About a time when friends were real and life was simple

Published: August 19, 2013

Friends did not need anything from you other than you being there for them.

One of the most vivid memories from my early teen years is of my best friend at that time and me, sitting outside his building near the pavement, drinking  Coke and eating sandwiches. I used to take a cab from my house to his and then we would sit outside on our usual spot and talk.

We used to talk about nothing in particular and yet, we had so much to say; so many ambitions, dreams, goals, small and big challenges, love affairs, infatuations and yes, personal philosophies and beliefs (even at that age) to share with each other. We were inseparable; we were a team.

Our conversations would always start with,

 “Zara soch.”

(Just think/imagine.)

And then continue to,

“What if we had a chance to perform as a pop band in one of the private, most happening parties in town? Which song would we pick? Vital Signs or something else?”

Zara soch. What if I get a chance to see her again? How will I tell her that she is the one?”

Zara soch. If we had a car, we could go places, faraway places (like Abu Dhabi and Al Ain) with friends and we would not have to take cabs to each other’s house every day.”

Zara soch. What if we are invited to a Valentine’s Day party, what would we wear to look elegant, yet different, from all the other idiots in school?”

I remember when we were in a sombre mood, we would get up from the pavement and say:

“Chal, trailer pe chaltay hain.”

(Get up, let’s go to the trailer.)

This ‘trailer’ used to be parked in a nearby parking spot. It was one of those that carried large containers and cars. Without those cars, containers or usual load, it was always a great place to climb up, sit and observe. It was the ultimate place to sit and watch the skyline of the city. Albeit, it wasn’t exactly the tallest building in the world, it made us feel like we were ‘on top of the world.’

However, the best part about going to the ‘trailer’ was the pit stop we would make at the nearby bakery to get a fresh chocolate pastry and soda. This used to be an integral part of the ritual in which we would drink, eat and talk about love, girls, future, girls, money, girls, God, girls, life, girls (I think you get the gist of it!)

Then one day, we hit the jackpot and discovered the most awesome place to take our ‘deep and profound’ discussions to. We found an abandoned building near my friend’s house which was left half-way through construction due to some land dispute. But we used to tell everyone that the building was abandoned because it was haunted. Our favourite hobby was to bring other friends there and spook them out.

We named it “Khandar” (ruin). From mere ghost story-telling sessions to Ouija board and spirit-calling sessions, we did everything to get a sneak peek into the mysteries of the world, and although our stupidity never allowed us to call the real spirits ever, we did conjure up enticing mysterious images in our own minds, that were sufficient to tell in future stories.

The most amazing and creatively fulfilling time was when we would turn off all the lights in my friend’s room, while distant lights of the city created shadows on the walls. We would sit and create stories and screenplays for our future movies and skits. This was always done with a strong belief that with talent like ours, we would soon be recognised and someone somewhere will finance our projects and let us make a full-fledged movie where we could cast any star we want – of course, apart from the lead characters, because chances were high that we would also be the actors.

Years later, when I was trying to remember the line-by-line details of those stories, I was astonished to find that they were indeed good and not as juvenile as I would have believed.

The point is that life was simple and fun.

Friends did not need anything from you other than you being there for them. There were no fancy clubs and bars to go to; there were never grand weekend plans, no expensive dinners, no extravagant travelling across cities. No Blackberries, no iPhones, no WhatsApp or BBM messengers. ‘Chatting’ meant sitting across each other, face to face and talking instead of meaningless emoticons. Sitting on the pavement, on the street, sitting on an abandoned truck and sitting in the ‘ruins’, we were happy in the knowledge that we had a friend to bank on.

Now, we have everything except true friends to rely on.

Samir Tariq

Samir Tariq

A Strategy and Business Transformation Manager for one of the leading banks in the Middle-East. He lives and works in Dubai. A literature lover and a writer by hobby he mostly writes fiction inspired by true life events.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Anon

    It’s married men who usually get nostalgic about their friends and footloose days ! Want the best of both worlds…Recommend

  • Muhammad Ishfaq

    Aaah… your piece triggered my own memories of my friends. You really had all the fun then. So did I. But I don’t agree with what you said in the last para….true friendships are still there only their style has changed now. Its not how it used to be in our teen age so we think it doesn’t exist but it does…. you know when I see my nephews hanging out with their friends I can’t relate with their activities but I can definitely relate with their feelings; they are the same as ours.Recommend

  • sashayub

    Not so Anon………women too, married or unmarried get nostalgic, so do parents……..we all want to live the beautiful childhood/adulthood times when there were lesser worriesRecommend

  • Parvez

    Neither here nor there…………….I expected something more…….something better……..and yes I do realise that writing is not easy.Recommend

  • frnds r forever

    Ahhh.. remind me of my beautiful memories as a teenage girl, hanging out with frnds and making scenarios in mind.. (that i still do with frnds) this technology has changed our lives forever.. now even if we are with them, we are really not with them :(Recommend

  • Critical

    I dont know if you guys had some crazy friends…..

    But my “Zara Soch” always involved looting a bank,learn card counting and using it in a casino,discover some secret about a politician and leak it online(long before wikileaks came to being,I had such an idea) and then drag my friends to pitch their idea..

