The Art of Making Friends: Lessons from Experienced Voices

CGC #7

Heading into our next chapters, building fulfilling connections remains important. Whether, it is transitioning from college to our first ever job, changing jobs, moving cities, or retiring, making and keeping friends is important. We are social creatures, after all.

We asked our WisGen, who are on the precipice of retirement or are already retired, “What are your favourite ways to stay happily connected and make new friends, even as life changes and evolves?”

Read below to find out how they are connecting with each other and making new friends in this new phase of life. 

K B Gupta

Visionary leader, author, motivational speaker, and Leadership Coach. Currently, I am the Head of Marketing and PR for the Professional Speakers Association of India (PSAI). Previously served as a GM for the Bank of Baroda.

I have always liked making new friends and maintaining contact with the old ones. In a way, I am a networking freak and always want to add to the list of my friends. 

I talk to my old friends including the ones who were my class fellows in schools and colleges quite regularly. For example, Daljit, my friend since grade one, and I send ‘Good Morning’ messages to each other daily and talk at least twice a month though we are living in cities 1600 km apart. Whenever I visit another city, I always make it a point to meet old friends living there.

After retirement, the chances of meeting new people becomes limited. To make up for this, I joined the Professional Speakers Association of India which is an organisation of coaches, mentors, and professional speakers spread all over India. This membership provided me with the opportunity to make friends in India and abroad. The members of this association are intellectuals and highly accomplished people. Interacting with them helps me to learn a lot of things. I could even start a YouTube channel and publish a book with the encouragement I receive from members of this amazing community! Now I am serving this association as Head of Marketing & PR.

Satish Kumar Varada

Formerly General Manager, Business Strategy, Intel Corporation. Currently, I'm a freelance Management Consultant for startups, high-growth organisations - Strategy, Business and Financial Planning, and IT programs. I review, analyse and advise on-going business.

I’ve consciously nurtured areas of personal interest – yoga and spirituality. I’m a certified yoga teacher from SVYASA University; I cherish a handful of close friends who are my extended family. Almost all my consulting assignments are referrals from former colleagues and clients.

Dhirendra Apte

Experienced Logistic Professional and Professor of Practice actively involved now as Consultant & Mentor to both Industry and Academia.

I am happy in my life because much before reaching the formal retirement age in my profession of Logistics & Supply Chain, I had started working on part time basis in 2 different fields of my interest. The first was general insurance and the second was Education. 

Both these fields gave me ample opportunities to connect with people within my circle and outside it. I enjoyed interacting with them in a different capacity- as an Insurance Advisor and as a teaching faculty. This helped me to study these two subjects. The fact that I was able to add value to all these people by advising the on the important matters concerning their life, assets, business and career. The teaching profession not only gave me opportunities to draw positive energy from the younger generations, but also helped me expand my identity and got many more invites from reputed business schools.

This is how I have managed to stay connected.

Sitharaam Jayakumar

I retired as a Lead Software Engineer in the year 2019 and have taken up writing in earnest since then. I write articles on gender equality, politics, fiction, flash fiction and several other areas. I am an author of four books, have contributed to several anthologies and am a published poet.

Being a writer makes it imperative for me to reach out to people through social media. When I was in the thick of marketing my book, I used social media heavily to reach out to my audience. I had employed a marketing agency to post videos of my book trailer through a large number of book bloggers on Instagram. It was something unavoidable especially for a person like me who was publishing his first book in print through a traditional publisher.

Not only Instagram, I used Facebook, Twitter and several other social media tools to market my book. But once there was no longer a necessity, I found social media was becoming a bit of a bane. I found myself getting addicted to it. Often I found myself aimlessly scrolling through Facebook or Twitter. Now I have deleted the apps from my mobile and other devices. Once in a while I log in to take a look, but that is all. Nowadays I am making contact with several people directly while taking my morning walk or by other direct means.

Chinmay Chakravarty

After a stint of over 36 years in the media sector of the Government of India, I retired as Director of the Press Information Bureau, Kolkata in November 2019 and am now self-employed as a full-time writer-author.

About a year back I visited my home state and stayed there for a few days. My main purpose was to connect with my near and dear ones. Accordingly, I called up a 75+ year old auntie whom I couldn’t meet for years and proposed to come to her place that evening. To my utter frustration, she asked me not to come as she was alone at home which she was always to the best of my knowledge. However, she reassured me saying that she always responds to my posts on Facebook! One of my favourite ways to stay connected was thus denied. Therefore, we must admit that the goal of staying happily connected has undergone a paradigm shift, particularly after the Pandemic when people used to run away from each other in scary anticipation.

