Rahul Basu, 1956-2011

Rahul Basu, particle physicist; gourmet, cook and blogger; devourer of books, music, film and good wine; traveller, lover of Delhi and bon vivant, but above all a close friend to many from all around the world, passed away on March 5th, 2011. He was 55.

Rahul was born in Kolkata and did his undergraduate and post-graduate studies at St. Stephens College, Delhi and Delhi University before completing a Ph.D. from SUNY, Stonybrook in August 1984 with George Sterman. His thesis was on higher twist effects in quantum chromodynamics (QCD). A high-energy physicist both by training and inclination, he collaborated with scientists in India and around the world, including in Switzerland, France and the Netherlands. He worked on a variety of topics in particle physics and field theory. His work on various aspects of QCD, and more recently, Large Hadron Collider (LHC) physics, is well recognized. He was known for his clarity and dedication as a teacher and thus often called upon to lecture in schools for the training of young particle physicists.

Among his friends at Stonybrook were a large number of Indian physicists, among them one, Neelima Gupte, who later became his wife. Rahul joined the faculty of the Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Chennai in 1991. Over a period of time, he became a Professor at the Institute, assuming a number of important administrative and committee responsibilities en route. He was active in the organization of a large number of high-profile conferences and schools in particle physics. Another significant achievement was his part in the development of the IMSc computer systems to a point where these were seen as a model to be emulated by many other Indian institutes.

He travelled extensively, both on work and for pleasure, in Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Italy, France, Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Greece, USA and Switzerland. He also traveled widely in India, visiting places as diverse as India’s relatively inaccessible north-east, the troubled Kashmir valley and Kerala. His blog “As I Please” had a loyal following, while his writings on eating out in Chennai provided an often acid counterpoint to bland newspaper reviews. He wrote on many topics, including scientific ethics, censorship, politics, Delhi, the pleasures of travel, cooking, books and music – his last blog posting discussed the Pachelbel Canon. He admired good writing as well as the great Indian statesmen of the past century, particularly Jawaharlal Nehru, both for his writings as well as for the clarity of his vision of a modern India.

Acerbic, opinionated, irreverent and argumentative – these were easy first impressions. But a deep concern for others, a genuine sense of fairness, and his belief that scientific institutions must be ever conscious of their responsibilities as well as of their larger purpose lay at the core of his strongly held and vigorously defended views. Beneath the surface lay deep personal warmth, genuine affection and concern for others, accounting for his vast circle of close friends from around the world and in the institute where he worked for more than two decades. These friendships were never superficial or temporary, attesting to his truly remarkable ability to keep his friends, even when he disagreed with them.

We will miss him.

Text: Gautam Menon with inputs from others
Photos: Vani Vemparala

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96 thoughts on “Rahul Basu, 1956-2011

  1. There are (at least!) three Rahuls at IMSc but there was only one
    Rahul Basu — a unique person in so many ways. He was no neophyte
    when it came to computers (or gadgets) — yet he always took up the
    point of view of the novice user. He was often biting in his sarcasm
    — yet always generous in his help to newcomers and youngsters at
    IMSc. He had little interest in sports but was the motive force behind
    a gang of us going to watch CSK playing Rajasthan Royals. A Bengali
    from Delhi who learnt Tamil to blend in into Chennai, he always
    promoted the use of Hindi as a link language in India. He was one of
    the most critical persons regarding any failure of infrastructure
    at IMSc, but he made it a point to be in many committees so as to
    correct these mistakes. There are numerous facilities at IMSc —
    its buildings, furniture, guest house, computer centre, computer
    network, faculty meetings, to name a few, that owe a lot to his zeal
    for perfection. IMSc will not be the same without him and from afar,
    I miss him even more.

  2. I am appending below the text of my tribute posted on my blog. It was also sent to all members of CHEP. While there is so much to be said and felt, the pen falls silent. I also take this opportunity to express my most sincere condolences to Neelima.

    It is with the most profound sorrow that I must write to you about the loss of our friend, collaborator, teacher and esteemed member of the High Energy Physics community.

    The end came quite suddenly after a series of health problems, first in the form of lung infections and eventually cardiac arrest. I met him recently in December in Chennai at which time he was planning a holiday to Bali and Singapore. Apparently he had been recovering from a lung infection, but on his return there was a recurrence and he spent many weeks in the ICU. I spoke to him last month and he sounded a little tired, but apparently otherwise he was getting better. It seems that these infections had weakened him to such an extent that he had a set back.

    Rahul was known to many of us for his organizational skill and enthusiasm in organizing schools, conferences, workshop, etc.. Some of our own students have recently heard his lectures in Chandigarh, and he was to lecture in April at the SINP school. For others he was a collaborator and friend to many of us. Recently many of us have known him for his blogging on As I Please, where his powerful language and logic and wit speak for themselves.

    At this stage I have very few words left to say. I would like to request you all to join me in my thoughts and pay our respects to his memory.

    The link is here.

    1. I was a former student of Matscience and interacted a lot with Rahul during my time there. I am very shocked to hear this news and my deepest condolences to his family.

  3. During my six years at IMSc, I had interacted with Rahul on numerous occasions from organising Science day, setting up IMSc Cultural Association and arranging programmes, Students Hostel and a bit of Physics, among other things. He would be a bit controversial at times with some of his emails on core issues.
    On the other hand, I remember his emails which starts with DON’T PANIC inscribed in large friendly letters before starting a description of the changes in the network/server/mail settings. He was very active, friendly and a lively soul.

  4. Only Kumar Gandharva’s “Ud jaegaa hans akela” can do justice to Rahul’s passing. He was a wonderful, lovable, eccentric bong wog.

  5. I wrote about him in my blog:

    ‘I had always wanted to know Professor Basu better. Unfortunately we had spoken only a few times. He had a great sense of humour. He once described the Rock Garden of Chandigarh as ‘Jackson Pollack gone mad’, a description I shall always remember. I heard tales of his extreme generousity.

    In IMSc he had a reputation among students of being a strict and demanding teacher. Students who slacked lived in fear of being subjected to his sarcasm. ‘I am harsh in class’ he once conceded in my presence. I believe it was his way of making sure that the students worked hard.

    Our longest interaction was when I went to him to discuss the possibility of giving Coffee Mugs with the IMSc logo to the new batch of students as a welcome gift. He told me where I could get Coffee mugs and showed me a new design he had made for the logo. When I was leaving he offered to accompany me when I would go to this shop, should I need help. I was touched by his offer.

    I regret that I did not get to know him better. ‘

    The full text is in my blog

  6. My dear colleagues,

    I cannot find the words at this point to express my feelings of loss
    adequately. But let me just say, that Kapil and I have lost a wonderful friend,
    and Shruti has lost her favourite “cool” uncle. We will always miss Rahul’s
    unique razor-sharp wit, delightful irreverence, wide-ranging intellect and
    open-hearted warmth.

    We regret deeply not being there at Neelima’s side in this moment of grief.

    With a very heavy heart indeed,

  7. With indeed very deep sorrow I was informed by our common friend Anant ( B Ananthanarayan) the loss of Rahul. Rahul was a great personality from all respects, as very correctly is described above. I had the opportunity and pleasure to discuss in length with him various subjects ranging from physics to common history and music of our countries, to enjoy his humor and taste delicious dishes from his hands. Apparently he had good time too during his visit in Corfu and Athens during the Corfu Institute a couple of years ago judging from his excellent photos, which I saw for first time just before and I promise to keep them in the Corfu meeting’s homepage as the smallest contribution to honour his memory.
    I would like to express my warmest condolences to his family.

  8. I have met Rahul only once or twice. But having known Neelima for years , I feel extremely sorry on her great loss.

  9. Through his blog, Rahul Basu touched and enriched the lives of scores like me who have never met him. His blog posts and comments covered a rich variety of topics. He started his blog with a scathing commentary on China-related coverage at the Hindu, before moving on to comment about, among other things, the state of science in India, an IPL match at Chennai, Ram Guha’s book India after Gandhi, Elections-2009, movies, food, and a movie about food (Julie and Julia). His range and reach amazed us, and his humour and wit charmed us.

    Thank you, Rahul. We’ll miss you.

  10. I was shocked to hear of the sad demise of Prof. Rahul Basu.
    Prof. Basu was more than my teacher, he was my co-supervisor and mentor.
    I worked under him as a graduate student at IMSc.
    His passing represents the loss of not only a teacher, but also a guardian like father.
    In deepest sympathy
    chandradew Sharma

  11. What a sad news. … Got to know him only through his blog, but his simple and direct words had the power to make one feel as if one knew him personally.

    My prayers…

  12. I have met Rahul only twice once in Delhi and once in Chennai. My heartfelt condolences to Neelima in her hour of sorrow.

  13. It is hard for me to come to terms with the fact that Rahul will not call me up anymore to exchange notes on books, movies or trivia, nor leave argumentative comments on my blog.

