A bouquet of flowers picked along the way ….

Love Care Responsibility August 22, 2010

Filed under: family,love,Me,women — gurdas @ :

Rakhi and accompanying letter from my sister

I was 9ish when she got married. So, I have no real memories of her from my younger years. Except some grainy recollections of her as the stern teacher at home. As I collected years, the bond between us metamorphosed. I went from young child to teenager to young adult to a brother. Yes, it took me a good 25 years to become my sister’s brother. Because only by the time I was 25 did our 11 year age difference stopped making a difference.

Somewhere along the way a few traditions got established, just like that. On her birthday, I would send her a personalised card. And she would send me a rakhi every year. It did not matter whether we were in different cities, countries, or continents. And just like in the past, this year too, my rakhi arrived well in time. But what makes this one more special than any before is not just the few thousand miles it has travelled but the letter that accompanies it. For this is the first time, I am being reminded of my duties towards my sister – love, care, and responsibility. Letters and the words printed on them have a surreal permanence to them. As I read the letter I witnessed the faith my sister reposes in me. For it takes nothing less than complete love and trust and the conviction of having done your duties to demand love like you deserve it. I can only hope to give back a fraction of what my sister has already given me.

And for being given the opportunity to do that, I must say I am blessed.


Bundles of joy August 4, 2010

Filed under: Children,love,Me — gurdas @ :

Pari and Soumya

Kids make the world a better place. And they make me very happy! They learn from us, but they also teach us if we accept the role of a pupil. I believe making friends with younglings is an art of the heart. They speak a different language – it has a grammar and a syntax different from adultspeak. So, some unlearning is required. And lots of patience. From my little experience I find that almost every kid out there is eager to find a friend in you. The problem is adults want kids to like them as adults. That is not how you start!

I see strong similarities in kids and pets (specially dogs). They are hungry for love. And they want to play with you. How you approach them is very important. The way I do it is present myself as available and waiting. You cannot demand friendship! To exemplify, I draw upon two recent experiences. The first was during my visit to London. I had a gift for a four and a half year old boy. He wanted the gift but His Highness was adamant about two things – one, he did not like me and two, he did not feel like saying “thank you”. Sufficient effort was made but the kid would not budge (no surprises there). The way I saw it was simple. The child was saying “see, if you want to be friends you will have to do more than just give me a gift”. I bid my time. After the persuasion from other adults had died down and the kid had time alone with the gift, I walked over to him and told him about this story behind the gift. Doesn’t he want to know about it? He sure did. Twenty seconds and an impromptu story later, he gladly said thank you and gave me a hug. We were friends.

The other incident happened when I recently met Soumya, a friend’s soon-to-be-four daughter. She walked into the room and we looked at each other. I think I said something like this “Hello! What is your name?” to which she replied “Soumya”. I then said, “Lovely! I’d love to talk to you. Can we do that? to which she replied “no” with a shake of her head. Hmmm… talk of hitting a wall! So, I went back to my chair. But I kept stealing glances at her, and she would do the same. I would tilt my head and smile. She picked the cues and it soon became a game (by the way, this is my favorite first trick). And that is exactly my point. If I were to go back and become an adult, the kid will take a lot longer to connect. Kids love games . They also appreciate when they are taken seriously. It is kind of an oxymoron. They want you to talk to them as if they are responsible adults. But they also want you to play with them. In the picture above, Soumya has this umbrella opened for no reason at all. Aren’t kids amazing? Would an adult ever do that – enjoy an umbrella? No, we open umbrellas only when it is raining and we hardly ever pay attention to the fact that umbrellas are rather pretty. But kids are not chained by adult limitations. Their world is full of sights and sounds that poor adults miss out. To get a child interested in you, all you have to do is get interested in ‘their world’. Soumya and I became fast friends over the next few minutes. She was an easy child to befriend – shy but responsive. And she gave me the best compliment possible when she allowed me to feed her dinner. Though that did not go well with Pari, the other kid in the group, who insisted to be fed by me even though she was not hungry. So, I had these two kids sitting on either side eating spoonfuls served by me. Bliss!

In a few days, I am going to face my toughest test ever. I have been invited to talk about Indian culture to a class of American preschoolers (4 to 5 years old). I have never interacted with kids in a classroom setting and so I am full of nervous excitement. Holding the attention of sixteen kids for twenty minutes is not going to be easy. Will post here how I fared.


