So this is something that I’ve been meaning to write.
And today is Monday.
And Monday is the day when you are supposed to do all of the most difficult things you are supposed to do.
Because Wednesday is the day that, after you have done most of the hard things for the week, you sort of coast a little bit and do some easy things.
And then so by Friday, you have done all the hard things and all the chill things and then you can totally slack off and start daydreaming about the weekend.
But today is Monday so I guess I’m gonna write this today.
I mean one reason why it’s been so hard to even start this is because there is so much to say, and I have no idea how to say it.
So I guess I’ll just start writing and see how it goes.
I mean, what can I say about Pawan?
A guy I’ve known all my life—since second grade pretty much.
One of the few people in my life that I’ve remained close with throughout all those crazy stages of life.
I mean, where to start?
I mean, I could tell you about how, since day one, the guy excelled at everything.
I could tell you about how he was born in January, but that he skipped kindergarten, and so by definition, he was always not only the youngest but also the smartest kid in class.
I could tell you about how he devoured math competitions like it was his job (and, in a way, one day it would be).
I could tell you about how he didn’t start violin until 6th grade, three years after everyone else, and yet still found a way to quickly catch up and excel.
I could tell you about how, if you saw him on a tennis court in his teens, you would see a guy, who—though he may not have had the most fluid strokes—had all the weapons, a solid top-spin forehand that could finish points when necessary, a dependable two-handed backhand that he complemented with a slice one in a while, and a wicked lefty slice serve out wide.
And I could tell you about how no one expected him to grab that third singles spot at tryouts junior year of high school, and yet he did because if you saw Pawan on a tennis court, you sort of saw who he was—a guy who found a way, no matter how dire the circumstances, to simply make it happen.
And I could tell you about how he eventually qualified for the state tournament his senior year playing doubles.
Because I could tell you how Pawan was a winner.
I could tell you about all the times he clutched it up at math competitions.
I could tell you about how none of us ever had a lunch period in high school because Pawan doubled up in AP science classes every year—and as a result, our parents made the rest of us schlubs do the same.
And I could tell you about how our go-to banter at that age was to brag about how little we studied for said classes—except for me, it was kind of dumb because I probably should’ve studied more while Pawan graduated second in his class. (He should have been first, to be honest—it was a whole big controversy, but basically our valedictorian padded her stats with easy classes while Pawan was taking college courses at Vassar by like sophomore year.)
And I could tell you about how he made the varsity basketball team and became one of the boys with all the high school jocks—despite himself being an uber nerd—a sexy one at that with a barrel of a chest.
Because I could tell you about how the chubby awkward 13-year old grew into that tall handsome Indian bro with the beautiful, piercing jasmine green eyes—who later in high school would make out with the pretty blonde German foreign exchange student.
And I could tell you about how the pretty blonde German foreign exchange student’s friend told me afterwards that Pawan was a really good kisser.
I could tell you about how that kiss may or may not have happened in his old beat up Jeep Grand Cherokee, which he’d drive around like a maniac and pump up the music to 11 even though his speakers were already blown out.
I could tell you about how, after graduation, Pawan had a huge party at the Best Western on Route 9 and pretty much everyone that mattered was there.
I could tell you about the summer after freshman year of college, when one weekend, we were both home in Poughkeepsie, and on a whim, Pawan texts me, “yo, you wanna go get some White Castle?” (There were no White Castles within 100 miles of Poughkeepsie.)
And I could tell you about how, that very night, this Indian dude with his Asian friend driving a beat up Infiniti G20 ventured all the way down to Jersey in search of tiny hamburgers (and also trouble).
And I could tell you about how, after failing to find a White Castle—this was before smartphones, after all—we ended up at a house party where I met Praveen for the first time.
Because I could tell you that it was Praveen’s house party, and I could also tell you that while this was the first time Praveen met me, he definitely doesn’t remember.
Because I could tell you that, for one reason or another, Praveen probably wasn’t in the best situation to remember things that night.
And I could also tell you about that one summer when Pawan invited me and our friend Vishal up to MIT to hang out at his frat house, Kappa Sig, and I met Praveen for real along with a bunch of the other guys.
I could tell you about how I peed in an inflatable pool on the roof of that frat house while flirting with a pretty girl but then had to excuse myself so I could go and throw up in a plastic bag.
I could tell you about how we all went to Amsterdam winter of senior year—after we had gotten our offers from investment banks and whatnot—and how on the last day of the trip, we inexplicably lost one of our friends.
I could tell you about how we all freaked out, but Pawan calmly concluded that our friend would be fine—and went out to check out the sights one last time and buy some gifts for friends and family while the rest of us fretted at the hotel. (And he was right—our friend turned up at the last minute.)
I could tell you about how after we graduated college, Pawan invited me to live with him and some of his boys from MIT, guys who would become my friends for life—guys like Praveen and Kevin who also hunkered down at 135 William plus all the other countless amazing people that Pawan has introduced me to along the way.
I could tell you about all the beer pong and Sunday nights watching HBO and Thanksgiving dinners and all the other memories we built in that loft down in the Financial District.
I could tell you about the Dropbox folder we started named SOURDZL, where we shared all of our favorite music. (This was before collaborative Spotify playlists because this was before streaming music was even a thing.)
And I could also tell you about the WhatsApp group chat that we created called the Party Planning Committee—and I could tell you about all the concerts and music festivals we ended up going to together as a result.
