Jai

Jai

Sometimes you have to go far away before you come back together again.
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In this case, it was halfway across the world & a decade in between. But I’ve known Jai for more than half my life. We met when our juvenescence blurred our perception of time – when summers lasted forever & trips to the pool felt fleeting. When e-cards were all the rage, when I didn’t speak English.
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And that makes Jai a second sympathetic self. Someone whose presence & perspective is steady, soothing. Who knows what you were before you were you.
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Jai landmarks my lesson of staying in touch with kindred spirits. You never know when they’ll swoop back in & add adventure.
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He’s someone who leads with action and compassion, hard work and honesty. He has the spectacular combination of supreme accomplishment and sublime humility. A believer in the power of community, in learning from everything, in greeting others with an open hand, an open heart.
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But Jai also knows the importance of taking respite.
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What started as a joyride to Windsor Castle became a cycling excursion to Cambridge, to Oxford, to Amsterdam, across Czech Republic. We’ve been drenched to the bone, utterly disoriented, spellbound by the scenery. From navigating remote villages to tinkling around Berlin, Jai carries kindness & stamina & satire.

A friendship configured on: where next?
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Over time, it becomes an almanac of stories & memories: some that make you laugh, some that make you smirk, some that make you cringe. Jai made me my first email address: masala007@hotmail.com. That same one I applied to university with.
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There’s nothing like an early morning ride: you, the bike, Jai and the day ahead. Here’s to many more.

Richard

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His quietude made me think he was the villain.

But then you realize Richard has a moxie unlike any other: his kindness isn't fluffy or frivolous. He's exact, stoic, and unbelievably jocular.

When I first met Richard, I offered to proofread his essay. That never happened. Instead, he offered me respite on every occasion.

Picnics on Primrose Hill; swimming in Hampstead Heath; shopping through Spitalfields; bike rides across Peckham; coffee at the Southbank. They're trivial fun on their own. Then all of a sudden, they become a measurement of the magnificence of friendship.

We got dinner to celebrate my new job. And when that job became stressful, we got lunch and talked about our adventures. Richard is there for all the minor and marvellous milestones. He followed my passions to Creative Mornings and I followed his to Brighton.

Before long, we fell into the habit of going dancing every Saturday. We'd gyrate & jive & sing our lungs dry until the sun came out. All the while in our matching bandanas.

Richard may have left London but if I need to annihilate a dancefloor, I know who to call. Miss you buddy.

Glenn

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To friendships that are liquid: those that flow with ease & gush with vigor.

Friendships that satiate, that fill the gaps, that nourish and enliven.

To friendships that are fresh and refreshing. That splash with candor & wit & grace. And in that sea of buoyant joy are islands of difficult questions and meaningful check-ins. An archipelago of consolations.

In those geographies and vocabularies of such friendships, we feel known.

There's a Swedish word 'daggfrisk' (literally 'dew-fresh') that means the feeling of replenishment & energy coming from waking early after sleeping well.

Each time, these friendships bring a gift of spirited depth, a daggfrisk. Like an endless origami – rich with intricate knowledge but light in its being.

Happy day Glenn. 

Tony

Tony

I have a hunch that we'll look back at this time, and Tony will have quietly built a monument of prosperity. His work will be coded in the fabric of our lifestyle, taught in university courses and fundamentally changed how we work.

Diligence – that's the key. He enjoys efficiency and refuses to do anything half-heartedly. Tony is someone who enjoys dictating his own learnings: setting parameters, goals & milestones. You can see it in the millions of projects he works on and the mileage on his bike.

What he follows is a philosophy of: the more you give, the greater you get.

It's the current of Tony's magnetism: he's kind-hearted, generous with his time and talent, and cares deeply about his friends. He thinks deeply. He's not picky, but rather particular. He knows exactly what he wants (most often an In-n-Out burger) and goes about getting it with precise pragmatism.

Tony also has a characterful composure. You can tell he calculates his steps and plans for possible outcomes. And when things go awry, that's the inventory of Tony's humour.

We were on holiday in San Francisco and after a lion's share of exploring, we wandered the neighbourhoods of Outer Sunset. We stopped outside a Thai restaurant when suddenly, a rogue dog bites Tony's leg. We rushed to the UCSF Medical Centre and got all the necessary procedures.

Tony's response to all that? "I hope you eat chocolate, you stupid dog". 

