Official Friend

I spend much of my non-operations time at Cinnabar, an open-air café at Cardamom County with a perfect view of the Periyar Reserve, to use wifi.  There are a few locations at the resort with a strong signal, but my preference is here. I feel welcome. The open air and scenery set the scene; Vishnu emanates a sense of welcome the way a friend would.

Ever since I started my internship here, I have been greeted by Vishnu at  Cinnabar the same way most days.  He has a great smile that could only be described as genuinely friendly. He also follows local custom and always greets with “Namaskaram sir.”  The “sir” part of that felt kind of official and formal at first, but I get it now.

Vishnu is a 21 year-old member of the food and beverage staff at the resort.  He is always attentive.  I am not writing this post to describe his service work; rather about this one incident that made us ‘friends.’  As an intern, I do not want to be treated as a guest when I am “off duty”.  But, resort staff–my colleagues–seem unable to turn off when I do.  I have explained to Vishnu about my internship, and he is always very interested to learn more.  During the conversation I typically have my laptop open. Vishnu recently asked me “You have facebook sir?” My instant response “yes” was followed by my sense of surprise that he knew about facebook.  The surprise was not so much about Vishnu as it was that  here on the edge of the Periyar Reserve, two of Zuckerberg’s 750 million faces are seeing eye to eye, each of us speaking a foreign language to one another.

I asked him immediately in follow up “do you have facebook?”  He responded “yes sir” We both knew what would be the next step: friend.  Typing Vishnu, about a thousand possibilities came up. Then I asked what his last name was, and with his full name typed in, there it was! Both of us watching the process of finding the name, a sparkle of laughter broke.  After ‘friending’ each other we were just laughing for a good minute and I told Vishnu “we are officially friends!”

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