One of my friends used to say, ‘Everyone, when they grow up is remembered by something that they did in their college days- something that identifies them even decades later.’ For me, I would gladly like to be remembered by BloodConnect.

After spending over two years in this organisation as I look back to find the little circle of friends I have made, I am appalled by the way I have learned to see things. Being an ‘IITian’, I was almost always convinced that I was the smartest of the lot anywhere. Come to BloodConnect, and I see (to my dismay) that there are people who know so much more than me, have a better understanding of things, and are often- more emotionally intelligent, a trait which I have found plays a role equal to, if not greater than IQ.

As I settled into this atmosphere of kids who stepped up the latest fashion, expressed strong opinions about social causes, and took to the streets raising a voice, or just simply having fun, I was awed by the perseverance with which they pursued their ideas. They seemed intelligent, passionate, and creative. This atmosphere flowed around me like water around a rock. I was not really changed by it, but some of it stuck with me.

Meanwhile in the process, I managed to make some pretty good friends. As is often with friends, it was a gradual and natural process. I never really thought about it, and I made no special effort on my part. But we just sort of, fit together. Us, trying to find our way through life’s many mazes, and with our shared vision. Trying to figure out a way to make things work, travelling through the city, and often brainstorming together.

When I was first inducted into BloodConnect, I was told by one of my seniors that two of the many people he met through BloodConnect went on to become his best friends. How that could be possible, given that we spend so much more time with people from our own colleges, defeated me. It took me few years, but I get it now. I have come to believe that the friends we make through the times of stress and pressure are the ones who really stick with us. It does not matter who you spend the most time with, what does matter is the sense of belonging that you get when you are with them.

When a person is under pressure, they exhibit traits that are not seen otherwise. When they are pressed for resources, when they are asked to go out of their way to do someone a favour-is when you see what they are worth. How a person treats his juniors, how he handles crisis situations- says a lot about what they are like in actual life. I suppose this is why friendships forged in BloodConnect stay for so long. You’ve seen people when things are down and out, and you know that they will always have a solution to the myriad of problems that life offers.

With BloodConnect spanning over so many institutes in so many cities, I have met a lot of people in my two years here. Given BloodConnect’s corporate structure of working, I have had to interact with many of them in a purely professional capacity. As we all might be painfully aware, some of these people we wish to restrict just to their professional roles. But some of them strike a chord with our hearts. Without realising it, meetings turn to get togethers, con calls turn to bouts of laughter (and sometimes crying) and work turns into fun– which is what I believe a voluntary organisation like BloodConnect should work on anyway. In the end, after all, what stays with you is the family you made. I like to call these people my BloodConnect family- because I know they will stay with me throughout, and stick up for me even when I am wrong (then reprimand me in private).

I suppose that in every aspect of life, things can get really tough without friends. Because in the end, it is all about enjoying the process. And while yes, I too derive a sense of satisfaction out of my work, my work cannot make me laugh until my stomach hurts, or give me a shoulder to cry on when I am heart broken. No, only real people can do that. It takes different people different amounts of time to realise this fact. Being a reserved person myself, I took my own time to make friends. But I am glad they found me.

All through the camps, the awareness sessions in college, waking up at six in the morning for Raahgiri, working together-our bonds flourished. The BloodConnect Annual Event, when some big names (Kanan Gill, Nikhil D’Souza, Parikrama to name a few) came to perform for us each year usually serve as a reminder to us, that we deserve an after party, for all our work over the past year. This is when city teams from all over the country come in, and we get to see how big we are. It is amazing to see, that we are such a large team that works so gracefully together. For me personally, that is the part of it all that awes me the most: How a team of hundreds of people works together to make a system, and it is all purely voluntary.

Even if I am not able to contribute much to BloodConnect, I will always know that it has given me some things that I could not possibly explain in terms of the ways we are accustomed to measuring things- few years of memories and experience, and a lifetime of friendship.

– Ruchi Churiwala