Friday, June 30, 2006

Painful prospects

The folks in the apartment above mine are moving out. I've had the pleasure of hearing loud noises of packing, boxing, lifting, dropping, bagging, dragging, and what not over the last couple days. The apartments we live in are not very sound-proof so I don't blame them. As I witness them lifting heavy boxes and packing them into the truck outside, I look around in my own apartment. 5 years here, and a lot of stuff. I have tried my best not to accumulate junk. But as much as you try, some junk and clutter just manage to make their way into your house. Besides that, books and papers form the bulk of my worldly possessions. Thinking of packing up my papers (scientific papers, articles, and such literature) is a nightmarish thought. I ask most seniors what they did and they say they had to throw away most of it, given that most of this is available for free online, especially as long as you remain in an academic setting. But the thought of just throwing that collection, built up with a lot of hunting and effort, and referred to for years? heart-breaking. I need to start sorting my papers into a "keep" and "throw" system, so that this becomes easier on me.

As I mentally detail all my belongings and put myself in my moving neighbour's shoes, I realise what a scary, painful prospect it is, to move. But somehow, it's a pain I am looking forward to, and hope that I'm subject to soon.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Keep in touch!

I have never been the best at keeping in regular touch with my good friends, strewn all over the world as each one went his/her way to pursue their dreams. The truth is, they often come to my mind- little things remind me of each of them in some way or the other, but I'm really guilty of not translating that thought into action and sending them a little hello or a reminder to say that they're being thought of. The irony is, I pride myself in having some really, really great friends, who've been with me since a long time, and whom I can count on even if I haven't talked to in months.

I am not sure what the reason is for this lack of initiative on my part. I have never been much of a phone person and perhaps that's part of it, but really, I know, that's a lame excuse. It takes effort to keep in touch, and I don't make that effort. That has changed today thanks to an email in my inbox from a really good friend of mine, J.

J has always been the one that initiated e-mails in our group, and woke up the dormant group, as each of us was busy and preoccupied in our own respective little worlds. When 3 weeks or more passed since I got an email from him, I began to wonder why we didn't get that "what's up folks" email from him. Today he mailed to say he had been in a serious road accident and was hospitalised for 2 weeks, and hence the silence from his end. For a long time I was quite overwhelmed with a mixture of feelings, of guilt, for never once enquiring about him in the past many weeks, worry for his state of affairs, sadness that I was not near him to help in any way, and even more sadness because I know a little about how painful it is to be away from home in a foreign land, and have to deal with hospitals and health issues, and not even tell your parents about it. And thinking of him in that situation, dealing with injuries and trauma from an accident, I just felt terrible.

I called J in his lab and it was such a relief to hear his voice, and listen to him being his usual self. After chatting with him, I made a list of my close friends I haven't been in touch with and sent them an email. I hope the effect stays. It is really sad that it took such an unfortunate incident to bring this out in me. For now, I am just happy that J is recovering from such a serious accident, and that he was nice enough to let us know inspite of the fact that none of us bothered contacting each other in the past so many weeks.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Five (more) weird things about me

This is sort of a follow up to the "weirdo at work" post. So some amount of cross-referring will have to be done. At Aarti's insistence, I'm making a separate post out of this

Disclaimer (As usual): "weird" is relative, right? ;)

#1 I cannot go to bed if there are dirty dishes in my sink. Ok, so I am not a neat freak or anything. My desk is a pile of papers. Books are strewn over my house. I have to search for my keys everyday before I leave home. BUT, i cannot sleep if there are dirty dishes in the sink. If I am dog tired , and try to ignore it sometimes, I wake up in the middle of my sleep, and have to come to the kitchen and wash all the dishes.

#2 I talk to myself sometimes. (See here).

#3 I laugh really, really loudly. And once I start, I cannot stop. It's pathological.

#4 I have the worst memory EVAR. I mix up faces, names, events, EVERYTHING. I'd forget my head if it weren't screwed to my neck. I have yelled out the wrong names, gone and slapped absolute strangers' backs in public, all the time mistaking them to be someone else. I am one of those people you don't wanna watch a movie with. Because I'll be all "arre, that blue shirt guy- he just died, didn't he?". totally oblivious to the fact that more than one person can own a blue shirt and people are generally identified by their faces, not colours of their shirts.