    It doesn’t seem so long since we first met at a school in Trieste, where he supplied a few words of Italian that stood me in good stead for years. Since then he has been a valued colleague and a good friend. His enthusiasm for organization is legend: the number of schools and conferences which he had a part in organizing is unbelievably large. Others have commented on his many interests. To me Rahul was the epitome of an argumentative gentleman, able to disagree totally, and wittily, with someone without the discussion ever getting unpleasant.

  14. As an avid and regular reader of his blog, I am deeply saddened by his untimely demise. His wit and wisdom in commenting on a wide range of topics enriched the lives of many like me who never had the opportunity of knowing him personally. My condolences to Prof. Gupte, and to quote Thomas Campbell …
    ”To live in hearts we leave behind,
    Is not to die. ”.

  15. This is really sad. I hadnt met Rahul for a long time and really looked forward to
    meeting him at IITK for the recent conference. But I heard that he could not come
    becos of some illness, but that he was recovering. This news came as a rude shock.

    I will always remember Rahul as a warm, friendly person, with great sense of humor
    and a sharp intellect, a fine physicist with a broad perspective, and above all : my teacher and my first collaborator.

    Matscience will not be the same as before without him.

  16. I am sorry for the sad demise of Prof. Rahul Basu.

    I have met Rahul several times. Neelima has been my friend and collaborator for several years and whenever I visited Chennai I used to go to their house. They were a lovable couple and I cherish the memory of these visits. I pray for Rahul and my condolences to Neelima.

  17. I have known Rahul Basu for over six years, since a little after I joined IMSc (he was away when I joined, but was widely spoken of). We have had lots of interaction on all sorts of things in those years. On the one hand, I can’t claim to have known him as well as some of the other friends, old and new, who have commented here. On the other hand, I feel as if there is nobody I knew better — because, with Rahul, what you saw is what you got. I felt instantly comfortable with him, and did not fear the occasional disagreement, even if severe. Rahul made a distinction between objecting to a person’s opinions and objecting to a person, and, as far as I saw, did the former vigorously without ever suggesting the latter. I believe his sometimes abrasive personal style probably contributed to the congenial atmosphere at the institute: when you know that there is nothing personal in a disagreement, and you know that the other person does not hold a grudge, you are unlikely to do so yourself.

    But I say this because it is a rare quality, not because it was his most notable quality. In fact, disagreements were rare, even when — as usual — discussions were animated. His most notable quality, I think, was the life he brought to any group he was in. It was impossible to be bored in his presence. And this was not just his personality, though it was that too: it was his intelligence, erudition, wide range of interests, curiosity, and sense of humour. He kept you thinking, and he kept you interested. (All this has been obvious to the many people who have commented above, who knew him only through his blog. In his case, his online personality is an accurate reflection of his offline one.) And when you yourself came upon something interesting, he’s the first person you’d want to tell. Now he’s gone and the emptiness is palpable.

    I dearly hope that Neelima will find a way to overcome this awful and, till now, unthinkable void in her life. But she is a strong person, and all Rahul’s friends are her friends too.

  18. I first met Rahul in Stony Brook in 1979, the year he joined there. He rapidly shot to fame for accusing someone in the hostel kitchen of breaking eggs “in an uncouth way”! While this provided much amusement all round, it took the next three decades for me to understand that this was merely part of the “acerbic, opinionated, irreverent and argumentative” outer covering of Rahul Basu (as it has been nicely described above) that concealed a jewel of a person.

    Rahul was unique in so many important ways. To highlight just one: he believed strictly in the principle of being just and fair. To this end he not only helped the people whom he saw as underdogs, but also roundly criticised others whom he found biased and dogmatic. It’s safe to say that proponents of every “..ism” got it in the neck from him at some time or other. And yet he had no trouble agreeing with any of them on a specific issue, if that specific issue appealed to his reason.

    To convince Rahul of something, it was not necessary (indeed, usually counterproductive) to come up with famous names and weighty theories in support. Simple logic clearly presented would work fine — if of course he agreed on the logic. It didn’t matter a hoot whether, in the process, he ended up agreeing with someone he didn’t know, or even slightly disliked, over another person who was supposedly close to him. Logic could not, for Rahul, be defeated by tags including personal ones. Also, I always came away from an argument with him feeling that I had been given an original perspective on things.

    His loss is a tragedy in all possible ways. The only tiny consolation would be that we collectively keep alive the memory of the way he was and the things he did. There’s so much more to be said — about his physics, his involvement in physics teaching and administration, his Renaissance nature and love of the fine things in life… many people have written nicely on these above.

    And there are so many pending arguments with him that we couldn’t complete — now they will have to wait till I meet the acerbic and lovable gentleman in the hereafter.

  19. Rahul and I were classmates in St. Columba’s High School, New Delhi, from class V up. Later we overlapped in Stony Brook. But with him and Neelima doing physics in Chennai, and me biology in Hyderabad, our paths almost never crossed – until an invitation to a meeting brought me to the University of Madras campus on Feb 8/9. I am thankful for that invitation, it gave me a chance to meet him and Neelima and to reminisce on our St. Columba’s and Stony Brook years. He explained some long forgotten classical mechanics. Just for its incongruousness, as he explained to a biologist while recuperating, I want share it here – (but misspellings, if any, are mine alone) what “the polehode rolls without slipping on the hyperlode of the invariant plane” meant.
    Also, Sunil, I think the expression he used was “couthlessly”.

  20. I deeply regret sudden demise of Rahul, besides a great physicists, to me he is also a husband of my dearest friend Nilima and a friend of my sister Jharna and Dipendra Sengupta, SUNY, StonyBook Alumni.

    I have no language to express my deep sorrow. I personally convey my consolation to
    Nilima. Nilima, We are beside you in this moment of personal crisis.

  21. Rahul will be missed.
    I was looking forward to meeting him someday at MatScience, which is what it use to be known as, back in the day, when it was in my backyard of Adyar.
    Rahul will be missed.

  22. I feel anything I will say or write in this sad hour about my buddy would be too little, too emotional and I can see and hear Rahul shaking his head and saying “Jesus! Vani, get a grip!”

    Our age difference (of nearly 20 years) never showed up in my interactions with him over the last 4 years. We became fast friends exchanging music, movies, books etc., Our tastes in all the above were vastly different. For example, he introduced me to a lot of baroque music and I returned the favor by introducing him to Cold Play(he liked) and Amy Winehouse(he didn’t care much!). As mentioned by many here, these differences never seemed to matter with him and made my interactions with him all the more lively by throwing constant jabs at each other’s tastes, yet always trying out the other’s suggestions (and at times liking some as well!). The last CD he gave me was “Scott Joplin: The red back book”, just before he fell ill for the second time, and I never got to tell him how much I loved it!

    He was an avid reader and his reading interests encompassed non-fiction books on politics/religion/cooking, to classics and murder mysteries and even Harry Potter. He introduced me to Murakami, for which I will always be grateful to him. He was young at heart, always ready to learn, even started taking up Piano classes few months back. Rahul was an avid traveler and I was fortunate enough to be shown around Delhi by him and had a memorable time. He urged me to travel much more and I will try to listen to his sane advice atleast now.

    I will miss our almost-daily (long) chats (especially non-PC ones), going to lunch/tea together and all those ice-cream sessions and gup-shup at Baskin-Robbins after wards, book/music exchanges and the general sense of great fun I shared with Rahul over last four years. Rahul, you have made my 4-year stay at IMSc very memorable and left us too early while we were still making many plans of doing many more things together!

  23. I was shocked to hear the news of his passing away. I have never met him but am an avid reader of his blog. I wish to offer my condolences to the grieving family.

  24. Radha and I convey our heartfelt condolences to Neelima in this time of deep grief. We have known Rahul and Neelima for a long time, and are privileged to be counted among their numerious friends. Although it was evident towards the end that Rahul was valiantly fighting to recover from a serious set-back to his health, the end came all too suddenly and shockingly, and we’re still in a daze.

    Rahul’s perceptive take on just about anything one discussed with him (and it was a rare topic on which he was not knowledgeable at some level) always set one re-thinking about the matter. I’m a stranger to the ‘blogosphere’ (if I have the term right), but one day I ran into ‘As I Please’ (Rahul’s well-known blog and the first blog I had ever read), and I was hooked—to the extent that I even ventured to post a few comments, knowing that there would be a reasoned response soon thereafter. On one occasion he called me up to say rather excitedly, “Hey, I’ve just posted a blog which you’ll find interesting, so why don’t you take a look and comment on it!” I started checking regularly for new posts after that. After the hiatus following ‘Maxwell’s Demon’, it was a pleasure to read about Pachelbel’s Canon, since it signalled the return to normal times. But that was not to be, and the music sadly faded away into silence.

    Rahul was remarkably well-read, on an enviable diversity of subjects. We recall vividly the unadulterated joy in his face when he showed us the astonishingly large and fully-stacked bookshelf-complex he had managed to design and position in their new flat. It was evident that, as a true book-lover, he regarded the housing of his large collection in readily accessible proximity as a significant achievement and the realization of a long-held desire. Not to mention his music collection….

