Dad photo

Dad photo

In Memory

A living site in memory of Ashok K Chandra to remember and honor him. A man with a golden heart and an extraordinary mind. A cherished father, husband, and friend. And a doting grandfather. He left us November 15, 2014 after a brave battle with cancer.

The site features the sentiments and memories shared by friends and family. Feel free to send this site to others. We will keep adding to it; if you have something you’d like to share, please click here to send it to me.

Click below to see a category of posts such as Remembrances or Talks from the memorial event. See pictures of Ashok.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Remembrance Video for Dad - Father's Day 2020

Here's a short video (less than 2 minutes) I put together of photos and videos of my Dad that I narrated, remembering and honoring him this Father's Day, 2020. 

Or to see this video on YouTube, click here.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Remembrance - Father's Day 2020 - Bob

Remembering Dad

Not to take away from his accomplishments, but I wanted to remember my Dad today how I remember him.  When I think about my dad, he was an ordinary person who was my dad- a person who was human, who with all his flaws and his strengths, came to a new country and lived life the way the best he could.  He raised my brother and I the best way he knew how.

In life, it's easy to take for granted what happens in the past.  It is over and done with.  We live in such a competitive society - in all ways - we leave the past behind and focus on what matters in the present day and what lies ahead.  But the past matters.

What people did for us in the past also matters.  I think back to the sacrifices Dad made for me - both as an adult and when I was a kid- the time he took out, despite how busy he often was.

Separately, I often wonder why as human beings we sometimes focus instinctually on the negatives of the past.  A minister once pointed out how often we unwittingly "dig through the boneyard of our miserable memories".  One consequence of this is we forget the people who loved us and all of the good things people did for us.  I wonder if that's because those good deeds blur together  in our memory.  Or that we paid nothing for them, and at the time, selfishly thought of them as automatic.  All the things someone else did for us, that they didn't have to.

Appreciating and Being Grateful

Chris Rock once said the following of Dads:

“Nobody appreciates Dads. I’m talking about the real dads that handles their ..... business. Nobody ever says, ‘Hey, Dad, thanks for knocking out this rent!’ ‘Hey, Dad, I sure love this hot water!’ ‘Hey, Dad, it’s easy to read with all this light!’

Funny and true, maybe we don't appreciate Dad's enough.

The way I think comes from my Dad and from all the conversations we had.  Sometimes people say "we learn to think at school" but I never felt that was the case.  Sure I learned what makes up an atom and the quadratic formula in school - subject matter - but how to think?

Dad would always bring up interesting topics, often scientific, at the dinner table.  More than anything I found it interesting how he had a structural framework for how he thought about anything.  These weren't seat-of-the-pants opinions; the kind that are seemingly so popular today, even at the highest levels of government.  He'd often ask Ankur and me questions- that compelled us to use critical thinking (not to mention to make sure we were actually listening and not dozing off 😀).  It taught me to be informed, to dissect a matter to get at the heart of the issue; and has proved so useful to me in so many areas of my life.

Dad would drive me to debate tournaments (where parents also had to judge other debates).  He would play catch with Ankur and me when we were in little league so we could practice at home.  When I was an adult, he would be a sounding board on so many things.  He did all these things because he loved us.

Thank you Dad, Happy Father's Day

So on Father's Day, Dad you may not be here with us anymore, but you are not forgotten.  Thank you for all that you did for me.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Talk: Mala Chandra

As I think of my life with Ashok, a flood of memories comes rushing to my mind and yet I stand here before you : speechless. There are no words that can express the density, the depth and the intensity of emotions I feel….
As I recollect my thoughts about Ashok, I am reminded of a quote by Professor Donald Knuth. In a toast given on Ashok’s 50th birthday, Prof. Knuth called Ashok “A limitless man”. Limitless indeed he was: there was no limit to his brilliance and innovation, to his empathy and kindness , to his willingness to be there for others and indeed no limit to his ability to make whoever he met, feel wanted, appreciated and loved. There may be people who are wealthier and more successful than Ashok but I can truly say I have never met a better human being in my life.
His first love was his work (simply because he met it before me): it was not a job or a means of livelihood: he truly was madly and passionately in love with his work. He also was a totally dedicated family man. His kids were his world. They were his best friends and they could talk about everything and anything in the world together. His grandchildren were the apple of his eye and its only after the grandchildren came into the picture that work for the first time took a second place in his life.
Personally for me, he showered me with all his unconditional love: a love so profound that it can suffice for many a lifetimes. There is simply no” till death do us part” for us as even though I miss his physical presence, I know that in our hearts, minds and souls we are together forever.

Remembrance: Robert Morris

I am very shocked and saddened to see this news, and can't imagine the pain you and the family are going through now. I just feel grateful that I was able to speak with Ashok last August. Ashok was always so inspiring to me and this is such a great loss to so many.