#5 If a favourite song or piece is playing on the stereo, I tend to forget there are others in the room. And behave all weird. (shaking my head to the music, mouthing the words...y'know... the works).

P.S: oooh i forgot about the privilege that comes with completing tags. You get to tag others! So all those who read this, and have not done it (one specific green name comes to mind- you know i'm talking about you!!) have to do it. and don't just read and go away! i will know!!! :))

Friday, June 23, 2006

Weirdo at work

Sayesha tagged, and Aarti insisted. so here goes.

First of all, I've never had a real job in a real formal office environment. So this applies to things I've done in the lab, where generally anything goes.. (well most..)

#1 Yelled expletives: I've no patience with computer programs that crash. So when stupid microsoft word would crash on me without saving all the changes i made, i've been known to scream bloody murder.

#2 Talked to myself: Yes, yes, I talk to myself. loudly. i do it all the time. I prefer to call it thinking aloud. I was the only student in my lab for a long time. so come on, it got lonely. When I'm designing an experiment for the first time, or trying to figure out why something is not working, I have to talk aloud about it. To myself. Sometimes I talk to my parasites. Sometimes I talk to the machines, in the hope that my experiment works. Now our lab is full of people, but i still do it. It drives them crazy until they get used to it. Every newcomer to the lab is warned by my boss at their first lab meeting. " we work with human pathogens, you need to take the "Right to know training", these are the numbers in case of an emergency,and you know, err..(hushed tone- and i'm sitting right there too) t.g.f.i, she talks to herself. you need to be aware of that." They turn and look at me, sympathetically, like I have an affliction of some sort. WTH!!! i'm NOT mad. I just talk to myself. jeez.

#3 Taken off my shirt: hahahaha. i spilt a carcinogen on my shirt. No, i wasn't wearing a lab coat. But that tube wasn't supposed to squirt like that either. anyways, it was my mistake, entirely. So first I had to rush to the rest-room to take it off. Then I called my friend using my cellphone and had her bring me an extra shirt. It was a big, secret joke.

#1a Yelled expletives: this time, at a closed door. at night when there was no one else around. obviously, they were targeted at a certain someone. :)))) it was very liberating. i recommend it to all of you.

that's it folks. you all know more than you ever needed to about me now. I might as well tell you my name and where i live.

S#!@ happens, and HOW!

Yesterday was a long, tiring day in the lab. I decided to walk home to clear my mind, even though it was kinda dark. It didn't help, turned out I was quite pre-occupied with my thoughts all the way home. I took a different entrance to my bulding, which is nearer to the mailbox, so that i could check my mail. Someone was blocking the space, so I decided to come back later. I walked down, towards my apartment. That's when I was totally taken aback. My bicycle, and all my plants were missing from in front of my door. (Even that dying pudina!). My apartment door was slightly ajar too. In that fraction of a second all kinds of thoughts reeled through my head. I was having some uneasy feeling all day at work, and I didn't know if it meant anything. Suddenly I felt sick. I tried to remember all that I'd learnt in those self-defense classes.. I reached in for my cellphone to call campus police, and I debated whether I should go out and seek Basanti's assistance or stay there. Then I realised, I had a spare car key inside the apartment, and indeed, Basanti wasn't even sitting there. But then, neither was the bus-stop. eh? I was almost about to call the cops to "my apartment" in the previous block.

And before you all label me as a crazy person, picture this. I live in student housing, that basically consists of several identical looking blocks going from A to Z, and apartments laid out in the same manner in each block. Each block or building has 3 levels and 14 apartments in a line on each level. And there are three entrances to each block. So the door of A120 looks no different from the door of B120, save for the "small" number on the door. Same goes for the long stretch of the lobby running through each building. The "Scenery" in front of each building running down the street is pretty much the same. Luckily (for me ;)), my block has a bus-stop in front of it, and the previous one doesn't. But this can happen to anyone, okay?

Monday, June 19, 2006

Submitted!!!!

I submitted my paper today! Hip Hip Hurrah!
The boss took the whole lab out for ice-cream! Note, that such celebrations usually happen when one gets their paper accepted, but, i guess in my case the boss knew ki mera level hi thoda alag hai. ;)

The whole process- from submitting-to review -to acceptance/rejection and possible publication can take a whole 6 - 9 months. So now I can just move on with my life for the time-being!

YAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY.