    It is too early to feel the full impact of his passing, but there’s no doubt a permanent void will be left in the lives of Rahul and Neelima’s many friends and well-wishers.


  25. It was such a sad day when Rahul passed away. To Neelima I offer my most heartfelt

    Rahul was my friend first of all, with whom I also collaborated. Though we both did our PhD at Stony Brook, we met later in our lives, when he badgered me – and he was the nicest badgerer I know – to come to India for the WHEPP conference in Mumbai.
    I have such fond memories of that trip, a trip that yielded a wonderful first acquaintance with India, and immediate friendship with Rahul. This deepened in every subsequent trips, in each of which Rahul and I met. We ‘clicked’, our conversations were interesting, wide-ranging, warm, personal; about physics and physicists, travel, food, culture. Our stay in New Delhi and trip to Allahabad was just wonderful, with many memories I will cherish.

    Of course I was not the only one he cajoled to come to India, many of my colleagues in Europe and US have been because of Rahul. Through his all his organizing,
    networking and promoting he greatly expanded interactions in particle phenomenology between Indian physicists and their European and US colleagues,
    and we are all deeply grateful for that.

    Rahul visited Amsterdam twice. He just wanted to know everything about the Netherlands, and knew in fact much more than me! He enjoyed both the city, and the smaller villages we visited on his first trip. The vista’s were beautiful, but one
    fish-restaurant lunch very mediocre. Rahul, not usually the most forgiving towards bad food, was more than gracious about it.

    The memories of my travels, conversations and collaboration with Rahul leave me,
    though terribly saddened, also enriched for having known him. The world is much poorer for Rahul’s passing. I will miss my friend.

  26. It is with the deepest sorrow that I heard of the sudden demise of Rahul. Rahul was a
    friend and a collaborator, and for me he remains the one who introduced me into the
    ancient and modern India. I do remember all these discussions we had when visiting
    the great classics: Mamalapuram, Belur, Mysore and so many others.
    His critical,passionate and amusing opinions appealed to me. Behind his occasionally
    sharp point of views he was a very generous and obliging person. One of the prominent
    aspects of his strong personality, that I most appreciated, was his sense of social

  27. I am shocked and saddened to hear of Rahul’s passing. I met him on just a couple of occasions but remember the visit to Chennai for a seminar, at his invitation, and his kindness and hospitality.
    I wish his family and near ones well as they cope with this enormous loss.

  28. I still cannot believe that we have lost Rahul so soon, I was so confident
    that there would have been many chances to meet and enjoy his good
    company. I was looking forward to RadCor in the fall, which could have
    been our next meeting.

    My heart goes out to Neelima.

    Just like my friend Eric, I owe my first trip to India to Rahul’s invitation
    to Chennai for WHEPP X three years ago. After meeting him, I quickly
    developed a great respect for him as a scientist and as a person. I
    recognize, in the words of his friends here, the same qualities that I
    appreciated: his sharp intellect, his quick humor, his clear head, free
    of prejudice, his fundamental kindness, which you could read at the
    bottom of his eyes under a thin layer of irony.

    Rahul was a true gentleman, a fine scientist, a good man. He will be
    sorely missed and warmly remembered.

  29. It is a deep loss for all those of us who knew Rahul Basu. He was
    a compassionate friend, and a scientist with true objectivity and
    depth. Since I came to know Rahul personally, during the WHEPP
    working group organization in 2001, he became part of that circle
    of friends for me whose statements and activities I would often
    quote to others. I know of no other person with that much passion
    for cooking, good eating, music, science, … all in one. He
    taught me what are good portions for eating in a Crab, I
    downloaded excellent collection of old classical music from the
    links from his website, and I made sure I bought some pine nuts
    this time from Delhi when he provoked me “Ajit, I am disappointed
    that you put walnuts in pesto sauce”. After his convincing
    arguments about virtues of making bread at home, I downloaded
    recipe from his website, and even bought a bread box. I was going
    to make one soon, and would have liked to tell him about it. My
    son Puhup, my wife Shikha and myself often burst into laughter
    simply by recalling the “Ajeet Jokes” (Ajeet from Hindi films),
    which used to be narrated by Rahul with such style that I think
    actual Ajeet would have ranked second in front of those. My overlap
    in research with him was somewhat limited, but enough for us to
    have often critical discussions of issues involved in the field.
    I was struck not only by his depth in science, but by his objectivity
    which extended into his other domains of activities as for a
    complete scientist. We disagreed on many social-political issues, but
    I have had some of the most constructive discussions on such issues
    with him.

    Myself, Shikha, and Puhup, have lost a very lovable friend
    for ever. No words of sympathy can lessen the grief and loss
    for Neelima ji. We can only say that, though we may be incapable of
    fully understanding your grief, we stand by you in this moment,
    and ever after.

    – Ajit

  30. Though I knew him only through his blog, I feel saddened by his untimely demise. His readers were enriched by his blog. Condolences to his family. But maybe they can feel a little consoled by the fact that he seemed to have lived much more than one life in this short time.

  31. I met Rahul in 1973 – my first day at St. Stephen’s.. a quiet person who very soon became one of my closest friends.. a person who with his wit and good nature.. was loved by all .. we spent 5 years together in college .. I happen to meet his parents too – very affectionate and loving and we used to love going to his place.. having “Double Seven” (1977 days) and enjoying the lovely bengali food.. After he went to SUNY, we lost contact.. to be revived a few years later when he was back and based in Chennai..

    During his travel – we met a couple of times in Delhi and spent hours talking and reviving memories of college .. a wonderful time that we spent.. each of those moments are now memories that I will always cherish..

    A sad moment for all of us .. this sudden loss is yet to settle-in and Rahul’s smiling face keeps coming back.. my heartfelt sympathies to Neelima, in ths this terrible time of grief..

  32. Rahul’s untimely demise came as shock to me. Even though I knew he was not keeping well, I never imagined he will leave so soon.

    I knew him since 2002 when he helped me as the tutor for a course on QFT that
    I taught in SERC school at IIT, Bombay. My association with him started a year later at WHEPP, when both of us got interested in QCD resummation and started collaborating with Eric Laenen.

    Rahul was a very keen physicist, a very intelligent person and a warm human being.In spite of being in an elite institute, he fully understood the constraints and hurdles I had to face in the university system and was always ready to help. Along with Rohini Godbole , he helped me to get me out of my cocoon and get a flavour of collaborative research- something on which I had given up a long time back. I feel that our country needs more people like him if we really want to encourage research in our university system.

    Much has been said on this page about his wit, argumentativeness, varied interests etc. I will always remember him as a perfect gentleman, a very supportive collaborator, a lively friend and a wonderful host. My annual visits to IMSc have been most enjoyable both academically and otherwise, thanks to Rahul’s thoughtful ways. A visit to IMSc was never complete without an awesome meal cooked by him and Neelima.

    I was always impressed with the varied range of interests he had and the energy with which he persued them. I don’t know if IMSc coffee room will ever be the same again without Rahul.

    I join Neelima and and IMSc family in their grief and feel his memories will
    continue to inspire all of us.

  33. Like everyone here, this news has shocked me. Although he was in ICU, we thought he would be able to recover this time too. Unfortunately, that was not to be. My heartfelt condolences to Neelima on her loss.

    I knew Rahul through his blog and the several email exchanges, mostly on food/eating-out. Although I have met him just a couple of times, I feel I know him through these exchanges and our common friends. Always cheerful and irreverent is what I gleaned from his blog: his real world personality exactly matched his online persona. Rahul was, what we can call, a “WYSIWYG”: what you see is what you get. His passing away has left the community much impoverished. He will be warmly remembered by all.

  34. It is with great sadness that I learned about the fatal fate of our colleague and friend Rahul Basu. Rahul looked so full of life that the news of his demise came as a complete shock to me.

    I had the chance to approach Rahul several times during my visits at IMSc. It was hard for a visitor like myself not to notice him, and most importantly, not to appreciate him. His wit, his humor, as well as his deep kindness were indeed remarkable.

    Although based thousands of miles away, I feel very close to the extended IMSc community at this very sad moment, and I want to stress that I share your sadness.

  35. I was devastated, to say the least. I knew that he had been
    suffering, but the shock is still there. I had last talked to him
    less than two weeks ago, and though he sounded tired,
    he was quite sure of winning this battle, no matter what. The
    fighting spirit was there ! Even last week, after he was afflicted
    again, Neelima averred that he was resolutely fighting back.
    And then, this !

    I was a young graduate student, when Rahul joined IMSc. Being
    a virtual bachelor then, he used to spend a lot of time with us,
    and was rather helpful on many academic issues. I remember that
    he was very concerned that we were then learning non-abelian
    gauge theories is what he described as a ‘dry manner’: heavy on
    formalism with relatively less emphasis on actual observations.
    To remedy this, he rustled up a team and organised a series of
    lectures on QCD, with particular emphasis on experiments. I remember
    too the long discussions on field theories that we would have at his
    office desk and in the institute’s pantry. Rahul engaged in all this
    knowing fully well that, as a post-doctoral fellow, these would not
    only earn him very little credit, but would eat considerably into the
    time he could end on his own research projects. He simply felt that,
    as a somewhat senior member of the community, it was his duty
    towards us. Thank you, Rahul !

