Friday, December 29, 2006

Unforgiven

This was then.

Now, seven long months later..we found the space for apologies. Unlikely to be ever forgotten, but definitely forgiven. Along with that came warm hugs and the ability to laugh it off. Just like the old times. Good intent can never go that wrong, I guess. :-)

Happy New Year to everyone here!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

My New Year Resolutions

1. Practise Yoga 4 times a week

2. Eat healthy

3. Set attainable goals for each day. And complete them before I go to bed.

[If I follow 1 through 3, I will magically have a complete thesis by March. Yay!]

4. Pick up the phone and call all those people I should call

5. Start decluttering in preparation for the big move

6. Don't waste money

7. Don't waste time

8. Don't look back, except to help me in moving forth.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Annoying question of the season

So it's the end of the semester, and no more the right time to ask the "when are you going to graduate" question. Instead, get this.

Anybody&Everybody: So, are you going somewhere for the break?
Me: No, I'm going to graduate.

Then lots of outpouring of sympathy comes. The awws and the ooohs and the "you poor thing you work too hard!". Anyone working hard does it out of choice or necessity. Neither warrants any sympathy. Yes I'm going to be working over the break. Yeah, the town is going to be deserted and depressing. It's cold. Everyone else is with family and friends. But really, I made this choice. And I have no issues with it. Nothing will make me more depressed than not graduating in May. So seriously, this, is nothing. Don't go feeling sorry for me. I am cool with it. And I am sure you did it when you were in this place once, or will do it soon when you come to your final year. So save it. Happy Holidays.

P.S: I wish I could have this on a T-shirt. :)

Friday, December 22, 2006

On abrupt goodbyes

I hate goodbyes. And abrupt goodbyes even more. It's like you take something for granted, haven't even thought about how you're going to deal with it's impending disappearance, and suddenly, it's snatched away! D was not supposed to leave until early next year. Some last minute glitch, and she came in telling us yesterday how today would be her last working day. D is one of the most livliest characters in the lab. I will miss our walks home together, the jokes, the gossip, the ranting. The portuguese lessons, her affection and her general infectious enthusiasm in life. A computer scientist with a curiosity for biology, it was always refreshing to talk science with her. You would think , with all the friends that I've had leave over the past year or so, I'd be a pro at the whole goodbye thing. Looks like I learnt nothing. I still do draama. Everyone else feels uneasy. Then I laugh it off. Now people are uneasy and confused. What fun. :-) We had a hurriedly arranged farewell gift organised for her and took her to lunch today. We parted ways with her trademark warm hug and a kiss. Thankfully, she's not leaving town yet, so we will just have to catch up over beer and coffee. But of course it won't be the same as her walking into lab everyday, screaming "Tee Gee Eff Eye, how are your gorgeous parasites doing?". :-)
I'll miss ya D! :(

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Cool / Uncool

It is so cool when a student from four years back remembers you, remembers your name, and tells his friend "This is Tee gee eff eye.. my Biology T.A. and thanks to her, I changed from being a business major to a biology major".

:))

It is so not cool if you've bumped into him at a bar, and just moments earlier, you were telling your friend that you thought he was cute and were wondering why he looked familiar.

It is even worse when he then proceeds to introduce his friend to you ...as his "boyfriend". And sees you visibly shocked and says "surprised?? hahahahha".

Bleddy gaydar. Two drinks and it stops functioning!!!

This blog is boring!

Mujhe change chahiye!

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bored!
one of the many escape mechanisms to avoid the 6-letter word: thesis.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Some things just should not be mixed

cuban and alt. rock are two of them. Independently, two of my favourite kinds of music, and some of my favourite bands are on that cover. But together? Terrible! I would give money to charity, but not to that kind of really bad fusion.

Ah! Love!

A in A (Apologies in advance) for those readers who cannot stomach "lovely" posts.

So R, the undergrad in our lab is in luuuuurve. And oh, so hopelessly so! She met V at a party and the rest is all history. And it's been rather cute to see her all giddy and crazy in love. She smiles to herself, she checks email every few minutes, she calls us to read "isn't that cuuuuute" parts of V's emails and regales us with stories about how nice he is. I am very happy for her, V seems like decent guy too. We all enjoy indulging her, teasing her till she blushes beetroot red, all that fun stuff. But then, as they say, history repeats itself and then it gets painful. There is only so much "ooh-ing" and "Aah-ing" I can do. My friends from my school and college years will vouch for that- I was never the best confidante for those who fell head-over-heels in love. So after the initial humdrum, I want to get back to work, and not have to to run to her computer for every "Aww so cute" email. I also don't want to have to sit and listen through a long prelude to an even longer story who's punch line is also "Aww so cute". Now we all know how annoying the sound of "Aww" is and I won't go into details there. So much so that now when she comes in every morning, beaming with the look of an "update" written on her face, I am terrorized. Afraid of being roped into sitting through a long story where I will have to feign wonderment, awe, and aww. Did I mention that R also happens to be one of those people that talks in a real low voice, and really really slowly? It's ultimate torture: Through pauses and giggles and bashful smiles, R explains every detail, every nuance of how boy impressed girl with his latest antic. Which was complimenting her on her hair. There are words for that, in English language. They go "he complimented me on my hair". Now how hard is that? Apparently, very. So while I politely indulge, my mind is going through escape strategies I should use next time.

But R is such a kid and I wouldn't want to be mean to her. Not to mention the fear of coming across as that bitter, single bitch who cannot even share another's happiness! How heartless of me, indeed! {sigh} I am finally beginning to see the downside of being single- you have no cover in situations like these. What sad irony that is!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Bumper sticker of the week

Nice Hummer. Sorry about your penis.


bwahahahhahahahahaahhahahhhaah!

I hate

effing rules. Crappy non-negotiable bullshit that sprouts out of nowhere and ruins your happiness. I don't even care any more.

(< /rant>)

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Pure coincidence?

They went from falling in love to falling out of it. What remained was a mess of broken hearts, longing, remorse and sadness. She took it harder than him. Then came hate, anger, bitterness. She worked really hard at the "getting over" bit, and eventually got there. He was less devastated, he saw it coming. Then came indifference. All of this culminated into casual and polite concern, and nothing more. From love to plain civility, the range of emotions successfully traversed half-way around the earth as they lived their respective lives on the opposite sides of the globe. By way of polite enquiry, they find out that they might end up meeting again, to live in that same city they once met in. Pure coincidence? The romantic in her wants to ascribe more to it.
The cynic in her is going to make sure it never happens.

post-doc search update

I didn't get the job I wanted. I might get the job I don't want, but I don't want it. The search goes on.
If anyone has any bad news for me, now is a good time. Bring it on! :-)

I shouldn't be overly surprised though, the prof had hinted that he would prefer someone who could start earlier, so I missed that bus. There will be more, so I'm not overly concerned. Just miffed.

Monday, December 11, 2006

R.I.P Hobbes, continued

No, this is not a rant against @#@ windoze.

The first signs that Hobbes was sick came after a broken hinge which caused problems with the display. One fine day, just 2 days after I got back from Boston, the display stopped working entirely. I figured it was the hinge that I didn't fix, I was warned that this would happen. So my plan in mind was to get an external monitor and use Hobbes as a desktop. Later, I heard this funny "krr krr" noise from his heart. That just didn't sound good. I took him to my good pal V who is also a very good doctor of Macs, and he finally broke the bad news to me. The krr krr is the sound of a crashed hard drive. And I have NO back ups of my stuff on Hobbes. Hobbes was primarily my personal machine, any work I did I connected remotely to my work computer. So it never occured to me to back up my stuff on Hobbes. In "retrospect", I realise that if I had saved work stuff on it, I would be more conscious about backing it up. Now I am just coming to terms with the loss of 5 years of memories in the form of .jpegs. Photos of my friends, my life here, my travels, all those good times, EVERYTHING. That I will never get back. That is the first thing that strikes to me. As days go by, I'm going to realise other things on there that I miss terribly. I am kicking myself for constantly procrastinating uploading my pics online. Atleast I would have them there.

Of course, I am lucky this didn't happen during my interviews. Thats the only sliver of brightness I can see right now.

Attempting to restore this data is going to be very expensive, and even then doesn't guarantee anything. So it's really a closed case. The only way I can deal with this is to stop thinking about it.

*Sob*

In other news, remember this? I got my statement for that period and a $20 charge for roaming since I used my phone a good bit even though I was abroad (And this is after discounted rates). So I called Cingular and reminded them about the whole story, and asked if they would take that charge off as a courtesy. They did it, no questions asked! I think this compensates for some of the angst and emotional trauma I was subject to, with my voicemail being thrown open to all and sundry. ;)

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

A tale of three cities

III: Boston

I went to interview for post-doc positions at two labs in Boston after thanksgiving weekend. Right from the night I reached there, taking the train to the lodge I was put up at, I was beginning to like it. After my first interview, I decided to spend the evening exploring the city a bit. I was lucky to have some wonderful weather that evening, and took the train to Copeley Square. Christmas lights were up in the streets, and just walking around was so invigorating. I enjoyed taking in the busy road scene- the trains that snaked through the main road, buses, and cyclists and cars, in addition to the ocassional pedestrian. I could see myself live here- it had all the elements of a place I'd enjoy living in- all the universities around made it a vibrant academic atmosphere, coupled with a nice big-city feel that I have been yearning for. Of course, during the course of my interviews I had figured out how expensive the place is, and that I would be spending more than half of my paycheck on rent if I came to live there. Not a happy thought at all. (But pretty much the scene anywhere unless I want to live in another small town).

