"Hey, anyone among you wants to go to this outlet mall in Gilroy? I've heard it's really good, and it's just 20 minutes away"
So, I met Sidhant Jhaver. Turns out I was the only lukhkha. So I ventured to go with him. It was possibly my 3rd or 4th day in the US. So I didn't have much knowledge of things around. I had about an hour or so to spare. So we headed out in search of Gilroy. And thus, I made my first friend from my batch at Stanford.
Turned out that Gilroy was 60 miles away from Stanford. So it took us about an hour just to get there, but with Sid he always made it sound like it was just around the corner. He had this ability to get you to do things for him. He could charm you out of your lunch, if he wanted to. (trust me, to a graduate student, that is quite an achievement). He once went to India without his I-20 and got back without a problem. "You think I am a fool to come into the US, without an I-20? I just forgot to take it along". To cut a long story short, somehow the customs guy bought it. When he graduated, he went to India on a whim, and came back 2-3 months later. Minor problem, he did not have his OPT papers valid. So he could not enter the US legally. I don't know how he got in, but I know that he did. So I guess he charmed another customs official. He could get you to go grocery shopping at 2 in the morning (It helped that he had the only car in the group). He had us FOB's convinced that Jamba Juice was actually pronounced "Hamba Juice", 'coz it's Mexican, and that's how mexicans say, bugger!!!'
After he was done with his Masters, he moved back to India to help his family business. We hardly kept in touch, since we were both busy with our work. He attended my wedding ceremony and that was the last I saw him. Since he was from Chennai, I mailed him asking him if the tsunami caused any havoc. He wrote back he was fine, but a couple of his employees were killed. That was the last I heard from him. Turns out it was the last most of our friends heard from him. We spoke a lot about him, regaled ourselves with stories from our Stanford days and were often wondering how he was doing.
Turns out it will be the last we will ever hear from him.
Gaurav called last night. Sidhant Jhaver was in an accident last May and was killed. I have been in shock all day. I woke up this morning, thinking it was all a dream, and honestly I cannot believe it. I feel guilty. I feel guilty for all the happy occasions in my life since last year. I feel guilty for not being there. I feel guilty for not knowing for almost a year
I am sorry, Sid.
Nobody knows where you are, how near or how far.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
Pile on many more layers and I'll be joining you there.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
And we'll bask in the shadow of yesterday's triumph,
sail on the steel breeze.
Come on you boy child, you winner and loser,
come on you miner for truth and delusion, and shine
- Pink Floyd (Wish you were here - VI-IX)