Tonight, I go out to celebrate with friends. And because I love her so much, I'm not taking Basanti with me. :-)

and thank y'all for listening to my long rant :D

Sunday, June 18, 2006

On dreaming

When I was in class XII or something, I had just read "A Brief History of Time" (not exactly understood, but read and was fascinated by). I had already set my heart on studying molecular biology then and I knew physics was not my cuppa tea. But I continued to be very curious and enamoured by astronomy/cosmology. So I remember telling myself then, "If I ever see Stephen Hawking and James Watson, I can die in peace". That was just me day-dreaming, indulging in my fantasies.

Just a few years after that (1999?), James Watson, the co-discoverer of the double-helix came to Bombay! I could not believe my luck. Watson was speaking at a public lecture at TIFR, and our professors at college had let us leave chemistry practicals early so we could make it. I rounded up a big gang of friends (almost yelling at some of them who didn't show interest in the beginning) ;). TIFR was a good 1-2 hours away by train, and we reached just a few minutes before the talk was to begin. The huge auditorium was already spilling with people. We were standing in one of the door-ways, and when Watson started speaking, there was silence. Until some silly girls started loudly "ooh-ing" about being at Watson's lecture. And that irritated me and I snapped at them to shut up. :) (I have a propensity to get into fights like that). What I could see from standing so far away was the white-bearded form of the 80+ year old scientist, but that was enough for me. This was more of a "public" lecture, so he talked about genetics and society, dispelling false fears in people about science, and things like that. It was really the experience, the feeling of seeing the person who co-discovered DNA!!! - (my favourite molecule, as I called it then) that was just overwhelming, and still is. My friends and I left the audi, spent some time just revelling in what we had all witnessed, and made our ways home.


A couple years later, Stephen Hawking came to India!! He was going to give a "talk" in Shanmukhananda Hall in Bombay (2001?). The very thought of him coming to Bombay was so exciting. Of course, it was very hard to get an invite, and I made my father's life miserable to get me a ticket, somehow. Poor dad, he tried all his resources and finally found a colleague who had three passes from being in some kind of Physics association at TIFR. OH MY GOD. I thought back to my innocent dream of a few years back and felt really, really fortunate. I still remember the feeling of thrill I felt then. I could not sleep a wink the night before the event. I was hyper-excited, and my mind was dizzy. On the day, I remember taking the bus to go to Sion, wearing my T-shirt inside-out! I was entirely besotted by the thought of seeing Stephen Hawking for real- didn't even realise the weird stares I was getting from other people on the bus. When I reached there, the "buzz" was that he had not yet arrived, and there was major security and everything. I met my dad and his friend and we found our seats, pretty good ones too. (Then my dad pointed out the t-shirt being inside-out and I hurriedly went to a rest-room to fix that issue and return to my seat ;) ) Hawking wheeled himself in, and I was gawking. He used a speech synthesizer to convey his thoughts, and mostly spoke about the superstring theory (which was the new hotness then), his Brief History book, and advice for youngsters with an interest in theoretical physics, etc. Again, it was really an experience, just watching someone who had overcome such a debilitating illness and produced such brilliant work. After the talk, I ran outside, to the exit ramp, where I knew his van was parked, so that I could have a glimpse of him that one more time. There were security barricades, and watchmen shoo-ing me away, but I stood my ground till I saw him exit the auditorium and make his way to the van, and until the van left the premises. My dad and his friend were amused with my idolatry. But I couldn't help it. Who would've thought that I'd actually get to see someone I read and admired so much?

Today, I was staring at this globe on my desk and fantasizing about all the places I want to go to. And I have a little list that I started adding to, but stopped to think "who am I kidding? when will I ever get to do it?". Then I was reminded of this little innocent dream I had when I was younger, and how it was fulfilled so early on, when I was least expecting it to happen. So I decided to go back and add the Galapagos Islands to my list, who knows when I might just end up going!

Friday, June 16, 2006

Some of life's tough lessons

* Life is not always fair. It was never meant to be. Deal with it.

* What goes around, comes around.

* Idealism is great, but wisdom lies in picking your battles.

* Measure twice, cut once.

* You, and only you are responsible for the choices you make.

* How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.

* Love hurts.

* Shit happens.

* Life goes on.

