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One of my closest friend, Joshy Sebastian met with a tragic accident in Qatar and unfortunately left us for good. I am terrified in tears with that devastated feeling of emptiness. He was such a gem of a friend, ever since we met in middle school days.
Yesterday, a call from parents back home had this news. When they mentioned Joshy, my initial hope was that let it not be him, but unfortunately it came otherwise. I called another childhood friend with a glimmering hope that things wouldn’t be as bad as I had feared. Sadly, there was nothing to hope for and it was all over. We just couldn’t utter a thing for a few seconds, just to console each other! It is tragic and the most unexpected. How do I even scale such a loss? Sitting thousands of miles away, I suddenly felt numb and helpless. Memories rolled back, one by one, painted with pain all over. Oh dear, this is cruel!
After hearing this terrible news, I hardly could take an eye off his face etched in memory. I vividly remember the first day, a chubby boy transferring to our 6th grade class at MGM school; How soon we became good friends, and not before long the best pals around! Seated next to me, on the first day, he had given me a book sticker, which was a grand gift back then, for that matter anytime; Oh dear! How well I had cherished those moments? He would buy those caramel cookies and the groundnut plaque with jaggery (kadala achu or chickey) from the little store across the road, break it into equal pieces and share with me. Those days, he was the one who had the chance to travel beyond territories, to the bigger towns, which many of us never could even think of during school days. It may sound strange to fathom. We are talking about different times altogether, huh! Joshy always would come back with stories to tell, a lot of them! Recently (about two months ago) when we spoke over phone , I had asked him, the movie buff he once was, whether he still watches all the new Malayalam movies. He sure did!
At high school, we were in different divisions, but during the breaks, we used to meet up; There he loved describing the movie plots and boy, did I love hearing those? Do I see those blue eyes brightening up while describing a script! Is it all real? Oh dear, how can he go this soon? Between him and another close friend we had pretty much all sources of Balamangalam, Balarama, Poompatta, Amar Chithra Katha and the Pico children books and many more. Memories keep coming, so do tears!
The middle and high school days are full of nostalgic memories of being together with him. And even the pre-degree days, the fun we all had! The gentle friend he always was, I hardly recollect him overly being angry, even on occasions when he looked pensive.
Once in UP school, we boys out of curiosity and partly spurred with the boyhood mischief, sneaked into a neighbourhood land and grabbed cinnamon skins (Karuvapatta). Without knowing what it really was , we all munched pieces of it with thrill. Somehow the teachers came to know that. Back at school, post lunch was mayhem when the dreaded headmaster Father Chandi (fondly called Chandi Achan) himself barged into the class with his notorious chooral stick. He began asking who all had indulged into that mistake of crossing the school boarder. Joshy, sitting next to me was one of those honest guys who stood up first. After repeated probing, several heads started popping up. They were all beaten up heavily with Chooral; With each passing second, my feet would start rumbling more and more. The fact that I had decided not to stand up in the first place and the danger of getting a compounded punishment made me touch cold with all senses. Only about 5 or six boys were left sitting by then. Finally when Chandi Achan asked Joshy who among the remaining seated were with him there. The lone culprit remained in me, who was sitting next to him, was sure to get caught. But he chose not to and stood guard a friend he found in me! The greatness of a true friend at that young! I’d asked him about that later on. He would just smile! It is that smile which comes to my mind even after years since I saw him last. When we spoke over phone, couple of months ago, we were hopeful to meet up sometime and now, a sense of void cutting through my breath.
Rest in peace dear friend. Thanks for the memories. It was such a privilege to be your friend. You will be missed and my heart will never be lighter without you. You were such a beautiful mind! Saying a good bye has never been this painful and how I wish I had a choice not to, but…
I am very thrilled to learn that Ruediger Urbanke has won the 2011 (Koji) Kobayashi award. He and Tom Richardson are named the 2010 receipients of the famous Kobayashi award. Rudi and Tom are awarded Kobayashi prize “for developing the theory and practice of transmitting data reliably at rates approaching channel capacity.” They truly deserve this. Looking at the list of earlier Kobayashi award winners, it really is a place of pantheon of greats. Gottfried Ungerboeck, Don Coppersmith, Rivest, Shamir, Addleman, Jack Wolf, Berlekamp and so on are among the famous awardees of the past.
