Saturday, 4 June 2016

Hari Raja (Pranav Raja)

Assuming my memory is still intact, it's Hari's birthday tomorrow!

I do recall writing a tribute for Hari back when I had Facebook pre-2011...unfortunately when I deleted Facebook, it didn't occur to me that I should keep a record of it. Nonetheless, I'm quite happy to write another one for Mr Raja.

There are many facets to Hari Raja that need to be properly understood, and indeed, appreciated.

Thinking outside the box

The first is this.

Hari is an intelligent individual who thoroughly enjoys thinking outside the box. This notion of "thinking outside the box" is very broad and covers several bases. When I was in highschool, for example, Hari would frequently whisper in my ear during our Physics and Maths classes:
"This teacher is teaching us the wrong stuff. This is not how you are meant to teach this topic. You are supposed to...

[proceeds to clearly explain how it should be taught from the ground up]."
Following from this, Hari is a firm believer in:

1) NOT being spoon-fed ideas or concepts; and (therefore)
2) Thinking independently.

Problem-Solving Intelligence

In that sense, there is a lot to be admired about Hari. He is quick on his feet when it comes to solving puzzles and problems in his head. He thoroughly enjoys finding alternate solutions to problems. Indeed, in Year 12, Hari was an expert with, and heavily favoured, the latter portion of "Hence or OTHERWISE" styled 4-unit mathematics questions.

On that note, I remember asking Hari something along the lines of how it was possible for him to solve these complex problems (riddles, maths questions, brain teasers) in his head without using a pen or paper. I expressed to him the fact that I was wholly unable to do something like that myself -- without at least taking many weeks longer than people like him.

He cooly replied to me with words to the following effect:
"Just imagine you are writing on a piece of paper in your head."
This may or may not explain why he is so good at Ricochet Robots.

I also imagine, and am relatively confident, that this inherent intelligence and willingness to tackle problems head on has served Hari well in his current IT career path. I am sure he could apply it to any other field, including for example a career in the law. I note here too that he is, unsurprisingly, also well-read in science and mathematics (a major understatement given that his collection of books extends to Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid).

Willingness to engage in new activities

Perhaps this eagerness to explore new solutions to puzzles is the very same attribute that is behind Hari's enthusiasm with engaging in other extracurricular activities, be it Parkour, one form of martial arts whose name eludes me, chess, surfing, rock-climbing or the Tough Mudder race, to name a few examples.

Athletic prowess

There is another, somewhat related, dimension to Hari that rates a mention.

Hari is an all-rounder when it comes to sport. Being a natural athlete, he picks up the skills required in a sport very quickly even if he's never played it before, be it a stint at badminton or a game of reverse handball***.

This could be down to his years as a leg-spinner in the U-16 (?) NSW Blues cricket squad (cricket is a sport that, as many would know, requires - at bare minimum - flexibility and adaptability in fielding). There is another classmate from my highschool who I would put in the same category as Hari in the sense of being "naturally talented" - Kenneth Hee. Certainly the average mortal like me is not able to pick up these skills without training super hard.

A quick Google search of "Hari Raja NSW Blues" reveals:
"Hari Raja proved to be lethal (as he had all year) taking 4/15 off 9 overs."


And one of the enduring quotes from Hari that will stay with me is this:
"I don't really watch sport. I play sport."

Video Games and Humour

On a note of lesser (or, depending on how you prioritise, greater) importance, Hari Raja shares roughly the same sort of humour and video game repertoire or "range" as me (to a certain extent).

It was Hari who introduced me to The Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind. Since about Year 8 or Year 9, Hari had been nagging me to play the game. It was literally only on the last day of my Year 12 exams (Chemistry, November 6, 2008) when I actually decided to go home and play the blasted thing. Suffice to say he was, of course, right and I found myself wondering why I had deprived myself all these years.

This pattern of being slow to pick up Hari's recommendation would be a common trend over the years and, for that, I apologise Hari LOL (Game of Thrones being another example - but that is another story altogether.)

Generally Hari and I find it humorous when we observe phenomena in the world that are rather unexpected or surprising, such as when someone makes a special or secret/hidden effort to do something to impress someone or to excel at something. I know that is a rather vague or poor explanation of our sub-category of humour, but perhaps a good example is this from none other than Hari himself:

Hari once told me that he had studied basic Spanish so that one day, if he ever happened to find himself amongst a circle of people speaking in Spanish, he would be well equipped to just randomly chime in mid-conversation to surprise everyone LOL.

Actually to be honest it is my mid to long-term aim to study Spanish, Arabic and Korean for (almost) that very reason. But at this stage I am just focussing on Mandarin and I'm just starting Cantonese. Perhaps this is subconsciously Hari's influence as well.

Hari Raja, all the best for everything and thank you for being a good friend to me over all these years.

For the record, can I just say to the whole world that I am, for the large part of it, absolutely nothing like Hari Raja - if I had even 5% of any of his attributes listed above, I'd be laughing.

Andre Lim

*** An utterly made up game whose rules now elude me, though I think I have them somewhere in my email.


  1. Too bad that when I think of Hari, the only thing that comes to my mind is "The Peeled Nuts"

    1. Hahaha, there is actually a picture of that somewhere here