Choosing good friends..!

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IN my book, ‘DARE’ which should come out quite soon, I have a chapter, ‘Dare to
Make and Keep Friends’, but today I’m not going to quote from my book but about choosing friends! As the old adage says, “A Man is known by the company he keeps” and so it is prudent to choose your friends wisely.
Nearly twenty- five years ago, I chose a wrong friend: A tough fellow from the Punjab, and since I was running my own business, had to drive around a lot and this guy actually became a body guard for me, as my worksites often developed tough problems and I thought the fist was the answer. Also, in any altercation on the road, be it a car driver or trucker, he never spoke, he let his muscle do the talking and I did actually marvel at the way people ran from him.
He became my bodyguard, friend and confidante, and nearly my undoing. It was a late night phone call from the police that woke me out of my reverie; he had landed in jail, after bashing up a cyclist. I went over and pulled him out, but started realizing that I would have to get out of this friendship. And I did, but not before it had damaged a bit of my reputation. From that day I’ve tried to be careful over those I choose as friends and have worked out a few rules I try to follow:
The first thing I check nowadays is the person’s sense of honesty: Not just with money, but with his family. I do have friends, both men and women who cheat on their spouses, but in their guilt and pain and their trying to get out of a mess, I do see honesty.
Secondly, I look for baggage: Yes, hates and jealousies from childhood, which manifest in sometimes erratic behaviour. Suddenly someone you have met and are beginning to like, acts irrationally and strangely when confronted with a problem or challenge. I do agree that we all have some stuff we carry from our past, but it is important to see that these incidents don’t mess up the present.
Thirdly I avoid those who are intolerant of another’s faith, caste or creed. This comes out through jokes, or hateful talk. I avoid them like the plague. Fourth, I am wary of gossips. We don’t need to spice up our friendship sharing juicy bits about someone not around. Tomorrow it could be me he or she is speaking about! These are some of the rules I try to follow and I must say before I sign off, that God has been very lavish in granting me not just many friends, but many good friends..!