Tuesday, September 30, 2008

On relationships

Going through a happy experience, all the while preparing for it to end is unhealthy, takes away the fun, cynical.
All in the name of self-preservation, so its not entirely irrational or unfounded, I guess.

You give as much as you can, you take what you can deal with. For the rest, the time will come.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

It's all good

Things have been quite stressful at work..and I had been pretty miserable and non-productive. I decided to get away from it all and catch up with M, one of my close friends from my grad school days who lives 1 hour away. I slept most of the way on the train to her place, partly due to being tired from everything and my brain in overdrive. I don't think M's husband was expecting to see me get off the train with a bike seat in my hand, but I explained to him how I had to rush to the train station from the lab and park my bike at the station and hence... He was just relieved to know that I wasn't swiping parts from here and there to build my own bike. :-) As soon as I met M, I felt a sense of calm and relief wash over. It was a day really well spent, we talked about good old lutom days, bad lutom days, my current work woes..boys, Palin and everything in between. Mostly it was the warmth, that nice familiar comfort and the feeling of unspoken support that I enjoyed. Not to mention her awesome cooking and sitting relaxed on the couch while her husband made us chai later in the evening. Things have a way of working themselves out, they reassured me, and reminded me of all those battles I fought and won when I was in Lutom. I'm going to go with them on this, and work my way through this time too.

Yeah. It's all good. :)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


As a rule
Man is a fool
When its hot
He wants it cool
When its cool
He wants it hot
He always wants
That which is not


One of those verses that made the rounds in "autograph books" in class X. For some weird reason I was reminded of it. Rings so true right now.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Saturday AM random

So I was in the midst of a Saturday laundry-cum-check-on-cells-in-the-lab-cum-clean-up-apt-for-company-is-being-expected morning while listening to desi radio on itunes (i've discovered yet another channel) and generally trying to get into an upbeat mood. The folks in the house across my apt. building are having a yard sale, so I stopped by there on my way from the lab to see if I needed to buy any junk that I didn't need (there is a difference between need to buy and need for the article). Suddenly I hear my name being shouted from a distance "TGFI! TGFI!") - I turn around and look up to see my neighbour, yelling from her window "TGFI! Dekho to unke paas istri hai kya!". I checked with them and waved the istri back at her. "Accha main aati hoon neeche" she said.

Now this is the kind of stuff that puts a smile on my lab-and-laundry Saturday. Weird and inconsequential as it may sound.

P.S: And I go down to find ALL the machines in the laundromat free. My day's about made.

Friday, September 19, 2008

W.O.M.M #29

I have had more drag-my-sorry-ass to work days than yay-i-can't-wait-to-go-see-how-that-expt-turned-out days.

I need some better company. I need to hang out with some more of the go-getters types. The ones I hang out with these days are either totally complacent in post-doc hell, too young and still in grad-school hell (poor sods), or just quietly doing their thing and making their way up, but not very vocal about it. I am not blaming my company for my current state of mind, but I need a change. At least I'm not hanging out with super-negative-the-world-is-about-to-end type people any more.

What I really need to do is to submit that paper. I can't get myself to do it. I never knew any one thing could be this hard. Or that any one thing was capable of ruining your happiness so single-handedly. Which is what I've let the paper do to me. Its like accelerated grad-school depression all over again and worse. What a bitch.

Any grad students reading this, NEVER leave your lab without submitting your last paper. I've said it before and I'll say it again.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

First year-itis

A year over at my post-doc. I am a lot of things I said I wouldn't be when I started: demotivated, disappointed, losing interest, floundering aimlessly, have struck off academia as a life-long career option..

I still like what I do. I enjoy science. I love mentoring. I do a great job communicating my science (Whatever little there is).

Am trying to see where I should go next. Not too sure. More later.

SOTD: So much to say: Dave Matthews

And my hell is the closet Im stuck inside
Cant see the light
And my heaven is a nice house in the sky
Got central heating and Im alright
Yeah yeah yeah cant see the light
Keep it locked up inside dont talk about it
Talk about the weather
Yeah yeah yeah cant see the light............