The next day, as I made my way back from the second lab I was visiting, I began considering it all. I still don't know if I am getting any of the jobs. Lab #1 was a great project, I was completely sold on the science, and would have a hell lot to learn in my first year. This was definitely going to be one of those "long" post-docs. Lab #2 had a great P.I and a very active group. But the project was too close to what I have been doing, and while it's a very interesting question, I didn't see myself pursuing the same thing again for my post-doc. So it's most probably a no no.

The weather sucked that evening, and I was told that that was more representative of Boston that time of the year. Ah well. I walked about town some more, exploring the nice array of restaurants, the charged atmosphere..all of which made me want to live there. There were ample opportunities to pursue outside work- anything that might catch my fancy. But would I have the money / time for any of it? I don't know.

I didn't sleep too well that night. Scientifically, it had been an invigorating two days- It's always nice to present your work to an outside audience- they help you fall back in love with it all over again. I was also trying to assimilate all that I'd heard about in the past two days, and weigh my options. The days leading to these interviews had been crazy- I was desperately trying to get something to work so that I'd have that nice piece of data to show off. That didn't happen, even until 1 am the night before i left. ;) Then there was all that outside reading to catch up with their work, and all those last minute revisions to my talk. Those efforts had paid off, though. Both interviewers were impressed with the fact that not only was I on top of my work, but quite familiar with theirs too. And finally, I had to catch a 6 AM flight the next morning. My adventure a few days ago had just made me too scared to sleep! :-) Thankfully, I made this flight without any hassles, and as I picked up my luggage and walked out of the airport, I started peeling off the layers that I had to put on to brave the rain and cold while boarding the flight in Boston. The warmth in the air here hit me with another question- do I really want to go live in a place where half my paycheck goes to rent, and half the year the weather is nasty cold, rain and snow? If it helps any, I already have one friend in the city, unless of course, she has to move out as I move in. You know, of course, without meaning too. Just work and all that..;)

I figure I'll hold off the decision making angst until I'm atleast offered the job! :-)

p.s: II & I to follow ;)

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

How bad would it be...

if I replied to "when are you graduating" with  "When are you planning to have a baby? Haven't you been married a while?".

Just wondering.

It is very tempting.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Maintaining queen status is hard work

Wednesday 10 pm: Still in lab, doing last minute stuff
Wednesday 12 midnight: Still in lab....{don't ask}
Thursday 3 am: I finally go to bed
Thursday 11:30 am: Scheduled time of departure of flight

That Thursday morning was pretty action-packed. The plan was that I'd drive to my friend A's place, park my car there and take the train to the airport. I was to reach A's place by 9 AM.

Thursday 9 AM: phone rings:

Me: hello?
A: So where you at?
Me: (after a minute) @#$#!!!! I overslept!!!!!
A: You're kidding, right?
Me: Talk to you later bye.

(Poor A, had no clue for the next 2.5 hours if I was really joking or not)

From that minute on, I started running and didn't stop till I got on my flight. Thankfully I had packed, so after taking a few minutes to assess the situation, I took a record 10 min shower to wake me up, got ready and jumped into the car with my bags. The airport is 1.5 hours away from my home, even after breaking all speed limits. Poor Basanti. She can barely do 70 mph without coughing and wheezing and spluttering. And here I was, driving like a maniac. Having bought one of those cheap discounted fares, I was well aware that changing would be a pain, and the next flight was much later that day, throwing all plans out of whack. Speeding all the way, I was breaking my own rules (we all have those rules about speeding, don't we? Like no speeding in a work zone, no going 20 over the limit, etc??). The gods must've taken mercy on me, I made it to the airport without getting caught and then came the interesting problem of finding a spot to park. As I drove through the last lane in the lot, I could see the fuel indicator dip below the "E" on the scale. Of course, the plan was to fill gas before leaving in the morning, which did not happen. It was 10 minutes to 11 now. I was thinking of the long run ahead- I had checked in online, but had to make my way through all those crowds, go through security and then take the stupid train that moved at snail's pace and took you to your gate. Thirty thousand spots to park at the airport, all of them could not have been taken up, could they? Then again, it was one of the biggest holidays in the country. I was beginning to give up, when, like that oasis in a desert, an empty spot appeared out of nowhere. I almost couldn't believe my eyes, but then didn't waste any more time and parked, only to quickly notice this was one of the most expensive lots. WTF. Like I had a choice, I berated myself. Run run run. Strolly, backpack, hand-bag. 3 pieces, and no time to check in my bag as planned earlier. Atleast I'd checked in online and had a boarding pass. I ran to the airport, all the freaking bulky winter clothes just making life that much more exciting. Found out my gate was D 1, and the flight was on time. Of course. - atleast it was the first terminal in the concourse, I thought. Got to security, had to do the whole "Take your laptop out of your bag" routine, and of course, stand in long lines. After pleading my way through some people in the line, I made it on the other side, and had already a mental plan of how I was going to pick up my things and keep running. Stuff all the contents in my pocket, belt in hand, just enough time to wear shoes and keep running. Got to the train, and had 4 stops until my concourse. Enough time to put on my belt and avert any embarrasing situations. Got off at my concourse, and of course, it started with gate #16, meaning gate #1 would be at the very end. Run run run. Made it to the gate at 11:25, just as the flight was boarding. Stood at the end of the line, stuffed the contents of my handbag into my backpack and strolly, and made it, with two bags exactly, all set to board the flight.

Phew.

Settled down in my seat and called A, who was relieved to hear from me. I owe him big time, if not for his call, I would've definitely missed my flight, and added to my wonderful record here.

R.I.P Hobbes

I got back a few days ago..and had a very fun and exciting trip. However, Hobbes (my beloved laptop) is very sick- and I cannot afford expensive treatment (that macs are notorious for) now. I think I will have to let him go. Which is heart-breaking in itself. To make it worse, this is of course the WRONG time for a computer to die- what with thesis writing and all that fun stuff that I have lined up for me. So I got me a cheap stop-gap arrangement- a second hand Windows P.C!!! oooohhh the horror!!!! I cannot stop crying now. I never, ever, thought I would have to see this day. It's unsettling enough to have to use a different machine, but a windows computer? Aargh. I HATE this keyboard, this stupid button for a mouse, this stupid interface, this horrible O/S that took me half-an-hour to set up my internet at home. Yuck yuck yuck. I hate it all. I miss Hobbes. :'(

And I know most of the visitors to this site are users of microsoft windows, but please, save it. :p

Friday, November 24, 2006

Ask what the bugs can do for you


No, this is not my paper that I just blogged about in an earlier post!! ;)

In a recent paper (Oct 20, 2006) in the journal Science, scientists have reported the use of a parasite-specific machinery in to correct certain deficiencies in human cells, which can be then used to tackle critical genetic disorders in humans.

This is cool for several reasons: taking lessons from a simple, one-celled parasite to apply and solve complex genetic disorders in humans is cool in itself. What made me more happy is that the paper is from a group of scientists at the Indian Institute of Chemical Biology, Calcutta, India. One of the few (AFAIK, one of the first this year) all-indian authored papers from an Indian lab in the very prestigious journal Science. (Atleast in the field of molecular biology/diseases).

More on this here.

P.S. The deep thinker from ipanema is away on vacation and hopes everyone is having a nice holiday if they are having one. ;)

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

M.C.P

As in Male Chauvinist Pig. How common is that acronym? Often times, when I use it, (and, er, I use it rather often ;) ) I have people asking me what it means. If a guy doesn't know the meaning of M.C.P, is that a good sign or a bad sign? Or neither?

Diskus.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Accepted!!!!!!

:))) Remember this??

So more than a month after we submitted, the reviews came back. While some very legitimate points were raised, some of the issues were so idiosyncratic. But the boss said I couldn't write that in my rebuttal, so I'm saying it here instead. ;) In my rebuttal, I conceded to some of the reviewers' points, re-clarified some of my points, and vehemently stood by some of my points with more data and references to boost them. Had to do some more weeks of analyses to convert what was a reasonable assumption (which reviewer #2 wouldn't buy) into a table and a statement with data to back it. All this had to be juggled with my own globe-trotting boss and an elusive collaborator on sabbatical. Not fun at all. At some points, I began to not care if this paper ever saw the light of the day. It had just been dragging for too long.

Anyways, I finally sent the revised version off, with a statement "thanking the reviewers for their comments which greatly improved the quality of the manuscript" - and I must admit, the few idiosyncracies aside, they did. The journal's online system kept showing my manuscript's status as "with reviewers" for over a month...and I was getting tired of checking. Finally today, the good news " Dear TGFI, we are delighted to accept your manuscript for publication" sitting, in my junk mail folder! Hah! I am SO happy. Wrote to my boss and she promptly announced a lab-lunch to celebrate her first student's first first-author paper. :-)

Happy times are here again. Drinks for all on the house, there's also some OJ and Horlicks for the underage. And thank-you all for the patient ear to my record-breaking rant.

YayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY. Graduation seems that much more attainable now, and I can't wait for the proofs to see my name in print. :-)

Can't wait for one of my only two friends here to get back into town so that I can go out and render myself incapable of driving. ;)

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The voices

Another semi-productive day in the lab- I decided to close shop and go home early. I walked to the bus-stop, lost in thought. I need some sleep, I thought, I am going insane. Waiting for the bus in the cold was torture. Just as I got on the bus, the voices began. I tried to shut them out, but they wouldn't stop. They gradually got louder, more annoying. Even worse, for most I couldn't understand what they were trying to tell me. But they wouldn't go away. It's like they were yelling at me from all around. I tried to sift through the all that gibberish and could only make out a "fir se jaana" and a "hum ko" and a "shaana, shaana". Oh gawd! I thought. I wanted to stand up and scream "SHUT UP" but of course, I couldn't do that on the bus with so many people on it. I tried to close my eyes and drift off into sleep, so I could avoid the voices, but I couldn't sleep. They kept on..as if they were angry with me, as if they wanted to chide me for something. I don't know! But I couldn't stand them any more! I got off at my stop, and started walking briskly, as if that would make the voices go away. Of course, there was no running away from them. They followed me home, and as I stood at my doorstep, fumbling for my keys in my pocket, they got even louder momentarily. I rushed into my apartment and shut the door, and instantly, peace was restored. I reminded myself why I hate taking the 5:30 bus home, known as the "Chinese Express" for a reason.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Sixth-year-itis

My medico friend told me about "third-year-itis"- a disease all third-year med students contract- when they start imagining that they're afflicted with every possible disease in the book..:)..I think I have the grad-school equivalent: sixth-year-itis. And it's quite different actually. The symptoms include feeling totally bored and demotivated by one's own work. Consequently, productivity dips to an all-time low, and all previous tricks learnt over the past five years of pulling oneself out of the slump don't work. The patient drags her feet at work, taking 3 hours to do what usually takes an hour. Getaways, distractions, scaring herself by suddenly yelling when she wasn't expecting it don't help. :-) The symptoms are exacerbated when expected results are not obtained, and all plans, back-ups, and their back-ups are falling flat on their face; either because the experiments don't work or because the results are the exact opposite of what one expected. A year ago, the same student would have taken these as a challenge and fought back to nail the blasted experiments; make them work and show them who's the boss. But a patient of sixth-year-itis is unable to mount such a defense. Instead, she resorts to wallowing in self-despair and boredom. Compounding environmental factors include mind-numbing distractions that the patient has newly discovered and takes safe recluse in; to avoid tackling the real issues. The patient seems to have resigned to her fate; the all-too-real fears of soon-to-run-out-funding and the more important need to get out of this 6 year-deep ditch are not perceived as threats strong enough to shake the patient out of her inertia. If left untreated for too long, the patient descends into a permanent state of inactivity and non-productivity. One fine day, it's her turn to present at lab-meeting and she finds she has no data worth showing. If this shake is not enough to jolt her back to reality, the patient runs the risk of relapsing into 6th-year-itis, and progressing into 7th-year-itis. That is a condition almost untreatable, and the patient should be made aware of that.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Inspired

Since an update is long overdue here, and I have no time for a deep, thought-provoking post like I'm well known for, ;) I will steal shamelessly and put my list of minor and major irritants as detailed by QSG here.

1) "Low talkers" : The ones that make you say "AAAAA? AAAAA?" after every sentence they utter. Yeah, after a while I get tired of all the polite "pardon?" "come again?" "sorry?" and "saythatagain" so "AAAAA???" it is. So irritating!

2) "Sentence completers". People who complete what you're saying. Bleddy #$Ss. I know you have a voice. Save it, this is MY line.

3) Inconsiderate people: like using up the last of supplies and not replacing. I HATE such people with a passion. And I run after them and nail them down and beat them up if I ever catch them in the act.

4) People that play devil's advocate for every effing issue or rant you bring up. They have serious issues.

5) People who start talking loudly all of a sudden, clearly to impress others in a public place like a restaurant. Dude, most efficient ways of asphyxiating mice is not the best dinner table conversation, tone it down a notch.

6) Nosy bastards. Need I say more?

7) That overdose of modesty. Self-deprecating humour can be funny, but insisting that you are a "small, inconsequential player" when you are well aware otherwise is plain annoying and patronising.

8) People who can't answer a simple question with a simple answer. EVER.

9) Yeah, the superficial compliment-dolers. Cannot stand.

10) Bad breath. Imagine when you're on a bus full of people with this problem and they insist on talking over your face to each other. I'm permanently scarred.

11) Pakaus

12) Gossip mongers. I cannot stand them.

13) People that try to refute everything you say, and behave as if they know more than you, when they have not added anything important to the conversation. Dude, were you even listening?

14) Self-involved pricks.

15) Gels that crack

Ahhhhahahaha this feels so good! :-)))

Monday, November 06, 2006

Hard answers

I made that call I had been postponing for too long.
It was as bad as I feared it would be
But it's done now and I have one "mystery" less to ponder about.

There was this experiment that I had been skirting for long
Because I really needed wanted positive results from it.
I did it finally, and the results are negative.
It's painful. But the data speaks.
I can only listen carefully and conclude appropriately.

Yes, these are never easy.
But now that they're done and out of the way, I can move on and think about what next.

Right now, I cannot help be amazed at the parallels my life is drawing, both inside and outside lab.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

"You've changed"

No, no, this is not a repost. Really.

Aside: Some days ago I was going through my own archives on my blog. (Heights of nikamma-giri). I discovered an inherent pattern to the posts- a few WTFs, a few whiny homesick posts, a few ridiculous happenings, and a few rants- repeat, replay. Reoccuring in a sequential manner, like re-runs. Got me wondering- is that all there is to my life? My life summed up in 40-odd posts? ::Shudder:: :-)

So today I was the one telling myself "you've changed". Some changes have crept in, slowly, before I could catch them, and they became me. Some changes were deliberate steps I took- and now I'm not sure I want them anymore. Some changes were forced- thanks to circumstance, growing up, or well..change in the weather, even. And some changes were just plain inevitable, they had to happen.

The sum of all these changes is not a picture I like completely. I don't like that I've become a rather impatient person, with no tolerance for other peoples' quirks, even if a bit unreasonable. These are people that matter, and I should be able to take them for what they are. I don't like that I've become a little selfish over time; putting myself first. I have always gone out of my way to help, or even please others, and now, I do less of it, more of what pleases me. I am not sure about the huge indifference that has become a part of me - it's very useful at times, but still surprises me. I guess a lot of this can be chalked up to growing up, or growing old, even. But I wonder if that's an easy shield to hide behind, to not want to face or do anything about these changes, because explaining them is so much more convenient?

There are several changes I am happy about too, so I guess it balances out somewhere.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

WTF?

So while I was in Canada, Cingular screwed up somewhere, and apparently people trying to call me and access my voice mail to leave a message were getting routed to my "retrieve messages" number and got to listen to my messages instead.

Double-U Tee Eff is all I have to say. Now I like saving some really crazy messages others might have left in a drunken stupor, mad fit of rage or the like. They're really fun to listen to many days later when you need a laugh. Guess what? Lot of people have been laughing over the past few days.

And no, please don't reach for your phones, after all those callers who might've called me and enjoyed listening to my voicemail, atlast one had the decency to tell me about the snafu (in an email- he also left me a voicemail about it, but apparently someone else got to it before me, and so I never heard it!) ; I called cingular and they admitted to a bug and fixed it.

Now, if you use cingular, you might want to call your own number from another phone and check. And if you ever called me drunk or left an angry message on my voice mail, sorry pal. You need to sue cingular for emotional damage and hurt caused. :p

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Back with a block

I had a fun trip to Canada and back. The visa interview itself was uneventful and smooth, and it seems like the US Consulate also has lost hope of me finishing my Ph.D anytime soon, they extended my student visa for the next five years! Hah! :-)

And now I have bloggers block. I was storing away bits of my trip to blog about later, but I just cannot get myself to write. Ottawa was fun and Montreal was very beautiful. I'd love to live in Montreal, actually.

I will write more later. For now, let me leave you with snippets of an "interesting" conversation I had during my trip.

place: At the duty-free shop in the Departures lounge @ Atlanta airport

sign at entry to shop: "a valid boarding pass is needed to enter beyond this point" and a young lady (30-ish, at most?) manning the sign.

Lady to me: Now lemme see your boarding card
Me: *Shows her* I am looking excited and happy, I guess just because I was excited and happy!
Lady: Now, whe'you goin'??
Me: Ottawa, Canada.
Lady: Canada? Now, wait wait, isn't Canada a part of the U.S?
Me: (I didn't get that memo!) err no, it's a country by itself.
Lady: (Now she thinks I am pulling a fast one on her) No, no, I remember, Canada and Puerto Rico are a part of the United States, you can't go in here!
Me: Canada is really a country by itself. Puerto Rico is a US territory, yes, but not Canada! (I must've been smiling now, more out shock at having this conversation than anything else)
Lady: No, no! you can't go in here. Wha'you wanna buy? cigarettes???
Me: I just want to look at the perfumes. *Smiling imploringly*
Lady: (convinced that I'm trying to slip by) No, no, (laughs). You a smart girl now!
Me: Look, I need a visa to enter Canada, it's a country by itself, really!! And there are only international departures at this concourse, aren't they?
Lady: Shakes head and laughs me away. Jeez!!
Me: (I wanted to say, I want to see your manager ;) ) but instead, I played the birthday card. "It's my birthday, will you please let me by??". Because at this point, any geography lesson would be lost on her.
Lady: Let me see.. is it really your birthday?
Me: show her my drivers license.
Lady: Laughing. Okay, now, you can go then, and Happy Birthday!
Me: Thank-you. And you really need to believe me, the Canadians will be very upset if they hear you say that Canada is a part of the US.
Lady: More laughing.
Me: siigh.

They need to put the map of USA on all drivers licenses.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Two girls and a futon

AR: Where is it?? I can't see it.

TGFI: Here.feel on this side here..can u feel it? It's on the underside and the hole is outside. So we've to go through this.

AR: Yeah i feel it. Let me try.

AR: *grunt urrgghhh* not happening!

TGFI: No no, we cant do this sitting down. We have to lie down and do it.

AR: I'll hold, u turn. one of us has to hold.

TGFI: Can you move a bit I can't see. You're blocking the light

AR: Is this better?

TGFI: Yes. *urrggh grunt*

AR: Here, why don't I turn , you hold

AR: Wait wait, someone also has to hold the arm while doing it.

TGFI: Ok. Lets try it,

AR: Am turning. Can u feel it?