    I remember fondly our post-dinner walks on the Besant Nagar
    beach, discussing everything under the earth. He taught me to
    listen to European classical music, taught me to distinguish
    between periods, between composers. I wish we had more time.
    I remember fondly the dinner parties at his place, where he always
    had a delicious new surprise (I must admit here to having stolen
    some of his recipes without attribute.). His knowledgeable
    discourses on fine dining and wine ! Thanks to him, we, the poor
    and uncultured graduate students of the mid-80s’ India, could
    have a taste of this.

    What I admired even more in him were his insistence on calling
    a spade a spade and his ability to admit a mistake. As a post-doc
    during the tumultuous era in IMSc, he often took up cudgels
    on behalf of students. His acid wit (remarked on by several others)
    found expression in both scathing indictments and hilarious (yet
    subversive) limericks. And even later, when he was ensconced
    comfortably in an academic position that often brings about a
    cultivated mellowness, he was remarkably averse to suffering
    hypocrisy and lack of fairness, no matter who it was directed at.
    Many have been the times that he has chided me for my failings.
    You could be angry with him, but you could not keep up the anger.
    Simply because either you saw the error of your ways, or, on those
    occasions where he had erred, he’d come up an offer an unconditional
    apology !

    And he cared ! Whether it be for those around him (colleagues, students,
    friends) or those far less fortunate than most of us. (Having briefly known
    his late father, I presume that it is trait that ran in the family.) I have been
    a beneficiary of his kindness and genuine concern in some of my own
    hours of crises. I wish I could care as deeply for others.

    Rahul, I have been rather verbose, something you often chided
    me for being. But, dear friend, I have not even touched on half the
    things that I wanted to mention, half the memories that you leave
    behind. May there be more like you.

  36. I didn’t know Rahul personally, but count myself lucky to have learned a little about him and the world via his blog. We emailed each other a couple of times on one of the pressing issues of the times, i.e. food places in Madras. Given the catholic nature of his thoughts and writing, it isn’t a surprise to see that he touched so many people in so many ways. Not having met him face to face will remain a regret.

    He is missed.

  37. Besides being a collaborator for the last eight years, Rahul was a wonderful friend. His well thought and provocative remarks, his curiosity, his vast knowledge on literature, art, politics and food (he even made me discover the gastronomy of my home town) made any discussuion with him extremely rewarding. Thanks to him, I was intiated to Indian history, literature, music and (some of) its cultural treasures. He was a true and lucid gentleman.

    My thoughts go to Neelima in these very sad days.

  38. It is hard to believe that Rahul is no more! Myself and Karmadev were terribly shocked
    to learn about this sad news yesterday. We were completely unaware about his illness.
    We know Rahul and Nileema for more than twenty years.
    I probably met Rahul for the first time in 1989 in a conference and Nileema afterwards.
    We became good friends. Then I was a postdoc at Mat Science from 1992-94.
    I can’t forget his excellent hospitality during that time. Last we met in Bhubaneswar
    when he was visiting IOP. He had come to our place and it was so
    nice talking to him. He was so full of life and as usual, excited about many things.
    We lost a very good friend and above all, a very good human being.
    We will miss you Rahul! Myself and Karmadev offer our deepest condolences to
    Nileema on her personal loss.

  39. Like everyone else , I am sorry to learn about , untimely passing away of Rahul. We all lost a valuable young colleague and cheerful friend. Kindly convey our condolences to Neelima. My wife Jayanthy and I fondly cherish our travels in Mt.Abu with Rahul and Neelima.

  40. I am very sad to know about untimely passing away of Rahul. I first met him
    on a visit to IMSc. in 1988, and since then he has been a friend and a valuable colleague.
    I had a very close collaboration with him in recent years, and it is difficult for me
    to come to terms with the fact that he is no more. He will be be missed by all who knew
    him, as a friend and as a colleague. My heartfelt condolences to his family.

  41. I am greatly shocked at the sudden demise of Prof. Rahul Bose. I can still remember the scintillating discussion that I had with him in Gauhati University in the room of Prof. D.K.Choudhury a couple of years earlier. I found him cheerful, who really likes to delve deep in any topic, reflecting his deep passion for Physics. His untimely passing away is a great loss to the Physics community as a whole.

  42. It is a great shock for me to learn about Professor Rahul Basu”s untimely passing away.I cannot forget his assistance in organizing XII DAE Symposium on High Energy Physics at Gauhati University during 1996-97. He visited our department several times and advised several of my research students inspite of his busy schedule.I also met him several times at IM Sc and had several illuminating and fruitful discussions . His lectures at SERC schools on QCD are very elaborate and of great use for research scholars and faculties alike.
    My heartfelt condolence to his family.

  43. I am shocked and saddened beyond words and belief at this tragic news and the untimely loss of a fine physicist and an erudite, cultured, warm human being and a colleague and friend. I first met Raul when I was a graduate student and what struck me was his easy human warmth, ready wit, a fine sense of humor and his sharp intellect. Of course we met many times after that and when I was a post doc at Matscience, he was one warm and friendly colleague with an infectious smile and conversation with him was always a special pleasure. His wit, humor, erudition and culture was something that I admired tremendously. Above all his warmth and friendly nature endeared him to all. I will miss his infectious smile and humor and his
    rich and pleasurable conversations. My deepest condolences to Neelima and both their families. This is a loss to the entire Indian physics community.

  44. I will always miss Rahul for his kindness, friendship and humour. It was always a pleasure having him around during HEP conferences. Just last year we enjoyed his company at WHEPP. I could not have imagined at that time that we will not see him in another such meeting.

  45. It was with great sadness that I learnt of Rahul’s passing.

    I remember most his infectious chuckling and his smile, reminding us never to take ourselves too seriously. Those who were lucky enough to be close to him have said much about his warmth, his sense of humour, his varied interests, many of which I shared, but unfortunately could not discuss them with him as much as I would have liked because we lived and worked in places so far apart.

    He was that rarity among humans in general and scientists in particular, a person with a heart.

  46. It was with considerable shock that I learnt about Rahul pasing away. Govindarajan and I had gone to see him in late January when he appeared to be well on his way to recovery so that this sad news has been very unexpected.
    We will indeed miss his presence at the coffee breaks at IMSc and his stimulating comments on the frontier research in the standard model including his own.
    My deepest sympathies to Neelima.

  47. I can’t believe that Rahul-da(Basu) is no more…after hearing this I was spell-bound.
    It is a personal loss for me. I had the opportunity to work with him…learned
    a lot of things from him…still those days with him at IMSc I remember now…the void that
    has been generated because of this loss in HEP cannot be filled. ….

  48. [email from George Sterman, posted with permission]

    I’m truly saddened to forward the message below from Sunil Mukhi, reporting the
    loss of my friend Rahul Basu. Rahul was one of my first students. In his
    thesis work he helped in the early development of factorization proofs for
    collider physics and wrote one of the first papers on the effect of quark
    masses in jet physics.

    Rahul spent most of his professional career at the Institute for Mathematical
    Sciences in Chennai, and he remained active in research, developing
    collaborations with European theorists, including our friend and former student
    Eric Laenen. Rahul was an active organizer of international conferences that
    brought many distinguished physicists to India. His last paper on Spires is
    dated January 4, 2011.

    Those of us who remember Rahul from his student days know that he was a great
    lover of what life has to offer, in the arts and history, and also at the
    table. This continued throughout his life, and you can find on-line ‘Rahul
    Basu’s guide to eating out in Chennai’. (I know it’s his because it has his
    picture.) It was here at the YITP that Rahul met his wife, Neelima Gupte,
    Barry’s student who holds a professorship at Chennai. Rahul retained his
    fondness for Stony Brook, and visited us for the Department’s reunion
    conference about ten years ago. He wanted to attend the YITP reunion in 2007,
    and I was hoping to see him again here sometime. I only regret now that I
    never quite found the right time to visit him in Chennai.

    Most of all, we will remember Rahul as a wonderful person, a gentleman in the
    best sense of the word, with a broad view of life and an inner wisdom. His
    passing is a shock, but I will cherish his memory and take comfort in the
    example he set of embracing life and work.

