Amid technology career, Encinitas resident takes up poetry
Alok Gupta’s verse collection “Dawn of Wisdom” was recently published
From his student days in India, Alok Gupta steadfastly progressed toward a professional career in science and technology.
A native of Bihar state, Gupta received his bachelor’s degree from the Indian Institute of Technology, a master’s at the University of Hawaii and a doctorate from UCSD.
The Encinitas resident was hired by technology giant Qualcomm to work out of its Sorrento Valley complex.
Then, he wrote a poem.
“My birthday happens to fall on Dec. 29,” Gupta said. “It’s also time for the New Year. I use that occasion for reflections and all that.
“So several years ago, I decided to surprise my friends and family. I thought I would write a poem that would summarize my reflections and some of my life lessons, and I would present it to them on by birthday and also New Year’s.
“That was my first amateur attempt at writing poetry. I don’t think it was very smooth and polished, but it was well received and that was encouraging. So I started writing more often.”
Gupta’s first foray into poetry led to another piece and then another until he had 18 verses, enough material for his first book — “The Dawn of Wisdom.”
The author recently delighted in seeing the 82-page volume published by India-based Notion Press.
Interspersed with the text are color photographs taken by Gupta of scenes around coastal North County as well as vistas from his Olivenhain ridge-top home. There, he and his wife, a Montessori preschool teacher, raised two sons and a daughter, who are now adults.
“I’ve been here for almost 26 years,” Gupta said. “It’s really a special place. I love it here. I can’t think of any better place I could have chosen for my career and my family.”
Gupta, 55, exudes optimism and a sense of awareness that are reflected in his poems. While they touch on an array of subjects, they are unequivocally bright in outlook.
“At this point, it’s all about beauty and light and positive things in life,” Gupta said. “I just think to myself living here and coming this far, I feel blessed and I feel happy.
“There is no remorse I have in my life, no regrets whatsoever. I have nothing against anybody. That’s what I reflect in my writing. There’s actually no dark side.”
Dedicated to “loving memories” of Gupta’s parents and teachers, the book opens with the first piece he wrote — “Reflections and Realizations.”
Written in 20 three-line stanzas, the piece expresses the wonder of lessons learned through life’s adventure, beginning with:
“It’s been a journey full of amazement
Knowledge, insight, grace, fulfillment
Beauty, truth, ray of enlightenment ... ”
It ends on a lighthearted note:
“Man is not free
No matter how much he wishes
Until learns to cook and do the dishes.”
Other poems such as “Facing Challenges,” “Art of Living,” and “Mind — A Miracle Prone to Becoming a Mess” explore mental states in dealing with life’s issues.
Less abstract are “Khushi,” a tribute to the family dog, and “I Love about India,” an idyll about his homeland’s beauty. “A Message for Kashmiri People with Love” is a prayerful message expressing hope for the Kashmir region:
“I have a dream, dear Kashmiris
Kashmir is affluent, strong, grand
Someday we have a prime minister of India
From Kashmir, your enchanting land”
“Meditation” is a reflection in rhyme on practicing the title’s subject and what can be achieved through that discipline.
The poem also is a window into what led a career communication system engineer specializing in modem and error correction coding to embark on creative literary expression.
Given his science background, writing poetry seems an unlikely path. Indeed, Gupta said, he had no interest in such a pursuit until he developed an affinity for Hindu literature and philosophy.
Whereas Gupta grew up in a country immersed in the ancient traditions of Hinduism, his fascination with the subject developed more than 8,000 miles away from Bihar — through the Self-Realization Fellowship Temple in Encinitas.
The Indian-born spiritual leader Paramahansa Yogananda launched his first U.S. temple in 1920 with the goal of disseminating his learning in the West. He opened the Encinitas site in 1938.
Distinguished by its lotus blossom sculptures mounted on white columns, the temple has been an entrenched feature of the community for decades.
Gupta said exposure to the fellowship led him to starting reading Hindu literature.
“That was a bit of an eye opener for me,” Gupta said. “That was sort of a starting point that got me interested into reading this literature, like the Vedanta, the sacred scripture. ... I began reading that, but to assimilate the learning, you want to be able to reflect on what you read.
“And poetry to me became the means for me for the reflection on some of the ideas that were coming across. As you can see, most of my poetry is quite philosophical and that is the reason.”
He and his family furthered their involvement in Hindu thought and practices through the Chinmaya Mission of San Diego, which gave Gupta a greater platform for his studies.
“Before, my priorities were making some mark with my career, my family, science and technology,” Gupta said. “Growing up in India, my background was all math and science, studying and getting into very good colleges so I could get a good job.
“The focus was all different, but eventually things evolved. And it happened only in Encinitas because I was to a point where I was open to all this. It provided me all the ingredients and the environment.”
While those newfound aspects of Gupta’s life lit a desire to write, he credits his inclination for lyrical expression and rhyming to Hindi as well as Urdu, which is the predominant tongue of Pakistan and is also prevalent in India.
Ultimately, this youngest of nine siblings says his poetry is a product of the heart.
“I’ve had no formal training,” he said. “That is what I like about poetry. It’s a compact way to express my reflections and my thoughts.”
With the publication of “Dawn of Wisdom”, Gupta said, he is now ruminating on his next writing project, which he anticipates to be more overtly autobiographical.
“Dawn of Wisdom” can be purchased through Amazon at www.amazon.com/dp/1685382800.
Sign up for the Encinitas Advocate newsletter
Top stories from Encinitas every Friday for free.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Encinitas Advocate.