Remembrance: Dhyanesh

Dedication to Dr. Ashok Chandra
I’m Dhyanesh. I had the honor of working on Ashok’s team at Microsoft Research. Words fail me miserably in expressing who Ashok was, the principles he stood for, the qualities he espoused, and just the incredible and extraordinary human being that he lived as. So, I’m just going to share with you, who Ashok was to me.
Ashok was my teacher – he taught me the power of intuition in problem-solving. He said to me, “When solving a problem, it is important for you to first build your intuition, and then use data and experiments as a means to validate that intuition, rather than doing experiments first and then building your intuition.”
Ashok was my guide – he guided me on the importance of composure in being successful at negotiations. He said to me, “In a negotiation, the person who loses his calm, loses.”  
Ashok was my philosopher – he imbibed in me the philosophy of how to induce positive change in people. He said to me,“Be gentle with people, because if you are gentle on the person, you can be harder on your message.”
It is rather ironical that, organizationally, Ashok was my manager at Microsoft Research, but not once did he act with even a hint of assumed authority. Instead, he was my teacherguide, and philosopher – all in one.
While words may fail me miserably in expressing who Ashok was, perhaps it is in the very lack of the ability to express in words, that there lies deep meaning about Ashok’s character… and perhaps it is the very absence of syntax that communicates profound semantics about Ashok’s unique personality… and perhaps it is because I can’t say enough here about Ashok, that speaks volumes about who he was, and what he meant to me, and to all of us.

Talk: Bob Chandra

I want to thank all of you for being here today.  To celebrate the life of my father, Ashok Chandra.   I’d like to begin with a quote by an Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore:

“I had seen nothing beyond life, and accepted it as ultimate truth. When of a sudden death came, and in a moment tore a gaping rent in its [life’s] smooth-seeming fabric, I was utterly bewildered. All around, the trees, the soil, the water, the sun, the moon, the stars, remained as immovably true as before; and yet the person who was as truly there, who, through a thousand points of contact with my life, mind and heart, was ever so much more true for me, had vanished in a moment like a dream…..”

It has been hard to accept what’s happened.  My Dad’s loss is not my loss or my family’s loss, but it’s a loss that all of us here today feel.   One thing that has helped me cope with what happened has been hearing from all of you -- to hear from people who’s lives my Dad touched.  People who he made smile - who felt his warmth.

So let me cite another quote from Tagore:

“If you cry because the sun has gone out of your life, your tears will prevent you from seeing the stars.”

This loss is something that will take time to heal.  Dad passed away two weeks ago after a brave battle with cancer.  We miss him immensely.

But owe it to ourselves to see the silver lining; and that is we were fortunate to have the time we did with Dad…….from that time we have memories worth remembering and worth re-telling - and today is about celebrating those memories.

Today is about celebrating the life my Dad lived.    All of you here knew him in some way- maybe you knew him as a friend, a mentor, or a co-worker.   Today, we can remember the good moments over the years that we shared - laughing while trekking up a Bay Area trail.  Or for his work friends, solving together some of the harder problems in computer science.    

Dad often thought about other people first.  One example is during his battle with cancer, he was very weak.  Despite this, he tried to do the things other people wanted to do.  He knew my Mom loved to see movies, and he gathered his strength so they could go to the theaters one last time- even though it is was so hard him to even walk.  He knew I loved comedy, and despite everything, despite his ailing health, he made it a point we went to a show one last time.  Even when doing the simplest things required everything he had, he put others first.

This was his focus on other people.  He always felt that it was important to build up other people.  He didn’t believe in having airs about him, or putting others down to feel better about himself.  That was simply his mentality.  Some of you may have stories like this that too.

Over the last two weeks, the common thread of stories I’ve gotten from you is Dad’s engaging of others-- consideration for those who worked for him, his mentorship of co-workers, his humble nature from friends.  

From those who worked with him, I received insight into my Dad’s accomplishments in computer science.  I want to thank his work friends for sharing.  My Dad and I talked about all kinds of topics (from Indian politics to quantum physics - yes he could explain quantum physics in a way even a marketing guy like myself could understand), but work wasn’t one of those topics.  Dad never spoke about the things he accomplished.  He was unassuming in that way.  Only recently I learned of a report he co-wrote on Indian research centers which was signed by the President of India; and something he developed called Turing Machine Alternation (a concept fundamental to computational complexity and parallel processing theory and is a highly cited paper in theoretical computer science).  

From other friends, I got photos.  They capture who he was as a person- a generous spirit & when I look at them, I can’t help but remember the good times we shared.  We’ll always have those moments and those memories; and their impact lives on in us.  

Today would have been Dad’s 66th birthday.  Even though he didn’t live the longest life, he did live a full life.  And today is our opportunity to remember and celebrate the life that he lived.  My Dad’s loss not my loss or even my family’s loss, but all of our loss.  But his life was all of our gain.   And today is to talk about the good that we remember.

ICORE Presentation to Dr. Abdul Kalam