Many people are aware that Krishna Venkatesh has been missing for more than a week now. To help provide insight into why he is special to so many people, I’ve written this piece in the hopes that friends of friends, reporters and search officials can better understand who he is as a person.
The following anecdotes aren’t meant to show who he is to everyone, rather they are just a few snapshots of my experiences with him.
Krishna has been an important friend in my life since middle school, which we attended together. We have stayed in touch throughout the years, even though we graduated from different high schools and colleges, and now reside in different time zones. The fact that we’ve remained close is only one testament to his character as a friend and person.
Thoughtful and caring
Several months ago Krishna sent me a postcard just “to change things up.” The post office had a promotion where you could send a USPS-branded postcard for free. Most people would’ve seen it and done nothing, but he knew I would appreciate the thought and effort, so he took action.
The surprise and handwritten note did make me smile. I don’t remember what was on the card besides his sentence about changing things up, but I won’t forget he took the time to send it.
He also consistently remembers to call me on or around my birthday. But he doesn’t just do it for me; he tries to reach out to many friends on their birthdays, even if he hasn’t seen them in a while. Many times, he uses birthdays as a reason to catch up with friends he hasn’t talked to in a while.
Even more admirable is his love and respect for his parents. Every Sunday, for years now, he sets time aside to talk or Skype with his parents. This is a wonderful family ritual that sometimes lasts up to two hours. When he goes out of town, he makes sure they know in advance that he might not call them on that particular Sunday due to his travel schedule. I’m betting that on occasion he still found time to call, even if the conversation was brief.
My go-to friend for his levelheadedness
One of the things I love the most about Krishna is how practical, reasonable and down to earth he is. Krishna has been my sounding board for more than 10 years, and he always, always provides a logical assessment of a situation and does so without forgoing empathy or honesty. When I’m unsure if I should be as bothered by something as I am, I can always count on him to give me an objective overview of the situation. If I might be focused on a meaningless detail, he conveys this with polite tact.
For example, if you turn to him for advice and ask, “What should I do in this situation?” His answer inevitably starts with, “Well, here’s what I would do…” And he explains how he would assess the situation. He never forces his advice on people nor directly tells you what to do. Also, he is a fantastic listener.
Not afraid of the phone
This sounds silly, to be afraid of the phone, but I can’t tell you how much I value Krishna’s willingness to talk on the phone in our digital age. I don’t think texting or emails can replace a real-time, voice-to-voice connection, and I’m lucky that Krishna won’t shy away from using his phone. It’s probably one of the reasons we still know what’s going on in each other’s lives.
Of course, we do email and text each other when we run across things the other might be interested in, but we also catch up and have had many deep, meaningful conversations on the phone from time to time.
Most organized organizer
Krishna gets the prize for being most organized. His apartment is spotless, and his computer files are neatly put in appropriate folders for easy access. Finding things is a breeze for him.
One time in college he scolded me on the content of my email subjects. He seemed exasperated that I would put random words or sentences in the subject line. He told me about his email filing system and explained how I wasn’t helping.
Since I’m not as methodical as Krishna, I browsed through my emails today to see if I could find evidence of this interaction. I ran across an email I sent him after the scolding. Its subject was i’m trying to think of something random to mess up your filing system.
He replied back, changing the subject to response to Lindsey’s bad email. He also included this message in the body: “And you will never break my system. The content might be suspect, but the metadata doesn’t lie.”
Today, he’s a little more lenient on email subjects.
In 2011 Krishna graciously allowed my husband and me to crash for a few nights at his Seattle apartment. My husband, who also likes organization and tidy living conditions, was impressed by the state of his apartment. He was even more impressed when we asked Krishna where we should go for breakfast and Krishna left a list of several places with not only their location but also details like pricing and what food was good at certain restaurants. Above and beyond.
With all this organization, Krishna makes a great vacation planner. Since settling in Seattle, he’s been on many trips around the world with different groups of friends, and most of the time, he’s the head organizer if there is any collective group planning.
I’ve long joked about how I want to go to places Krishna has been because I know we’ll get solid, detailed lists of where to go and what to do. This year I actually did it – I planned a trip and relied on him for a good deal of information. His info made my planning job so much easier.
Krishna’s excellent memory can, at times, be quite annoying. I write that with a smile on my face. He remembers minutiae of interactions long ago with such clarity. “Yes, we were at Starbucks, and so and so was wearing those orange shoes and you had just come back from this place so you were in a bad mood,” he’ll recount.
I certainly don’t remember these details off the top of my head. But what is most remarkable is that he is telling me about how I felt and why. How many people do you know that can do that?
But his fantastic memory also makes my friends and me laugh. He would often interject a recollection into conversation with a smile, such as, “Do you remember your New Year’s Eve party in middle school when you had two very different groups of friends there? You had the nerds over here and the cool kids over there,” he would recount with a chuckle. “And your sister would poke her head out of her room every once and awhile and didn’t want to hang out with us. Hahahaha, that was so funny.” By the way, Krishna was referring to himself as a nerd, and he didn’t know my sister at the time but he’s now friends with her.
You should also know that if any of these memories came up during a phone conversation and Krishna was by his computer, he could and would instantly find an IM conversation you two had from 2005 in less than two minutes to back up his account of what happened. Remember, he’s the most organized organizer.
Years ago when I was showing Krishna and a few friends around the arena where I worked, Krishna noticed that an athlete in a championship photo was making a hand gesture that represented something sexual in nature.
When we asked him what it symbolized, he refused to answer. We asked again.
“No, you can look that up on Urban Dictionary.”
Likeable and everywhere
Earlier this year, Krishna was telling me that co-workers in his new group were giving him a hard time about the number of people he knew at Microsoft. They were asking, “Can we take you anywhere without running into someone you know?”
Short answer: no.
Update 1/12/2015 – Today I published another piece about Krishna and this experience called A Beautiful Thing: The Rays of Sunshine After One Friend’s Abrupt Disappearance.