So Merril turns 29 today. She's a dear friend of mine from oh so long ago.
We've shared a house, laughter, tears, food, music and much much more over the years.
But first a little walk down memory lane: When I got to Pune in 1999 to do my Master's degree in Communication Studies, I ended up sharing a bungalow with six crazy, but fun women.
One of them was Merril, of course: A diva from Goa, who made grown men and women cry when she sang with her insanely beautiful voice.
She sported her hair short those days. The first time I saw her, I was sitting in the screened in porch of "Anand Bungalow" browsing through a magazine.
I heard someone singing and looked up. And there she was, dance-walking towards the house, dressed in denim cut-offs, singing a merry song - along with the walkman she was listening to and swaying her body in time to the rhythm. I was intrigued and amused and had to get to know her right away!
Soon I discovered she was a natural musician, with an awesome singing voice. She was also obscenely straight forward and always spoke her mind! We got on like a house on fire: me with my basic guitar skills and she of the magical voice.
The years rolled by, we'd spent two years in Pune together and soon found ourselves working in Bombay. Though we didn't share an apartment in Bombay, we'd meet up pretty often and share our woes.
It's been almost three years now since I left India for the States, but we still keep in touch from time to time.
I miss you, Merril. I still remember a Birthday of yours when someone threw cake in your face and you got it in your eye.
Caught between laughter and tears, she was a funny sight to behold. We had to rush the poor girl into the bathroom and wash the burn out of her eyes.
Happy Birthday, you merry old woman!