Monday, July 30, 2007

A day or two in the life of my mom

My mother had to leave town to go take care of her sick mother in our hometown, while I stayed back with my dad to look after my grandfather who stays with us. I have been holding fort for a little less than a week now, with my mom away. My father takes care of coffee early morning, because I cannot make half as good filter coffee as my mom, and my grandfather will not settle for any less. Then I take over, my father's lunch box has to be made, there's water to be collected, laundry to be done, and cooking. All morning, my granddad has to be given his light breakfast, milk, etc. interspersed with a zillion medications all at the right times. I always thought I had done a pretty good job cooking and taking care of my house as a student for the past six years. But when a house has to be run keeping in mind the preferences, habits and activities of people other than oneself, it's not that simple any more. I never realized what a pain it is to cook without running water. I had no clue how frustrating it was to run a single load of laundry in the washing machine with several intermittent power outages, and very limited space to then dry those clothes. I simply cannot tolerate my mother's maid, her skipping work every alternate day, her slipshod jobs, and her brazenness in the face of it all. I don't know how my mom figured out how to exactly cook to match my grandpa's tastes, it is quite a mystery to me. My grandfather was once the supervisor of catering services in the railways. Needless to say, he is very exacting in terms of how food has to be cooked and let alone the sabzis I make, even the rice I cook does not match up to his expectations. My aunt lives down the street from us and has been sending some food across as "back-up plans" to my cooking, which I resort to unfailingly.

My mom returns today. Her welcome back gift from me is a clean house, an empty laundry basket and the dinner cooked for tonight. And of course loads of appreciation. I have no clue how you do it mom, I'm glad you're back, please take over now! :p

Friday, July 27, 2007

The post-doc oath

I am gearing up to start my new phase in life. I am excited about the science, and at the prospect of living in a new city etc. but over the past year I've read and seen enough post-doc disillusionment/complaining that make me expect very less in terms of quality of life. But I'm made a few resolves for myself, lessons learned from my grad school experience and seeing other post-docs around me that I want to put into use when I start.

1. I will not procrastinate. Procrastination is for grad students. I am a post-doc. I will provide my P.I. with drafts before he asks for them.

2. I will not let new techniques intimidate me. This happened to me a good bit as an early grad student, but not anymore! I will remember that I brought several techniques to my Ph.D lab and standardized them all by myself.

3. I will be professional. Report to work at the same time (preferably early ;) )everyday. Keep a neat desk. I got away with a lot being the only grad student in my ph.d. lab, and a lot of space to myself. This new lab is going to be very different, lots of people, little room and my disorganization can affect others.

4. I will have a life outside lab. :p

5. I will not eat vending machine meals anymore. Again, that was for grad school. As a post-doc, I will carry my lunch box everyday. Hah!

6. I will never give my P.I. a draft containing mistakes I am aware of. I did this sometimes during my Ph.D., often because I was just sick of the manuscript and wanted to send it off to my boss. But my post-doc advisor looks up to me as an expert. I cannot get away with that any more.

7. I will take full responsibility for myself and not wait for my advisor to dictate my research direction entirely.(I never did that as a grad student either, but have seen post docs suffer from this problem)

8. I will be self-aware and people-aware. I am making a big move from what used to be a one-person lab for the longest time to a huge bustling lab. I cannot be oblivious (as I often tend to be) about people and vibes around me.

9. I will try to make friends outside of work to socialize with.

10. I will start working towards a paper after a couple months of "settling down and learning my way around" time, not later.

11. I will refrain from using the "This is the first time I'm doing this. I'm new to this" excuse for every damn thing. While sometimes understandable, I will do my homework and draw from years of trouble-shooting experience as a grad student.

OMG OMG OMG I'm so exciiiited! :)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Random number 8

Tagged by Sayesha to write 8 random things about me. This blog has been O.D-ing on the self-indulgent bit of late, but that's the way it goes. And also a gentle reminder to all those who have yet to do my tag and still have the nerve to come read my blog. Chih! No shame comes???

1. I snap at people that are the closest to me when I'm in a rotten mood, even if they are not at fault. Thankfully most of them understand.

2. I have put on weight. First dissertation fat, then vacation fat. If I don't do something about it now, I will have three chins to show for it.

3. Things/people/events that were so important to me a month or more ago don't matter any more. This seems to be a recurrent theme, and is sometimes disturbing.

4. I love kids and am great with them. That's what I'd do for an alternative job, baby sit!

5. I don't watch many mainstream hindi movies, but in this vacation I've seen bheja fry (which i don't count as mainstream, and it was hilarious, btw) , sivaji (in telugu- it was pure torture), cheeni kum (which was kinda sick and made me want to throw up) and naqaab (which was passable, but akshaye with an e khanna is the cutest EVARRRRRR) *SIIIIIIIIGH*

6. I hate cats. (there, I said it)

7. I got a new haircut in hydie which I really like.

8. I love AkshayE with an E Khanna very much. I haven't stopped thinking about him since I wrote point #5. Siigh.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Depression is coming!

I don't wanna leave home!!!
I don't wanna go home!!!!!!!!

