A bouquet of flowers picked along the way ….

Aye Maalik Tere Bande Hum December 20, 2009

Filed under: Ethics and Values,Inspiration,life,philosophy,poetry — gurdas @ :

The song ‘Aye Maalik Tere Bande Hum‘ from the 1957 classic Do Aankhen Barah Haath directed by V. Shantaram has a special place in my heart. For me, and for millions of other Indians, it is a prayer. The song pleads for the strength to be virtuous, embraces death as a reality, accepts human fraility, and implores God to take all our sins and weaknesses. Kudos to lyricist Bharat Vyas for penning an eternal classic.


(photo borrowed from this page, which is a good read on the movie)

Lyrics (transliteration // translation)


aye maalik tere bande hum  //  Lord, you are our creator
aysein hon hamaare karam  //  So be our deeds
naykee par chalein aur badhee se talein  //  May we walk the path of righteousness and refrain from evil
taaki hastein huye nikale dum  //  So that we may depart fulfilled and smiling
aye maalik tere bande hum  //  Lord, you are our creator


badaa kamzor hai aadmi  // Frail is the human being
abhi laakhon hain isme kameen  //  With a million shortcomings
par tu joh khadaa hai dayalu badaa  //  But you are forgiving
teri kirpaa se dharti thamee  //  The world exists due to your benevolence
diya toone hamein jab janam  //  Since you have given us birth
tuhee jhelega hum sab ke gum  //  You will also bear our burdens
naykee par chalein aur badhee se talein  //  May we walk the path of righteousness and refrain from evil
taaki hastein huye nikale dum  //  So that we may depart fulfilled and smiling
aye maalik tere bande hum  //  Lord, you are our creator


ye andhera ghanaa cha raha  //  The world is engulfed in darkness
tera insaan ghabara raha  //  Your human is fearful
ho raha bekhabar kuch na aata nazar  //  He is uninformed and blind
sukh ka sooraj chupaa ja raha  //  The light of peace and happiness is dimnishing
hai teri raushani mein joh dum  //  Such is the strength in your aura
tu amaavas ko kar de poonam  //  That even a moonless night glows bright
naykee par chalein aur badhee se talein  //  May we walk the path of righteousness and refrain from evil
taaki hastein huye nikale dum  //  So that we may depart fulfilled and smiling
aye maalik tere bande hum  //  Lord, you are our creator


jab zulmon ka ho saamanaa  //  When we are faced with attrocities
tab tuhee hamein thamanaa  //  O Lord, hold us firm
woh burayee karein hum bhalayee bharein  //  We reply with kindness for their evil
nahi badle ki ho kamanaa  //  May there be no desire for revenge
badh uthe pyaar ka har kadam  //  May every step ahead be for love
aur mitein baeyr ka ye bharam  //  May every thought of enemity be banished
naykee par chalein aur badhee se talein  //  May we walk the path of righteousness and refrain from evil
taaki hastein huye nikale dum  //  So that we may depart fulfilled and smiling
aye maalik tere bande hum  //  Lord, you are our creator


Is – Was – Will Be November 14, 2009

Filed under: Inspiration,life,nature,nostalgia — gurdas @ :
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“The COSMOS is all that is or ever was or ever will be. Our feeblest contemplations of the Cosmos stir us – there is a tingling in the spine, a catch in the voice, a faint sensation, as if a distant memory, of falling from a height. We know we are approaching the greatest of mysteries” – Carl Sagan, Chapter 1, Cosmos


Carl Sagan's celebrated TV series and book - Cosmos

I saw the series on TV when I was all of 13. I sat wide eyed as Carl Sagan spoke poetically about the love of his life. About Life. About the Cosmos. About human endeavour and discovery. About curiosity and scientific exploration. I did not understand all he was saying. But my awe and amazement was unbound. My fate was sealed. I was to pursue a career that stays close to science.


Carl Sagan, photo scanned from the back cover of his book, Cosmos


19 years later nothing has changed. I am still as curious. I am still a wide eyed 13 year old boy watching in wonderment the magic that unfolds around me everyday. November 7 was Carl Sagan Day, and when my friend Jim posted this on his facebook profile, the idea germinated that we celebrate this extra-ordinary man’s life by sharing his vision. We were disappointed that we did not gather a crowd for the “trial” screening, but the pleasure of watching Episode 1 on a big screen was no less. And the Cosmos wanted to say “Hi!”, so the day brought what I believe to be one of the most momentous Cosmic events of my very brief lifetime. NASA announced that  LCROSS impact data indicates water on Moon.

We plan to establish a Carl Sagan society on campus, spread word to where enthusiasts could be (say the Physics department), and make this an annual event.

Carl Sagan said goodbye in December 1996, and as he would have liked to say, so returned star dust to where it came from.


Hope is Dead! Long live Hope! May 6, 2009

Filed under: Inspiration,life,philosophy,poetry — gurdas @ :

Full were my pockets and my heart
For Hope dwelled in both these parts
She played around with me all day
And in the night, beside my bed she lay

She held my hands in troubled dreams
And caressed my forehead to settle me
Her peaceful eyes had me smile
And utter ever so often “I can walk for another mile!”

