April 18, 2014

"We are star stuff" - Carl Sagan

My friend Anita Vaccharajani posted a link to this touching article on Facebook. It is by Carl Sagan, American astronomer, whose TV series "Cosmos" was very popular during the eighties. 

Lessons of Immortality and Mortality From My Father, Carl Sagan

While the article is well worth reading, I was very deeply touched by these paras, especially the last one, and thought I should preserve them here.
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One day when I was still very young, I asked my father about his parents. I knew my maternal grandparents intimately, but I wanted to know why I had never met his parents.

“Because they died,” he said wistfully.

“Will you ever see them again?” I asked.

He considered his answer carefully. Finally, he said that there was nothing he would like more in the world than to see his mother and father again, but that he had no reason — and no evidence — to support the idea of an afterlife, so he couldn’t give in to the temptation.

“Why?”

Then he told me, very tenderly, that it can be dangerous to believe things just because you want them to be true. You can get tricked if you don’t question yourself and others, especially people in a position of authority. He told me that anything that’s truly real can stand up to scrutiny.

As far as I can remember, this is the first time I began to understand the permanence of death. As I veered into a kind of mini existential crisis, my parents comforted me without deviating from their scientific worldview.

“You are alive right this second. That is an amazing thing,” they told me. When you consider the nearly infinite number of forks in the road that lead to any single person being born, they said, you must be grateful that you’re you at this very second. Think of the enormous number of potential alternate universes where, for example, your great-great-grandparents never meet and you never come to be. Moreover, you have the pleasure of living on a planet where you have evolved to breathe the air, drink the water, and love the warmth of the closest star. You’re connected to the generations through DNA — and, even farther back, to the universe, because every cell in your body was cooked in the hearts of stars. We are star stuff", my dad famously said, and he made me feel that way.

April 04, 2014

My favourite music: Farida Khanum - Aaj jane ki zid na karo


I discovered Farida Khanum's romantic ghazal in Raag Yaman Kalyan, when my friend Lakshmi Prabhala posted a link to an article and the ghazal on Facebook.

At these times I love FB. I listened to the ghazal four times in a row, revelling in the melody and the music, and the 'haye'!  I know I will listen to it again and again to this uplifting and hopelessly romantic gem.

The article: The Djinn of Aiman

The ghazal: Aaj jane ki zid na karo

April 03, 2014

My city before it changes: Saifabad




Views of the Legislative Assembly that will be gone forever after the metro rail comes up very soon, since work is fast progressing in this sector. 



 This is a house in a galli off Saifabad. I do hope it stays like this forever.  

An apology to Africans

We have had a professional connect with Africa for a long time. While at ICRISAT during the eighties, we met and were friends with sever...