Mummy!!! :'(

It's the longest vacation I've ever had in the past six years, and the best time I got to spend with my parents. Them moving to hyd was a blessing in disguise, I didn't run out the door every day to meet friends and shop. I had no fights with my mom arguing over where I was going, when I would be back, where I didn't want to go, etc. etc. Instead I got to spend quality time with my mom, eat and get fat(ter). AND I had no boss! It couldn't have been better.

When I was leaving bombay for the first time to go to the US for my Ph.D, I was a complete cry baby the few days leading to my flight. I would break into tears at the drop of a hat and couldn't deal with all the good bye visits and phone calls from friends. My friend K gave me a mini lecture about being composed at the airport for my mom's sake and I managed to behave. I don't talk to K anymore, but I will always be thankful for that mini-lecture, I would've been a mess otherwise. Over the years, I made two trips home. Short one month stays that were mostly hectic, and the return back to the U.S was never easy but there was always a sense of urgency to get back to my life and work in lutom.  I had also hopefully gotten stronger and better at the whole leaving home thing

Leaving lutom was pretty bad. The days leading up to my exit were crazy busy and I didn't really have time for a proper full-fledged cry. When I finally got on my one way flight out of there, I was exhausted from all the work that went into vacating apartment etc. and overwhelmed at the thought of leaving lutom and all that it meant. For the first half of the flight I sobbed uncontrollably, and for the rest of the flight, I slept, with my mouth open. I think  my co-passenger was pretty disturbed by it all. :D

Now I've a week or so before I get on one of those tearful flights again. I have been very irritable the past few days, and now I know why, my lovely holiday is coming to an end, and I am very sad. Yes, I am luckier than folks that didn't even get to go home, and I have a new life, some really nice old friends, a darling niece and an exciting project waiting for me back in the US, but I am still sad. I am glad I got to writing this post, it reminded me of K's lecture and hopefully that will ensure that I desist from any melodrama at the airport this time. :)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Yet another 8

Everyone is tagging everyone, and I am losing in the race. So I started another tag to tag everyone. It's not an original, I lifted it from here, but hopefully it has not yet made it to the circles of people I want to tag.

Write about eight events or reasons that make you proud of yourself. Wah! what a feel-good tag. It took me time to come up with eight, and towards the end I had to go back ten years to find something, but it was fun. All who are tagged must do, seriously. Otherwise I will shut this blog and "that" blog also. And this time I mean it! *serious glare*

1. I give good talks (as in scientific presentations). The position I am soon going to take up for my post-doc was offered to me the very same day of the interview, right after my talk! :D

2. I finally paid off the loan on my late car Candy the day I graduated.

3. I spent a couple months nursing my grandpa in the hospital in his last days (not fainting once), despite having the tendency to faint at the sight/smell of hospitals and blood.

4. I was able to pull together resources and help a dear friend in the time of serious need. It was one of the most confusing and scary periods in my life, but I stood by and for my friend throughout (with a lot of outside help).

5. I knew when to call it quits.

6. I have some wonderful friends I can count on anytime, anywhere.

7. While appearing for a competitive exam a long time ago (perhaps one of those numerous medical school entrances) I found the invigilator helping a student with answers. I raised a huge ruckus, got a lot of dirty looks, but he stopped helping the student.

8. Two friends who are doing exceedingly well right now mentioned to me recently how they took inspiration from my resourcefulness and stick-to-it-iveness, relating examples of mine I had myself forgotten. I am so happy for their successes and feel good to be a part of it in some way.

I tag
CC, Janefied and QSG (to see some positivity on your blogs)
CC (to see some substance on your blog) AHAHAHAHAAHHA!
Sayesha (you tag my blog I tag your blog)
Kaushik (so that will make two tags of mine you need to do, else face the consequences)
Greensatya (for old times sake :p)
Rebellion, Shek, Neihal, Sakshi(returning the favour for all those wonderful comments you made here)
Confused (I know you love a challenge. Heh heh heh)
Ferret (So I get the honour of being the second tag on your blog at least)
Pri (Because at least you will actually do the tag and also may be take my threat seriously).
Sumit (It's high time ;) )
Shripriya (just checking if you're alive ;) )
New additions: sd and b.a.l (and you thought you were spared? muahahahah)

Upon completion of tag, please leave a comment so I can hyperlink your names accordingly. (I am also too lazy right now to sit and hyperlink all)

P.S: If anyone was inadvertently left out , please consider yourself tagged as a result.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Eight ways to irritate mom

1. Wake up late, preferably after the water supply has stopped. Take a long bath and finish up most of stored water.

2. Complain about the lack of hot running water for bath.

3. Use yellow mug with red bucket.

4. Sit around while she watches saas-bahu serials and complain about how lousy they are and how she needs to stop watching them.