    And of course,we will then discuss how we will spend the loot

    In fact,whenever I go to bank and stand in that long queue.I scan the security,location of the safe,alternative doors for exit etc……

    Hope I achieve my dream one day :)Recommend

  • Shaheen

    That’s probably what your parents said to you as well. Every new generation probably tells the next one about how awesome the old times were.Recommend

  • Spigot !

    technology has ruined the simplicity of life !Recommend

  • naqvi

    @Critical: i don’t think that you are from our generation because looting bank and leaking someone secret online is very much today’s generation dream. you people need lots of money without any hard work.writer is talking about generation who had simple life with simple dreams where you don’t think about harming people.Recommend

  • Pakistan

    Excelent article just remind me my childhoodRecommend

  • Critical

    Dude,there is a difference between fantasizing and doing it in real……Looting a bank is not a simple job,especially in current security measures……..It requires both planning and skill……

    Besides,I never intend to loot a bank,but fantasizing does look good…FYI,I have always paid my taxes correctly without declaring any false investments.Why would I take away the savings of thousands of middle class people away???Recommend

  • Samir Tariq

    @ anon/ishfaq/sash/Frnds: thanks a lot. if any one missed their old friends or those “old times” for a moment after reading this, then i guess it was worth sharing this with all.

    @ Pervez: i totally agree with you. Not really a great piece of writing. Not even close to where i would like it to be. And yes, writing is definitely not easy..well not at least for a common struggler like me . Thanks for readingRecommend

  • Sara

    A well written article. You sure do miss your teenage years, your simple life which was tension free and where nothing really mattered except for fun and games, maybe academics and your little imaginary world. But to be honest, the last line to a great extent isn’t true. One will still find true friends. There are bad people out there but there are good people as well and at times we just fail to realize this. i’m in my teenage years, yes after reading your article I realize that my teenage years are quite different from yours, I rely on BBM, FB, WhatsApp, Viber and all these apps in order to communicate with my friends and my life isn’t as simple as yours was, back then. But at the end of the day its not your friends that you should blame. True friends still exist. Indeed, the world has now become more competitive and more prone to technology but that doesn’t mean that one can’t find true friends to rely on. Friendship is one of the most valuable and expensive gift one can ever find. I see many of you blaming technology, but to be honest you could use the same tech to get back and communicate with your old friends and rewind those old memories together. Technology might have ruin the simplicity of life but it has also given life many pleasures. I know my friends will be there for me through thick and thin, our bond is unbreakable. My friends are my treasure. Recommend

  • Parvez

    @Samir Tariq: Thank you for responding and I appreciate the fact that you were not offended by my comment…….plus one to you.

  • samir tariq

    @pervez: not at all…the fact that you took time to read it while having so much choice is wat I appreciate more than the fact that u found it not too good (which I will be the first one to agree with :) )Recommend

  • samir tariq

    @sara: thanks a lot sara…and I didn’t mean that friends turn to foes or strangers but the way life generally pans out, people get busy in their own lives and distance developes not in hearts but minds…(The people in their post 30’s might be nodding their heads in agreement)..
    But then again, there is always an exception to the rule and if u have such great friends then u r one of the lucky ones ..cheersRecommend

  • Faraz

    Not everyone has the talent or capability to translate their thoughts or experiences in to an interesting read. You have the gift Masha-Allah. Whether or not your article’s last line can be agreed upon unanimously is a different debate altogether. The point is, to have the courage and confidence to share your belief or opinion on a public platform is commendable. Recommend

  • afshan

    Nice pcs of writing. True portal of 30+ ppl feelings. Ppl though having these techno tools still don’t keep in touch more often.Recommend

  • samir tariq

    @Faraz and Afshan: thank you very much..really appreciate your comments..Recommend

  • EmmKay

    Memoirs from Brokeback Mountain? eh?!?!?! Recommend

  • ~~~tariq~~~

    Nostalgic, simple & sweet. Thought provoking as well. The message easily reaches out to the readers.

    The last statement “Now we have everything except true friends to rely on” is very subjective in my opinion. At the same time, I can relate to it very well though in a totally different aspect and let me try and shed some light on this from another angle.

    As age progresses, there comes a time when even with the best of friends around you, you feel alone or shall I say singled out. Time and circumstances brings such a change in people (for good or worse). Many if not most lose that spark which used to ignite so easily once and then there are those few who keep the child inside them alive till the end :)

    Aristotle said “Man by nature is a social animal…”. I say man is the most complex animal.

    My 2 cents….Recommend

  • Samir Tariq

    @Tariq: Thank you..very nicely put and explained. And mirroring exactly the same thoughts behind this pieceRecommend

  • Sara

    @samir tariq:
    Haha well then i guess I’ll feel the way you feel when I enter my thirties. And thanks a lot, i indeed am lucky. :’)Recommend

  • Arooj Ahmed

    A sweet piece of writing, indeed.Recommend

  • Samir Tariq

    thanks AroojRecommend

  • Khalid Shafiq


  • Khalid Shafiq


  • Samir Tariq

    Khalid…true buddy…whatever time is gone, only that was ours…Recommend

  • Anam Shabbir

    Well no doubt your words that “Now, we have everything except true friends to rely on”.
    truely based on reality. these days friendship has its beauty and importance too and having a true Friend is just like a Dream!Recommend

  • samir tariq

    Thanks Anam…I think it has a lot to do with the spread of “social media”..while it has its many advantages, I think one disservice to friendships is due to the fact that earlier, ppl wud have 1-2 really close friends who they wud share everything with..n the rest were just “not qualified enough to be sharing secrets”..:) and then FB and Twitter came where 300 people know the status as detailed as “just had a fight with my bf/gf…will be dumping soon” ..lol…since the need for a “confidante” is gone, so did the real friends too…now its abt getting more “likes”…Recommend