I also love to be connected with relatives and friends through direct and personal telephonic calls. This, too, is getting mercilessly cut short by another social media intruder called WhatsApp. I still crave personal calls that are without a specific purpose or motive, just to say hello, you know! This behavioural attribute has created kind of an isolation paradox: to avoid causing unwarranted disturbance nobody calls nobody directly, and we too become victims of that, checking ourselves from making calls even if we’d like to do so desperately. Mind you, this behavioural pattern is absolutely independent of the age factor. In the bargain, we’re getting haplessly flooded with direct (personal?) calls only from the banks, the life insurance companies, the telecom companies and whatnot!

Forget about visiting someone unannounced, like we used to do decades back! Now, if you need to visit even a close person you’d need to have a solid motive and acting on that motive you’ll have to make the briefest of calls to achieve prior appointments. Of course, there could indeed be some glorious exceptions here. And more as a solace, we still manage to get invitations to social ceremonies like weddings and occasional parties; I love these occasions where I can really connect, reconnect and reunite.

But we have to stay happy! So, we must accept the new connection measures to be so. And sure, we’re all doing fine there, most probably. One likes it or not!

Making friends? Well, I wish I had those ways of freestyle mixing that would’ve optimised the friend-making process. For a retired person who is no longer working, it is bound to be very difficult to make new friends or even maintaining the old ones, except perhaps in the incredibly growing ‘virtual’ sector where, unfortunately, the process is not as seamless as in the direct-connect fields. For working persons in all age-groups the opportunities are still wider and thus the process is relatively easier. But again! Come what may! We have to adapt ourselves to the new ways and stay happily connected. And hopefully, we’re all doing fine here, too! One likes it or not!

K Hanumanth Rao

I am a retired Materials Management (B.Com, GDMM (IIMM) professional with 25 years of Corporate Experience in reputed companies and 10 years as a campus recruitment trainer(soft-skills) in reputed engineering & MBA Colleges in Visakhapatnam. At present, I am interested in writing blogs writing and exchanging ideas with like-minded persons.

My philosophy is to live happily in the present moment rather than dwelling in the past or worrying about the future. I choose to focus on my blogs which are based on practical wisdom. 

Seema Agarwal

I teach and train people in English communication skills.
I teach and train people in English communication skills.

I am an introvert and am very happy to be by myself. But there are times when I want someone other than my family to talk to. I value relationships and stay connected through phone calls and visits. I love to talk and listen intently. I like to observe people at social functions and other events and if I spy someone with discomfort, I just smile and start a conversation. Sometimes I make new acquaintances which leads to good friendships.

Arvind Jain

I am an engineer, a career counsellor. Also love to write, anchoring, singing. Active in social field too.
I am an engineer, a career counsellor. Also love to write, anchoring, singing. Active in social field too.

Few ways I follow to be happy and stay connected : Reconnecting with old friends thru phone calls, WhatsApp and also taking time out to meet them and refreshing old memories, old days. Have a habit to call my relatives once in a week/10 days just to get an update about health, work and what’s going on and also share things from my end. It is very helpful to keep a good bonding always. I also follow a daily schedule of an hour in evening time before sleep to sit with family members and talk, share matters happened all the day. My sons who live in another cities remain connected thru WhatsApp; Video calls on daily basis. We have interactions on various issues and the discussion give us the solutions for sure. Life is moving forward as usual without a pause and keeping pace with life is also very important as only life give us opportunities to evolve more better, more refined, more experienced and of course happy and content.

Sundararamanan Natesan

After working for 33 years in the power sector, I have taken a career break to take care of my ailing parents. I am interested in sharing knowledge.
After working for 33 years in the power sector, I have taken a career break to take care of my ailing parents. I am interested in sharing knowledge.

In this digital age, staying in touch is primarily through WhatsApp. When the shared news is very important, I pick up the phone and talk to the concerned person. Just to give him or her moral support. There are friends and relatives who prefer to share news directly. To those, I make regular calls. My biggest blessing is my wife joins me in my interactions with my friends. She regularly reminds me to call or interact with friends and relatives. We also make it a point to attend family functions, especially marriages – which is more frequent nowadays, to personally meet friends. Yes, there are days when there will be no interaction and time to be spent alone – with life partner of course. Well, this diversity needs to be accepted, as we age.

Mithilesh Jatar

Entering a new phase in life is a great time to connect as well as reconnect without any of the lame excuses that one had in the earlier “busy” phases. For me it’s getting on the phone with acquaintances & friends n setting up a meet (if it’s one individual) or setting up a meet thru social media (for more than one individual). I also try to bring a few of my connects together once a month. As for making new connections it’s just introducing myself and getting to know them better. There’s a magic in face to face interactions. Keep on meeting old and newly acquired friends/acquaintances, be busy and be happy.

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