* Never put your favourite piece of clothing in a public, industrial-sized washing machine.

and yes, I just got back from doing my laundry.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

dat kinda langwij hurtz ma eyz and ma earz

So I am going to risk dating myself with this post, but I cannot keep quiet anymore. What is up with all the kids talking like that these days? "dis" for "this" and "dat" for "that"??? "ma" for "my"? same number of letters there! Onlyn for online? wth?

Its truly the most appalling writing style i've ever seen. And I don't care if it's a fad or it's "cool". I can understand sms-ing using shorthand..or perhaps some amount of it in instant messaging too..i'm guilty of that and i don't necessarily like it, but "u" instead of "you" comes handy.

But this new fad is not necessarily shorthand. Most of the bastardized vocabulary still consists of long words. With changed letters and sounds for some weird reason. I don't get it!

And it's not limited to chat rooms either. I read whole blog posts, comments, e-mails etc. with that kind of word usage. It really hurts my eyes! How am I expected to read something with any seriousness if it looks like it's out of ludacris' lyric book?

OK, i guess i'm on a rant-roll these days. atleast i kept this one short. ;)

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

I hate writing. and writing hates me.

*kick* *kick*

oww. (note to self: never kick wall, however frustrated)

note to readers: this is a long, long rant. skim, and skip to the last para, if you want the gist. Writing this rant is what put some distance between me and and a mental hospital.


In my 4-plus years of phd-student life, i've never been this depressed...or sick of the line i chose for myself. Classes were tough, I dealt with them. T.A.-ing was a pain, i got used to it, and began enjoying it. Exams were night-marish, but I got through them. Research comes with it's ups and downs, and I can deal with that too. The ups fuel the down-time and it's a challenge I've enjoyed. But writing is a bitch. I HATE it. from the bottom of my heart.

And I haven't even _begun_ writing my thesis yet. This is just a paper. The first part of the ordeal is motivating yourself. Being convinced that you've done some good work, got reproducible results, and the rest of the scientific community will actually be interested in reading about it. Once you get over that, you sit with a stack of papers, collate your results, and start putting it together. Your advisor starts getting anxious and asks you for a draft. When all you have is a bunch of results, some bulleted points, and a very, very VERY rough draft...and it's still only in your head!

Weeks pass, you try to juggle writing and lab-work, and of course that doesn't work. Lab work can fill up all the time you have, and you're happy to be doing it, because you're terrified of facing that laptop and writing the dreaded paper. So you take a week off from lab-work, and tell your advisor you'll have a "draft" by then. The self-imposed exile is the worst punishment you could have ever given yourself. No human contact all day, faced with a stack of papers, and writer's block that will not budge. But somehow, caffeine, motivational speeches by friends, and the remaining fragments of shame left in you push you on. You now have sort of organised the results, and have those bulleted points on paper. Of course, it's far from the "rough draft" you can show your advisor. So you return to lab, and start avoiding your advisor. She's busy, has meetings to attend and other things to do, so that's just perfect. You work your schedule around hers , begin sneaking into the lab at nights to do your experiments, and spend the day away writing. Or trying to.

Most of the time, however, you get sidelined reading some fascinating paper, and go into a tangential world. All the other papers you read seem better than yours. So you're going back into that hole again, demotivated and hating yourself. You discuss the paper with your advisor, and she reminds you that it's substantial, it's good stuff, and it WILL see the light of the day. She tries all the tricks in the book- sets deadlines, threatens, sweet-talks (well, sort-of. in the best way she can ;) ) gives you some direction..and you struggle through. Often, the fear of writing something to publish is overwhelming. What you say here is going into PRINT, and people are going to read it. You cannot afford to make any mistakes, and that seems like a huge responsibility. In this case, the pain of writing about some work you did 3 years ago, after you are involved with more exciting projects, makes it worse. Now, you switch between phases of believing that your work is cool, and other phases when you think it's the scum of the earth. Better, because you at least try to make use of the "up" phases and try to get some more writing done. The down phases are spent doing mindless surfing and we all know how addictive that is. As your advisor keeps on bugging you for a draft, you keep feeling that you've to produce some spectacular piece of work, to justify all the time you took to write it. So you put her off, and you put her off, and now you're not only avoiding her in the lab, but also avoiding checking email. You decline all invitations to go out and have fun because you don't feel like you deserve to have fun..and keep telling your friends "no, i can't come, i've this paper.." and they're all sympathetic and let you be.

