Dude, Prabu

 

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Prabu was waiting at the Madurai airport when I arrived on Wednesday. Or was it Thursday? I can’t seem to remember what day of the week it is anymore. But that’s besides the point.

Actually, on second thought, it was Wednesday, though I had left from Dubai on Tuesday, which is where my sleep deprivation secondary to the wicked flight I had taken from Dubai to Chennai overnight.

Either way, it was amazing to see Prabu again, a friend I had met over 8 years ago when we were both living in Miami, FL for a short time.

It so happened my birthday was during the 5 months I lived in Miami. On the morning of my birthday, one of the other residents of “The United Nations of Medicine” (which we had affectionately termed our home in The Brickell District) happened to wish me a Happy Birthday in front of Prabu, an Indian surgeon who was completing an observership at the University of Miami, to which he chimed in:

“Dude, it’s my birthday too!”

 

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We had already been friends since he entered the home a short time before me in April, but I found it quite funny that we shared a birthday and didn’t know it.

I asked him “In what year were you born?”

“Dude, 1980.” (At that time, many of his comments were preceded by “Dude”).

I replied, “then we are really Gemini, that’s when I was born too!” {Not that I’m a believer of astrology, but Gemini is for “the twins”}

And so, an intercontinental friendship has persisted through the wonders of modern technology. Such so, when I mentioned to Prabu nearly 1 year ago that I would be working on an international project this summer and was considering coming to India, he quite heartily encouraged me.

 

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He had traveled to and from the US multiple times since our summer in Miami, visiting family in Texas and Maryland amongst other US tourist sites, but we had never been in the same place at the same time. He was even recently in Boston only one week after I had been there.

It seems that we were destined to reconnect in person at some point.

In comparison to Prabu’s travels in the US, my knowledge of India was embarrassingly scant. I hardly knew North from South, nor East from West. But I could look on the map and see where Chennai was located and cross-reference it with the potential air travel destinations I had access to.

 

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In my second discussion with Prabu about my impending journey, I mentioned to him my plans to fly into Chennai. With his light-hearted laugh, he informed me, “Dude, I’m no longer in Chennai.”

Instead, he had relocated to Madurai, a smaller but still large city of 1 Crore people (1 Crore = 1 million), where he was living with his wife and working as an orthopedic surgeon at an institution called Meenakshi Mission Hospital & Research Center (MMHRC).

 

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Thus, I found myself arriving in Madurai on Wednesday morning, after a short connecting flight from Chennai. I had originally asked Prabu if should take the train from Chennai to Madurai, figuring I would get a great experience of the Indian countryside during the 8-hour journey.

Prabu’s response to that query, “Dude, you are crazy. Take a plane.”

Crazy indeed. Crazy that I would find myself embracing an old friend, my birth day twin, while standing halfway around the world in a country I had only seen on a map.

After exchanging pleasantries, “Dude, how are you?”, the effort Prabu had made on my behalf when I told him I was expecting to write a book about my travels and project would soon unfold.

 

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