Formality With Warmth
Growing up, Abdu A. Malahi struggled to combine the traditions and culture of his native Yemen with the swagger of a kid raised in Brooklyn, one who loved Prince and played the keyboard in a makeshift band. He dreamed of becoming a recording engineer, said his childhood friend and bandmate Edward Perez, and it seemed that Mr. Malahi was finally able to reconcile those roles in his job as an audio-visual engineer at the Marriott Hotel.
His dedication was evident: if a conference or a meeting was not successful, Mr. Malahi "would take it to his heart," said his friend and manager, Vipan Khullar. On Sept. 11, Mr. Malahi ignored warnings to flee the building and stayed to help evacuate the hotel guests.
Mr. Malahi, 37, was a serious person, his father, Ali, said. His playful side came out only when he was with close friends or his wife, whom he met when he spent some time in Yemen a few years ago, and his two sons. His wife and sons still live there; Mr. Malahi was trying to get visas for them to come to the United States.
But his formality did not necessarily push people away. Sometimes it drew them closer. "He was so formal in his letter writing; he would always start with `Greetings,' " Mr. Khullar said. "Even if it was just a note to accept a meeting, he would say, `Greetings, yes, I will meet you at that time.' That's something that always impressed me about him."
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on February 10, 2002.