Anindya Das

"Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever," said Gandhi, and there is no one I know who lived that way as much as Anindya Das. He died last week in Pondicherry. 

Anindya had been playing basketball with some kids when he collapsed on the court. He was dead by the time he got medical attention.  Anindya left behind a career in academia (he used to teach computer science at OU and UWO in London, Ontario) but decided that he could have a more sane and fulfilling life in Pondicherry.  He found a job there in a small technology company. The company, happy no doubt at getting an overqualified friendly and competent person for cheap, allowed him to build his work hours around Anindya's volunteer hours at the Aurobindo Ashram school. He taught the kids there math and volleyball and basketball.  That's where he was when he died.

Maybe because he listened so well, he picked up languages very easily. He was a Bengali who grew up in Orissa, so that got him two languages. Hindi, of course, and English. His sister lived in the former French colony of Pondicherry, so French and Tamil too. He perfected his French in France and Quebec, and picked up Arabic and Spanish along the way.  Probably a few more that I don't know about.

I am glad that our kids got to see their Uncle Andy when we went to India last summer. We'd taken a bus from Chennai to Pondicherry and he met us at the bus station. He took us swimming in the Bay of Bengal, off to dinner at a local hangout and then bought the kids ice cream. He's enriched my life immensely, but I can not help wishing, rather selfishly, that he could have been around a couple more decades -- the kids could have gotten to balance the charms of an unhurried, minutely examined, life with whatever rat race they are in.

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