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

On writing obituaries of people you never knew

Warning: Rant ahead
OK, I realise this is a sensitive topic but I need to get this out there and I also need to know if I'm the only one that feels this way about it. This is the second "In memoriam" post I have read on Sepia Mutiny, where they take it upon themselves to write a tribute to a desi victim of an unfortunate and tragic accident. When the person writing the post has never had anything to do with the victim in person. They cull all kinds of details about the person's life from orkut pages and what not and put together a post personalizing the tragedy in all kinds of ways. With an underlying connect of "That could've been me". You know what, "That could've been me" is a sentiment that applies quite widely. I think this kind of obit (the one written on Minal, a victim of the Virginia shooting incident was the other one that really rankled me) actually undermines the grief that people who actually knew the person and are dealing with the death feel. First of all, picking up from someone's orkut's page that they liked ear-rings is about as superficial you can get. All of a sudden adopting her to be your sister or whatever, and writing a whole dramatised post on it is just too shallow for me to take. If you never knew a person, what gives you the right to expound on them based on a picture of the person you paint without any authority whatsoever? Do you realise that you never knew this person existed until they passed away in a terrible tragedy, and all of a sudden you research the web and come up with a post like that? It almost trivializes the unfortunate incident. Its one thing to show solidarity at a time like this, a whole different story to take it upon you to write on it in such an affected manner. Grief of a loved one who has passed away is a very personal sentiment, not a free for all. There's much better ways of writing a tribute to someone without bringing on this kind of enforced connection.

It gets my goat even more when people in the comments praise these posts and talk about how much it touched them. That's when I begin to wonder if its just me.


Monday, September 15, 2008

In a hypothetical situation

if you were just introduced to the new grad student in your lab called Tom, and he comes to talk to you about your project, and you tell him all about it, cracking nerdy jokes, etc. etc. and as you see him grinning more and more, you keep upping the nerd humour, DON'T. Because its very possible that his name is Jeff, not Tom, and the grin on his face keeps getting bigger because you insist on calling him Tom throughout the conversation.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

W.O.M.M #28

On being too hard on oneself: If it spurs one on to better their performance each time, its probably worth it. At least its working. But if that is an end in itself, almost like beating yourself up is a punishment for bad performance and you let it rest at that, deluding yourself that you've made amends for the poor performance via all that self-beating, its really a lost cause. Might as well be happy with mediocre performance, and well, be happy.


Then do better.

And with that, I shall stop being hard on myself about being hard on myself. And will try to stop being hard on myself too :p at least when its serving no purpose except overall misery.

In other news, I've a glimmer of hope that one of these really hard experiments I have been busting my ass on might be working. It's kinda sorta too premature to tell, but its the best I can offer now. We will know soon. Watch this space! :)

After all the let-downs and unsuccessful experiments in the recent past, I still get that flutter in my heart :) as I go to check the results after repeating an experiment for the nth time. It seems like I'll never learn the art of detachment. Science is, indeed, an abusive lover.


Some day I will be able to stop pretending that I am too cool for some things. Some day I will be able to admit to my feelings. Some day, soon. It can't be that bad. It could even be nice, if I let it.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Flower power

I could write about my fun weekend celebrating my niece's third birthday...-we went to this farm in NJ where the kids fed the animals, squealing in delight as the sheep licked corn off their tiny hands, went on a hayride around the farm and oooooh-ed in collective delight at the birthday cake, etc etc. It was all such fun. Except the part where one of the guests asked me "Oh, you're (tgfi's sister)'s sister aa? The one who has to get married?" ROFL. I guess that was funny too, in its own way, and put in perspective the whole "I love how desi NJ is" feeling I always get when I go there. Heh. Well, I guess that was the gist so there. I can also get all carried away and senti about how my darling niece is THREE YEARS old, but seriously, don't want.

I could also write about how, ever since I discovered a way to cut my travel time to/from NJ by 30 mins by a train-bus combination, I have been taking the liberty to stay back at my sister's on Sunday night and come home Monday early morning, able to go to work right away. I have been super-thrilled about the discovery, and proudly explain it to people who have lived around here for a while and still didn't know about it. Thats exactly how I figured it doesn't excite everyone as much, so I'll leave the gory details out of this post. (Plus, then anyone reading this could figure out where I live).

That brings me to how I missed my connecting bus today because of a totally unhelpful conducter (yes, the same connection I was raving about 2 lines ago) and how miserable it made me, set me back by a whole hour and had me twiddling my thumbs at the train station for about 40 mins, sulking and angry.

But tales of missed buses and trains are way over done here, so we shall let that pass too.

