp Mahesh Uncle called me and said they have arrived, parked and are ready to meet me in the lobby of the building we were going to have lunch at. Within minutes I saw 19 sets of sparkling eyes, bright smiles and a childlike infectious excitement walking through the lobby doors. If you think a group of little children is cute, wait till you see my group of “Senior” friends!
Chef Mahesh had made perfect lunch arrangements for us. We spent the next hour devouring delicious Rose Milk, Biryani, Daal, Kachumbar, Raita, Curd Rice and Orange Shortbread followed by Kewra Water Chai.
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Lunch at Baadal Restaurant at Google

As you can tell, none of the Uncles wanted to sit next to the Aunties because in typical husband-wife banter they said they spent enough time with each other and preferred sitting with their friends. Despite living in Silicon Valley, I don’t think I have ever sat at a table with such density of accomplished people: I was immediately surrounded by a Physician with his own private practice since the 1960s, a certified Gemologist, a Research Scientist, an Engineer who started his own businesses and a scholar who translated the entire Mahabharat from Sanskrit to Hindi amongst writing more than 20 of his own books. While my stomach was feeding on Biryani my mind was feeding on GDP facts about countries around the globe, why Germany is the superpower it is, how technology is an enabler and a disrupter and why it is my generations’ prerogative to figure out the right balance between the two. And no, this was not boring serious talk. I learnt more than I typically do over a casual lunch all while laughing at why Kothary Uncle, across from me, always confuses Laxmi Aunty’s name for Rukhmani. These gentlemen have an unparalleled sense of humor.

After lunch we headed over to Google’s Main Campus to give my new friends a tour and have some fresh pressed juice and smoothies. Believe me, I have given many a tour at Google but rarely have I received such intelligent questions. Most visitors just feel they will come across as smart if they make snarky remarks about Google and its company culture. Not these gentlemen and ladies!

While we were waiting in line for our juices and smoothies one of the Aunties told us she is a retired Gynecologist and literally brought Ranbir Kapoor and his likes into this world as she was Neetu Kapoor’s and many other Bollywood celebrities’ doctor. I almost spit the juice out. I couldn’t believe my fortune when it comes to meeting super interesting people.

On our way back to the cars we passed by another cafe. Since it was a hot day I asked if anyone was interested in vanilla or guava ice cream. 19 arms went up in a jiffy and I saw a few extra sparkles in those lovely eyes.

I must say there is something very special about this generation that ours and the ones to come are unfortunately losing. When we started collecting the empty ice cream cups to dispose of them every single one of our friends said a very heartfelt Thank You and somehow you could just tell that they actually meant it and it wasn’t just a phrase that was rolling off their tongues. The grace of this generation is something to hold on to. A fantastic reminder for me that one shouldn’t just make friends their own age. Always be sure to have friends much older and younger than yourself because you will learn so much from them that friends your age can never teach you.

And here is a group picture with my “Senior” and “Junior” friends:

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Cheers to new friendships!

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