Friendship, intimacy, commerce, and the West

In the East, I’ve heard it said, there’s intimacy without friendship; in the West, there’s friendship without intimacy.

Karan Mahajan, in The New Yorker

There’s much in this post I could relate to. Most of all was this:

On a day that I don’t spend money in America, I feel oddly depressed. It’s my main form of social interaction—as it is for millions of Americans who live alone or away from their families.

For the first few years in Guildford, and occasionally even now, all my social interactions were based around commerce. The only friendly people I knew were at the coffee shop, the pub, the book shop, etc. On days when I didn’t go to the grocery store, the coffee shop, or somewhere else to spend money, my social interactions were … cero.

It’s a bit better now. I started volunteering at Park Run, and made a few acquaintances there. I ran with the Fitstuff run club – a mix of a social and commercial interaction. I got to know more people from there. I joined Phoenix triathlon club, and made more acquaintances in there. A handful of them may even be becoming friends. Not intimate, but friends nonetheless. Then there are the neighbours – A & B – not quite intimate friends, but not quite non-intimate acquaintances either.

Still, I miss the intimacy of my closer friends in India. Heck, even acquaintances in India are more intimate (too much?) than the closer friends here.

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