Tuesday, January 29, 2008

"Chick"- blogger?

Yeah, I hate that term totally. However, I've always thought most of the people that read this blog belong to the smarter sex. I enjoy that. Not that I've anything against the Ys (well, I do, but not in the context of them reading this blog..and lets not go there now..:p), but I like the female camaraderie over here since I miss it in real life.

But now I am curious enough to want to have the numbers. So go on all of you, (silent lurkers esp.) take that poll in my sidebar and humour me, please? After all, its the least you can do when I bare all my life's sordid details on here for you to read. :)

Thanks in advance hain. :)

Melancholy strains

When happy times remind of you of not-so-happy memories it gets frustrating. If one could learn to live in the present, life would be a lot simpler.

It's hard to keep up with changing equations. To deal with the fact that someone who was once your to-go for everything, someone who was often the only one who really ever got you..is now totally off-limits. Its not easy. You now have to be satisfied with the rare occasions they choose to reach out to you, and expect no more than that. The feeling of desperation with which you then treasure those few chances is even worse.

I've done some foolish things. But I don't understand why I am reminded of all of them at this instant, all at once. It gets a bit much to take. ;)

Monday, January 28, 2008

Thought of the day

There are some things nobody besides yourself can ever understand. The sooner you realise this, the better.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

New York, New York

The weekend in points (because I am in such high spirits and want to blog it before the euphoria goes away while waiting to compose a proper post)

* Taking a trip with my bachpan ka best friend
* Meeting an old school friend (o.s.f) after twelve years
* New York. the rocking night life, the lights, the sky scrapers, the buzz.
* Girls night out: Kati rolls on a cold midnight in New York; A kick ass flirtini; and other assorted libations..all on the house!
* Happy conversations. Intelligent debates. With people you go back several years.
* Feeling pride and admiration for all the battles o.s.f has fought and made her way up in life
* Being served chai and breakfast by o.s.f's wonderful husband..while the girls sit and giggle and bitch
* Playing carroms. Girls v/s boys. and Winning! :) (OK, one of the boys was seven years old. but still)
* More old school friends for lunch. Mad laughter. Crass dirty shameless jokes. Having the restaurant to ourselves.
* More NYC. In the day.
* Feeling the warmth on a cold wintry day.
* Getting off the train in Philly and thinking this is not cold!" :)

But you want to know the highest high point? O.s.f's seven year old son clutching a strand of hair and asking me "TGFI aunty, can you tell me how they read DNA from a single hair?"


Saturday, January 19, 2008

W.o.m.m #8

I feel a panic attack coming. I need to relax. Get a grip, gain some perspective.
Life is such a bitch. And I only make it more complicated for myself. Why?

There was a going away party for a coworker last night. I had a nice time after ages..mindless fun, silly geeky jokes, eating out, drinking, never ending philosophical discussions...
I had to keep flitting around small groups of people every time the discussion turned to sports at any group. At one point, I was left with nowhere to go. So I tried beer. And figured it was okay. I think there is no hope left for me now.
What I totally loathe about going out with this group is the number of smokers who don't really care about smoking into your face. (Yeah that whole motion you do of looking up and exhaling is not very effective). And then my coat and jeans stink of smoke. Chih! And my throat is all scratchy and irritated. AArghh.

Having lived near the airport in bombay, I went to the airport often to see/receive people etc. I always watched those people who hold up placards with names on them for passengers arriving, and for the longest time, wanted to be able to do the same. (Ya, to stand and hold a placard!). Then I moved up and realized how cool it would be to at the other end of it, having a placard held up with your name on it. I have not had the pleasure of either, and they remain high on my list of things to get done...

Ok now i will stop avoiding work. now.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


I am irritated and tired of being someone's sounding board. I am however too nice to get up and leave in the middle of someone's rantorama. I also happen to like this someone, which makes it worse. I wish someone would stop and realise that things are not so miserable as they make it out to be. I try telling them that but it doesn't help. And if its so bad, I wish someone would just accept their sorry pile of shit and move on. Because you can complain and complain and whine and whine and really, where is it going? Admittedly, someone has had a bad hand dealt out to them, and for that, I feel sorry. Someone is also a really nice person and does nice things for me and others. But really. It gets tiresome to listen to the same old negative shpeil all the time. Even the complaints haven't changed and date back to years ago. Move on!
So I play hide and seek and avoid someone when I can. To protect my peace of mind. But sometimes I give in..like someone (else) said- what are friends for? But its very draining. And I don't want to suffer from premature jaded-ness. I have no reason to be unhappy right now. Someone thinks they're warning me for the future. But really, I will fight my battles when I get there. Right now, there is no need to drill all this crap in my head. And I have told someone the same. No use.
Sigh. I must be really stressed to blogging in the middle of my work day from a common workstation.
I think its time to introduce someone to blogging. heh. :p