I could tell you about how Pawan’s nickname for a while was Ticketmaster because if there was anything you’d ever wanted to attend (even if it was totally soldout)—well, someone already had tickets (not just for himself but for everyone else, too).
And I could tell you about that time we all went down to Miami for Ultra, which was just bonkers.
And I could tell you about how, after I got back from SF, Pawan treated me like I’d never left and we would wake up at 5:30 in the morning to go play tennis in midtown Manhattan.
I could also tell you about how he met Kinnari and how happy he was.
I could tell you about the time we all hung out at Pawan’s apartment, and we all met her for the first time pretty much.
And I could tell you how I made a joke about Pawan—because, you know, that’s what friends do, they make fun of each other—and I could tell you about Kinnari instantly came to his defense and scolded me. (I guess that’s when I knew she was a keeper.)
I could tell you about their wedding, which was one of the grandest and most beautiful events I’ve ever attended—still to this day.
But you know, we already knew all of that.
We already knew Pawan was wicked smart.
We already knew that he was just so brilliant and driven and ambitious.
We already knew that he was an amazing friend, son, brother, cousin, husband, and father.
We already knew that this was a guy who could accomplish whatever he wanted and bring all his friends and family along with him.
This, we all knew.
But you know what they say—how a man isn’t defined by how he is and acts when times are easy.
And believe you me, everything was always so easy for Pawan.
Life—well, it was never anything Pawan ever had trouble excelling at.
And excel he did—with plenty to spare, mind you, so that he could also have the maximum amount of fun along the way (and then some).
No, a man, as we all know, is defined in the face of true hardship and great adversity.
And so in the last year, with inexplicable tragedy upon him, we got to see who Pawan really was.
And isn’t that the thing?
Pawan didn’t change one bit.
He never stopped fighting.
He never stopped believing.
He never stopped being an unbelievable human being.
And he never stopped having fun.
You could see it most in how he was with his son, Sahil.
In those brief, glancing moments.
You could see how he knew his son was special, and you could see that he would do whatever was necessary to make sure his kid had a good life, a life like his own, if not better.
You could already see him teaching him the things he was taught himself by his own amazing parents.
But, you know, I can’t really speak to that because I wasn’t always there.
I can only really tell you about how Pawan treated me.
And in a way, it was business as usual.
It was the same old Pawan.
When I started DONUTS, I had no idea what I was doing, and to a certain degree I still don’t.
But Pawan was one of the first guys I shared it with before anyone else.
And since the very beginning, he was my always biggest supporter—incessantly badgering me about this piece or another, how he liked this one story, and how this video was like so, how I needed to do more of this or that.
With Pawan, you always knew what you were going to get.
There was no beating around the bush.
If there’s one guy in your life who’s going to tell you like it is—that was Pawan.
Lol, he couldn’t help himself, really.
That’s just the way he was.
And, you know, his genuine enthusiasm for anything I ever did—man, it was the greatest validation a friend could ever have.
Since the beginning, Pawan was always my biggest fan, whether or not I ever deserved it.
In a sense, Pawan always believed in me no matter what.
Even when, at times, I didn’t believe in myself.
And this is how I will always remember him.
A guy who never wanted anything from me, never had any expectations, never judged.
He just wanted me to be me.
For me to be the best me, the most me.
With Pawan, I was always myself—which, especially in my 20s, at a time when I hardly knew who I was, was no such easy feat.
But Pawan always made it easy.
Because all Pawan ever wanted is for you to show up, to have your company, to have an opportunity to appreciate you and each other and enjoy the present moment.
Anyway, with Pawan, it’s not like you could put on a show even if you wanted to, or, at the very least, get away with it.
Frankly, he’d see right through your shenanigans.
And believe me, you would get instantly called out for you newbness.
And, you know, as a friend, this is perhaps the greatest gift you can receive.
Someone who sees through your bullshit and cherishes you for who you really are.
And more so, pushes you toward where you really want to go.
For me, Pawan was always that guy.
From the very beginning til the very end.
I remember the last time I saw Pawan.
A couple weeks before, he had sent me a text.
“Patiently waiting for this donuts.”
Well, no, it was the text he sent after that one.
“Got some good news today also, disease free. Bone marrow is empty, will see how it grows back in a few weeks. But good first step”
And so when I was making the trip to the hospital to visit him two weeks lately, I was feeling super hopeful vibes. I was in a great mood. We’ll hang, maybe do some video stuff, I thought to myself.
And so I got to the hospital with a stupid grin on my face and I get in the elevator as his parents are coming out.
“Hey!” I said, maybe a little too exuberantly as I started to process the look on their faces.
They looked like they’d just seen a ghost.
And so I get upstairs, wash my hands and put on my medical mask and walk into his room.
“Dude, what’s going on! You told me you were disease free!”
“Lol, yeah, no,” he says, laughing it off with a grin.
And I guess, seeing the look on my own face, he quickly pivots.
“Yo, dude, I got an Xbox,” he tells me excitedly.
“Oh, yeah?? What games you got.”
“Just one,” he responds.
“Wait, the only one that matters, right?”
Pawan nods, still with that mischievous grin on his face.
And so he checks himself out of the hospital and we walk back to his apartment, which is about a block or so away without talking too much about anything.
And so we settle in, and he turns on his shiny new Xbox.
And we played FIFA.
And you know, what?
It was a really good day.
Top photo: Me and Pawan (in our natural state)