A midnight summer’s dream August 2, 2010

Filed under: Me — gurdas @ :

There is only one way to describe the weather this last Saturday – romantic. It rained on Friday night and remained wet and cloudy all of Saturday. Not the depressing types though. There was enough light and while the air was laden with moisture, it was buoyant and breezy. Well, water vapor is in any case lighter than ambient air! And so it was romantic in many ways. It was the perfect day to grab a lazy chair, brew some tea, and idle in the balcony while catching up on some favorite music and reading. Or just enjoying the company of a friend or companion or family. I did not do any of that.

Virginia welcomes the night rider

At a little past 11 pm I decided to go for a drive. I am sure had I not ended up an engineer, I would have become a driver for one-off special errands. Yes, I love it so much. I am truly, madly, deeply in love with driving. I often fantasize about driving on long, winding, unfamiliar roads. But so do many people. What makes my love special is that I also relish the everyday drive to office or to the grocery store. I get excited about going anywhere. All I need is a vehicle, some music, and a tell tale sign of a road. I have enjoyed driving in the mad bazaars and potholed roads of India! And I know some of those experiences would ‘drive’ other people mad. Me, when I am driving, I am following my bliss.

Coming back to the Saturday. My initial idea was of a short drive. A little food would make it more fun, and so I stopped at Bojangles and grabbed some food and drink and then hit the highway. And then the bug took over. The weather cajoled me to go a little further. And then a little more. I crossed my friend, Margaret’s hometown, Henderson, and thought of her having fun somewhere in South East Asia. And soon I was in Bracey, Virginia where I refueled my car and my tummy and then drove back. For the most part my windows were rolled down even though there was a light drizzle. I thought the rain would come in, but it did not. The crisp air kept me awake and at one point I had to turn the heater on to avoid discomfort. But I also kept the windows rolled down! I wanted to enjoy the air come what may. I also had Bollywood music playing at high volume and often I would sing along. Some 144 miles and 3 hours later, I returned home a very happy man.

I should be doing this more often. I was reminded of my time in India when, during my undergrad and later while working, I would go off on these midnight drives. Sometimes to eat at a dhaba and at other times to have a cup of tea. But those were merely excuses for I know I was driving for driving’s sake.


A true soldier’s prayer June 28, 2010

Filed under: Ethics and Values,Inspiration,Me,philosophy,Religion — gurdas @ :

If I were given the choice to meet any one person in history, my pick would be Guru Gobind Singh. A figure unlike any other,  a soul most extraordinary. The 10th guru of the Sikh faith, fought battles against tremendous odds, lost all four sons in the struggle for the right to practice a religion of one’s choice, was a stellar poet in Persian, and instilled in the Sikhs a light that shines bright to this day. All of that in the brief 43 years he lived.

Guru Gobind Singh

Guru Gobind Singh

देह शिव वर मोहे इही
शुभ कर्मन ते कभू न तारों|
न दरों अरिसों जब जाए लरों
निष्चे कर अपनी जीत करों|
आर सिखाहों अपने ही मन को
एह लालाचाहों गुण तेओ उचरों|
जब आव की औध निदान बने
अति ही रण में तब जूझ मरों|


Deh Shiva var mohe ihai
Shubha karman te kabhu na taron
Na daron arison jab jae laron
Nishche kar apni jeet karon
Ar sikhahon apni hi man ko
Eh lalachahon gun teo uchron
Jab aav ki audh nidaan bane
Ati hi ran main tab jujh maron


O Lord give me this blessing
That I may never be deterred from good deeds
That I may have no fear while fighting against the enemy
And that I may triumph certainly
May I educate my conscience
To crave singing your praises
And when the last moment comes
I may fall fighting in the battlefield

Guru Gobind Singh (गुरु गोबिंद सिंह), 10th Sikh Guru, 1666-1708

Note: The image is from here. My home for the first 18 years of my life had this exact framed painting and I would like to pay my regards to the painter, Sobha Singh, whose works of Sikh gurus are without parallel.


cup of joy June 22, 2010

Filed under: life,love,Me,photography — gurdas @ :

Starbucks 'London' mug

Some things are meant to happen a certain way. My Starbucks ‘London’ mug seems to be one of those. On my first visit to London, this mug was the only thing I had bought for myself. Unfortunately, it did not last long. To be precise, I dropped and broke the mug within an hour of buying it. And that was the evening before my flight and there was no Starbucks nearby for me to replace my lost souvenir. The next morning, I tried locating the Starbucks at Heathrow airport, but it was in a different terminal or at least too complicated to reach given the time available. So I returned home with only memories in my head. To make matters more bizarre, I had lugged along a SLR sized camera and tripod all the way across the Atlantic, and guess how many photos I made? Not one. Zilch.

But as fate would have it, I am lucky to have dropped the mug. Because, on my second visit to London, I had the same mug gifted to me.

The same mug. But now many times more precious.