TGFI: No I can't. I don't think you're turning it properly. Is it inside? Are you sure?

TGFI: ouch! thats my finger!

AR: sorry!

AR: *urggh grunt* i cant find a comfortable position to lie down and do this.

AR: Here I am turning now can u feel it?

TGFI: Yeah i think u got it now. Turn turn

AR: yeah i can feel it. Don't let go now.

AR: *swears*.

TGFI: Tired already? Who'll do the other legs??

At this point the two girls trying to put together one of those "assemble it yourself" pieces of furniture are literally ROFL-ing thanks to the above dialogue. Any hope of accomplishing this task is lost thanks to the giggling fit that has taken over. Tears streaming down our eyes, the futon falls apart. Luckily, the door is open and my next door neighbour passing by hears the commotion. He's a bit alarmed to see two girls apparently crying over an unassembled futon, and gallantly offers to help. We gladly take up the offer, futon is assembled and sanity is restored, as the three of us achieve the task with minimum dirty talk. :-)

Calling Green

Greensatya's was one of the first few blogs I started frequenting, before I started blogging myself. If it is at all possible to miss someone on the blogsphere, I really miss him. His blog always had intelligent opinions and tid bits of info on the latest on-goings- often the first place for me to read about matters of current events in India, in the rest of the world, economics or such- which I am not typically clued into. Besides that, I guess we all warm up to certain bloggers' styles of writing, and I had really gotten used to reading and enjoying satya's blog.

He recently wrapped up in Finland and returned to India. I am sure he has a lot of things going on right now, as he alluded to in his commentspace a little while ago. But I hope he is doing well, and I hope he comes back to blogging soon, not only is he missing him , many of his readers are, too!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

From anti-Diwali to Happy Diwali!

So I decided to celebrate non-diwali today. Finally, I am feeling the pinch of missing six Diwalis and six Ganesh Chaturthis - my two most favourite festivals. Not having a single desi friend around this year just made it worse. The day started with my old neighbour uncle from Bombay calling me and telling me how much he missed me, especially now. :( . More Happy Diwali phone calls. The effect was neutralised soon enough when another good friend, also equally morose in her apartment in another corner of the US called and we bitched together on the phone for an hour. :-) After that, I really didn't want to take any more phone calls that said "Happy Diwali, what are you doing for Diwali???". So the day was celebrated by boycotting email and phone. I went out and shopped a bit instead, and then indulged in my favourite anti-depressant: work. It worked. :-) Came home, and saw a couple apartments in my building all lit up and stuff. Siiigh. So I decided to snap out of this crap. Showered quickly, dressed up, and lit diyas (well-tea candles) in and around my apartment. Yeah, at 11 pm. so what? Now I am making kheer. Happy Diwali again! :-)

P.S: And DesiPundit is back! yay!

Clarification

Please read title of previous post in a sing song manner to the tune of

Home, home again
I like to be here when I can
When I come home cold and tired
It's good to warm my bones beside the fire
Far away across the field
The tolling of the iron bell
Calls the faithful to their knees
To hear the softly spoken magic spells

I KNOW how to punctuate, some folks don't know how to read between the commas. grr.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Home, sick again

Yeah. I know it's the whole Diwali spirit. I could see it coming. And being a part of the blogworld actually makes it worse now. Next week, the indian students association celebrates diwali night here. I will go to that, and that should be nice. My non-desi friends are great sports and will enjoy coming to them with me. But right now, am missing my desi friends a tad more. Been wondering why I never made an effort to integrate better with the desi community here. I guess, as long as I had my friends, it was okay, and then they left and I just didn't feel like making any new ones. It's hard to find friends of your type anyways, and I will admit I actually deliberately steered clear of the desi community because some aspects of it always put me off. I have been happy with the peripheral involvement I have..the occasional hindi chats at the bus stop and bumping in at desi events..so that way I still enjoyed the comfort of seeing my people...but could keep my distance - and that was a choice I made.

Ahh well. I have enough to keep me busy. As long as I steer clear of the happy diwali messages and phone calls (And blog posts ;) )I should do fine. For once, I want the weekend to come and go, as soon as possible, and then get on my flight to ottawa! yay!

p.s: Happy Diwali to y'all :-)

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Post!!

Bills, credit card statements, low interest rate balance transfer offers and discount coupons for pizza, oil-changes and groceries. The typical american life features a dreary mailbox -little inspiration for trudging down and checking one's mail. Growing up, I was a big letter-writer, and reveled in writing long letters to friends, pen-friends & grandparents, either on those blue "inland letters" (or aerogrammes for international mail. :-)) or on fancy stationery. I remember all the tricks my pen-friend and I resorted to to smuggle coins in the mail, well concealed to prevent them from being flicked en route, so we could exchange currency of our respective countries. :-) The whole experience of letter writing was completed by picking out stamps to stick on them and dropping them off in the red post-box. I always awaited the postman eagerly, and was famous for hounding him on his route daily. "pacchis by aath ke liye kuch hai?" Often the postman saw me approaching him and would start fishing out the whole building's mail from his brown bag to give me. :-) The clerk at the local post office would regularly alert me to new stamps that had come in and I would excitedly use them, with a request to the receiver to send me back the stamp. :p Thanks to this craze of mine, my mother had to ensure that the postman was given a generous "bakshees" every year during diwali. :-)

I kept up some of my love for "real" mail after coming here. It was a bit of a shock when I first saw how the clerk at the post office here used a plain bar-coded sticker in place of actual postage stamps on my outgoing mail. Since then, I made it a point to ask for "nice stamps" on my mail. For a while, I continued writing letters or just sending photos and other snippets of my life here that could be sent by mail. Slowly, this hobby dwindled. Instant messaging, phone and email conveyed almost everything and did it faster than letters, but not necessarily as accurately. Trips to the post-office now became a chore- only undertaken when tax-deadlines loomed large. Letters became restricted to when someone was going to India and I could send a letter through them. My mailing activities were reduced to postcards while traveling and the annual rakhis, birthday cards and such. Even there, I was starting to get tardy. For someone to whom remembering birthdays came naturally, wishing someone on their birthday started to become a "to-do" item on my list. I'd be lucky enough to get my phone-call in on time, within any time-zone, let alone actually plan in advance and send something in the mail. I've never had a single sheet of stamps last me as long as they did over the past many months. Recently, I mailed a friend his birthday present, again, a couple weeks late. The whole act of going to the post-office and sending the package out perked me up, as I relived the joy it gave me. For a normally reticent guy, my friend's overwhelmed reaction and excitement at receiving his present, albeit late, was even more heartening. I am going to do more of this now, I was beginning to forget how much I enjoyed it.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Old rant revisited

decisions, decisions. Everything is such a deliberation, such a contemplation for me. AAaaargh!

move on already!

Desi Pundit bids farewell

The folks at DP have decided to shut down their wonderful blog, blaming time-constraints. I do not blame them at all, for am sure a job so well done must've been demanding a lot of time and effort.

So I'm sitting here, staring at the the bright yellow sun on the page. Furiously going through the archives...bookmarking each and every post i find interesting, funny, or informative. Lapping it all up, trying to file away as much as I can. Going about, leaving my last comments that say "Came here from desipundit" because, when will I do that again? In a way the timing is good, atleast I'll be spared of all the diwali posts and sit here feeling homesick. hah. i knew there would be something positive out of this.
And also, i guess, i'll spend less time on blogs and more time on my phd...eh?? :)


:( I am sad. So long, and thanks for all the fish, guys.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Home is

Another Selma-inspired post

Home is where I long to go back to at the end of a tiring day..or a string of tiring months..

Home is what houses my shower and my bed, which I miss dearly after a few days of separation..

Home is where I can laugh out loud, uninhibited, and home is where I can cry unabashed and still feel secure.

Home is at the end of that road, the way around which I can never lose.

Home is where I see people on the street..where I buy fresh vegetables every day..where I am a part of the crowd.

Home is where my music resonates, where my silence always finds company.

Home is where it's always warm.

On most days, I'm glad to come home. But sometimes, I yearn to go home!

Selma said "What is your perception of home? Do write and link me back. I would love to know". Me too! :-)

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Spies - Coldplay

Coldplay has been ruling my I-tunes past many days. Then last night I saw the movie "A Beautiful Mind" and have this haunting melody in my head since then. If you're interested in more about the hows and whys of schizophrenia, i shamelessly point you to my long post on this new science blog initiative started by a bunch of grad students (and ex-grad students) with way too much time on their hands. ;) Lots of cool stuff on there, and not all as long. ;)


Switched..Parachutes

In a haze, a stormy haze
I'll be round; I'll be loving you always, always
Here I am and I take my time
Here I am and I'll wait in line always, always

Of one night stands and jerks

The past week was a crazy week. Crazier than many that I've had in the past couple months. Mostly self-inflicted, so I shouldn't be bitching. But as a good friend once told me- what use is the blog if you can't bitch on it? So bitch I will, and merrily so. :-)

I can't do one night stands anymore. Until recently, I could pull them off which such grace, such flair. I remember all those long nights spent- sometimes on a whim, sometimes being pressured into them- but enjoyable, nevertheless. If it did get tiring, I'd always remind myself that it was just one night, and most of the times, it was all I had. That alone was enough to fuel me. There was some kind of joy in being up all night- the background music alternating between smooth jazz /instrumental and then some up-tempo stuff. Before I knew it, I'd be looking out of the window and watching the sky change, the sun rise. Then getting out in the cool morning with a heady feeling of accomplishment and taking the first bus home, when everyone else on it was heading to work. A refreshing shower, a hearty, caffeine laced breakfast, and I was ready to get back to work myself, all charged up. I functioned fine in the day, as long as some more caffeine and lots of water were consumed. Later in the evening, some attempts at keeping myself afloat in the swimming pool ensured that I only went to sleep at normal bed-time. And ta-da! my sleep-wake cycles were hardly affected.