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

When you screw up

As a scientist, the onus lies on you: to be your own critic, to check your work backwards and forwards before you report it to the community; because your word (when properly supported, of course) will be taken at face value. There is no policing at the level of coming into your lab and checking if you really mixed tube A with tube B and got C: if you say so and you have supporting data, it will be accepted after critical evaluation, which may not necessarily catch that you in fact mis-labeled tube A as tube B instead. Which is why one repeats experiments and adheres to an absolute code of conduct. It is also why I believe there should be some level of internal policing in labs: not because of lack of trust, but to ensure that one did not, as an honest mistake, mis-label and report erroneous results. Sometimes it takes a third eye to catch that. It would be ideal if all the raw data was examined by someone other than yourself. But ideal is far from real: real world has deadlines, busy everybody, races to publish before competition, and little need to show raw data.

That said, I think most of us have made mistakes at some time or the other. What happens then? I remember two occasions in my grad-school life where I committed big mistakes but luckily caught them in the nick of time.

The first incident was when I was collaborating with another prof on his work. He approached me at a meeting and discussed some data with me that he wanted me to look at, with the carrot of authorship attached. I thought I did a thorough job but a small human error crept in somewhere and slipped through the cracks. My own advisor (lets call her PhdAdv) had no role to play in this collaboration, hence was not even looking over my shoulder. Collaborator already considered me the "Expert", so took whatever I said without questioning. Figures were made and the paper was ready to go out the door. Collaborator had heaped lots of praise on me for my hard work and sent me the final version of the manuscript to go over. Thats when I discovered that I had made a huge mistake. (Literally mis-labeled file A as file B and run the analyses accordingly). I was mortified. The very thought that I had "almost" published something wrong was killing. Then, there was the issue of admitting to such a careless, avoidable mistake. This "wrong" analysis of mine gave rise to two big figures in the paper, that Collaborator's grad student really needed to graduate. Morever, I really liked Collaborator. I had dreams of doing a post-doc with him. This was a very early stage in my grad school and I could see my whole reputation being tarnished right there. I felt like shit.

I wrote to Collaborator about it, profusely apologizing backwards and forwards. He wrote me back the nicest email ever. First, appreciated the fact that I had caught it and owned up. Second, told me clearly that I should re-do the analyses, but if I didn't find anything interesting my section would be taken out and I would of course, have to forgo authorship. Third, that this incident did not change his impression of me at all and that he looked forward to collaborate on future projects with me. I re-did the analyses, the new pictures were not as pretty but still went on the paper. We collaborated again a couple years later and he had a standing offer of a position in his lab for me when I was close to graduating. I ended up not going but that's a whole other story.

The second time round, the mistake I made was again at a critical point. This time I had come up with a very nifty script to analyse my data. Or so I thought. Of course I subjected the script to lots of tests and it passed all of them. I even had my programmer lab-mate look over my script, and she okayed it. I was feeling very good about myself and put all my data sets through the script and generated tons of numbers. More analysis later, I came up with a result that looked like this

It was beautiful! An additional piece of data that fitted my hypothesis. And it was done two days before I was going out of the country to give my first ever talk at an international meeting. I showed it to PhdAdv and she was very kicked. She asked me if I had double-checked my script, and I showed her the test runs and their results. I was super-excited. She was satisfied. We incorporated the figure in my talk: it was really the crowning glory to my talk. That day I gave a practice talk to the lab, stayed back late finishing up experiments and went home close to midnight. It also happened to be the night Candy died on me, right in the middle of the road. It was way past mid night by the time I reached home after getting the car towed and everything. I sat staring at my data, and suddenly a small doubt occurred to me. I ran my script through some more tests. It failed them. I emailed the script to my programmer friends, explaining to them what it intended to do. S wrote me back right away "is mein bug hain". My world came crashing on to me. And now, I had to tell PhdAdv about it! It was literally my worst nightmare come true. I stayed up that night and redid the analyses after S had fixed my code. The new, correct picture looked like this

Not so beautiful any more. In fact not anything. I called up PhdAdv first thing in the morning. She was of course, angry. "I asked you if you had double-checked your script" she said. We discussed the new results, cross-checked before including them, deleted the old slide and toned down the whole presentation. PhdAdv made me give one more practice talk, whipping me into shape and restoring my confidence. I got on my flight. Gave my talk at the meeting. It was a super-hit. I got one nasty questioner, a huge debate followed and I could see all the big wigs in my field jump to my defense to shut up the obnoxious guy. I held my own too. The debate and discussion over my talk overflowed at the post-session coffee time. Nobody had to know that I had goofed up and almost presented a wrong result. I may not have had the most overwhelming or mind-blowing results then, but my methods and findings still showed a lot of promise that went down very well with the audience. I shudder to think what would have happened if I had shown the wrong figure, woo-ed the audience, only to realise later that i had actually made a big mistake and produced misleading results.