Finally, from the collective efforts of the inspired phases that are far and few in between, you have a "rough draft" you think you can show your advisor. So you show it to her..a few cursory glances later, she points out all the problems with the figures, and tells you to edit them. She hasn't even read the text yet. Making figures, using those really fancy illustration softwares is a lesson in itself, and you learn to cope..push your way through, and somehow make it. When you realise the cool things you can do with your word-processor and your illustration software, it's kinda fun too. The truth is, the look of the draft is inspiring, and you can sort of see a paper in the making. It's nice to imagine having your name in print, and that pushes you.

When you're past the figures, and have worked a bit on the writing, you're feeling much better and send it in to her. She likes the figures, but rips your writing apart. And if you harboured any misconceptions about your writing talent, you are in for a rude shock. You sit with the document, where she has scrawled "awkwardly worded" at just about every second paragraph, and you are ready to creep back into the hole you just came out of. As you see "what does this mean" or "why are you saying this" , written so many times, you almost want to tell her to use an acronym for it. You hate the world, you hate her, you hate everything. You hate the eff-ing paper. So you try to reword it all, and send it in. She's still not happy. You begin to doubt her intelligence. ("what does she mean it's not clear? can she not understand my point?") So you ask for a third opinion. And you get what you asked for. A third person telling you that your writing doesn't make any sense. What the fuck?

Then you discuss it with her. You can see the light-bulbs going off in her head. "Ah, that's what you meant?? so spell it out! this is a foreign audience, they don't know your work, or your thoughts"...she tells you. Your wise, experienced friends say "you need to step back, look at it objectively, and present a clear case for your arguments". My foot. But you get the drift, and start working on the "being objective" part. You literally write a few lines, and get up from the table and take a stroll. Come back, read what you wrote, and see if it makes sense. You keep doing this, repeatedly, like a dog. Many long days and nights later, you *think* you've made some progress. But it's hard to say. So you send it back to your advisor.

She re-reads it, with a fine-toothed comb, and this draft has a lot less corrections on it! Yippee! finally, it's working. You're still a few drafts away from the final thing, but you can see it going somewhere. Putting your work together like that has redeemed your own faith in it, and you believe it's worthy of publishing. The end is in sight, and that's rewarding in itself. By this time, all of your friends are SICK AND TIRED of hearing the "i can't come, i've this paper i'm working on". So it makes you want to finish off, and go out to have fun. To live life again, to resume all the things you put on hold because of the paper. And finally, if none of that works, the mortal fear of someone else doing similar work, and probably publishing before you does the trick. No more procrastination, no more running away. You're scared shit, and you want to see your work in press.

When you've a near complete draft which has been much improved by your advisor, there's one more BIG hurdle. Formatting the damn paper. Journal editors, you learn, are apparently bigger nit-pickers than your own advisor. So you need to beautify the paper, and follow every rule about formatting to the letter. Which means, you've to indent only where you're told to, use lower case if the rules say so, and align and pretty all your figures. What a royal pain. This is science, you think. Not a beauty contest. But it's all about presenting your ideas, in the most presentable way. Sort of like when you were told to write neatly during exams, highlight points,etc, so that you please the examiner who has to read a zillion papers and accept or reject your answers.

For those that made it to here first of all, congrats if you read it all! :) I'm now in the last phase of this very painful process of writing. Formatting my paper as per rules, dotting my 'i's and crossing my 't's. It's frustrating, just when I thought I was close and almost done. If it's any comfort, all my more experienced friends tell me that this is the test of fire everyone goes through their first time, and have anecdotal examples about themselves. It only gets easier, once you know how to do it, they say. There is a nice feeling of achievement at the end of this, although the real reward will be when I see my paper accepted. So it makes me feel better, at least while I believe them. (Other times, I'm swearing off writing and a scientific career ;) but I know that' s only a passing phase)

addendum: i just emailed this rant to my best buddy and he reminded me of a very important advantage of this saga. I've one chapter of my dissertation done! that, is definitely cool! :)

Sunday, June 11, 2006

The day Candy died.

