coffee and moving
you might feel sad after reading
First things first, starting with the next issue, I’ll use Substack primarily to update you when I write something new. That means, instead of posting an entire essay on Substack, I’ll instead post them on my blog. “Why?” Well, I spent years tweaking and fiddling with the blog. Here is the link to the blog.
I want that to be my digital garden, something that lives on forever, even after I’m gone (assuming the internet still exists then). More than the numbers (readers, subscribers, views, comments, etc.), I wish my writings (and this blog) to be reflective of me as a person — reflective of my views as I grow up, go through life, and learn and unlearn things.
It does not change anything for you. If you are subscribed to The Windmill, you will receive a notification when I write something new. You should subscribe if you still haven’t. And then you can continue reading whatever I write on the blog, as usual.
I had two cups of coffee today, both in the evening, so when I tried going to sleep, I could not. One thing led to another, and before long, I started reflecting on friendships, education, and everything else. You know, the whole thing. By any standard, most people would say I’m pretty qualified academically, and I’m not complaining. However, in my sleeplessness, I also started thinking about how many people and experiences I’ve left behind to get to where I am.
I’m not alone in that. Most people, outside of the metropolitan hubs and megacities, where you have everything close by, moved at some stage in search of better opportunities. In doing so, we leave so many people behind and miss out on so many things. It made me quite sad, even if for a while. And then so many constraints get in the way.
To keep it short — Life just happens.
I barely saw my childhood best friend in the last few years. I have not seen my best friend from college in three years, even though both of us went to an IIT. We are supposed to be the most privileged ones. I have not met my wingies (people who stayed on the same floor in the hostel at IITK) in years, and shamefully, I have no idea where they are and what they are doing. I hardly keep in touch with people I once cared so much about.
Yes, I met new people. I have friends I’m in touch with, but once I moved from IIMA, for instance, it became hard to keep up with everyone. But I hope you get the larger point I’m trying to make — I find it quite tragic that life has to be like that.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mind moving. In fact, whenever I got a chance, I moved to a place further and further away from home. Born in a small village in one of the remote corners of the world, I moved to a nearby town, then a nearby state, to the Northern part of the country, before moving to the opposite end of the country and eventually moving to a place 6000 km away from home. It has been fulfilling, but at the same time, I miss all these people.
Perhaps the lesson here for you and me is that if you are in school or college, that time is not coming back to you once you live through it. I had roommates in boarding school — we bonded over gossip, studies, snacks, and our collective wish to get out of there as soon as possible. Once we got out, everyone got to do their own thing (and they are doing amazing), but the last time I went back to that school was in 2018, a full five years ago.
Similarly, while in college, we cycled endlessly around the campus, talked about anything and everything under the sun, shared both good and bad moments day after day, made elaborate plans for trips (which did not happen to this day), and promised to stay in touch. Yet, life happened, and none knows who is doing what.
I’m mostly grateful to be alive after everything — a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic, teenage, academic stress, and everything else in between. But I cannot help but think about the strange nature of life. It is truly fascinating if you just reflect a bit.
Do I wish things did not change? Absolutely not. Had I not moved from place to place, I would most likely not be writing this essay, depriving your eyes. My life would have taken a totally different trajectory. I might have become a father of two at this point; who knows?
As I’m leaving Vienna in a few days, these questions and thoughts come to mind. However, I am happy knowing that I’m learning and growing as a person. I had the best year of my life so far in Vienna. As I’m going home, I take so many memories with me that I’ll cherish for the rest of my life. I realize that I’m not going to be a carefree 23-year-old ever again. Read my Review of every cafe I’ve been to in Vienna, so far.
But I also wish that I got to keep up with people who used to mean so much to me at one point. Maybe things will come around once I grow up more; maybe I'll keep moving farther and farther, still going away from everyone.
Sadly, I don’t think I can have both -- moving constantly and keeping people who used to be close once close to me. Maybe I can take some consolation in knowing that not everything is lost.
Even though I might not keep up with friends like we used to in a close-knit campus, I can visit the campus occasionally, meet whoever is free for a cup of coffee, and talk about the struggles of life. Maybe that is enough to power one through life’s journey; maybe it’s not enough.
In any case, I don’t think anyone has much of a choice in the matter. One got to keep moving or cease to exist. Both sounds quite terrifying.