Not anymore. My last few attempts at spending all night in the lab, with my first, second and third loves, have not fared too well. One time I managed to spook myself out with random weird noises I was hearing in the lab. At first I thought I had achieved the impossible by making the E.coli talk back to me; but soon realised it was the new building we had just moved into. Driving myself home in the wee hours of the morning was not fun. The following day saw me grumpy, incoherent and barely able to think clearly. No amount of coffee helped and going swimming at this point was a life-endangering risk. My sleep-wake cycles were completely out of whack and if you knew me, you wouldn't want to talk to me around then. It's too bad I cannot pull these off any more. OK, before any of you smart asses tries to say it, I'll put it out there, it looks like I'm getting old. Le sigh..:)

Rant #2: I hate it when people can't take for no for an answer. Why is it so hard to understand? I do not want you to come here, I do not want to see you. I don't care if I'm on your way to wherever. And I cannot spell it out any better without offending you. But I am not going to give in to being nice at the cost of my already dwindling sanity and much loved peace of mind. Sorry. GO AWAY. /rant#2

Such it is, this sad life o' mine. But there is exciting stuff too- am off to Canada next week for the same reason hundreds of sixth-year Ph.D students make their way there..to renew my student visa. As if it wasn't enough, having to explain to all and sundry why I am still in grad school after five years, now I have to explain myself at the consulate general of the united states of america. blaargh. As is always the case before I travel, I try to accomplish the world before leaving and I know the craziness will continue until I get into my car and drive to the airport. Traveling always excites me. In the little time I steal from work, I'm researching what to do, where to go, where to stay while in Canada. Until my wise friend warns me, "it's all of 4 days, tgfi, do not over-plan." Some of my best trips were the ones I made impromptu, no planning, just pick up and go. And I've faced some of my worst disappointments from build-ups generated by elaborate planning. But I guess with all this information so easily available, it's too tempting to want to find out the exact street my hostel is on and the number of miles from there to the museum. Sheesh. But how I love doing it! :-) Hopefully, I will have a more interesting post when I'm back. For now, the brain is fried and refuses to listen.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Saturday Oct 7th 2006

Woke up early for my standards on a saturday. Made breakfast. Listened to cartalk. LOVE those two silly brothers and their guffawing. Had long chat with a friend in India. Fixed bike. Went grocery shopping. Game day today. rowdies all over town. When I was driving back from the grocery store, insane traffic. And this girl in the car in front of me was brushing her teeth in the car. Then she opened the door at teh light and spat out. I was SO grossed out. Honked loudly. yuck!


Dropped off A and E to the game. Went to lab. Was stopped by a cop on the way ..for biking without helmet. Cute cop. :-) Started on new experiment. Very excited about it. It's all I thought of all week, and it started off well. *touchwood*. If there's anything I'm superstitious about in life, it's my cells and my experiments. I know, unscientific. But I am like that.

Came home, had dinner, couldn't stand all you buggers asking me to update. SO HERE YA GO!
:-)

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Some (more) random

Yeah...it's that time on this blog again. Don't expect any sense in here. It's 3 am and i should be either sleeping or working. Can't do either because work puts me to sleep and I cannot sleep because i have to work. Therefore I blog.

I have been having too many George Costanza moments of late- where someone has irritated the heck out of me, and I come up with a killer answer only much later, after the incident has passed. Very frustrating it is. Then I go on and on, improving the response in my head, knowing fully well that it is a bleddy useless exercise. For the next several days, my eyes scour the bus/street/hallway for the offender. Just once, please, I just want to use my comeback line. Please show up in my line of vision..I'm pleading to any gods of people-bumping-into-you that might be listening. Never happens. Many many days later, of course, said person shows up, and all i can say is "HI! LONG TIME NO SEE! HOW ARE YOU!".

wtf?

My definitions of friends, expectations from relationships..have all changed. Sure enough, one might say. We grow up. Inspite of all the cynicism I have accumulated over the years, small things still manage to leave their mark. Both positive and negative. I like it when the positive happens. It's nice to know that small things still make me happy. Some people still matter, inspite of everything. Some acts still brighten up my day, sometimes, even inspite of the person that did them! :)

On that happy note, I think I will go and sleep!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Terror levels




DANGEROUSSAFERSAFESTULTRA-SAFE
What's for dinner? Can I help you with dinner? Where would you like to go for dinner? Here, have some chocolate
Are you wearing that? Wow, you sure look good in brown! WOW! Look at you! Here, have some chocolate
What are you so worked up about? Could we be overreacting? Here's my paycheck Here, have some chocolate
Should you be eating that? You know, there are a lot of apples left Can I get you a glass of wine with that? Here, have some chocolate
What did you DO all day? I hope you didn't over-do it today. I've always loved you in that robe! Here, have some more chocolate

Saturday, September 30, 2006

You cannot touch but you can look?

"This blogger" makes his point about why BNP is not being helpful to either men or women with it's stand on "looking". The truth is, several aspects of "eve-teasing" are extremely intangible. So it seems like while a grope or a physical act warrants reaction, and can also be condemned lawfully, one cannot complain against "looking" because that is the fundamental right of the man. We have several rights. We also have responsibilities. And have to follow certain social norms and basics of respecting fellow human beings in a society. It's just sad that the issue of respecting a woman seems to have no bearing in the average street-life in India. Everyone who's been "looked at" in a perverted way knows what "looking" BNP refers to when they say "no looking". It is not the ordinary harmless "looking" that all the pious saints will claim to do, and hence feel uncomfortable by this campaign. Who's to decide or differentiate what "look" is okay and what's not? I don't know, indeed , the lines blur there, and perhaps that's why there' s no law against "looking". But the way I see it, BNP is protesting against the kind of "looking" that is derogatory, offensive and I stand by the fact that "looks" alone can harass or demean. There's no other way for me to explain that, unfortunately.

Why let the look offend you, you say? "Are you that weak?" I don't see why a woman's self-esteem is being blamed for her reaction to eve-teasing to start with. An individual's self-esteem is not the business of a complete stranger who has nothing to do with the individual. So a self-assured woman may walk away unaffected by it, but that doesn't stop the pervert. He is still continuing to be a nuisance, if not to this woman, to the next. Oftentimes, the harassment doesn't end there either. So every woman should be as self-assured and as capable of being unaffected by these perverts? While that would be ideal, yes, is every man self-assured and self-confident? (No, staring at girls walking down the street does not make a confident man). Then WHY do women- self-assured or not, have to struggle or put up with this, or have to invest effort in bearing / ignoring/giving it back to eve-teasers??

While I agree with several points jyothsnay made in her comments @ retributions, women have to take on assault confidently. assertively, and humiliate the pervert the best they can, my question is WHY do we have to deal with this to start with? Because it is there? So lets just deal with it? NO. When are men going to learn not to objectify women? "Eve-teasing" has been going on for eons, yes. That doesn't make it excusable in any way. Which is why BNP's attempt to make the public realise that they cannot get away with misbehaving is commendable. Are they being extreme? Are some of their points a little overboard? Perhaps yes. I don't blindly agree with all that they profess either. I am not an advocate of blind "militant feminism" myself and I don't think the BNP is about that. And no, I don't think this is a "them" versus "us" fight, nor do I interpret that from BNP's campaign. But I am not going to harp on what I find objectionable about BNP. Because I choose to reserve my outrage for the fact that in this day and age, it is still thought that "men will tease, we have to deal with it smartly".

BNP's campaign against "looking" is not all they have to their credit. They are making resources available, actually discussing and taking to the streets an issue that has for long been put away as "hota hai" and so I find BNP an empowering initiative. It's an effort to revolt against men who think eve-teasing is their birthright. Please realise, they are fighting an attitude, a culture, deeply ingrained in the psyche of the common man on the street in India. From what I see, I don't think they are advocating a weak stance either. Stare back, fight back, and then also educate, make people aware. This fight has arisen out of a lot of frustration at having to expend energy to deal with sexual harassment, in whatever way each one might have chosen to deal with it. When no external source of help- the law, the police, or even the general public has come to the rescue of a victim of sexual harassment. I sure hope that BNP doesn't die down and fade away.

Yes, women must stand up to the lechers and fight back. But that is not enough. Uncivilized behaviour has got to stop. It is unacceptable. If men turned their backs and went back to doing it when they were told before, they need to be told again. and again. in every way possible. Until they get it.

Monday, September 25, 2006

"You're only as good as your next paper"

We had a different kind of seminar today. Once a week, we have an invited speaker from outside who gives a talk on his/her research. Today we had a "motivational speaker" types. It's almost worrisome, that we need these talks now. :) Nothing new was said, but the reinforcement was useful. Good timing for me too, especially since the jade from starting my sixth year is beginning to set in, and I'm beginning to embark on the post-doc hunt too.

Vishesh tippani from babaji's talk.

What should motivate a scientist? Love of the process of finding out. Not so much the ends or the results, but the means.

You cannot prove anything. All it takes is a single experiment to prove you wrong. You can only find the truth to the best extent you can.

