A bouquet of flowers picked along the way ….

Is – Was – Will Be November 14, 2009

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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.


Snow! January 20, 2009

Filed under: nature,philosophy — gurdas @ :
View from my porch, Raleigh, NC, USA, 20-Jan-2009

View from my porch, Raleigh, NC, USA, 20-Jan-2009

Finally! It is snowing and I get to see how the world looks when covered in a white blanket.


Are you a windmill type? May 14, 2008

Filed under: Ethics and Values,nature,photography — gurdas @ :

Wind energy, Ahmednagar, Maharashtra, India. 2007


The windmill blades go whoosh whoosh whoosh. You must stand below one to experience the size and volume.

I was wondering how amazing windmills are. They simply stand in the path of wind and ‘receive’ what they need. They do not chase the wind, they do not trap the wind and they do not alter the wind.

Are you a windmill person? Or do you leave your ecological footprint wherever you go?


Along a lake May 12, 2008

Filed under: Inspiration,life,nature,philosophy,photography — gurdas @ :
Chandratal, Lahaul, HP, India. 2007

Chandratal Lake, Himachal, India


As you walk along a lake set amidst snow peaked mountains, you realise that the world is always eager to welcome you. Without biases and prejudices. As you are.

But are you ready to welcome the world as it is?


Perfectly imperfect May 9, 2008

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Sunset at Kaza, Himachal Pradesh, India. 2007

Kaza, Spiti, Himachal, India


Nature is full of imperfection and chaos. To the human mind seeking perfection and order, this is highly unacceptable. We seek symmetry and linearity, both of which do not exist in the natural world.

A Zen lore: There were two Zen learning centres having a common wall. One was old and the other new. The new centre had beautiful gardens with many people looking after their upkeep. One day, before an important function, the gardener was busy cleaning all the dead leaves that had collected on the ground below a slender tree. The old school master was sitting on the wall observing this. The gardener cleaned all the leaves, stood back watching his work with pride and said “perfect”! The old school Zen master said, “no, it is not yet perfect” and walked up to the tree and shook the trunk. Many leaves fell and collected on the ground. The master said, “now, it is perfect”.


Saying NO to plastic bags January 29, 2008

That’s it. No more plastic bags for me.

For the last few months I have practised saying “no bags please” at the checkout counter. That usually produces raised eyebrows and amused smiles. On one occasion the missing plastic bag raised more than an eyebrow. The security got alarmed as I walked out, my hands full of stuff I had purchased. I was stopped and asked to produce my purchase bills. Clearly, for the security, the plastic bag was a symbol of legitimate purchase  🙂

But on a few occasions I have been guilty of bringing home a plastic bag. So, starting today, I am going completely off the circuit. Come what may, I am not participating in the plastic bag menace that is choking our drains, killing our cows and slowly murdering our planet.

And I am not buying the argument that the problem is with people because they do not recycle the bags. First, in my country the recycle machinery does not exist. Second, anything that needs more than a 1000 years to decompose has no place in our lives. I wish I could remove plastic totally from my life. But that is impractical as of now because for some things there is no viable alternative. But the least I can do is get rid of the plastic that exists as shopping bags.

So, how am I going to bring home all that stuff from the market? I will carry durable cloth bags every time I go shopping. Certainly, this will result in uncomfortable situations. I might forget the bag and realise this only at the counter. Or maybe the shop will not allow me to bring in my own bags. But that is not going to stop me from sticking to my promise.

And also, I am not rushing to throw out the existing plastic bags in my house. Since I have been shy of dumping them in the waste without sufficient reuse, I have quite a stack in a drawer. I am going to REUSE each of them to the very last and only then discard them.

Maybe it is time they changed the warning on the bags from “keep away from children” to “keep away from the planet”.

– – – Further reading – – –


On a rainy day July 2, 2007

Filed under: life,nature,poetry — gurdas @ :

On a rainy day (Jamshedpur, India, June, 2007)


The mighty arrogant skyOn a rainy day (Jamshedpur, India, June, 2007)On a rainy day (Jamshedpur, India, June, 2007)
huffed and puffed with cotton ball clouds
Streaks of sunlight breaking through, naughty and buoyant
The song of birds from far and near
Angry and bewildered at why it rains so generously
Why it rains pitter patter pitter patter?
The mud is stirred and its soul awakened
Blossom bright and lively greens
The whispering wind carrying secrets from far
And the leaves sway is agreement to those unheard tales
I smile one more time and add a wrinkle somewhere.
Crashing down it came for hours
Followed by an eerie silence
“How can it stop raining so suddenly” I ask?
Blue and Red balloons run out of their homes
Shouting with glee, splashing water and joy all around
A vehicle passes and the drums roll
The show is back after the break
The humid air is heavy with memories
Someone is cooking aromatic rice
I think of my mother and wonder who has not seen God?
I pull-on my shoes and walk out
Its time to get wet even though it isn’t raining anymore.
As I walk and get wet
I happen to pass grass patches
The blades gloriously declaring their existence
Which until now was redoubtable
Isn’t it funny how the rain transforms?
Grass become proud and Men become weak
Rocks melt away as Sands hold true
Truly, water gives life something to live by
Lost in this explosion of HIS self
I find a new meaning
To who I am and what I seek
And, as I shrug off centuries of dust
I prepare to hug the Earth.