  49. It is hard to believe that Rahul is no more.
    Like Sunil, I also first met Rahul in 1979, the year we both joined
    Stonybrook as graduate students. And like Sunil, I also feel
    that it has taken many of us old-timers from Stonybrook many
    years to get to know him well. But we’ve had the time – more
    than 30 years!
    Among Rahul’s many roles mentioned in the various tributes above,
    the one I remember him best for is as someone who loved poking fun
    at others, and as one who has often been at the receiving end,
    I can vouch for the fact that it was wholly without malice.
    In recent years, when I visited Matscience, I remember being amused to
    find Vani at the receiving end. It took me back to the old Stonybrook days.
    Besides the many trips we took to various places in the USA, I cherish
    a visit a few years ago to Mussoorie, where Rahul, Neelima, Ashoke
    and I spent a relaxing few days, reminiscing about our Stonybrook days
    and all our friends. I wish we had followed up on our plans to have
    a Stonybrook get-together sometime. At that time, we felt that there
    was plenty of time. But now, it can never happen, because no get-together
    of those days can ever be complete without Rahul.
    I have found it difficult to marshall my thoughts about Rahul while
    worrying about how Neelima is going to cope with her great loss, when
    even all of us are finding it so hard to come to terms with it.
    My heartfelt condolences to her.

  50. It was a shock to hear of Rahul’s passing away. I met Rahul for the first time in October 2010, when I came to IMSc for a talk. I left Chennai feeling that I had met a man that I’d like to meet many times over, for even in that short meeting, it was clear that there was much to cherish about Rahul. So, this news is extremely sorrowful. My deepest condolences to his immediately family and his extended family at IMSc.

  51. It is really a shocking news for me and I can not believe that
    Rahul is no more. I know Rahul since my student times at IMSc,
    I worked with him on projects when I was a PDF at TIFR and I have
    been in touch with him all throughout on various physics related
    matters. We have been colloborators not only in physics projects
    but also in organising several physics related activities. I met him
    couple of weeks back in his apartment after he returned from Hospital
    and i was very hopeful that he will be back to work. We have a couple of
    tasks to do together during this April (Advanced School in SINP)
    and September (RADCOR 2011) as organisers
    and I will miss him a lot in every step in this direction.
    I will ofcourse miss him always and in
    particular in every physics meeting where we have many common things to
    share. I share a lot of pain in his loss with all of you, Nileema and
    their relatives.

    V. Ravindran

  52. Rahul’s untimely demise is such a tragic loss. I will remember him for his child like enthusiasm for life and its details. In spite of having limited interactions, I feel I have lost a dear friend, such was his ability to connect. We will sorely miss him.

  53. It is hard for me to swallow the news that Rahul Basu is no more! I am one of those who have enjoyed his cooking, his music and had chats with him on various issues. Though never had a physics overlap with him, had a very good interaction with him. He was a vibrant personality, whose yearning to explore new things was what set him apart from many of his colleagues. We are all going to miss him.

  54. It is a great and sudden shock to learn about the untimely passing away of Rahul Basu. I had no idea at all that he was unwell…
    My deepest condolences and sympathies to Neelima Gupte and to the IMSc people.

    BITS Goa

  55. It is sad to know the sudden demise of Professor Rahul Basu. This is indeed a great loss to Theoretical Physics community of our country. We the faculty members of Centre for Nonlinear Dynamics, Bharathidasan University, Tiruchirapalli express our heartfelt condolence.

  56. I was shocked when I heard this news from a friend. I did my PhD from IMSc and during my time here got to know Rahul and Neelima very well. Rahul was one person who could lighten any atmosphere and create a warmth of feeling even in the most hostile environments. How many times when I must have thought, ‘Thank God for Rahul!’

    Yesterday I looked at his blog and read his note about being indisposed and thought I would greet him when I next went near matscience. I never thought that at the time it was already too late.

    I would like to offer my condolences to his family and share a moment of grief with so many friends of his.

  57. It is sad to know that Prof Rahul is no more. As a civil engineering contractor of IMSC happens to meet him a lees speaking man with principle .When ever I meet him along with Mr.Arngarajan an Scientific Officer civil IMSC Chennai I wonder about his sharp mind. As a contractor my deepest condolence and prayers for his soul REST IN PEACE

  58. I do not know Prof Rahul Basu as much as anyone else who commented here. From one talk of him which I had the fortune to listen to and a few minutes of conversation with him, I could easily understand the genius behind this great man. Before that I have only heard about his brilliance from few people at MatScience. It is a great loss to the entire physics community indeed. I am sure he will be fondly cherished forever by many best minds across the world.

  59. Very sad to know about Rahul’s unexpected demise. My heartfelt condolences to Neelima and his extended family at Mat Science.

  60. (received by e-mail)

    We, the members of Harish-Chandra Research Institute, Allahabad, are deeply shocked at the untimely demise of Professor Rahul Basu, Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Chennai.

    Several of us knew Rahul as professional colleague, sharing many of his interests, and participating jointly in activities related to high-energy physics. All of us remember his energetic and important contributions in the field. We also remember his alacrity and methodical approach to the organisation of various academic activities, which helped the international community to a great extent. And, above all, those who knew him personally remember foundly his warm friendship and his perpetual eagerness to help others.

    We wish to convey our heartfelt condolence to his family.

    Amitava Raychaudhuri
    Director, HRI, Allahabad

  61. I am deeply saddened by the news of Rahul Basu’s sudden demise. I had several informal meetings with Rahul when (2001-03) I worked with Neelima at IITM. To me Rahul seemed to be a cool, calm and very content person. At one such meeting, he was expressing his thoughts about the scientists on the selection panel for Physics at Delhi University. He seemed to have wider concerns about existing academic environment, especially in science departments, in Indian universities. My sincere condolences for Neelima and her family and friends.

    Brajendra Singh
    University of Notre Dame
    Notre Dame, IN, USA

  62. Never thought my first visit to Chennai would be to see Rahul in a hospital and he would eventually leave us….forever.

    I had known Rahul for the last 15 years, since my wife Lipi was his childhood friend; their respective fathers being colleagues in Kolkata. Since mid 2007 Rahul came to Delhi quite frequently and stayed with us, when he had work at Delhi Univ or just passing by on route to Allahabad, Mussoorie or wherever in the North his work would take him. We shared a common love for cooking and photography and would frequently discuss recipes of traditional bengali dishes and call each other up whenever either of us bought some electronic gadget or photo equipment.

    Rahul had this amazing ability to start a discussion on almost any conceivable topic and we discussed varied topics ranging from banking (my profession), politics, Delhi traffic and of course food around the world in general and Indian food in particular. He regularly instructed us on books he had read and those we should read in turn. He loved and missed Delhi a lot and kept coming back to meet us and his other closed friend from his college days. His last visit to Delhi was during the Durga Puja in October 2010.

    When I look back at Rahul’s life, I see a person who enjoyed every moment, every facet of his existence, extremely curious of the world around him and embracing everyone who came in contact with him.

    Our greatest tribute to him would be to follow his ideal and enjoy the small moments of life, be in touch with friends and give your best to our work (he was very proud of being part of IMSC).

    Will miss you a lot Rahul babu….may your soul rest in peace.

  63. Though I knew Rahul only from afar, I could not help being struck by both his vivacity and original personality. It feels so terrible and unjust when such a person is snatched away in his prime. I can only begin to imagine the depth of loss to his friends, colleagues and relatives. My sincerest condolences to them and particularly to Neelima. And as others have said, hope we can collectively keep alive his spirit within us.

  64. I still have great difficulties to fully grasp the news of the death of Rahul Basu. Although I knew that he had fallen ill a few months back, according to news from people who met him recently, it looked like he was on the way to recovery, so this bad turn of events came as a big surprise and shock for me. I wish to convey my condolences to his family and his close friends.

    I first met Rahul, when I traveled across India for two months in late 2004, combining visits to several High Energy Physics Institutes with tourism. While staying at IMSc for a week or so, he was very helpful in telling me which places to visit in and around Chennai. After taking up a position at HRI, Allahabad in 2006, I have met Rahul at several High Energy Physics meetings around India, in particular at our School on QCD at the LHC at HRI in November 2007, “his” WHEPP X in Chennai in January 2008 and two further meetings on LHC Physics at HRI in February 2009 and at Shimla in December 2009. It was always a great pleasure to talk to him about physics and many other things.

    Over the last one and a half years, Rahul was part of the local organizing committee (with Prakash Mathews, V. Ravindran and myself) of the upcoming RADCOR Symposium at Mamallapuram in September 2011, so we were all in contact by e-mail and phone, almost on a daily basis. Rahul was also ready to give some lectures at the preparatory Advanced School on Radiative Corrections for the LHC to be held at SINP in April 2011. We will miss him a lot in the preparation of these two meetings and, of course, we will miss him sorely as a friend and physicist at upcoming High Energy Physics meetings here in India.

  65. It is with deep sadness that I write these lines. The past months had gone by getting mails/phone calls back and forth from India and one had truly felt that the worst was over. Even went around telling people here that yes perhaps we can now hope for the tide to turn and then the news from Chennai came : the worst has happened. It was a great shock.

