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story | Justin Ong, Managing Editor
photo | Justin Ong and Abhinav Natarajan
This week The Octant features two first year students and two juniors with a very important message: that personal space is overrated. Abhinav Natarajan ’18 and Simonas Bartulis ’18 first met under less than favorable conditions, but both insist that they were better off for it. Here’s what they had to say:
How did you guys first meet?
Simonas: I remember in the first weeks before classes started he was playing guitar near Ritika, and I knew Ritika and I decided to say hello to him and he completely ignored me and I was just like wow. What a rude person and I thought he was really pretentious. Then somebody came up and said ‘oh, we’re going to have all of your classes together’ and I’m like oh great. And then [the person] was like ‘Abhinav also’ ‘cos in freshman year you all have the same group and I was just like oh damn. Cos I hadn’t known him then. But in classes we got to know each other more.
Abhinav: Wait, my side of the story. I think I just ignored him because I didn’t hear him. I don’t remember this happening at all.
S: That’s ok, don’t remember it.
A: (laughs) What I do remember is the first time we met was probably during the orientation week when there was like a social happening in one of the common lounges in RC4 (Residential College 4) and I met Simonas over there because I was introduced to him through Ritika and he just came across as like a …. like… you know back then I was really shy.
A: Yeah, still am very nerdy. But when I first met him I was like ok this is just another person that I’m never going to get along with.
Since then, how did you guys build up the friendship?
A: He bugged me in all of our classes. He like basically…him and Alaine, they like took my case in all of our classes.
S: We made fun of him a lot, we annoyed him. But we also like, kind of just like barged into his room and like wouldn’t leave.
A: Oh yeah. There were many times when Simonas basically barged into my room drunk as hell in the middle of the night and I was like what the **** are you doing here? I’m trying to sleep or do my presets and he would be like you have to listen to this song. So in some ways…
S: I forced myself onto [him].
A: That sounds kind of wrong.
S: I grabbed you by the friendship, as Donald Trump would say.
Was there a point in time when you realised that this guy might actually be a friend?
A: There was one particular moment when, so… yes because I was a very shy person and Simonas at one point I think he invited me out for a smoke [ … ] and he really got me to open up about the insecurities I had at that point as I was just coming out of high school, had a lot of trust issues and stuff. One way he got me to open up was to open up in turn. He opened up to me as a way of building trust, and I was like okay, this is a person who really does want to reach out and I really appreciated that. Eventually over time another thing that happened was that we figured we had very similar value systems and we make similar value judgments about a lot of things.
S: But we always kind of go back to the question of so why are we friends? It doesn’t seem to make sense. Because all of our interests are not just different but opposed to each other even.
A: Orthogonal, even.
S: It just doesn’t make any sense. Still.
A: I think we can’t stand each other’s interests.
S: His taste in music is s***.
A: Excuse me. Your taste in music is lethargic, if that’s the only way to put it.
S: Better than s***.
Was there a particularly challenging time in your friendship?
A: There were many many challenging times.
S: Give a list of disappointments?
A: Go for it (laughs).
S: Freshman year he would refuse to hang out with me on my birthday even though I really wanted him to. In sophomore year he forgot my birthday even though he said “I’m going to make it up to you for last year”. In general he’s been kind of absent. ‘Cos he’s working a lot.
A: I tend to become a hermit a lot so there are these extended periods, several weeks sometimes where I’m always working.
S: There was a period of two months where he did not speak to me at all even though I tried.
A: Not because I didn’t want to.
S: He didn’t realize, he’s oblivious to these things.
A: Yes, I’m very oblivious.
S: And then I get angry then I don’t talk to him when I really need to as well so that’s, so that’s when I mess up.
A: But I tend to get lost in my work a lot and at those times I tend to forget about everyone and everything around me.
Any tips on how to maintain a friendship?
A: Barge into people’s rooms.
S: I actually do advocate that strongly. People who tend to prioritize a lot of personal privacy and space (this is my situation and not applicable to everyone) but I found that ignoring my need for privacy with my friends is a very good way to connect. So for me availability and openness and honesty is very important.
A: Basically he oversteps any personal boundary there is and like after a while you’re just like well I have no personal boundaries with you anymore.
S: Might as well talk.
A: So barge into people’s rooms, it’s a good allegory for all of that.