A Eulogy for My Second Dad: N. Sunder Rajan


“Zindagi Lambi nahin Badi Honi Chahiye”

“A life need not be long but it should be BIG”)

You signify this more than any other person I know, Sunder Uncle. Your life may not have been very long but it touched many people in a BIG way. One among those people is me. You were always like my second dad Sunder uncle, someone who was not as strict as my own dad, but someone who was a lot more fun. Someone who could teach me about things I had dare not mention in front of my own dad.

As an 18 year old when I first met you, at that impressionable age, I realized that I had met someone to whom I could go to for advise on any matter be it career or girls, wine or scotch, or just come unannounced, for free dinners at odd hours at Andrews Ganj, Delhi, assured in the knowledge that I will be well fed.

It was 1994, and I remember asking you the difference between single malt and blended scotch and was amazed when you poured me a glass of each and told me that to appreciate the difference I had to take sip of each one after the other.

In my family where no one was even a collage graduate, I have a PhD. My parents keep telling me that my refined persona, that is very different from their rather rustic demeanor, is all because of my friendship with Kaushik Sunder Rajan and his influence over me. They are only partly right. My refinement comes from my close association with you Uncle and because of that fact that you have raised Kaushik right. The respect, dignity and fairness with which he treats other people, his kind heartedness, his willingness to help everyone are all the traits that he has imbibed from you and I, from him. Your impeccable moral fiber is reflected in the actions and the thought process of your son Kaushik and I will always feel your presence among us, through him.

I will always remember you as a man ahead of his time. Even in today’s day and age when inter-caste and inter-state marriages are discouraged in India, you were in sync with your son Kaushik’s thought process and fully supported his and Naira’s decision to get married.

I have been among the lucky few who have had the pleasure of your company over drinks in different parts of the world Sunder Uncle, and I can truly say, that there are only a handful of things that can compare to fun that your company brings with it, while having a drink.

That is why I say that you led a Big life, it influenced me and many others in a Big way, made us better persons and tonight when I am pouring myself a glass of the single malt Glenmorangie, all alone, enjoying its Peat flavor and smoothness, I will miss you and your company and  but I will be thinking of you and your influence over me, and raising a toast to your BIG life.

With much respect and gratitude.

Your second son

–Puneet Seth

P.S. Kaushik is my brother, don’t you worry about him.

[Puneet has been Kaushik’s friend from the time they entered college in Delhi over twenty years ago. In those years there was nothing Sunder enjoyed more than having Kaushik’s friends over and turning our house into a youth hostel! He had reason to be proud of their varied accomplishments as they went on to do Ph.d.s and pursue careers. Over the years Puneet has indeed come to be a son to us. The picture shows Sunder with Puneet’s son, Dhruv, age 2, on a visit to their home in Durham in 2008.]