Adapted from the book Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives, by Nicholas A. Christakis and James H. Fowler. Copyright © 2009 by Nicholas A. Christakis and James H. Fowler. Reprinted with permission of Little, Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc. http://www.connectedthebook.com/
Nicholas and his wife, Erika, like to joke that they had an arranged marriage, South Asia–style. Although they lived within four blocks of each other for two years and were both students at Harvard, their paths never crossed. Erika had to go all the way to Bangladesh so that Nicholas could find her. In the summer of 1987 he went to Washington, D.C., where he had grown up and gone to high school, to care for his ailing mother. He was a medical student, single and, he foolishly thought, not ready for a serious relationship. His old high school friend, Nasi, was also home for the summer. Nasi’s girlfriend, Bemy, who had come to know Nicholas well enough that her gentle teasing was a source of amusement for all of them, was also there. She had, as it turned out, just returned from a year in rural Bangladesh, doing community development work.