She walked ahead and I followed her
Blind to the misery all about me
But even when I did look around
I saw that Hope is abound

In the worker’s sweat
In the bookie’s bet
In the mother’s eye
And the lawyer’s lie

She is most impartial and answers
To the small, big, one and all
But there is such a thing as limit
And people just forgot about it

The greed and violence of the crowds
Hit Hope a little too loud
She fell unconscious and her breath came slow
Her slender body could not take the blow

With Ms. Hope falling sick, Doctor Courage was called
A big sturdy man he is, almost like a wall
He checked her pulse and peeked in her eye
“She is dead!” he exclaimed, and gave a sigh

– – –

I wrote this poem almost a year and a half ago and then forgot to publish it. And while it gives the impression of being tragic, I had penned it to humour the callousness displayed by people.


The Bus Driver March 20, 2009

Filed under: Ethics and Values,Inspiration,life — gurdas @ :

Just like every other day today I took Wolfline Southeast Loop to campus. But as we were driving down Morrill Drive, an ordinary event told me how extraordinary the driver was. Here we are cruising smoothly, when suddenly the driver slams the breaks, sending almost everybody lunging forward. The reason – the vehicle ahead of us had swerved sharply without warning to grab a parking spot. So, what is so special here? The very first words uttered by the driver were “Sorry about that”, addressed to the passengers who had been inconvenienced by the sudden change of velocity.

I could not but help wonder about this. I put myself into the shoes of the driver and try imagining what my first words would have been. I would have probably sworn and only then followed up with an apology (which in any case was not due because the driver was not at fault).

To narrowly escape an accident, not be at fault, and have a sorry come out of your lips in the first second, to me, is nothing but extraordinary.


Butterflies from Dad March 1, 2009

Filed under: family,Inspiration,life,love,Me — gurdas @ :

Dad opened an email account and sent me our first one-to-one electronic communication. I enquired and found out he has been (secretly) attending “Internet classes”.

When I saw that first email, I felt butterflies in my stomach. In that moment, I could feel the love of my father from thousands of miles away. Because only love can make a 70 year old, who has never used a keyboard in his life, to go learn email communication.

I may be more educated than my father, but in matters of Life, he is still my teacher.


Oye Bill! Bill Oye! January 26, 2009

Filed under: Inspiration — gurdas @ :
Ticket to Bill Clinton talk at NCSU

Ticket to Bill Clinton talk at NCSU


Former President Bill Clinton was at NCSU today to speak about the growing inter-dependence in a globalised world, the need for each of us to think about “How to”, and then acting upon it. And he made a strong case for his views. I came back impressed with his earnest for solving the problems of poverty and hunger, words which echo in millions of homes in India and numerous other places on our planet. President Clinton had his numbers all set, he hardly glanced at any paper during his 30+ minute speech.

This was also an opportunity to see how Americans conduct themselves in the presence of a President and how the (former) President conducts himself. And what did I see? I saw informality mingling with intent in a most wonderful way. There was no space for needlessly long introductions or subservience. The event started 15 odd minutes behind the scheduled hour of 10:30 am, but when it did, President Clinton was on the podium and talking within 5 minutes.

I have a grudge about not being able to take pictures because of conflicting answers on whether cameras will be allowed. I wanted to risk it and take my camera, but did not because of the security concerns. I would have done fine had I done otherwise. Not just me, even my American friend was surprised by the “absence” of security. Tickets were checked most casually. No body checks, no metal detectors. In the words of my friend: “There is more security at a hockey game!”. And those who had more experience of attending Presidential speeches than I, happily brought their cameras and clicked away until I burnt my seat with envy.

Video 1

Video 2


Amazing Amazon September 17, 2008

Filed under: Inspiration — gurdas @ :

I have purchased from on sufficient occassions to comment that they are exceptionally good. They are the best I have seen. Their prices are more often than not better than anyone else in the market. But that is not what I wanted to talk about.

It is their customer service that bowls me out. How can this super store manage to reply to your emails in time? And deliver on time. And take such complete responsibility that it embarasses you.

Some years ago my order had got stuck at the Indian customs. Amazon sent a replacement without blinking an eye. I have repeatedly ordered for books to be delivered in India. Oh boy! the books come neatly packaged and on time.

At the core of Amazon is their software. I would go so far as say that they have probably the greatest software implementation on Earth. The software is intuitive, and gives you such delicious choices that without moderation you could go bankrupt!

And it is not just software. They are a truly high-tech organisation. Jeff Bezos, the founder, was Time’s Person of the Year in 1999. I read that issue and was awed by the technology they were using.

If you have shopped at you would know what I am talking about. They have third party sellers who are tightly integrated into the system. They usually have the highest number of reviews for the products that they sell. They also have nice lists titled “So you would like to..” and “listmania”. All by customers. And it says how active the customer community on Amazon is.

Their links work. Their help works. If you search for something, you usualy find it. Product details are good (though they can be better). You can peek inside books. You can buy suff from other sellers, both new and used. You have free delivery on most items above $25. Your items arrive on time and in good shape. And the shopping experience is exceptional. The software gives you suggestions that are intelligent. You have wishlists. You can place orders easily, you can track orders, and if you changed your mind before it got shipped, you can also cancel your order.

I simply cannot find a flaw with these folks.

That is why I call them Amazing Amazon.