As a graduate student:

Interdisciplinary is the way to go.
Make the best of your environs. If you're in a lab with the sexiest microscope and imaging facility, take your project there.
Read widely, not always necessarily deeply. (To gain breadth)
If you're really keen on doing an experiment, DO IT.
Think out of the box. Ask of your data "What is the most interesting thing this could mean?"
Don't be afraid. Have the self confidence that you could've indeed stumbled upon the answer that many were trying to get at. (He in fact mentioned that women are bad at this)
Learn the history of your science.
It's ok to get side-tracked. But don't put all your eggs in one basket.
Think quantitatively.
Be a control freak. :-) (As in designing controls for experiments)
Honour the scientific method, always.
Keep a good notebook. Should have all the information needed to repeat the experiment.
Develop a thick skin. Take criticism constructively. Nothing's personal.
Speak up when you have to. Our mission is to find the truth, not to be nice or to honour elders.
Always LOOK at the cells. (Sigh, indeed! The cells, they tell you so much)


Think for yourself. Write for yourself. OWN your project. Be the world's best expert on it.
The Boss is not always right. (hah! this i know ;) )And will often be happy to be proven wrong.
When you find yourself disagreeing with the boss, you're ready to graduate. (Excuuuz me??? ;) )
Pick a project where you can learn as many techniques as possible.
Each time you perform an experiment, you should be thinking about improving every step for the next time you do it.
Base conclusions on multiple experiments.
Don't be blinded by the statistics. The statistics are only as good as the assumptions they rely on.
Force yourself to write down observations, especially of the failed experiments. Do not forget the unexplained results! (This is so important!)
Speak up! Ask questions at talks.
Grab every opportunity to present your work to an outside audience. (very important, especially when it comes to the post-doc hunt)

Do not prolong your Ph.D. :(
Take responsibility for yourself. Have a plan for the next five years.


Post doc hunt:

Don't sell yourself short. Salaries are negotiable. Play the game. Post-docs are among the most exploited class of workers anyway. (hah!)

Must interview prospective lab. Talk to students/employees. Track back ex-members of the lab and speak to them.

Does the P.I help his people? (Outside of lab). Will he let you take projects with you when you leave?

Choose wisely. Cannot go wrong in picking a lab for your post-doc, after being in the system for five plus years.

If you have to do two post-docs, switch after two years at the first one.

Try getting outside fellowships for post-doc work.

Work hard. If you want to become a P.I, it's an uphill climb.

You don't have to end up as a P.I to be successful in science.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Crying over split milk

**UPDATE**: I am doing a lot better, people, sorry for the morose post. (quite embarrassed I am now). :) No, I didn't solve all my problems, I just went and bought a fresh can of milk and made some chai again.
It's a beautiful Sunday, tomorrow is monday, sulkfest has ended automatically.
***********

Sappy post warning. apologies in advance

Weekend blues are not uncommon..especially when stress levels peak or deadlines near. Other times, they descend when I have everything going for me. Perhaps just because I have all those happy moments, but I miss the ones I'd love to share them with the most.

And then I've exhausted every idea in my book- cleaning/cooking/music/going out/reading/working. Nothing appeals. Made a distress-call to a friend that never fails to cheer me up. Didn't work. But I had made my sadness so obvious, that I knew I would get more "are you okay?" calls. So I turned off the phone and threw it. Now I'm too miserable to even reach down behind the bed and retrieve it! :-)

I hate the uncertainty that lies ahead of me right now. I hate how so many decisions are linked to each other. And I hate how , if given my way, I'd follow one path, but my whole philosophy of "keeping my parents happy" is interfering with plans that should rightfully be my own. Sometimes I wonder if i'm just choosing the path of least resistance because I'm not brave enough to revolt or because I really care about not disappointing them.

I hate that all my friends have left town and gone before me! I hate that the one person who's hugs made everything go away has gone away. The one voice that set things right is no longer an option. I hate that I let myself miss them all so much, when I promised myself I wouldn't.

I hate it when all I want is my cup of tea with adrak, elaichi and milk. But the stupid can of spoilt milk has other plans and decides to ruin my cup. Right there, it was the beginning of a day going horribly wrong.

Tomorrow will be another day, and these feelings will be displaced by then, I'm sure. For now, I just needed to vent.

Thank-you for listening, no discuss!

Sigh

This got me all teary-eyed. Rekindling all those memories I thought I had successfully put away.

Yes, the sound of shutters of shops opening early morning!

Ah yes, the doodhwaala's clanging cans on his cycle..

The yelling bus conducter! "Pudhe chala pudhe chala!" :)

The honking.

The swearing in chaste marathi.

The cat fights in the ladies' compartment.

The accomodation for a "Fourth seat" on a three-seater bench. :)

"booking" seats well in advance- all accomplished by mere gestures and hand-movements.


Siiiigh. All those sounds, sights and smells...

I want to go home! now! :( :( :(

Two things my life lacks

1) A GOOGLE search button
So that next time I'm hyperventilating about "losing" my passport or ATM card or keys, it will jump to my rescue. It should be fairly simple, really.Every time I perform the action of picking up something and putting it somewhere, a little chip in my head should record item name and location and file it away in this giant database. Each item goes by it's common name as the key. Perhaps we can even grade items- from trivial to crucial, so that it records the last ten locations of crucial items, and only last location of trivial items. See! Easy it is.

2) An IGNORE button
So that next time someone is irritating the hell out of me in real life, instead of working myself up to want to punch said person or scream obscenities (yes, i gave up on emailing obscenities) I can coolly push ignore. And carry on humming my favourite song. Preferably, this button should miraculously take form on irritating person's forehead, as soon as my BP is reaching certain levels. How cool it would be! ahahahahah! love the very idea!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

There's a censor in my e-mail!

While exchanging emails with a friend this morning, in which I was bestowing him with some choice adjectives, entirely well-deserved, I might add, I had to spell them out for full effect. Hit send, and this happened:


YOUR MESSAGE MAY CAUSE OFFENSE

Your message to abc@xyz.edu regarding "the war is on" has language highly likely to be found offensive.


Followed by the "offensive" text labelled in red, and two buttons:

Cancel? Send Anyway?


What the hell? And this from a program that lets in all those viagra, hot dates and stocks falling/rising spam.

Give me back my notepad, pen and stamped envelopes please, thank-you.

In the meantime, who knows of a good email client for macs? I am dumping Eudora. She is ruining my spontaneity.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

More lessons learnt

I have had a small victory today. A seven month long saga seems to be finally finding closure. I hope so, atleast. Details of the saga are beyond the scope of this public journal, but suffice to say a happy ending is in sight and that point alone I think is worth sharing. Also more platitudes that I can now vouch for from experience.

1) However hopeless the situation seems, never give up. Really! Things turn around, if sufficiently goaded. Keep the faith, keep on fighting, and you will eventually reach a point when you can look back and see how far you've come, and feel proud of it.

2) Ask for help. I have always been terribly independent-minded and reluctant to seek help easily. I learnt to tweak this trait in my professional life, after a lot of time lost to trouble-shooting experiments or being stuck at points that I could've overcome if only I'd looked up and asked. Personally, I continued to be loath to reaching out for help. But no amount of lone crusading or screaming from rooftops would've helped our cause here if it were done without rallying support from relevant, more powerful people. I would've never known about resources that existed, or received the assistance I got to bring things to a good place today, if I hadn't asked. Indeed, the hesitation to ask, and bull-headedness to solve things by oneself without reaching out is a bit egocentric. Sometimes, you need to simply get up and ask, politely. And you will be surprised to find help from the most unexpected quarters.

3) Be organised. If you're ever faced with the situation of dealing with someone else's affairs, you cannot do it if you thrive in chaos yourself. Living alone spoils you in many ways, and shouldering another person's responsibility is a good reality check in life.

I am very happy today!

Update: Sorry to create this air of suspense. The post has nothing to do with my Ph.D (which is a 5 year saga still going strong! ;) ) but another, equally occupying (if at all there can be) personal struggle that was on for the past many months. :-) (otherwise you will all end up being like the bus folks, asking me, "when are you finishing??" ) {siigh} :) j/k

Sunday, September 17, 2006

On prejudices

We all have them, some we proclaim, unabashedly, some we prefer to sweep under the carpet and some we don't even know exist. And then we come face to face with some, after having unknowingly upheld them for the longest time.

Interesting story.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Statcounter funnies

** This is an old post- reposted in order to complete gauravonomic's tag. Sorry, nobody googles and lands on my blog anymore, so I thought I'll put this up as a filler. OK?**


1) Google search item: "I hate writing my Ph.D thesis",

2) Google search item: "dream of being chased by a duck".

HAHAHHAHAHHAHHA all I can say is, you've come to right place, people! :-)

This is my sorry excuse for a post. no blogworthy matter these days.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

MY PHONE IS NOT ANCIENT!!!!!!!!

please limit jokes to mp3 player. only. thanks.

p.s: this posting via email is so damn cool.


Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Mere paas mp3 player hain

2001, my first thanksgiving sale in the US. (The event itself was something else, worthy of a post of it's own). I decided to indulge in an mp3 player- it was a luxury for me. I didn't go running or travel long distance, I didn't like carrying any extra stuff to the gym, given my tendency for losing anything and everything...So basically, I had no use for an mp3 player, but bought it nevertheless, pure indulgence. In those days fancy iPODs and iRivers had yet to become the in-thing. So here was my $30 gizmo, it played mp3s, you could program it to replay some songs on the loop, create playlists, etc. etc. Fun it was.

It served me well for the past 5 years. Soon I bought a car-cassette adapter for it, and when I bought my second car, it became the official car-music player. A set of rechargeable batteries, and a battery charger, and I was all set.

My bus ride to the lab everyday takes all of 15 mins or less. I usually occupy myself with a book, or my "to-do" list in this time...but there are times when I am overwhelmed or stressed, and want to simply close my eyes and listen to a song- to cheer me up or drive all other thoughts out of the head. Other times I feel the need to have some music plugged in simply to drown out these loud voices on the bus. So, for times like these, I decided to bring my mp3 player out of the car and carry it to school everyday.

