That Hollow Feeling
Greetings from sunny Vancouver, where I’m spending a few days of vacation with my family. I’m in a little bit of shock as I write this. We were driving to Surrey to feast in one of that region’s many storied Indian buffet restaurants when I saw on Facebook and Twitter that a friend had died.
That friend was Hunsdeep Rangar, a young proud Sikh man and pillar of his community in Ottawa. Surrounded by the many turbaned Sikh men in Surrey, I felt Huns’s passing with particular sharpness. A hollowness of spirit would not leave me for hours.
I don’t know how he died. And, in truth, I did not know Huns as well as I would have liked. But when I first came to Ottawa 16 years ago, he was among the first to greet me. As part of a group that had sponsored a book reading for me, Huns was glowing in his love and support for all things South Asian. Very few people of his generation are as committed to the building of community as he was. It’s no wonder that other leaders, including the Indian High Commissioner to Canada, announced their sadness at Huns’s passing.
Over the years, I knew Huns as a fixture in all South Asian arts and culture events in Ottawa. He was always there to support the activities of anyone with a cause or activity to promote. When Mick Paneswar, John Joseph and I decided to host an art show fundraiser –something none of us had ever done before– it was Huns who stepped up with his radio show to drive traffic to our event. Called, “Our World On The Mend”, the show was a runaway success, raising needed cash for both Pakistani earthquake relief and a local AIDS hospice.
This evening, I was pleased to find out that John Joseph actually now lives just an hour away from where I’m staying in Vancouver. So we met up to raise a glass of sake in honour of Huns. We have such fond memories of him, as we do of life in Ottawa a decade ago, when we were young-ish and single and fascinated by all things related to our culture. Here is our photo, as we toasted Huns:
I don’t know the circumstances of Huns’s passing. What I do know is that he was a young man with a wife and very young child, and that he was a sparkling, happy and supportive human being: one of the good people who was undoubtedly a net positive in the world.
RIP, Hunsdeep Rangar. The Ottawa Indian community is so much lesser for your absence.
In Other News
How do I segue from such sad news? Well, Christopher Hitchens, nearing the end of his life, once opined that mortality isn’t a case of the party being over. Rather, he said, it was a case of the party going on, but that you suddenly get a tap on your shoulder and the bouncer says, “You have to leave now.”
But the party goes on without you.
So let’s get on with the party.
One of my great loves is space exploration, as is well documented. I’m considering submitting an abstract about xeno-epidemiology for the upcoming conference of the Mars Society in Los Angeles later this year. I am, of course, a member of the Mars Society and of the Planetary Society (which was co-founded by my boyhood hero Carl Sagan).
So space obsessed I am that, as has been mentioned too many times on this blog, I applied to be an astronaut a couple of times. Here’s the original rejection letter:
And now that NASA is about to send a new heavy rover to Mars, I have acquired “boarding passes” for myself and my parents for that trip, so that our names are inscribed somewhere on the vessel:
Well this is played out. There was a reason I kept a photographic record of my meals. A real, defensible reason. I’m still not ready to share that reason with y’all. But the time has come to stop recording the images. So this will be the last time I share a gallery of my vegan breakfasts with the masses. So enjoy this final look: