Wanderlost — A Prologue of Sorts

Mihir Kelkar
4 min readJul 29, 2022

Douglas Watters said something during a recent live-podcast interview that sounded great. He doesn’t seem like the sort of person to prepare for an interview. Douglas and I occupy a similar space.

Spirited Away has been a resplendent discovery zone for nonalcoholic bevvies.

(I am aware that, in one sentence, I minimized a popular children’s recreational arena to common-noun lower-case, de-hyphenated “non-alcoholic” to shatter my SEO dreams, and normalized the controversial usage of “bevvies.”)

At a recent event where Stella Stephanopoulos of Everyday Endorphins interviewed Lily Geiger of Figlia and Watters of Spirited Away, Stella presented an excellent question in regard to the word sober-curious. At the time of writing this, the episode hasn’t dropped yet — so I’m working off memory.

For the uninitiated, “sober-curious” comes from the title of lifestyle writer Ruby Warrington’s book in which she explores abstaining from alcoholic beverages to better assess her relationship with alcohol. The term is now intensely open to interpretation as folks of every imaginable disposition flock to determine which alternatives best suit their respective lifestyles.

In the middle of the D.W. response, he coolly clarified something personal:

“Well — I’m not sober-curious anymore.”

Too many people use “sounds great” in e-mails without actually meaning it. What Douglas said actually sounded *great,* at least to me. I nodded along the way one would if one had identified the time signature in a song by a math rock band. It was an incredible answer.

***

If asked whether alcohol is still part of my life, I tell the folks I meet that I drink and I don’t drink. If they’re receptive, I’ll tell them that my partner and I don’t keep booze in the house, but we love to bask in the moon-glow of a delicately soaked evening. If they’re especially with it, I’ll tell them that four years ago, I tried cessation of drinking alcohol without medical guidance and developed an aberrant non-epileptic seizure disorder. A few episodes occurred behind busy bars where I worked — several others at home, and a few in my sleep. I was living the life.

It wasn’t good, I lost several meaningful relationships in both my personal world and professional universe (and hardly for lack of merit.) Contrary to popular misconception, no drugs or foul play were involved. I don’t think those people ever knew that the medical reason why these non-epileptic seizures began was because I tried to curb my sustained enthusiasm — that is, tried to stop drinking as much by trying to stop all at once. So much that I didn’t know was possible was unfolding within and without.

The last seizure was in December of 2020. I fractured two vertebrae. Last year, with the help of my doctor, my parents, and my girlfriend — I stopped drinking for six months. By month two, I didn’t even think of the erstwhile companion and rival. I was racing through the range of Athletic Brewing non-alcoholic beers, surfing that alcohol-free wave. My supporters would say that I had a good run. I was fortunate — I had a great team. I learned Laura Branigan’s “Self Control” on piano.

By the end of my stint in “temperance,” (a more formidable catchphrase void of hasty hyphenation) I was ready to return to the capital A as we attended weddings postponed due to the pandemic. Summer could’ve been either a disaster time to come back to drinking or the best time. It was the best time. By this point last year, two dear friends had gotten married and I was beginning to understand who I could be on and off the “clock;” what that meant for people who I loved and people who loved me — and better yet, people who had my best interest in mind and vice versa. I began to drink again and very much less than before.

This full-time functioning rascal and esteemed hard-worker got his act more together than ever before, started a hot sauce company, went back to college to discover a love for game theory, and eventually found work in the ever-expanding galaxy of the NA beverage industry.

Anti-convulsants are messy drugs that can often decimate an appetite and construct arbitrary rage architecture. I’m sure you can imagine why anybody would want to skip a dose. Every seizure that I had after the initial bar-time episodes occurred when I felt like a big and happy meal ought to be on the menu. One ironically happened at a CVS while waiting for my prescription to be filled. Thank goodness for their carpeted floors.

***

Every now and then, I have a brown Gandalf dream. Sometimes, this seemingly omniscient projection of my subconscious whispers words so potent that I wake up, drink juice, and check to see if I can cheekily cyber-squat the domain name.

Unfortunately:

Wanderlost is somebody’s photography portfolio website.

Wanderlost is a video game.

Wanderlost is a halal rooftop mixology bar in Singapore. (!!!)

Like Douglas, I, albeit in my own wayward trajectory, have long detached from being “sober- curious.” I am happy, healthy, and hungry again.

Just another Tolkien Indian beverage wizard.

For now, it sounds great.

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Mihir Kelkar

Milk & Filth, a rendering of the popular column #sundaythoughts.