Here starts the trauma. While other folks on the bus have these nice sleek i-pods with colour-coordinated earphones, jackets and what-have-yous tucked in their pocket, or one of those tiny gizmos hanging by a cord around their neck, mine is er. just a bit bulky for that. So either I have to carry it, and make a spectacle out of it, or just hide it's ungainly self in my backpack. When I come to a song i want to fast-forward or replay, I look around to see if anyone's looking first. Then I stealthily draw into the back pack, and fumble around the buttons to fast-foward the song. Often, in my hurry to not be noticed, I end up skipping the song I wanted to replay and vice-versa. Sometimes all that tugging and pushing also creates "loose contact". Now I have to actually pull out this offensive, embarrassing contraption, so I can stick the cord back in, and play the song I want to listen to. Five years of wear and tear, and the door won't shut- so it also needs a little affectionate tap once in a while- until I came up with the good ol' rubber-band as the permanent solution for that. One time I had to pull it out in clear view to fiddle with it, and the person sitting next to me stared down - eyes popping out- first at this "thing" in my hands, and then at me- like I had pulled out a bomb or something. I hurriedly stuffed the damn thing back into the bag, and got off at the next stop, even though it was not my stop. The guy actually looked scared, he jumped out of the seat to make way for me, afraid of making any contact. I walked to the lab, head bowed and red-faced, vowing to never take the damn thing on the bus again.

Here's a picture of the damn thing. I now stick to looking out of the window on the bus.

Cannot stand indecisiveness.

and right now, I cannot stand my own stupid impulsive capricious self!

Pick a lane!! and stick to it!!!

:( :@

p.s: am publishing this by emailing the post instead of going through blogger. a first for me..wonder if it works.???

Saturday, September 09, 2006

No comments!

Dear readers,
There's something I've been meaning to tell you. OK. So I will take a deep breath and confess here. At the risk of incurring the wrath of my readership, or even losing the very few that I have left after I moved.

Here goes..

ermm....Idon'tlikereplyingtocomments.
*phew* are you still there??

I am greedy like that. Want comments, but don't want to reply. Lazy also. :-)
Mostly, this is like homework for me that I don't want to do. :) Often the banter is fun, but most of the time, I've nothing to add to what a commenter has said. And I feel a bit silly while replying.."true" "i agree" "indeed" and such. Doesn't do good for my self-esteem, being as it is that I'm a rather silly person to start with. And I'm running out of these affirmitive expressions too.

So in the interest of my self-esteem :), I am not going to respond to every comment, unless I've something to add, clarify or refute.

OTOH, i know i always follow up my comments on others blogs to see what they've responded. And was heartbroken on that one ocassion when a certain blogger replied to everybody else's comment except mine! (you know i'm talking about you!! :@). :) But let's put this conflict aside for the time-being. When I started blogging, I thought it was the norm- you comment, you get replies. You blog, people comment, you reply. But I can't help seeing the pointlessness of my replies. now. After 70-odd posts. Did I mention I'm slow also? :-)

This is a trial phase. It might well end up that I can't keep my mouth shut for too long and end up wanting to butt in every now and then even when i've nothing of importance to say. :-)

What do y'all think????(just making sure y'all still comment! ;))

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Focus!

I need to focus. The deadlines loom large. Therefore I blog.

Aaaaaaargh

I should be

analysing data.

But I'm thinking about

a possible quickie trip to India this december (have u seen the prices??)
what to see in ottawa when i go there in october
where to go for my post-doc
why i cannot graduate in december
how life would be if i could
my sad state of financial affairs
when will my living room stop looking like a kabaad khaana (it right now has all the unsold furniture from my friend's apartment)
can i skip gym today too? because you see, i've this deadline...

Sorry for the random post. It's an attempt to remind myself to focus.

While we're at it, random song playing right now:

We're just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl, year after year,
Running over the same old ground.
What have you found? The same old fears.
Wish you were here.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Wrapping up somebody else's affairs

is not easy.

And I'm not talking about selling the furniture and car on behalf of someone else, or packing boxes and finding a place to store them....which is painful enough.

How do you decide what memories are worth keeping and what you should discard when space is limited?

Think about having to entrust somebody else to wrap up your life..with the plan of coming back to it later. Must be even worse!

Monday, September 04, 2006

My impressive track record

I wrote to my best friend about the bodies exhibition yesterday- she wrote back
"I am so happy you enjoyed your trip to the exhibition and also impressed, knowing your track record."


I am impressed too! And it got me thinking back in time..I was in my second or third year of undergrad when my mom was hospitalised for a surgery. It was not really serious, but a first experience for me. I go to the hospital in the morning when the doctors are just wheeling her out of the O.T., post-surgery. My mom is just waking up from anesthesia then. Just seeing her like that, being wheeled out and the whole atmosphere- disturbed me a bit. I followed the doctors to her room and next thing I knew I was on the floor and there were five doctors and nurses hovering over me . I had passed out and my poor mum had to be left unattended. They got me some fluids and sent me packing. The hospital was at one end of the city, and I guess we all attributed it to all the traveling in the sun, the stress etc. It was no biggie. I return that afternoon with lunch for my father- this time my mom is still drugged, and has all these i.v hook ups and what not. My father is happy that I had come and he could eat some food and catch a nap. But of course, I had my own agenda. One look at my mom, and yes, ladies and gentlemen, I could not deal with it and did my little faint and crash to floor routine again!! Again nurses had to rush to my rescue, in the middle of taking care of my mom. Twice in the same day! This time I also broke my glasses. Father decided that this was just getting out of hand, not to mention expensive, and banned me from coming to the hospital again.

And to think my mom wanted me to become a doctor. This became a standing joke in the family.

Then 4 years ago, one of my closest friends H, here, was pregnant. It was the day of her big ultrasound in her second trimester- the one to ensure everything was going well with the baby and mother, and where you can also tell the sex of the baby if you wanted to. Well- H's husband had to go out of town so she asked me to go with her. I was honoured. After a nice breakfast I drive with her to the hospital. We're in the examination room, and the doctor has hooked her up to the little screen- and suddenly, I can see this teeny tiny fetus in her belly, we could make out the little toes, fingers ...monitor the baby's heartbeat. It was beautiful! I was standing by H who was lying down.. holding her hand, marveling at it all.. I was so overwhelmed...and suddenly found myself go dizzy and sank quietly to the floor. Luckily for me, I happened to be already leaning against a wall. This was a split second thing, and I recovered in a few seconds. I decided to be quiet about it. When we left, H told me that she felt my hand go cold all of a sudden and wondered why. I confessed to her what had happened, and we laughed at the irony of it all! So much for taking me for support..

For all this drama, when my grandfather was hospitalized while I was doing my masters, I stayed with him in the hospital for nearly a month during his last days. I nursed him, took care of his medications, feeding him through those tubes and what not. Never once did I feel faint or dizzy while witnessing all kinds of procedures they carried out on him. Given my history, my relatives would always be surprised to find me at the hospital when they came to visit my grandfather. I am still amazed that I didn't have a single faint-and-crash episode those days. Indeed, we surprise ourselves, often not knowing our hidden strengths and what we are capable of, should the situation demand it.

Inside out

Bodies..The exhibition is doing the rounds in some cities here in the U.S. Went to see it today- it was pretty damn cool, but I didn't have great expectations. That always helps.

The exhibits consisted of real human bodies preserved using silicone polymer..and showed you how the human body looks on the inside. It was all quite fascinating- one could see how the organs are placed, the bones and tissues in the body, the nervous system, the skeletal system..in various angles and sections. Quite awe-inspiring it was.
They had whole-body specimens (Which were mostly male bodies, I am not sure why) and then individual organ/system specimens. There were various sections devoted to different aspects of the human body- my favourite was the circulatory system- where they had replaced all the fluid in the arteries and veins with coloured polymer, and then selectively destroyed all the tissue/bone. So you could see every organ separately as a bunch of blood vessels. I thought it was really cool.

But that was before I went into the birth room. They had preserved specimens of the human embryo and fetus in various stages-starting from 2 weeks old to 30 weeks old. That was THE MOST amazing thing of all. The same room had preserved specimens of babies born with birth defects and that was rather disturbing..

Admittedly, at some point it got a bit repetitive, and at some points it got to information overload.. I think it was of some educational value, but unfortunately people were too loud and noisy wanting to show off all their knowledge while looking at the specimens and that put me off. I almost wanted to yell at everyone to shut up! I guess going on a sunday was asking for crowds..

P.S: All of the bodies were got from Dalian medical univ, China, it says.
P.P.S: I am an extremely queasy person myself -but the exhibition was not at all gross as I feared- it was too cool to be gross, believe me!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Here and There

K joined our lab after getting his Ph.D in India He walked up to my bench the other day and pointed out to the amount of plastic waste i generate in a day- this is what i'd put out in a week, he said. He has re-started two-sided printing in the lab, even if it means walking up the printer and turning the paper around and putting it back in, mid-printing. I used to do that for my first few months here and gave up. Now I am happy to do it again. I have always been a huge advocate of conserving, but over the years, lapsed into some amount of laziness and "going with the flow". K has come and re-instilled some of those practices.

I have never seen how a research institute might be run in India, but I had no illusions. Still, K has taken it upon himself to dispel any wrong notions I may have about the conditions there, given how I blow my "I-want-to-go-back-to-india" trumpet. In some ways, I am glad he's telling me all that, prepares me for my future. Although sometimes it does get annoying. It's amazing the things we take for granted here, how much labs have to struggle to get the same things back home. Financial constraints are one thing, the research atmosphere is another. Over here, for most part, the collaborative spirit is very dominant. People are only to happy to help, to lend reagents, exchange protocols, if it is going to further your science in any way. So I never hesitate to go across the hall and ask people, or share my thoughts with them. K would always hesitate- because he is more used to a highly competitive atmosphere- where people don't dole out help that easily and where everything is tinged with a hint of suspicion. I have seen a bit of that during my bachelors and masters days in india- where friends hid notes from you and other such sneaky doings. Of course, these are not always the rule. You have crazy paranoid unhealthy competition here, and I am sure the converse is true for labs in India.

