Sunday, November 25, 2007

Yeh kya se kya ho gaya

Five years ago, towards the end of my first year of grad school, I felt like I needed to buy my own laptop. Then, there were no second thoughts: A G4 Mac Powerbook (15") it was going to be, and I paid for it through my newly acquired Amex Blue card. Hobbes was a faithful companion through grad school, until he began dying slowly towards the end of year 6. I was in a "Mac-only" lab in a predominantly mac department. They all looked down upon Windoze, and over the six years I had been similarly conditioned.

Besides being a faithful, intelligent companion and a great looker, Hobbes also served as a great dude-magnet. At airports, coffee-shops, he always invited admiring glances and the occasional chat with other Mac geeks. We indulged in more windoze-dissing and jokes and exchanged tricks and such.

Hobbes now serves as a desktop at home since he has to be hooked up to an external monitor in order to function. He has also gone through one heart transplant and I don't think I can stretch him out any longer.

Now I am beginning to feel the need for a new laptop again. At work we have common work-stations, and it becomes inconvenient. Most of the post-docs have their own personal laptops hooked up at their desks and I guess I need to have mine too. I'd also like to be able to take my work or pretenses thereof to coffee shops and such.

However, this time, it's not all that obvious that I'm going to pick a new Mac. Unlike six years ago, the cost of a Mac versus a PC is actually a deterrent. It is very tempting, and very realistic, to try and save that ~$500 and settle for a PC. I guess the six years is enough time to teach one the value of $$ and also put one in debt from careless management of finances. A 15" Mac Book Pro is definitely out of question, at most I can afford the 13" Mac Book. Then, my current lab is largely windows friendly (i know) and so the thought that a PC will not only be cheaper, but also fit in easily dominates my thought process.

I have almost clicked "buy" after configuring a PC a few times now, only to be stopped by a heavy heart. Given my overall computing needs, either PC or Mac should work fine, but will I be happy with a PC? Will I ever get used to the shitty interface and not being able to seamlessly open up terminal and command-line my way when I want to? Will I ever convince myself to like the way a Dell inspiron looks? And really, what face will I have to show that cute mac user I run into next and what chance of even striking up a conversation with him?

Sigh. Life is such a bitch sometimes.

P.S: How many post docs reading this blog have laptops provided by their P.I as against having to buy their own?

Friday, November 23, 2007

Why I blocked my best friend on gtalk

S is one of my best friends from grad school. Now we catch up on phone every now and then and more often then never, each actual phone conversation is the result of a long-drawn phone tag between the two of us. In the meantime, the list of things we want to share with each other just keeps building up; often, I actually make real lists so I remember to tell her everything that I had meant to. Yeah, most of the time its inane stuff, the kind of daily conversation I miss having with her. Now we have each other on our gtalk lists, and of course, its sometimes easier to find someone online than to find them actually pick up their phone. (Sad!). So now, instead of waiting until we actually talk on phone, all that fun stuff is spilled on gtalk. We're both also the kinds who won't stop once we start, so all attempts to can the gtalk are a waste. Now real-time giggling is replaced by lol and LOL and ROFL. The chats are distracted, incidental and not those cosy phone talks we usually eagerly await every weekend or so. I really don't like this turn our friendship is taking. So now my best friend's name is in a list in glorious company of idiot folks that I find most annoying and have blocked off for entirely different reasons. Heh.

Monday, November 19, 2007

I'm so happyyyyyyyyyy!!!!!!

I haven't been this happy in a long long time. This friend came back into my life. With the news of having just successfully defended a Ph.D! I am still not sure which is the bigger news. I haven't heard myself laugh out so loud and so heartily in a long time. I haven't stopped grinning since we talked on the phone. And no, there wasn't any room for sorries or what happeneds. We just caught up and moved on.

Heartiest congratulations to you, Dr.M! I wish I were there to celebrate with you, help you vacate your apartment, pack up and take that one-way flight out of lutom. Just like you were there for me. But we will have to celebrate at a later point.

For now, I am going to continue grinning from ear to ear and jumping around my apartment till my neighbours complain. :) And I might buy my lab mates beers tomorrow. :) In honour of your big day!

Things can only get better from here. :D

Free drinks on the blog to everyone ova here!

Q and A time again

Out of bloggable content, and a bit bored of my blog the way it is shaping up. I am throwing this space open for some "healthy" discussion.

My question is about "personal bloggers" (like your very own favourite deep_thought, for e.g.) i.e bloggers who blog about their daily lives and related insights, personal opinions etc.

1) What kind of expectations do you have from your comments space? Where do you draw the line at a comment being personal, and a comment being just that- a passing thought by someone?

2) As a commenter-when you read personal blogs and disagree with the author- how many times have you expressed it, and how many times have you walked away thinking "meh- his life his opinion"? How many times have you disagreed without disclosing your blog identity?

3) Why should it matter if the commenter (especially a dissenter) is anonymous or has a blog?

4) My point is, do personal bloggers actually favour healthy discussion on their blogs, or do they blog just to maintain a one-way dialog as an online diary and the comments are left open only for agreements ("oh i feel your pain, so true") type comments or praise ("oh tgfi you are so cool i love your blog") types or constructive advice ("have you tried this") type comments?

