It all started back in the summer of 2016 when a bunch of babies decided to go on a camping trip together.
Summer 2016 was just three and a half years ago but I feel like the person I was back then was a teeny-tiny foetus with thick, black, shiny, voluminous, cascading heaps of perfectly-straight-but-curly-at-the-ends natural hair.
And if I was a foetus, Shane wasn't even conceived yet.
As for our friends Anirudh and Kirti who are by far the most well-adjusted adults I've met in my life, Kirti could probably get away with being a toddler but Anirudh was definitely an infant.
Anirudh used to work with Shane and in the first year of our marriage, I'd heard him being mentioned quite a bit which led me to become curious about this fellow Indian in Edinburgh. I was new to the city and had made one friend - The Bromance - who was more an infliction than anything else. It has taken us close to five years to just hang out one-on-one and genuinely enjoy each others' company. In the early days, he was resentful of me for making Shane move out of their bachelor-pad and I was constantly trying to figure out why Shane's best friend was giving me the stink eye from across the room.
So every once in a while, I would bombard Shane with questions about Anirudh from work. Unfortunately, I was afflicted with an unreliable narrator who barely paid attention to the important things like Anirudh's history, interests, general likeability and whether or not we could become instant best friends. He told me that Anirudh's wife was a second-generation Indian-American when in fact, she's an Indian born in India who in her adult life, lived in the US for half a decade before moving to the UK. There's a difference, SHANE, and I need DETAILS.
I finally met Anirudh at Shane's work Christmas party of 2015 and before arriving, I even found out what he was wearing so I could spot him in the crowd.
The connection was instantaneous. We spent a good chunk of that evening chatting about Shah Rukh Khan, Indian weddings, and how our parents scarred us for life, among other staple desi conversation starters.
He was the one who took this photo of us that evening.
Kirti, unfortunately, couldn't make it to the Christmas party so we all agreed that the next reasonable step in our blossoming friendship would be to force her to hang out with us.
A few weeks later at my first ever jaunt around Edinburgh's Christmas market, I narrowly missed Kirti in the few seconds it took me to get lost in the crowd. I saw something shiny in a stall and by the time I'd checked it out and reconvened with Shane, he'd already met her and Anirudh on their way out of the market.
It was another few months before we made our way to their housewarming party where all four of us sat around in one room and chatted for hours. When I first met Kirti in March/April of 2016, she was younger than I am now and still more mature and awe-inspiring than I can ever hope to be.
To be well-travelled and able to speak intelligently about different cultures, food, books and science, and that too, in her early-mid twenties was more than remarkable to me. It was clear that she was a person who'd spent a considerable amount of time consciously or unconsciously, improving herself and her life.
All this history aside, if you were to ask me when we became friends, I would still say it was during our first holiday together in July 2016, a camping trip (another first) to Cairngorms National Park, that we decided to go on while three of the four of us were drunk out of our minds.
Holidaying with anyone can make or break a relationship but I've found that friends who not only survive but thrive during a trip together, usually have a high chance of sharing more memorable experiences together in the future.
We were babies when we went on that trip three and a half years ago, and a lot has happened since. We've held hands through celebrations, long-distance family panic, new milestones, loss of loved ones, job changes, and depression, all the while eating good food and inspiring each other to be better.
As I'm writing this, Shane and I are packed and ready to go celebrate yet another milestone (or three) with two people we feel like we grew up with. We'll be toasting their new home in a new town, Anirudh graduating with a distinction from Imperial College London (where he was on a full scholarship by the way), and his new shiny job.
And while I'm certain that we'll have many, many more milestones to celebrate in the future, what I'm most excited for is Shane reaching the infant stage of his growth and development in the years to come. Can't wait!