I hope you eat In-n-Out burger, you splendid dude. Happy birthday

Josh

Joshua

Josh treks between the conceptual, the spectral and the personal without much signage. He traverses them wandering and wondering.

There's always a depth to the conversation, implied but not proven. Inner chambers full of ideals and ideas and at a switch of a button, he'd start joshing. It's a constant game of guessing if he's being serious or silly.

Yet once an idea takes root, Josh would seek to chase it, challenge it, uproot it. If it sticks, he defends it with such zeal that his earnestness becomes infectious.

The obstacle becomes the way.

That means Josh is the one consulting the boardgames rulebook most. His appetite for accuracy makes him a constant deliberator and tenacious calculator. Someone whose love of wisdom and reasoning is boisterous but punctuated by Borat impressions and Chance the Rapper lyrics.

But in the end, Josh is a philosophical fiend. He craves questions and answers and questions the answers. It's his currency of trade.

Søren Kierkegaard speculated that the mind might function best at the pedestrian pace of three miles per hour. That's why he advocated for walking.

Right now, Josh is somewhere south of the Sierras, hiking the Pacific Coast Trail that goes from Mexico to Canada.

Other than the achievement, the adventure, the awesome outdoors, Josh is someone who uses landscapes to understand himself and the world: both physical landscapes & digital landscapes. He's a gamer, a hiker, a cyclist, a drummer.

To a lifelong friend: happiest of birthdays & enjoy the expedition.

Hassan

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The greatest gift we can give is that of witness: to be fully present for another in all their triumphs & all their vulnerabilities & all the unremarkable moments in between.

Not saying, not doing, but being there – with no exception and no expectation but to be with them.

It molds all those unremarkable moments into the vigor of friendship. And it's this sweet and subtile companionship that Hassan has gifted me more than anyone else.

We've lived together, travelled together, we've shared the same role, the same teams. At one point, we shared the same calendar, knowing we lived mirrored days. We share the same name.

So where can I even begin? Hassan has been the witness, the confidante to most everything. We've made enemies and best friends of printing machines. We've stayed up late talking about our theories and getting macarons. We've argued how best to fix his car. He taught me how to drive, he picked me up after being stranded in a storm, he welcomed me at the airport after being away.

Hassan's clever and calm intuition means he's the person most responsible for me navigating those overgrown landscapes of life. He's the one I can unleash my full humour in front of and the immediate antidote to my anxieties.

More than anything, I admire Hassan's character; that illusive inner compass that shows up when things gets messy or magical. He is immeasurably cherished by all, which is only one touchstone of his reliable, soothing, trustworthy & robust heart.

He guides those around him with his generosity, his characterful forgiveness, his ability to be at ease with everyone and everything. After all, he's the most resourceful person you'll meet.

To a powerhouse of dependability and forever the grill master: happy belated.

Serena

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I looked over to my right and there she was. We exchanged a nervous, hopeful & bewildered smile. Is this really happening? Then, breaths held, a nod.

Lights undimmed and we stepped on stage: Mr. & Mrs. Cochair.

Co-chairing the #ubcslc was my university pinnacle but to have Serena by my side was what made it possible.

In working together, I found a friend and a conversation partner: someone that informs my self-creation and self-discovery. Someone who makes sure I never forget my mistakes and takes every opportunity to bring them up.

I quickly learnt how Serena would often grow quiet and purse her lips, studying the situation like an astrologer examining how the movement of stars affects our life. She knows how important it is to take time away from the multiplicity of things and practice observation.

She likes to know the lay of the land with scientific precision before charging head on. That makes her careful and caring.

Serena is a powerhouse and a lifelong accomplice. 

Ryan

Ryan is crazy active. Cycling, hiking, swimming, snowboarding, dancing. The kind of doer who seems to accomplish a week's worth of wonder in one day. All that with the most glorious and grand smile you'll ever come across. It's what you'll first notice and what you'll always greet.
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But the thing I marvel at is Ryan's modus operandi. He doesn't climb for the symbolic finality of a summit; he doesn't seek to look down and outwards onto familiarity. Instead, he's magnetized by looking up and into mystery. The constant question of "what's there?" and "how does that work?"
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And equally: "what is it like?"
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Ryan embodies the belief that there are certain kinds of knowing only hands and feet gift. The velvet coolness of fresh snow, the spellbinding softness of cherry blossom petals. His inquisitive compulsion for 'knowing through experience' has sharpened into an obsession. Always exploring, always discovering.
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This means Ryan is a treasure chest of sageness and stories. Yet he carries them lightly and gives them generously. The type of friend who shares his passions with none of the ostentation of someone unveiling a carefully nurtured eccentricity.
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One of the most greathearted and modest people I know, Ryan is my personal hero. Whoever said "you should never meet your heroes" is wrong.
 