    I am in fact finding it too hard to write anything.
    I knew Rahul on two levels : Rahul, my friend, the ‘better’(!) half of one of the best ‘made for each other’ couples I knew and then I knew Rahul the physicist, a very responsible, important and professional member of the Indian High Energy Physics Community that he had come to be, in the past 25 (my god has it been that long!) years. We did not overlap at Stony Brook and I got to know him first through Neelima with whom I did overlap. I always made fun of him that I knew him as Neelima’s husband and not for himself. But really he took that in good humour. So not only he loved to poke fun at others, as Sumathi mentioned..but he took it as well! I remember him telling me while giving me their two land line numbers: ‘his and hers’! First I got to
    know Rahul the person, the argumentative, acrebic as mentioned by people till one found that this ‘Dab’ was filled with sweet water. As Eric said ‘it was impossible not to like him’ ! I would certainly miss arguing with him, even when we were in agreement on issues that we were arguing about!

    After knowing him as a friend, somehwere along the line started the physics collaboration, which moved onwards mainly due to Rahul’s pushing us all the time. We spent summers in Annecy, once sharing an apartment for one month, working, cooking on weekends and travelling around with Patrick. We also spent various amounts of times together at ICTP, CERN and a large number of WHEPP’s, SERC schools and what not. Got to know him better and better in all these
    times. Rahul indeed had a very professional attitude and was quite irked when people failed to be so. It is hard to count all the times we spent together on different occasions and equally hard to keep track of number of things for which I depended on him in various situations. I could rely on him for much help in many ways and in so many different contexts.

    Above all, Rahul understood the profession of science: doing science and teaching science. Was always ready to do what he can to promote the cause of THEP in India. Many a times one turned to him with requests to organise various things: be it student’s visits to IMSc, SERC schools, WHEPP’s, small meetings and visits of scientists from outside India whom one would like to see around and he took it up without much fuss and all was done very efficiently too!

    While walking in the corridors of CERN soon after hearing this news, I was reminded of Rahul in the last visit where we were coorganisers of a Top Workshop: discussing with me the organisation of top work shop, teaching me how to use my new camera, going to buy the key chain with a piece of LHC and going on a tour of LHC together! I almost thought I would see him walking out of the office asking me sheepishly whether I can walk with him to the main door as he kept on getting lost in the corridors there! Then it hit me with a shock the that he will not walk any corridors again in person, any where! All I can say is life
    is cruel and unfair.

    Much more can be said about Rahul the friend, Rahul the Renessiance man, Rahul the gentleman, Rahul the Scientist, Rahul the Cook and Rahul the avid Reader and so on.. Much has been said and much more nicely than I can put it.. I just end with saying that I will miss a very dear friend and a very valuable colleague, and cherish his memory.

    What does one say to Neelima? How does one cope up with such a loss? I dont know how one does it, even though I know one has to somehow! I find myself worrying about her….words such as heartfelt condolences and so on feel too inadequate..but that is all one has with one..

  66. Rahul was two years ahead of me at St Columba’s and St. Stephen’s. We didn’t really know each other at school although our parents were slightly acquainted because they grocery shopped at the same place (Amar Babu’s dukan at Gole Market). Later when we were in college, Rahul and his father and their big Alsatian, Pluto (his mother had passed away when Rahul was still in school) came to live near us in Chittaranjan Park. We often travelled together in the Kalkaji U-Special and hung around together in the evenings and on weekends. He introduced me to The Scientific American. I borrowed freely from his large library meticulously arranged in steel almirahs in his study.

    We kept in close touch thereafter. We visited each other in graduate school several times. I remember dining with his dorm-kitchen mates at Stonybrook (I think it was December 1983). More recently we exchanged innumerable emails and often spoke with each other on weekends. I had visited Bali with my family last summer and enthusiastically recommended it to him for a visit. The last email I received from him was a link to the pictures he had taken on his trip there with Neelima in December.

    As all his friends know, Rahul was an exceptionally fine human being. He had wide interests and was insatiably curious about everything. He had a moral and rational outlook that did not sit comfortably with conventional political ideologies. And of course, he had a dry, ironic and often self-mocking wit. Most of our discussions were about “serious” issues but always conducted in a light-hearted, bantering spirit. We would spend time gloating over the numerous savage reviews of the likes of Pankaj Mishra and Arundhati Roy.

    A quite special part of my life has ended with Rahul’s passing. I still live in the same house that I did when Rahul was my neighbour. I have to walk past his old house
    almost everyday. It has been a wrenching experience for the past week.

    My deepest condolences to Neelima.

  67. (received by post)

    Dear Professor Balasubramanian,

    It is with great sorrow that I learnt that Professor Rahul Basu passed away a few days ago in Chennai. We will remember Prof. Basu both for his scientific work and for his human qualities. I would like to express my deepest condolences to you and your colleagues at IMSc.

    With best regards,
    Yours sincerely,
    Mustansir Barma

  68. I got to know Rahul well when he spent a sabbatical with us at Brookhaven ten years back and I was lucky to count Rahul as a very good friend ever since. It was always a joy to meet up with him and experience that unique sensibility with dominant strains of Wodehousian hilarity and an acerbic wit that skewered all pomposity and pretension. Laughter was guaranteed in his company; my wife and I vividly recall a dinner at a school in Goa where he had us all (nearly literally) rolling on the floor in tears of laughter. He had an equally attractive quiet, reflective side to him as well, and a wide erudition. He once settled a debate with me by surprising me with a learned tome on the topic showing up on my doorstep. My wife and I are still in shock at his sudden death and Chennai without our dear friend Rahul is a concept we will have to get used to.

  69. Deeply saddened and shocked and the shock is greater at the unexpectedness of it all. Rahul was a very dear friend from school and college. He was a couple of years younger to me. I had lost touch with him after he went to the US but later it was the affectionate Rahul who had tracked me down and got in touch. We were also for several years neighbours in Delhi. When he joined St Stephen’s, his mother had come over — would I protect him from being ragged? In the event, he hardly needed any protection! He made many friends and was soon deeply ensconced in collegiate life.
    He came into his own while abroad I think — and grew into a fine scientist, never losing his sense of wonder. I remember how he traveled to UP just to see a major eclipse a few years ago.
    And how he blossomed as a very sensitive blogger! I hope his blogs will be collected and made into some sort of a book.
    I dont know how many of his friends were aware of his distinguished lineage. His maternal grandfather, Surendra Mohan Ghosh was a great freedom fighter from Bengal and had been associated with the legendary Jugantar revolutionary group. Many Jugantar leaders like Surendra Mohan Ghosh and Arun Chandra Guha were in the then undivided Congress. Rahul’s grandfather was the Deputy Leader of the Congress Party in Parliament in the early 1960s (the leader being Jawaharlal Nehru). Rahul never lost his sense of the values of the freedom movement and I remember a blog by him which, while sympathising with Binayak Sen in his current difficulties, also took him on for some snide remark the latter had passed about Gandhi.

    I will miss Rahul. Neelima’s loss, great as it is, is not her’s alone.

    Anil Nauriya
    New Delhi

  70. My first interaction with Rahul was in 1996 when I joined Matscience. I was at the reception on the phone trying to remember our postal address and Rahul provided the necessary information. Since then I learned that he was a walking encyclopedia on all matters regarding, well … life in general. Countless are the times I have walked into his office asking for help/advice on topics ranging from physics to computers to books to directions to get to places … the list is endless. I always came out of his room suffused with his warmth and wit and because of that I never hesitated to go to him the next time. If it wasn’t in his room it was at tea or lunch.
    I often think of him and will miss him. My condolences to Neelima.

  71. He was my official adviser for PhD . He was a very lively and straightforward person which is very rare today. It is true that we all come in the world drama with the fixed number of days and every other things fixed, too. I would like empower his family with the
    thought that “no body is permanent here, everyone has to go sooner or later .” We should help his family unconditionally in order to realise his dreams and we should maintain his some exceptional heritages at IMSc as a benchmark!!!

  72. I am saddened to learn about the sudden demise of Prof. Rahul Basu.
    My heartfelt condolences to Neelima in this time of deep grief.

    I had known Rahul since 1991, when I joined Matscience.
    Rahul had taken the course in Quantum Mechanic then.

    I shall always remember him for his friendly ways. He had been very
    encouraging to me, during my initial years at Matsceince.

    Sameen Ahmed KHAN
    Salalah College of Technolog
    Salalah, Sultanae of Oman.

  73. I was shocked to learn about the untimely demise of Rahul Basu from my good friend Dr. Arunava Sen (of ISI, Delhi) only this morning. We were together in St. Columba’s School, New Delhi since January 1961 when we were admitted to the Kindergarten ‘A’ class of the legendary Miss Ragh. A couple of years later, however, we were ‘separated’ as he moved over to the newly created Section D which continued till we passed out in December 1972. Again we were together in College, i.e St. Stephen’s for three years but he was in Physics while I read Economics. Like me, Rahul was the only child of his parents and, therefore, unduly ‘protected’, sometimes even inviting uncharitable remarks from his mates of being a “sissy” . He was in a sense a book-worm right from his child-hood but that did not prevent him from exploring the world around him…something he did throughout his life to the hilt. He lost his mother early (and his father too when he had just left for the U.S ) which made him somewhat of a loner …but that was more than compensated in his later years with the multitude of his students and admirers. I saw him last at the Shiv Mandir Durga Puja pandal in Chittaranjan Park last year and a couple of months back I sent him a ‘friends’ request on Fecebook which he graciously accepted immediately. It’s a pity we never inter-acted since then. The cruel hand of destiny has now snatched him away forever. My condolences to the bereaved family.

