I first met Raji through Jim Moynihan in November 2019 in Tokyo. Jim invited me to join the tennis group in Tokyo, and Raji was a key member of that group, even taking over the coordination of it when Jim left Japan in 2021. I remember that we had an instant connection for some reason. I think we both realised that we had a few things in common – both roughly the same age, both liked tennis (and had some skills at it, but were wildly inconsistent in our play), and that as an Irishman, there was a good chance I would be up for beers or whiskey in the future. At the end of the two hour tennis session, we both stayed back to practice a bit more, and then got the metro back into the city, exchanging numbers and promising to hang out. Even on that first day, I saw that Raji had a genuineness, a sense of fun and also a mischievousness that I found very charming. He also had a kindness and curiosity about people that just radiated naturally. I liked him immediately. We stayed friends ever since, meeting up to play tennis, to have beers, and to go out together.
The last time we played tennis together was in March of this year. I loved playing tennis with Raji, because you never knew what you were going to get. Some of his shots were so impressive that Roger Federer would have been proud. Others were so wild, they sometimes cleared the back fence, and made me wonder if he was in fact playing his beloved baseball instead. When playing doubles with him, some of his serves would be unreturnable aces. Others would nearly take your head off…
He was fantastic company too, always interested in what I was doing, and always wanting to hang out when we could find the time. He came to our St. Patrick’s Day celebration in an Irish pub in Tokyo this March, and fit right in, talking to anyone and everyone. He introduced me to lots of cool things in Tokyo too, including a yakiniku place in Ebisu which he really liked, and of course to Womb in Shibuya. Going to Womb with Raji was like to going to the club with Ray Liotta in Goodfellas, like being with a celebrity. Of course, he wasn’t doing it to show-off, but rather to share his passion and hobby with others. He was generous to a fault like that.
We remained in close contact, and constantly tried to meet up. We missed each other at a Tokyo Yakult Swallows game recently, and also by one day in Osaka in October. I’m so sorry now that I didn’t get to spend more time with him.
To his family and friends, I express my deepest sympathies and condolences. Raji made an enormous impact on me and my life, and I feel so fortunate to have known him for a short time and to have called him my friend. I will miss him dearly, but I take comfort in the fact that even knowing him for a short time was a gift that I am grateful for. Reading the messages on this site has shown the degree of shock and devastation we all feel at his passing. But it’s also a beautiful tribute to a person who enriched the lives of everyone he met. I hope that this will bring you some comfort in these difficult times.
Submitted by Peter Neary.