My dearest friend, Pran Kurup (3 Oct 1966 — 3 Sep 2016), passed away yesterday from a cardiac arrest. He had been in India for several months. His funeral will take place in Trivandrum at 2 PM on Monday, 5th September.
I met Pran at IIT Kharagpur 31 years ago. After our first year, some of us became close friends and moved into a hostel wing. Pran and I took rooms next to each other. He used to wake me up each morning; I would have missed a lot of classes without his help. Not that I learned much in class; I mostly remember my college years for some of the friendships I made, and my friendship with Pran was among the most precious in my life. He was also, as another friend noted yesterday, the heart and soul of our wing, everybody’s favorite guy. Years later, he is still the glue that holds our wing-mates together, encouraging us to communicate and meet often.
In 1989, after four years at IIT, Pran and I went to the U.S. for grad school. There we shared a journey of personal growth and learning, especially during our two decades in California. We spent much time together. With another friend, we even went on a road trip in 1993 to Death Valley, Vegas, Grand Canyon, and southern Utah. At times we would retreat into the lingo and bawdy humor of our college days, and tease each other about our college crushes and unrequited loves—a ribbing that had a rare and sweet intimacy. We sized up our respective dates and eventual mates. I watched him become a deeply involved dad to a daughter and a son. After a couple of company jobs, he founded and ran his own small business focused on e-learning solutions. We were immersed in each other’s emotional, intellectual, and professional lives.
We often met for lunch, and on some Fridays at Tied House, a brewery in Mountain View, where we always got the same munchies with our beers—grilled catfish strips and black bean nachos. Thanks to him, I laughed a lot when we hung out. We discussed the meaning of life, love, work, films, politics, technology, India. We talked about people we knew, and of our joys and sorrows. Together we celebrated many of our little milestones and events: birthdays, new jobs, visiting friends. He cooked mean Kerala-style curries, and made juicy mojitos for me with fresh mint leaves from a veggie garden he had maintained in recent years, and of which he was very proud.