"Who names their car?" was the first thought that crossed my mind when I bought my first car. The giggly undergrad kid who was selling it told me that she called the car "Candy", and asked if I would, too. Cool by me, i thought. i'll keep the name.
For my first car, she was quite the dream car. Smooth, sleek, grey in colour and a recent model, she looked nice and ran well. The only thing I really wanted in a car was a sunroof- and I spent six months trying to find one, that also satisfied all other more significant aspects of a car. I was paying a hefty insurance in her name too, being a new driver and having such a nice car. Now i maintained a strictly working relationship with "Candy". She was "car" to me, not candy, dandy. She took me wherever I wanted to go. In return, I fed her oil, water, and got her checked up regularly and took good care of her. She was high-maintenance, but I knew what I was getting into. She served me well, and was mostly well-behaved, especially the first time I drove long distance for 12 hours by myself.
Last year, around now, I remember her lifeless body being hauled into a truck and taken away, while everyone watched. The huge tow-truck was in the way of the bus behind it, so there was a big audience. I couldn't even grieve in any privacy. The truth is, my mind was already preoccupied with other woes. Like the big loan I will be paying off for the next few years- for a dead car. Apparently she suffered an oil-leak, there were no warning signs, until the day she spluttered and stopped on the way home, at midnight, and I'd to have her towed. Various theories were being thrown in my face about how the guy who changed oil the last time didn't screw something back properly, etc. At that point, I was not in a mood for conspiracy theory. It was not helping.

For the next 6-8 months, I was living the car-less life again. It's stifling, especially in a car-dependent town like mine, and more so when one has enjoyed the luxury of a car. I was lucky to have some really good friends who'd lend me their car if I needed, or give me rides, but it was not the same. I took to biking a lot more and that was the only good thing to come out of it. When winter came, that wasn't fun anymore. Working late became difficult, socializing became a pain because I'd to always ask for rides. Then I met someone else- an old, doddering stick-shift. Her make-up had faded away, and her joints creaked loudly as she moved. No sliding sun-roof, not even a CD player! She is a no-frills, set of 5 wheels. But this time round, I learnt what it is like to develop a relationship with one's car. I took to her soon, and named her Basanti. Basanti is a simple, low-maintenance car. We bonded quickly, probably because she came into my life when I really needed her, and didn't put a huge dent in my purse either. While the late Candy is still demanding a little payment every month, Basanti doesn't ask for much. Just that I listen to her when she's talking, especially if she's in pain. I learnt from my first relationship how important this is, too, although Candy never really complained, until she conked off! But Basanti is an old car. She doesn't have any fancy electronic alarms that tell me when the oil or water is low. So I have to check on her, in addition to the routine maintenance I carry out. She talks a lot more too, so my ears have become trained to her noises. I try and show her how much I value her, and hope she doesn't die on me now, I don't think I'll be able to take it this time.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Stealth blogging

Sayesha's recent post about the "danger" of her blog being found by her folks inspired me to write this. My closest friend G introduced me to the idea of blogging. She was blogging away before I ever started, and I always wondered what the big deal was. Why would anyone want to read about my life? Or I want to read about someone else's? It seemed weird. Then I caught on to it, slowly. Realised the fun potential, and the therapy potential. :) Not to mention exchanging notes and thoughts with fellow-bloggers and commenters. Through all this, I never told G about my blog! (*covers mouth with hand*)
Itna bada dhoka?? After all, she introduced me to it. I used to read her blogs, until I realised she'd rather I not. And I respected that entirely. So when I started writing, I made a lame covert attempt at telling her about it. She, being the tubelight that she is, didn't get it, and I left it at that. I liked my anonymity.
We live in different parts of the world, and catch up with each other once every week or so on the phone. Truth be told, I don't have the most happening life ;). So to make it worth that money of each international phone-call, she gets to hear the most mundane details of my life - like when I stamped on an ant and such. ;) If she were reading my blog, it'd take that joy out of our phone calls. How would I tell her then about my wisdom tooth sagas or the joys of my teaching evaluations? True, we discuss a lot of things that I don't blog about, too, so that's not the only reason. There's also the risk of blogging dominating our conversations if we ever did end up talking about it. I like keeping these worlds separate. I like the fact that nobody in real-life knows about my blog or reads it.
But I can't help feeling those pangs of guilt every now and then. Like when she and I have both commented on a blog, right one after the other! Skeeeeeery. :) Or when she mentions, and then tries to "explain" some blogging funda to me on the phone, me being unaware of the going-ons in the blog world, so to speak...(tee hee).
And like most confessions, the longer you take to make them, the worse it gets. If I didn't tell her when I started writing a blog, how is she going to take it now? After my blog becoming 20-something posts old, and having developed a nice little life of it's own?? And if I don't tell her now, when am I going to tell her????

