Long-distance relationships are difficult. Not the ones where love — or at least the ceremony of it — is involved. Those can be sorted out in one of two ways: make the periodic pilgrimage and the accompanying protestation of love, or break up.
The complicated relationships are the ones where there’s little to break. The one you share(d) with your friend from school, college or university. With the first landlady you had. With the housekeeper who bossed over her. With the former colleague who taught you to fight the software. With the elderly office assistant who fought it better than you. With the grandmalike professor who became a friend after you helped her dig up some material from a library. With the cousin who forgot all about libraries once he learnt of the bar.
The reason such long-distance relationships are difficult is that you don’t know exactly what to do with them. There are too many questions to be answered about them and plans of action to be drawn up, accordingly. You could fix a day to call them every two months, perhaps? Draw up a list of people to meet each time you visit another city. If you know when someone’s birthday is, you could send across a handwritten, if not a handmade, card. But are there enough words between you to be condensed into a card? It’s better to wish them on Facebook then. And also, occasionally visit their profile and do nothing because it’s too public a space.
Then there is the million-dollar question: are they even interested? Or are you holding up one end of a bargain that was never struck? There is every reason to believe so. Your “only friend” from business school has returned from London and you know that only because she has uploaded selfies taken in Hauz Khas with friends. Your landlady has seen so many of your kind that for all you know, she could be talking to someone six years your senior when you think she is talking to you. As for former colleagues, you don’t even know if your camaraderie was rooted in genuine fellow-feeling or a shared antipathy to the boss.
So, in these times of instant gratification, you choose to wait for the other to make a beginning. After all, what’s a long-distance relationship for, if not to pass the buck?