A bouquet of flowers picked along the way ….

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.


The Metamorphosis October 8, 2009

Filed under: Ethics and Values,life,love,Me,philosophy — gurdas @ :
The Metamorphosis - From Larvae to Butterfly

The Metamorphosis - From Larva to Butterfly


At first you stop being greedy.

Then selfishness goes away.

Following which empathy comes in and sets the stage for love.

And then you give like it never belonged to you.

Finally, you receive.


Reading aloud – the sound of a fantasy May 20, 2009

Filed under: fiction+fact cocktail,life,Me — gurdas @ :

Serendipity: A chance walk-in into a bookshop. A chance sight of more than one translation of Siddhartha. An impromptu reading aloud activity by two individuals to compare the translations. Moments of bliss.

Some pleasures in life have no substitute. Like reading aloud to someone with a receptive mind. Or being read aloud by someone with a perceptive mind. I have lost count of how many times I have fantasized about this activity. And once in a while somebody would oblige me, like the other day when we read aloud passages from Siddhartha. I could try write an eulogy on the act of reading aloud, but the below excerpt from The New York Times expresses my thoughts better than I could possibly imagine.

“But listening aloud, valuable as it is, isn’t the same as reading aloud. Both require a great deal of attention. Both are good ways to learn something important about the rhythms of language. But one of the most basic tests of comprehension is to ask someone to read aloud from a book. It reveals far more than whether the reader understands the words. It reveals how far into the words — and the pattern of the words — the reader really sees.

Reading aloud recaptures the physicality of words. To read with your lungs and diaphragm, with your tongue and lips, is very different than reading with your eyes alone. The language becomes a part of the body, which is why there is always a curious tenderness, almost an erotic quality, in those 18th-  and 19th-century literary scenes where a book is being read aloud in mixed company. The words are not mere words. They are the breath and mind, perhaps even the soul, of the person who is reading.”

Some Thoughts on the Lost Art of Reading Aloud


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.


Silly boy March 26, 2009

Filed under: life,Me — gurdas @ :

Captain’s Log: Third rock from the Sun. Year 2009. Episode – “This boy is silly”

10:30 am : Take Wolfline Southeast Loop from home to campus

1:30 pm : Take Wolfline back home to pick up car

1:45 pm : Drive to Department of Revenue office in North Raleigh

3:30 pm : Drive back to Campus and work at office in Mann 317

8:00 pm : Leave office, eat dinner at Clark, take Wolfline from campus to home


10:30 pm : Friend joins for our daily night tea and asks “Where is your car?”


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.