Now, I can trust y'all to keep a secret, can't I?

Sunday, June 04, 2006

These are twenty of my simple pleasures of life

I stole this idea from the smiling girl. Thought it would be the perfect kickstart to a happy week.

And these are in no particular order

#1 A loud, uninhibited hearty laugh :).

#2 Sitting on a bench in a park/ near a lake with a nice book to read.

#3 Meeting an old friend after a long time, and efortlessly picking up where we left off last.

#4 Butterflies in my stomach in anticipation of something nice.

#5 A baby/ little kid. (need i say more??)

#6 A heart-to-heart conversation that lasts all night.

#7 Adrak ki chai!

#8 A warm hug.

#9 A plate of hot steaming idlis,chutney and sambaar made by my mom. :)

#10 A pleasant surprise.

#11 Knowing someone cares.

#12 Girlfriends and giggling.

#13 Sitting and chatting with my mom while she cooks.

#14 Preparing a delicious 4 course meal. And being appreciated for it.

#15 Walking in the rain, sharing an umbrella, and an ice-cream may be?

#16 A letter/post card in the mail. (yeah, those things were once real)

#17 Finding something I thought I lost.

#18 Discovering a new route on my bike/car.

#19 Cooking using herbs from my own herb garden.

#20 Flipping an omlette without breaking it. :D

Friday, June 02, 2006

9000th reason why i miss home

28888888

2888888 is the number of "just dial". A telephonic directory in Bombay (also available in many other metro cities). Growing up, I was a huge fan of dialling 888-8888 or 261-6666 (Ask Me) which were both information services if you wanted to find a particular business or product in a given area in Bombay.

Now I had surgery to get my wisdom teeth extracted two weeks ago. Recovery was painful, long, and not at all like what I had experienced back home when I had similar surgery to have the other two extracted. My encounter with the surgeon and medical staff during this experience had already put me off and made me lose trust in the system here. I am NOT blaming the dentist for the inflammation and pain I was dealing with this time, that I did not experience back home. I can understand how that can happen anywhere, if the wound doesn't heal properly and a dry socket condition develops. But the brusque, almost unwilling manner in which my post-op calls and enquiries were treated were what put me off. The superficial veneer of smiles swathed over this impatience and unwillingness to give attention is what irritates me the most.

Anyhoo.. the inflammation subsided 8-10 days later and the pain is almost gone now. However, I was still experiencing discomfort and the region didn't quite look normal. I decided to call bombay and talk to my dentist, if only to put my fears to rest. But of course, I did not have his number anywhere. I couldn't call my parents, because then they would begin worrying about me. I had already told them ten days ago that I was fit and fine and the surgery was "just like last time". I tried a friend or two in bombay but they weren't reach-able. That's when the memory from my growing-up days surfaced.

I called 28888888 and spoke to a really friendly lady at the other end. I told her the general area where we lived in bombay, the last name of my dentist, and what i "Thought" was his first name. She took about 5 mins but couldn't trace my guy. Instead, she found his father's clinic and number in another locality. When I told her I was calling from overseas, she offered to instead email me the results of her search, with a dozen phone numbers of dentists in the area I specified. WOW. And, by the way, this service is FREE-OF-CHARGE. Has always been. Compare this to an experience of dialling the "information" number, paying for it, and you can't even think of not knowing the zip code of the area you're looking in.

There's more. I couldn't find my dentist from all of that, but picked a random dentist in the list. I called her and explained that I was trying to trace this Dr. R.B. She couldn't help. Then I asked her if she had a few mins to spare. I ended up narrating my whole story and explained to her my situation and what was worrying me. She was patient, considerate, and put all my fears to rest, reassuring me that I needed to wait a couple more weeks, I was still not healed completely, and that's what i was seeing.

It was a busy Friday morning in India. She had no reason to entertain my call, much less talk to me at length, ask questions and explain things to me. I have never experienced such a comfortable, approachable vibe from a doctor here. And that is the 9th reason why I miss home!

p.s: and if you're looking for a dentist in the Kandivili East area, I'd recommend Dr.Sonal Arora. :)