  74. Its really a devasting news that Rahul Basu is no more.We had come into contact after 37 years after leaving school and that too thru facebook as we were looking for r school batch-mates. He was not in my section but he had an identity of his own and could be differentiated from others. He was dedicated,studious and had a goal of his own and which resulted in his doing research. We had a few correspondences thru facebook but not much and we never met personally after geeting re-connected thru facebook. I came know about his demise thru r school batch mate Bhasker Roy. we were together in St Columba’s School sinnce kindergaten i.e for 12 yrs we were together where we spent r childhood and also r teen yrs which r the most precious moments of one’s life.

    May God give his family strength and courage to bear this huge loss.

  75. [received by email]

    On behalf of the Theoretical Physical Seminar Circuit (TPSC), we express our deep sorrow on hearing the news of passing away of Professor Rahul Basu. Professor Basu has been associated with TPSC since long and served as TPSC convener of Chennai centre and we shall always miss his valuable opinion and comments on the TPSC activities.

  76. [message read out at Rahul's memorial meeting on March 7, since Sunder was out of town that day]

    We have lost something valuable which can never be substituted. Rahul was a man of great culture, class and taste in everything he did. And he had that quality that every organisation needs at least a few good man to be endowed with: he voluntarily sought out ways of bringing about improvement in the status quo, and his willingness to pull his weight was exemplary. I pray that Neelima will find the strength and solace from somewhere to cope with the yawning void created by his untimely demise.

  77. [message read out at Rahul's memorial meeting on March 7]

    Today must have been Rahul’s funeral and the day has a feeling of much sadness for both Tara and me. Yesterday afternoon I was occupied with figuring out (in a small group) the hardware orders for the TISS computer centre and network, to be spent by March 31st. Since mid-Feb I have taken charge temporarily of the TISS computer
    centre and network to help revamp it at the request of the Director. When I last met Rahul in mid-Feb we spoke briefly about that and related matters etc. for a while. Yesterday, I recalled very much how much effort he had always personally put in on doing things for IMSc as an institution. And over so many years several of us did this kind of thing together, and Rahul was always somehow involved in it. What mattered to him was very much doing something for the common good that benefited all, and he did it with such obvious dedication and sense of responsibility but at the same time enjoying it while he did it.

    Yesterday afternoon it seemed a consolation to do what I was doing and yet I also felt the loss even more sharply.

  78. It was a shock to learn from Debajyoti of Rahul’s passing. Our sincere condolences to Neelima and all his many close friends who have described him so eloquently on this site.
    Although I did not overlap with Rahul at Stephen’s or in the States , I did get to know him over the years, specially when I visited IMSC. His wry wit never failed to impress and one felt behind it a gentle if wry sensibility. Rahul spent two weeks with us in Chandigarh as a lecturer at the 2010 SERC-THEP School so I got to know him better than I had the chance to earlier, though of course I woul run into him when I happened to intersect the Institute circuit in India. I last corresponded with him in October when we decided to go ahead with publishing the Lecture notes of the SERC school even if all the lecturers did not come through with their notes. To quote that last email
    “Yes of course we should publish 3 out of 4. After all, if the rest of us are going to take the trouble with these write ups why should our effort go to waste because of one person? ”
    Which captures his refreshing acerbity to an ace ! Concerning his lecture notes he said
    “Most of my notes are complete, modulo about 20 pages. Some editing however needs to be done, and some pictures need to be drawn. I notice that you say the others are ‘near completion’ which is suitably ambiguous. In that sense, so are mine. ”
    Unfortunately he never did get back with his lecture notes. I feel we should prepare the lecture notes as a tribute to his memory ( perhaps even the “missing lecturer” will find the time to come through with a contribution !). I appeal to those handling his papers and files to take the trouble to forward the manuscript to me for final editing .

  79. Rahul and I joined IMSc the same year. Apart from working on a wide variety of physics issues, occasionally beyond his mainstay of QCD, Rahul contributed in the early years, more than most of us, towards the `common good’ of the IMSc community. Be it in the setting up of the computer systems, the guest house decor, the manner of service and menu at the Institute canteen or other essential services which we complain about, but seldom bother to act, Rahul contributed selflessly over the years. When I visited IMSc last October, Rahul proudly told me about this new lecture series on science and related issues that he had started to organize at the Institute, and I was fortunate to hear the charming inaugural lecture. It is and forever will be impossible to imagine IMSc without Rahul .

    At a more personal level my indebtedness to him is enormous. Rahul introduced me to Chennai, by taking me around to various places, often inviting me over for dinner while I was still at the Guest House looking around for a more permanent arrangement, and generally helping me settle down during those first weeks of my arrival at Chennai. While we shared our interests in music, food and literature, Rahul was a connossieur whom I could only follow with admiration. Chennai won’t be the same without him.

  80. Rahul Basu played very important role in my career. In 2005, he invited me to IMSC to do course work in High energy Physics. He recommended me after that to ICTP Diploma. His favors on me is invaluable. How wonderful, kind, and helpful he was!!
    I really miss you my professor. The last message i received from him was on Feb 12, 2011. He was asking about me as usual. He was asking about my news and if i am safe in Egypt due to Egyptian revolution. When he know that I am safe and Egypt is going in the right track, he told me that he would like to visit Egypt one day especially Tahreer square. Really My Professor, i will miss you. It is very rarely to meet someone great, kind , helpful like you.

  81. Rahul, taught me QFT, when I was a summer student at IMSc. My first flavor of hard core theoretical particle physics was given to me by him. Rahul, was one of the main researchers who inspired me to continue with particle physics, something that I am doing right now. Although he was demanding, he was extremely supportive. I remember the day when I gave my longest seminar in front of him about the deep inelastic scattering. I remember how he has asked me to draw the behavior of cross-section and I was clean bowled.
    I always thought, someday we will meet again and I will thank him personally for all this. Many times, while he was in Europe we came very close to meeting each other but never really ended up meeting. I regret not having those opportunities.
    It comes as shock to know that he is no more! I am sure, he has been and will be an inspiration for many students like me!

  82. I do not know what to say, other than that incomprehensible things happen. I have met Rahul primarily during conferences and workshops, and have always been extremely envious of the way he could smile, all the time, no matter what, incessantly! Even though I may be an agnostic, I pray to God to make more people with attributes like Rahul’s.

  83. I got to hear Rahul for the first time when he gave a seminar on his work related to applications of conformal field theory to statistical physics problems at Institute of Physics. Then as an IMSc postdoc I came to know his deep humane nature and his personality as a gentleman. Suave, cultured and pleasant. There are few people who rise to the level of loving Delhi, whatever be the reasons, Rahul was one of them. Among personal pleasures was the fact that he could talk about Rafi Ahmed Kiwdai as a family friend. He wrote good English. He leaves a void behind him. What is mind numbing is that like Alok Kumar and A.K.Rath he made an early exit. He’ll be missed at so many fronts. Miss you Rahul. My condolences to Neelima.

  84. It was extremely shocking to hear this news. When I went to Rahul’s office
    soon after my joining IMSc (I left to IISc later), the first thing Rahul impressed
    me was with his Mac’s : desktops and laptops. Until then, I only knew him as
    a tower personality in our community. I remember later when he visited
    IISc, he fixed the problems with IISc proxy settings for some our visitors which
    we didn’t know how to solve. I had interacted with him a few times later on various
    issues. His sense of humour is fantastic. We will miss him. My condolences to his family.


  85. I was unaware of the passing away of the tall Rahul Basu, Rahul to some of us,
    who knew him from the time he joined. I am the oldest member who has had a
    record association with IMSc which I joined in May 1964, a week after my final
    Practical Exams at Presidency College, till my superannuation and the DST Project
    for another 2 and 1/2 years, I was an integral part of the Institute and its activities. IMSc gives the greatest freedom to pursue whatever is the heart’s desire in academic matters. Though I was responsible for the first IBM PC-AT at IMSc and the first room which was airconditioned when the computer was brought by me as a gift from the Alexander vonHumboldt Stiftung, Bonn, in 1981, it was mainly the dynamism of Rahul (and later on of Prof.N.D.Haridas) that today we have an excellent computer facility in India. His enthusiasm was infectious to say the least and Neelima, the quiet and efficient partner in life will miss him the most. May his genial soul rest in peace.

  86. I met him long time ago, in my first days as a beginning graduate
    student in the USA. I saw him first in USA, I should rather say, as
    that meeting wasn’t much of a meeting at all.

    He was one of the many people that a young person meets in the
    transition from an undergraduate- to a graduate-student life, after
    the big move from her country. As it happens, in the coming years,
    my brain has discarded memories of many of the people fortuitously
    met at that time. Somehow, even several years later, though, it
    had not yet erased from its database the little entry it had made
    for his name, to which it had attached a one-word note: \original\.