Partly, one cannot blame people for being so close-minded or paranoid in India. Where opportunities are far and few in between, and everything is a struggle. I remember the time I was investigating options of doing a Ph.D in India- right then it was clear to me that it'd be a lot easier for me to land a position abroad! For those that made it through the system and got those prized research fellowship positions, they are then faced with 5 - 6 years of only more struggle. It's not the easiest for them to be all noble and selfless when they are constantly trying to maintain their spot and survive. Here, there's ample space for everyone to grow, and excellence is encouraged. People do well , and want you , encourage you to also do well. Because there's enough to go around.

K probably comes from one of those places which is a hotbed of red-tape and bureaucracy, he has so many horror stories to relate about curbed freedom in science, difficulties in getting money that was rightfully his, etc. etc. Makes some sense why Indian scientists come abroad and never want to go back. I have seen my share of dirty wars in science over here - I don't think any society is bereft of politics, egos, and the like. How much they hamper science, is of course, all relative. Inspite of politics and dirty games, conveniences available to people in their daily work-life, and the absolute freedom makes for a much smoother sailing. It's funny to see K's eyes popping every time he sees how easy I have some things, and then he has his own little anecdote to relate. (Yeah, that's when it gets a bit annoying . ;) )

India is growing in science and technology like never before. My father is always sending me newspaper clippings of how R&D is making huge strides and it's heartening to know that. I personally know at least a couple people who finished their Ph.D here and went back home. Money is becoming more fluid and available, at least in big institutes. People are taking processes, technologies AND attitudes from abroad and implementing them back home. Yes, it's a long journey ahead, but some right steps are being taken.

At the end of the day, I am not going back to India for better career prospects. I am going back because I want to go home. And I am willing to make accommodations in my professional lifestyle for that. I hope I stand by this five years from now.

Friday, September 01, 2006

So much to say, so much to say,

but so little inclination. Today I am tired. If only I could just wish it all away. With one sweep of my hand. How cool that would be?

Instead, I will put fight. {siiiigh}.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

All the nice guys are taken! ;)

The menu:

Stuffed baby eggplants (the chotu baingans I brought all the way from NJ in my checked-in luggage..because of course, in my gaav, one gets 5 staple kinds of veggies, onions and potatoes included)

Bhindi masala (Farm grown okra (bhindi) with tomatoes )

Raita (Salad with yogurt, chopped tomatoes and carrots)

Biryani (Spiced rice with vegetables)

Rotis (Flat bread, bought frozen, pan-heated before serving)

Dessert: Ice cream and fresh fruits

The guests:

S#2 & her boyfriend R. This was a good-bye dinner for S. Her boyfriend R and I have rarely hung out together, and he was a little unsure of coming, but at my insistence, he did, eventually.

The history: S has been one of my closest friends here. She finished much earlier this year but hung around for a bit longer, and it kept getting prolonged, unexpectedly. It was like a new lease of life for our friendship, and I was in complete denial that she would actually move out eventually. We started out being lab-neighbours, and classmates. She is one of those people who lived a full life alongside going to grad school. Has several hobbies she pursues seriously, has a huge friends circle and a very active social life. She introduced me to biking, dragged me out of lab those nights when I was working too hard, and was always there for me when I needed her: to give a listening ear, to bitch alongside, or laugh and cry with me. When I moved labs, and got more busy with life, she made it a point that we met once every two weeks where we took turns cooking the lunch. Those were such fun lunch times and we continued keeping up with each others lives like before. For all our differences in culture, up-bringing and lifestyles, it was amazing how we connected so well and she got to understand my side of things that were often different from how she sees life.

Soon she learnt to differentiate indian spices, relish spicy food, eat with her hands (right hand only, i explained to her why and she never lost a chance to announce that at a table full of people eating food at an indian restaurant..siiigh). She is not one of those people that passes off all indian food as "curry". She takes time to taste, differentiate, and recognize ingredients and flavours in everything that I cook. One of the reasons it's so much fun to cook for her.

The evening: Although R had never come to my apartment before, he picked up on the lack of shoes beyond a certain a point and promptly took his shoes off. (My good friends know this is a pet peeve with me, and I cannot stand people walking with shoes all around my apartment). At dinner, I had to explain all the items on the menu as described above to both S and R. R used a fork and spoon while S relished eating with her hands, proudly breaking off a bit of roti with one hand alone and feeling oh-so-accomplished, :) R is not much of a fan of vegetarian food, so I was a bit concerned. But when he asked for seconds, and later announced that he was stuffed, I took that as a compliment. After a heavy dinner, S and I sat back on the couch, talking, giggling, and recounting memories while R cleared up the table and did the dishes. That's my kinda guy! The laughing and the jokes went on quite late- R has a terrific sense of humour that I was just beginning to get exposed to. He had us in splits and suddenly I was on the verge of getting my second noise warning in this apartment. So we had to stop there. Dessert was served, and we decided to call it a night. If not for R, I would have woken up to a sink full of dishes this morning, and memories of an awfully emotional good-bye to S. I am so glad he decided to come. :)

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Only 3 days! (long version)

My 3 day short holiday was indeed an eventful one. For starters, this was the first time I went on a holiday and did not take ANY work with me. No laptop, no papers, and no guilt. It was an unadulterated vacation, and it felt great! I will recommend it to all, even if it doesn't feel like the time is right. For me it certainly wasn't, but I just felt like I had to do it. I decided to drive to my cousin J's place, 2 hours away from here, and we were flying together to NJ. The early morning of friday, two of J's friends were also with us taking the same flight. Now after ALL that dhindora peetofying on the news these past few days about inflight luggage, and BIG signs all the way through security, J's friend K decided to carry his shaving kit in his backpack. siiiigh. We were there half-an-hour before departure as it is, and I was already putting this down as another missed flight to add to my repertoire. K, when stopped at security because of his bag, decided to go back to check it in, instead of just discarding the contents there. Now another huge concern to me was why a guy needed 8 different kinds of tubes and creams and lotions in his backpack. Beats me! But whatever. Of course he was too late to check it in and had to make his way back through lines and everything after throwing out the offending items. Like his loyal friends, we were standing near the gate, waiting for him, till the security guy said we could choose between catching the flight or being with our friend. We decided that two of us would go and the other would stay back. The plane had waited about 7 minutes extra now. Finally K showed up, huffing and panting, and we were like a happy reunited family on the plane. Except, we could hear in hushed voices all around us "they're the guys with the shaving cream in their backpack". Apparently word was out, and carrying shaving cream has now clearly acquired criminal status.

The three days at my sister's were typical family stuff. I worked on befriending my niece right from the airport where she and her father came to pick us up- and by the time we reached home she chose me over her father. He wasn't impressed, while I was busy gloating. Ironically, for being on vacation- I was waking up at 6 AM everyday! Perhaps to make the most of it..sleeping took a backseat. (literally, even, when I was dragged to see that stooooopid movie KANK). Lots of plans were made and argued over and cancelled over what to do, where to go, blah blah. Gosh, put four adults in a room and it's so hard to come to a consensus. Luckily there were some areas in which we all had our priorities common- one of them being eating. My cousin and I coming from small gaavs with excuses for desi restaurants, wanted to eat at all the chaat-samosa and dosa places that abound in South Jersey. So we made sure that was given enough and more coverage. Monday since the hosts had jobs to do and offices to go to, my vela cousin and I decided to go see New York City. Although it was not my first time there, I was overwhelmed and wide-eyed as always, to be in the midst of crowds and tall buildings. One of my favourite things about NYC is the huge variety of people- of races and backgrounds you see milling about in a crowd, all striding quickly with a purpose..(and irritated at stupid tourists with cameras). :) hehehe. The other thing I love about going to NJ is taking the trains to get around..something I miss so much. Again at NYC we chose to spend 2 hours at what they call Greenwich Village- which has quaint little eating joints and restaurants that offer cuisines from all parts of the world- quite a laid-back section of the city in fact, very european feel to it. I had the most kick-ass Italian gelato there, and some other yummy food as well. My idea of a perfect afternoon- eating ice-cream and walking on the streets- it's sunny yet breezy- and you've no where to get to. W-O-W!

Tuesday morning we left NJ at the unearthly hour of 4 AM to make our 6:30 AM flight. (that's what you get for discount tickets). After an uneventful flight as I set out to drive back home, Basanti decided to act up- even after getting warmed up- she would keep stalling. Perhaps she was just angry for being neglected in a strange parking lot for three days. (What attention seeking-draama- certainly a laterally transferred trait, methinks). Anyways, just before getting onto the interstate, she refused to move and we had to pull over to the shoulder. I was experiencing very painful deja-vu, and this time all I knew was to check all the fluid levels and the battery. They all seemed okay. Now we didn't know what more to do. A good samaritan stopped his van and came over to help us. He diagnosed the problem almost correctly (as to why the engine was idling too long) and said that I could keep driving it and pushing the accelerator everytime it started stalling..do that till I reached a mechanic to take a look or even do that all the way home. After driving around in the town for 5 -7 miles and dropping my cousin off, the weird behaviour stopped, so I confidently drove the 2 hours back on the interstate to home, occasionally chatting her up and pleading with her to behave. I reached home safe, relieved, and actually happy to shower in my own shower and get back to the lab. I think the parasites missed me too, they looked as happy to see me back! :)

Thursday, August 24, 2006

"You've changed"

Hell yeah I have changed. If you haven't been influenced by all the on-goings during one of the most active phases of your life, that's what I'd be worrying about.