He’s a dentist from Vishakapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, India. He went, starry-eyed, to Misrata, Libya, thinking it was just another job, albeit a high-paying one.
What my buddy, Srinivas Raju, couldn’t have imagined was that, barely a year into his stay, his world would be turned upside down. Havoc broke loose in the wake of the Arab Spring. People started getting shot, homes were burned, shops looted.
Somehow, knowing Raju, I knew he’d be thrilled to be around.
The Indian population packed up and fled. Some made for the nearest border with either Egypt or Tunisia, others braved looters and pro-Government troops to reach the Indian Embassy at Tripoli. Many hunkered down, waiting for rescue ships to heave into sight on the Mediterranean Sea.
Another marathon drinking session with a newly-repatriated Raju seemed imminent. But, there was no news on Facebook. E-mails were unanswered. All we got was a hasty message saying that he was all right. His buddies and bandmates (Raju’s a dedicated guitarist) were now anti-Gadhafi rebels. His Facebook account was being monitored. But, he was all right.
Having told the Indian Navy to leave without him, he’s exchanged his drill for an assault rifle and his clinic for a Red Cross camp. Again, knowing Raju, he’s sure to be teaching rebel fighters Vietnam-era protest anthems, with some Chuck Berry boogie, Jefferson Airplane and Grateful Dead stoner classics thrown in.
Come home when you can, member. Your bottle and other accoutrements are waiting. Just don’t bring ol’ Colonel Muammar along.
Because, somehow, knowing you, you might.
UPDATE: Since Gadhafi’s unpleasant end, some semblance of order returned to Libya. That, unfortunately, made the place seem duller than dishwater as far as Raju was concerned. He’s since returned to Indian shores, leaving his heart (along with two AK47s, a Givson guitar and a Chinese-made pistol) in the North African desert.