Yes, I learned my lessons to be careful, that one can never be too sure while cross checking, running controls, repeating experiments, duplicating results. It is very critical in science. The temptation to see what you want to see looms large and can sometimes unknowingly mar your view. Haste is also not a good idea: its important to put time and distance between yourself and your data so you can look at it objectively. But the most important thing of all, is that if you do screw up, to never be afraid to own up, no matter at what stage you discover your mistake. You owe it to the scientific community to correct yourself: to convey the right information and prevent others from wasting their time trying to reproduce your work. And in spite of the deep sense of shame and drop in confidence that overwhelms you when you first discover your mistake, you will sleep well at night after making repairs.

Monday, January 14, 2008


its F!@#ing cold.

Dear Warm Lutom how I miss you!

I'm packing up me bags and comin' home momma!

(Lutom = Little University Town of Mine)

Friday, January 11, 2008

Dear Ex..

Because I can never tell you all this to your face. And even if I did, I doubt you'd understand.

Do you ever think of me? At all? I have supposedly moved on too, but you're always on my mind. I am guilty of all those silly things estranged lovers do. I e-stalk you. I run searches of your name everyday, and go on read and devour everything that comes up against it. Searching for clues in there. Reveling in some news that I saw coming. Taking pride in the places you're going. I spend time thinking about you, about how things were, how things could have been..how they will be... And of course, I compare what I have now with what we had then. Will we ever cross paths again? I'll be honest, a small part of me has not entirely given up on the idea. The decision to move so far away, to distance myself from you was entirely mine. Of course it was great while it lasted. We had our ups and downs, our highs and lows, and finally it was time to split ways. Still, every once a while, I can't help lose myself to the nostalgia of the past, the excitement, the new-nesss of our relationship, the fun in the discoveries, the fun in the "firsts". It was all so heady. The very mention of your name still makes my face light up. The other day I happened to be near the convention center, and guess what? Apparently it was the a.t.c.d. meeting 2008! I had no clue! It was our meeting! Remember? So I peeked in from outside, and caught a glimpse of what looked like you, in green. Green always brought out the best in you. It was a full auditorium, and a talk was in progress. But I couldn't tear myself away. I hung around, outside, listening intently. Staring at you, in spite of myself. Until L pulled me away. "You've moved on!" she chided me, as she saw that look in my eyes. I loitered around some more, posters with your name on them catching my eye automatically. Sigh. You haven't changed that much. But even I can now see you in a different light. It's amazing how a little distance puts so much perspective.

This is not a misery-laden i-miss-you sob story. It's more of a i-think-of-you-fondly-and-well-i-still-am-curious-about-you confession. Ex of course, refers to the little obscure parasite I studied for five years in grad school, before I made the move to the big bad world of mice and men. Sigh.

A letter and a trip

Dear xyz (name changed to protect identity) (mine, not his)

It may not make you happy to know, but you were right after all.



Just when you've decided to cut someone off, that enough is enough, that you will not take any crap at the cost of your own peace of mind and dwindling sanity, someone goes and does the nicest most considerate thing ever. Melts your heart and makes you want to believe in the inherent niceness of people.
Sigh. Of all the trips that life drags you into, I hate guilt trips.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Thought of the day

Everyone could use a blog.

Today, I was tired. Just physically exhausted and didn't have the stamina to put up with someone's non-stop ranting. He had all my sympathy, but really, none of my inclination to listen. At one point, I wanted to tell him.."hmm..have you considered blogging?"


Tuesday, January 08, 2008

W.o.m.m #7

I like

1) Adrak ki chai

2) Being unreasonable. and getting away with it :)

3) Warm hugs

4) Hand-written post cards in my mailbox

5) Being the first to know :)

I find that I have become very possessive about my weekends or my me-time. Even if it is to be spent with close friends and family, I need to first save a chunk of it for myself alone.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Games you play

So you play the avoid game for a while, it works. Then you play hide and seek. Then you play silly excuses game. More excuses materialize that even look authentic (you're getting better at it). God knows you have your reasons. Then you play the i-can-fool-myself-and-others game. You get really good at it. Then you are in a hazy zone because even you don't know any more what it is that you want. All you can sense is resistance, the same old comfort in comfort-zone syndrome. You easily convince yourself to see what you want to see. It's the oldest trick in the book. More deception, more inertia. Nothing inspires you to zap out of it. Life goes on.