5. Walk around aimlessly while your mom is busy taking care of household chores. Offer to help but don't budge until the work has been done. Then say, "Arre, i was just going to get to it!". ahahahahahaha (laugh is optional, entails small risk to life)

6. Complain about feeling hungry even as food is being served.

7. Make expert comments on the food she has cooked.

8. Spend hours at the computer or phone.

Of all the things I have enjoyed at home after a long time, nothing beats a proper full-fledged scolding from my mom. Ahahahaha! how these ears have craved for it. :D

Monday, July 16, 2007

Eight confessions

1. I used to listen to Evanescence.

2. Blogging has gotten boring. One of these days, I'm going to kill this blog.

3. I blog elsewhere. Nobody reads, nobody comments. The privacy is nice. There is no guilt of not replying to comments. The silence is boring.
One of these days, I will kill that blog too.

4. I have always fancied being involved in some top secret sinister activity. Points 2 and 3 make me feel like I am living that fantasy.

5. I used to adore Ricky Martin. I had posters of him. Thank god it was a phase.

6. When I was a kid, I hit up another kid with my gum boot. He messaged me on orkut the other day, reconnecting after ages. It was a friendly message. Hopefully he has forgotten.

7. I used to refrain from passing judgments on people. Nowadays, I catch myself doing it more often. Friends who lovingly refer to me as a "righteous bitch" will be happy. :)

8. My vacation has been awesome. I don't want to leave home. But I want to get back to a life where I have to chase buses, troubleshoot experiments and procrastinate before deadlines.

Please consider yourself tagged. After reading this, you will dutifully complete the tag if you have a shred of decency in you.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Update on previous post

I hear that all is under control. So the worrying is off for now and
will hopefully remain so. I am now busy enjoying with family and
relatives in my hometown, hence the blog-silence. Thanks all for your
wishes in the previous post, I think they worked. :)

Wednesday, July 04, 2007


I am worrying about a situation that I can't do much about. It's not fun when someone means so much to you, but there's absolutely nothing you can do to help and ample scope for your worst fears to come true. I think I am almost beginning to understand the kind of paranoia my mother goes through when she doesn't hear from me for a while and her mind runs riot thinking about all that could happen. There is one incident that I can never forget, during my final year BSc. days. My exam center was about 4 train stations away from home, and it took me less than an hour to get home each day after the paper. My exams weren't going well at all, and I used to return home every day with a long sad face. On the day of the last exam I decided to take the bus home instead of the train, just to clear my head perhaps. The bus took its own sweet time through circuitous routes and traffic jams, that I hadn't even given thought to before getting on it. Of course this was the pre-cell phone era, and I didn't want to get off in the middle to call from a public phone for fear of getting further delayed. When I returned home it was 3 or 4 hours past the time I was expected. My mother was sobbing. I had never seen her that worried or that emotional. I never even got yelled at for my stupidity, but seeing my mother like that was bad enough. I cannot imagine the hell I put her through then.

Even today, when my parents make unreasonable requests about me calling them and keeping them posted when I'm traveling etc. , I start out arguing and then cut it short, and comply silently, because one can never argue against something like this. I don't know why this comes to mind now. I am not even a mother, but the pangs of helpless worry and unease I am going through right now reminded me of all of this. It's at times like these that praying offers some strength. I am not a very religious person, but I am admittedly a selfish believer, I seek faith and strength in some force when things are entirely beyond my control and I still want for them to work, badly. And on several occasions, my prayers have been answered. I hope they work again.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

The post that never was

You know how we sometimes mentally blog about things we plan to blog about? When I came here to India, one of the first things to hit me was that none of my beautiful indian clothes I had left here two years ago fitted me any more. It was super depressing, the fact that I gained more inches and even more so because these were beautiful churidaars I had rarely worn. I was not even in a mood to make resolves about losing weight and fitting into them, I have other, more recently bought clothes already in that category. Anyways, it was a post that was forming in my head, but I then found a few clothes that actually fitted me and I was thrilled to bits. The sad post was now morphing into a happy post in my head. I never really got around to blogging about any of that.

Soon enough I had just begun enjoying having my clothes ironed by the dhobi, instead of having to do this chore myself. I had forgotten what a luxurious feeling it was, to have all my clothes ironed and ready to wear, so I could choose from several, instead of having to decide what to wear based on whether it needed ironing or not, how much time I had, etc. More happiness to blog about, I thought. However, the dhobis here in Hyderabad (like most services) are extremely slow. They pick up clothes for ironing and do not show up for days together. Overall, I cannot help comparing the work ethic in Hyderabad to that in Bombay, where things are mostly delivered on time, as promised. Here, maids and drivers show up late or never, tailors and dhobis take their own sweet time to return stuff, and things are never ready in the store the day it is promised to be. Now, a mighty rant was soon replacing all the happy thoughts in that "post in progress" dancing in my head. Even that irritation slowly subsided as I learned my way around here, lowered my expectations and stopped comparing, thus making the best of my vacation, and the post that was never made started dying its own death.

Last evening, the dhobi  came back with my clothes that were given for ironing last week. There were large, gaping holes in two of my dresses, of the only three that fitted me from my old haul. Rats ate them up, she said, and even made a half-hearted attempt at insinuating that the rats were in our house and we had given partly eaten clothes to the her for ironing. I all but cried, to see my two beautiful kurtas and one  dupatta , all of which I have hardly worn, destroyed beyond recognition or repair. The grief has finally made its way into this post, as I see  the maid use these newfound colourful bandhini printed scraps of cloth for cleaning around the house.