Plis diskass! Lurkers, this would be a good time to come out and say what you think. Anonymously, if you so please. :)

Saturday, November 17, 2007

I have arrived!

L bumped into me two days after I had joined my new place of work. Of course, we made the desi-desi connection and got chatting. I impressed her with my fluent bengali and ever since that hallway chat, she's been always asking after me, how I am settling in, giving me tips on post-doc life, etc. etc. It was really nice to have someone looking after me like that. We met off and on and talked about visiting her sometime, "bring your sister and all also" she said, when I told her I end up at my sister's on most weekends. She even told me about some other friends of hers and said she'd take me to visit them some day. Me being me, I gladly and enthusiastically agreed, after all, I was keen to make new friends around this place.

Today I find out, L and her husband, and these other friends of hers are all involved in some kind of "business proposition" and if I had a couple hours, she would like to take me to their place so I could hear more about it and join them if I were interested. Of course, I luckily remembered about an experiment that needed attention right then. Heh. All my life I've heard of Amway and its derivatives, and how desis abroad are known for bugging people to join their little coterie. Now, for the past 6 years in small univ town lutom, I never came across those types. Today I got my first amway-type friend! I am so kicked! :)

New day, new lesson

Sometimes a freak coincidence is just that. Freakish, but plain and simple coincidence.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

W.o.m.m #5

On personal blogs

I find that I enjoy personal blogs that describe all and more about grad-student/post-doc life that i can so relate to, blogs that describe nitty gritties of other lives that I have never led and will never lead, blogs that present an interesting p.o.v on issues I have no clue about, blogs that are well-written, mom-blogs that revolve around the upbringing of children (to some point only, yes). But the one category of personal blogs I have no stomach for is those that describe relationship stories and draama in all their glory: even if I can tell that they are very well written, sans mush and such.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Happy Diwali!

I think I have graduated from home-sickness to pure nostalgia during festivities. It has become a way of life, seven diwalis, seven ganesh chaturthis, and thats the way it is! Diwali for me at home in Bombay meant being woken up by our crazy maharashtrian neighbours who woke up at 3 am to burst crackers. Then being woken up again, having oil-bath, wearing new clothes. :) It was one of those rare occasions I actually enjoyed dressing up, then. S, my best friend from downstairs would come up to show off her new dress. In the evening, we'd deck up, go to everyone's houses in the neighbourhood to exchange sweets. The same general mix would make the rounds- chiwda, chakli, laddus, some barfi, etc. etc. Sometimes things would go from one house to another and back to the house it came from! But it didn't matter. We'd come back to our houses to a huge spread of sweets. Then we'd change into simpler clothes and gather downstairs to burst crackers. Our building was like the meeting ground for all the people around the neighbourhood- everone pooled their crackers and the uncles and aunties looked over as the kids had a good time. Bhoomi chakras, anaars, rockets, and all those bombs. Oh yeah- there was a Lakshmi pooja in there somewhere I forgot. And also lighting diyas all around the house, something I loved doing.

The next few days would be spent eating all those sweets like there's no tomorrow. And the next many months would be spent swearing off sweets. :) Ah! fun times. I miss home like hell at such times- calling and listening to the firecrackers in the background totally does it for me. I don't know if it's the proximity to my sister's that's making me less home-sick than usual, the fact that I just went home, or the little voice in my head thats telling me that its a matter of a few more years and I will be home, eventually!

For now, I have lit a string of electric brass diyas that look really pretty. (But my mom says that doesn't suffice, I need to light an oil lamp too!) I will brave the cold and wear a nice new churidaar to lab today and take along some gulab jamuns. I'm happy. Happy Diwali all ye readers of Deep Thought!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

More w.o.m.m (#4)

Sometimes its nice to have a heart to heart chat with someone who knows you but has no clue what you have been doing or been through in the past several years. You get some objective reasoning, some frank advice unbiased by any a priori knowledge. And it's up to you to take what you get and make sense out of it.

I've lived in the USA for six years now. Heck, I have been Americanised a good deal. When it calls for it, I will stand up and argue for some of the practices in this country. It's not because I feel obliged to, but because I see the sense. This doesn't always go down well with some folks: especially those that revel in America bashing (I do too) and are suddenly surprised to see me on the other side.

(Or may be it's that devil's advocate thing that's actually annoying them..)

One more random peeve: I really hate blog posts written in third person style. "One thinks one must get over this one business and say "I" instead" like that style. The other kind that annoys me is the first person plural, or the royal we, that only few can pull off.

And and and I have a terrible allergy or itchy eyes syndrome or something. Have resorted to squinting when I'm not gouging my eyes out. I know I need to see a doctor or something (or benadryl) but I just don't want to see a doc. May be if I close my eyes it will go away. heh.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

What's on my mind #3

You are not a Ph.D until search queries like this that brought people to your blog earlier change to queries like this.


The next best thing to sex (after chocolate) is a one hour long whole body massage. Especially one in which the masseuse comes home, so you don' t have to bother about driving or getting there, and you can take a nice hot bath right after and curl up and go to sleep. Bliss. Pure bliss. I think I earn enough so I might make this a monthly ritual now. After all, I don't spend money on clothes, shoes, and other stuff that much- I can use this indulgence.