When pointed this to Rudi, he was as usual every modest about these. I am sure I will get to have a coffee treat from him, in Lausanne! Place Palud or Ouchy?
Ramani visited me during the weekend. He arrived from London this afternoon. It truly brought memories of undergrad days. We had quite a lot of fun cracking PJs and chilled out with memories of funfilled undergrad days. How time flies? We had a game of cricket as well to spice things up. I leave you with a picture shot at St.Sulpice near the EPFL UNIL sports center.
Nandu (Nandakishore Santhi) married to Kavita on 27th December 2006 at Cherpulasseri, Palghat (Palakkad), Kerala. I went with my friend Soni PM (in the photo, Soni is at right hand side of Nandu and yours truly is seen to the left side of of Kavitha) to this beautiful part of Gods own country!
Paghat is a beautiful place, known for its natural setup aside the western ghats. The green paddy fields are a scene worth many a click. You could see many fields all around (all over Kerala for that matter, but Palghat has little more to its credit, historically). Music is one another thing you would associate Paghat to. The Tamil Brahmin’s population in this area (this place is also in the close proximity to the city, Coimbatore) credits to a rich history of music (Carnatic music).
Monday, 2006 December 18
On 18, December 2006, I could attend wedding of my good old friend Sukesh Pai. Sukesh and I are known to each other from my higher secondary school days at Kanhangad Nehru arts and science college (those days..early 1990s we used to have a two year pre degree course, in place of the 10+2). Sukesh married to Archana on 18th December at Mangalore.
On 17th December night, I set out for an overnight trip to Mangalore, along with Narayana Pai. Maya and Nivedita couldn’t join since they were caught under the weather. Even though, I wasnt feeling all that well with the viral fever, I somehow wanted to make it to this occasion. In fact my hometown is very close to this port city (Nileshwar in Kerala’s Kasargod district is less than 60 miles from Mangalore). With Pai (Narayana Pai is known as Pai in the friends’ circle) it is always fun, because he has this huge ability to make you feel very comfortable, anytime, with the worldly discussions on any topic. No matter, where we start, with Pai, it will never get completed without discussing about cars and automobiles (and not to forget the Cisco goodies, they give it to employees with a certain regularity!). As one would expect, we also talked about cars. We talked about the new BMW cars being launched in India and to the torque adjustment mechanism of the latest Mercedes S series. Travel can never be boring with Pai and it was no different this time. I enjoyed every moment of this Volvo trip to Mangalore. The Bangalore-Mangalore highway was so messed up after the monsoon, that buses these days go via Mysore-Madikeri route.
Anyway, we had a comfortable journey (barring the condition of the road itself; I for one, didn’t feel it to any extend, thanks to the sound sleep on the journey). We reached Mangalore Jyoti circle at 6am . Mangalore as you would expect was relatively warm (even in winter it is quite not chilly there) compared to Bangalore.
Sukesh looked gorgeous in his wedding dress. The wedding was reminiscent of typical Konkani GSB Brahmin’s function. The pooja’s and other rituals would start from the previous day and would continue till the next day. It was quite a pleasant, and well organized sort of function. Both Sukesh and Archana looked very happy and it was indeed a pleasant sign. With Sukesh, you would always find a pleasant smile, the very sign of it could make anyone happy. Sukesh’s parents are known to myself and my wife Maya for a long time (may be longer with my wife because she is also a Konkani). They must be very proud (and a little relieved) that he found his very suitable better half.
I am very happy and feel proud of him. He is one guy, to whom I have tremendous respect as a good friend, as a simple human being who cared for his family and friends, and also a role model for any youngster with the sheer dedication and hard work he put in. I wish him all the very best for a continued, happier times in life.
happy married life Sukesh and Archana