Then something happens, enough to make you stop and consider. Wonder where you're going with all of this. Whether you're being fair to yourself, and to others involved. But most of all whether you're being true to yourself. You sit yourself down. Have a real serious one-to-one with yourself. You still don't know what it is that you want. But that's okay. Nobody ever has all the answers. It's important to be true to yourself though. You can keep running, you can find more places to hide. Nothing comes easy. Nothing comes risk-free. There are no guarantees..except that life will go on.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Public announcement

By popular demand, the archives are back! OK, now back off all you, stop flooding my inbox with "what did you do!" type e-mails and other various assorted threats of swearing off blogs or dying or dropping out of grad school (oh you poor suckers! hehehe).

I was going for a new look on this blog- but am too lazy to tinker with templates or platforms (besides the fact that it doesn't really get any better than this template on blogspot, yeah? :D). So tried that clean look. I was also at home, sick, and little else to do. Hence keeda.

But apparently it has caused much distress all over blogworld, eliciting reactions from otherwise silent readers like this one who said "outrage" and this one who is losing faith in his own viewing capabilities, causing a small void in the life of some people (mainly this one and her fish) (i suspect it has something to do with their fun-poking ventures) and then of course, some forever lazy buggers who don't update their own blog for eons but insist that they are rightful readers of my archives and I had no business to go and hide them.

So ya, the archives are back! Also makes it easier to track and retain comments on old posts so that shameless blog-whoring can proceed uninterrupted-ly. Enjoy!

Live blogging

Updated @ 12:23: LOL @ Momblog, Sakshi. The lengths you'd go to make up excuses for getting drunk. Go on! This one's on me.
Neihal, Yeah, am doing well so far. Only one real episode of crying longer than 5 mins "tgfi pinni!!! waaaa!".  I did well. Kavita's back in slumberland.
I think i'll start a new blogger-type now. Maasi-blog with a tick-tock clock. :p
OK OK it was joke only. don't delete me from your feeds/bookmarks. :p
Methinks this event merits live-blogging. For the first time, I managed to convince my sis and b-i-l to go out and catch a movie while I baby-sit my 2 y.o neice Kavita. We read her story-books and my sis put her to sleep and left. So far, so good. It's only been 20 mins though, and Kavita's fast asleep. Hope that stays....
I forgot how T.V. looks. I actually have very little tolerance for it now.
OMG Kavita's coughing. what to do? :D
over and out,
p.s: thanks for all the hugs, concerns, comments for my earlier post. :) .

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Live blogging

Methinks this event merits live-blogging. For the first time, I managed to convince my sis and b-i-l to go out and catch a movie while I baby-sit my 2 y.o neice Kavita. We read her story-books and my sis put her to sleep and left. So far, so good. It's only been 20 mins though, and Kavita's fast asleep. Hope that stays....
I forgot how T.V. looks. I actually have very little tolerance for it now.
OMG Kavita's coughing. what to do? :D
over and out,
p.s: thanks for all the hugs, concerns, comments for my earlier post. :) .

Thursday, January 03, 2008

When the blues hit

Sometimes, I like to hear that it's okay to feel bad, it's okay to wallow in a bit of self-pity. Not that it's "only human", but that it is plain and simple acceptable.

Sometimes, I like to hear some agreement about how bad my situation is. It's weirdly reassuring to hear that yes, things are pretty sucky, you have every right to feel like bursting into buckets of tears; even if you happen to be walking down the street when that feeling hits.

Sometimes, I like to hear solutions. Not the fucking generic "Don't worry, it'll all be okay", but something more tangible and more practical. And that's why very few can pull off this bit. It's important to fully understand the problem, and hence know what is and is not a possible solution. If you know x, and you know y, and you know me, and you tell me (after careful thinking and due consideration) what I should tell y because of situation x, then it might make me feel better.

Sometimes I like to hear a joke. Most of the times, that works.

Sometimes I like a little pick me up. But I don't always take it well. "C'mon you can go through this, you've seen worse" sometimes sounds like I shouldn't be complaining. Even if it is meant to be a vote of confidence. May be I can go through it: hell, it's not like I have much of a choice, yeah? But for now, i'm tired. It's making me sad: and so is the idea of going through it: even if I'm capable of it.

Sometimes, I just like to be heard out. And hugged. That always works.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Resolutions 2008

* Lose weight. Get fit. This is number one.

* Make new friends. As in real-world people. Get out there.

* Practise yoga everyday

* Bring some discipline into daily life

* Work harder, smarter, more efficiently

*Plan for the future:
   - Invest money. (which money, i say?) So first, save some money! Pay off debts. Then, invest. :)