    It was in fact several years after that first meeting that I saw him
    again at some conference. Also this meeting was short and superficial
    and not sufficient for my brain to upgrade that entry, although it
    did add another side-note about the fact that he seemed to remember
    and know about me much more than I remembered and knew about
    him. He obviously thought about people.

    Professionally, of course, I was aware of his presence, his research and
    work. I did not have, however, the chance to \bump\ into him once
    again for a long time after this, in fact until just a little more than four
    years ago.

    It was when, immediately after one of the morning lectures in the
    \From Strings to the LHC\ meeting held in Goa, I sat with Rohini at
    a restaurant’s table already partially occupied. I did not recognize
    the person sitting in front of me and kept paying attention to Rohini’s
    conversation. I died of shame when Rohini, after several minutes,
    realizing that some people at the table did not know each others,
    introduced us all.

    I mumbled some apologies about not having recognized him,
    embarrassed, especially because I was going to spend the next month
    at the IMS. This was a visit that Rohini had arranged in such a way
    that she would be there at my arrival. So, caught as I was with my
    problems and my fast-changing life, I had not had any contacts with
    any of the IMS members before landing in India. All this may seem
    strange, but, as I hinted, my situation was far from being usual/normal
    at that moment.

    Shame and embarrassment were not needed though, and were quickly
    dissipated by a look of his piercing eyes mixed to the biggest
    possible smile.

    After that, in the month at the IMS, I only saw an ocean of sweetness
    in him, of attention and (believable or unbelievable that this may
    sounds) of tactfulness. He must have known of my problems of that time
    from Rohini, but I cannot imagine more gentleness and care even from
    the closest people to me. I also met his wife in a beautiful evening
    at his house, in which he showed off his cooking expertise.
    He made possible for me to blend in the IMS group, so much that it
    felt as if I had always been there. It was not so easy to leave the IMS.

    The upgrade that my brain made about his entry was so big, that I
    kept getting regular reminders about the fact that I had to go back.

    This, I had come to know, was a person for whom friendship was
    deep and could be rekindled even after years of silence, without
    having been changed or diminished in the least by them.

    I did not manage to accommodate another visit to the IMS. I am very
    sorry about this, and I only hope that his sharp perception has made
    him guess that.

    I could not write anything in this page as soon as the news came out:
    I found, and still find, difficult to express condolences to others,
    his wife in first place, and myself.

  87. It is with shock and deep sadness that I learnt that Rahul is no longer with us. Sunanda and I knew Rahul and Neelima since our graduate student days at Stony Brook, and I kept up with him during visits to Chennai and IMSc over the years, and more recently, through his blog. I was always impressed and delighted by Rahul’s intellect, wide-ranging interests, incisive writing style and the clarity of his arguments. The void that he leaves in the institute, in the scientific and intellectual community, and in the hearts of those who knew him, will be difficult to fill.

    Sunanda joins me in sending our deepest condolences to Neelima.

    Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
    Troy, NY

  88. I first met Rahul in the summer of 1973 when we had both joined Physics honours at St Stephens College. We quickly became friends largely because we lived roughly in the same part of New Delhi and travelling up and down to the University daily forms a bond. By the middle of first year we were close friends. Rahul, even then, had broad interests. He was genuinely interested in things other than science. I had realized that I had made a mistake in joining Physics and the rest of my undergraduate years were going to be a test of endurance more than anything else. The fact that Rahul did not want to just talk Physics was therefore important in our friendship. I remember his vast collection of books—from boarding school stories and Gerald Durrell toScience Fiction. I remember, too, how well he had kept them – even those which were years old were in very good shape with the dust jackets intact. Secondly, Rahul had a quality of gentleness. I understood this even then for he was perhaps amongst the very few in my class I could approach and confess to total ignorance of the particular topic which we’d been studying for weeks. Rahul was himself a very good student and was, I think, sometimes appalled at the questions I asked him; but he was invariably patient and never once used my ignorance to put me down. Consequently by the time we graduated in 1976 we were very good friends. I went to his house very often; I knew his mother and father well and can remember the time his mother passed away.
    We lost touch thereafter. I moved to JNU for an MA in history. I did meet Rahul a few times in Chittranjan Park where his father had rented a house, but our paths had diverged. Rahul was then also absorbed with the impending move to the US for his PHd.I have only hazys recollection of meeting Rahul once or twice in the 80s and 90s. We made contact again as recently as September 2008 when Pankaj Gulati organized a small get together of our batch of Physics Hons. I went out of curiosity, met up with Rahul and found that we could take up our old relationship almost unchanged. We did not keep in regular touch because he was in Chennai , I in Delhi but due to move out shortly; but I knew that we could spend time together. We exchanged occasional emails and more occasionally had gmail chats. I produce one below.
    11:02 PM me: Rahul?
    Rahul: hi
    me: All well I hope. when is your next visit to Delhi
    11:03 PM Rahul: alas I was there last week !! enroute to Allahabad. Had no time to contct anyone….
    me: And when is the next time
    Rahul: Oh God, really tca, I have no idea. Why don’t you come to Chenai!!
    11:04 PM me: Plan to but the weather must be turning beastly
    Rahul: as if Delhi is wonderful in Summer. Anyway right now its o really but mid march onwards it turns hot. But I am sure yu will spend most of the time in A/C rooms.
    11:06 PM me: met someone today who was bemoaning the dearth of classical scholarship in India and saying we should have a national institute of humanities. i think it is a good idea.
    11:07 PM Rahul: Yes but academics are just so full of academese — look at Romila Thapar – I have so much trouble understanding her.. She keeps talking of internalising things…
    11:08 PM me: She is a historian not a classicist- hope you know the difference
    Rahul: no! i was just talking of the humanities ‘types’
    11:09 PM me: essentially the study of the classical languages- sanskrit,tamil, kannada and telugu- in their ancient forms . the difference is quite a lot from the modern.
    11:10 PM Rahul: Yes that I know. but why this urge for ancient forms of language?
    11:12 PM me: Even our medieval languages suffer from a lack of scholarship- it is quite a serious problem in that humanities- in terms of history and literature faces a true crisis in India. If we only turn out techies like you or bureaucrats like me what happens to India
    11:13 PM Rahul: we will keep India moving and PLEASE I AM NOT A TECHIE I am a scientist more precisely a physicists. I don’t mindlessly sit and hack away at a terminal!

    Rahul and Neelima came to Singapore where I presently live and spent a couple of days with my wife and myself. Neelima wrote later to say that Rahul had fallen very ill after his return but was recovering. In early March I was in Delhi for a few days and got a call from Sanjay Mitra – also Physics St Stephens and C R Park- that Rahul had died. Like others who have written on this blog, I feel not just great regret, but a sense of being cheated. There are still so many conversations I’d planned to have with Rahul.

    T C A Raghavan

  89. I regret that I have waited so long to post my thoughts about Rahul. It has been difficult for me to find the words to express adequately my reaction to this loss. What a shock it was to hear of Rahul’s passing; such a completely unexpected tragedy. Although I hadn’t seen Rahul in more than ten years I had always assumed there would be plenty of time for me to visit him again on a future trip to India. Since that can now never happen, all I can do is record here some of my 30-year-old memories of the times when we were so often together.

    Rahul was one of my very best friends throughout six years of graduate school, starting from the very first day I arrived on the Stony Book campus in 1979. We spent many hundreds of hours together both in studying physics and in activities completely unrelated to it. Together with other friends we shared all sorts of adventures including a semester-long oenology class, organizing and preparing wine tastings and special dinners, searching out and cooking giant-sized lobsters, political discussions, Indian cultural events, and many Indian-themed meals. With his great breadth of knowledge and interests, and his great passion and good humor, it was easy to talk to and argue with Rahul about anything and everything, in the process both learning a great deal and enjoying oneself immensely. Among other things we shared a passion for books, and Rahul introduced me to a number of wonderful and fascinating books and authors.

    Rahul and his father hosted me during my first trip to India in 1985 and, by organizing my travels and sight-seeing expeditions, helped make it one of the most memorable experiences of my life. He was my primary Hindi tutor and in that way too, helped prepare me for my travels in India. Always and without exception good-natured, cheerful, and friendly, Rahul was a wonderful friend and classmate on whom one could—and did—always depend.

    I wish we had kept closer contact after we both finished school, but at least we got to see each other again at the Stony Brook reunion in June, 2000. Rahul’s passing is a terrible and tragic loss but for the rest of my life I will cherish his memory and that of our experiences together. I extend my deepest condolences to Neelima and to the families, and I hope that knowing of Rahul’s deep and long-lasting impact on people around the world will offer some small solace at this sad time.

  90. While Rahul is no more and nothing can change that fact, it is wonderful to see that so many of us remember and miss him in so many different ways. It is an outpouring which is rare and heartfelt. I want to repeat the beautiful quote from Thomas Campbell that Sunil has posted above, simply because it is so apt:

    ”To live in hearts we leave behind,
    Is not to die. ”

    Indeed, this is true for Rahul.

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