Kate

"She's my friend from Kazakhstan" is how I first heard of Kate.
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Yet I quickly learned Kate is instead a kokusaijin (国際人) — an international person, someone cosmopolitan, flexible, and open-minded. A Kazakh of Korean heritage whose first language is Russian, living in Canada, but met in Japan. Yeah! I know.
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And while in Japan, we became weekend companions. I have yet to experienced so many novelties with anyone else: remote art galleries & sumo championships, Japanese dance recitals & fire festivals, anime movies & manga cafes, temple hopping & island cycling, Hiroshima okonomiyaki & Hokkaido all-you-can-eat.
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Like a spring's spray of cherry blossoms, I was mesmerized by Kate's quiet honour, punctilious style, and electric softheartedness. A presence that is calming to the point of invulnerability.
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My favourite thing though is her appreciation of the specificities of place. Her principle to be immersed by all the quips, quirks, and quintessential details of where she is.
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She dives right in: learning the language, dancing in competitions, searching for the local specialties.
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All that creates an air of unhurriedness. Kanso (簡素) — elegant simplicity, an attractive absence of clutter. Someone with an engineer's frame of learning the intricacies of what's around but also content in leaving other mysteries as an effect of pure design.
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We first met at Amanohashidate, one of Japan's three scenic spots. We later visited Itsukushima Shrine, the second. The third is still on the list.

Liebz (Sarah)

As a kid, I loved bugs. I would scrutinize the grass for pill bugs & watch commonwealths of ants navigate the pavement. Every now and then, time would crawl to a stop when a butterfly lands nearby. With the precision and patience of a spider, I'd try to catch it. Breath held. My hand extending millimetre by millimetre.

"Mom, look!"

Between my thumb and index are the wings. I would study the jostling legs for a few seconds and let go. The butterfly would flutter off, perplexed and pleased. But what remains is the multicoloured dust on my fingers, despite how delicate I tried to be. It would linger and light up my world.

The same thing happens with Sarah. We've seen one another twice in the past year and a half. But the joy lingers – it gets imprinted. Like she took a crayon and made a rubbing onto the topography of my hands. I carry it with me and begin to enjoy the bizarre & the banal.

We no longer call each other by our names. Instead, we use "Liebz" — our shortened slang for Lieblings, or 'favourite'. Details of our shared experiences are no longer important, just that we spend time together.

She said, "Sometimes, you need time to miss people." I like that idea. That it's also important to miss those we adore.

Sarah carries honeycombs of wisdom, care, and cheer. But what I love most is the slowness that sometimes radiates – a resigned conviction that there is nowhere to hurry to, that here is.

Kaitlin

Kaitlin

When your friend mails you Nutella from the other side of the globe, you know you've got a friend for life. Kaitlin Flemons (@kaitlinflemons) and I have a long history together: from crying at the end of watching Dorm Life for the 12th time to buying matching floral caps to singing our lungs out at the Band of Horses concert. We've seen the magic of Angus & Julia Stone together and without fail, we have entered into a Facebook relationship every April 1st (after which, we decide to consciously uncouple).

Here's what you need to know about Kaitlin:

1. She's the biggest fan of popcorn. If you ever say the word popcorn, she appears out of thin air.

2. This girl walks through life with a trail of sparkle and her glimmer rubs off on anyone she comes across. Despite the many misadventures she has (crutches or failed milkshake cafés or trouble at work), she always picks herself up and braves through them elegantly. 

3. Kaitlin is also one of the most generous; she has opened her home for me every Easter and Thanksgiving. I had no tradition of celebrating Canadian Thanksgiving (the big turkey family feast, etc) until I experienced the welcoming kindness of her & her family. I cannot express how grateful I am. 

4. There's also no mystery whatsoever about how Kaitlin feels. If she's happy, everyone knows it and if she's annoyed, her grumpy face says it all. This makes her easy to confide in and a very open person - both amazing qualities she gifts to those around her. This meant working together on the Advisor Auction was easy and super fun!

5. Last, but definitely not least, Kaitlin can be very gullible. In a cute way.

So here's to Kaity Flems, the person who probably knows exactly how to annoy you but equally, how to make you laugh.