Which then brings me to what a rotten day I had today, after that splendid weekend, experiments (that I slogged over on Friday night and Saturday) being a total bitch, and then all kinds of downers from people close to me..that I am finding it hard to put a finger on what exactly brought me down..but it could very well be a combination of all of it. Again, experiments bombing is kinda old news on here, and the other stuff is yet unresolved and unsorted to blog about..SO, I decided to dedicate this post to flowers and the unique cheer-upping effect they have.

I picked up this bunch of flowers at the farm we went to for Kavita's birthday, and they were the freshest, most vibrant looking flowers I've seen in a while. All the way home, through the missed bus and the ensuing spat with the conductor and then the long wait at the train station, they invited admiring glances from one and all that passed by me. Several stopped to ask "Are these from your garden? They're so fresh!" or just remarked "Beautiful flowers!" I like to think they brightened up the dreary Monday morning for more people than just me, and also totally neutralized my misery while waiting at the station for forty minutes. It was hard to keep the scowl on my face while holding this beautiful bunch of flowers. And when I went to work and read email and got mired in the daily grind, I had totally forgotten about them, only to come back home after a long day's work and find them sitting pretty and bright on my table. :) How can anyone not like flowers?

Saturday, September 06, 2008


Rant alert.
Dowry shouldn't even be a word any more. But we know it is very much a real issue far from being eliminated. Over the past year or so, I've heard of at least 5 cases of dowry: as in a sizeable sum of money being given by the bride's family to the groom's family during the wedding. All of these cases (both "love" marriages and "arranged") are from middle-class or affluent families, where both parties involved are well-educated, ostensibly "forward" and what not. What the fuck exactly happens to all of that suddenly? I don't get it. I am yet to reach a stage of smugness where the sheer ridiculousness of such things leaves me unfazed. It gets me most riled up to see that women whose parents have invested in a strong, well-rounded education for them amongst other things, women who are smart, very vociferous in their daily life and workplace, let themselves be party to the pratice of dowry. Really, WTF is all I have to say. Because I have heard all kinds of ludicrous justifications in the face of all of this. Women adopting a passive stance "My parents can afford it, so why bother and kick up a storm"; or "This is an old tradition, no point fighting it if that's what the elders want" etc. etc. Or it is that horrible desperation to "Get married" that pervades the indian strata - so a demand for dowry cannot be an impediment, after all "its a nice family, girl and guy like each other, horoscopes match, girl needs to "get settled", what's a few lakhs or crores or so being demanded, eh? especially when one can afford it.." What? What happens to self-respect? And really, how many times in your life do you, as an adult, just blindly follow what your parents say?? And here you are willing to accept this without questioning it, let alone calling the police and putting those people in jail because that is what you need to be doing. How much of respect do you have for a guy who is willing to put a price on you or the marriage? Yes, dowry is discussed, even bargained in these instances. It disgusts me that the girl allows it to happen. And don't even get me started on how low I think of the boy in question. How, then, can a girl allow herself to marry this person and live a life with such a spineless person? And the point is not about keeping elders happy or that your parents can afford it, the point is perpetuating this crime, a battle that scores of poor, lesser privileged women are constantly fighting in a very sordid and gory fashion. And here you have people spending lakhs of rupees on ostentatious weddings and bargaining dowry without batting an eyelid. SHAME ON ALL OF THEM!


Tuesday, September 02, 2008

This, that and the other

1. I stuck to my resolve of no work this past weekend. Of course I had to check in to do some routine stuff to keep the cells alive etc., but that's all I did. I feel so relaxed and refreshed. Went to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. My first time there which is sad considering I've been here a year. But better late than never, I guess. It was a lovely afternoon. Had only enough time to check out the Nandalal Bose exhibit that was going on. Also the European Armour Museum. Nandalal Bose's paintings..especially the ones on Shantiniketan reminded me a lot of my dadu. My neighbour's grandfather and thus mine too...Dadu was big time into art and poetry and always encouraged me to find place for it in addition to academics. Dadu lived in Shantiniketan during his last years and still has a lovely house there that I want to go see some day. For now, I have resolved to go to the PMOA more often. Hopefully catch one of the Friday Jazz nights sometime soon.

2. So in my refreshed happy mood I decided to pick up a few groceries on my way from the gym. I was biking back home, wind in my face, humming a song, thinking about my experiments, and didn't realise that the plastic bag tore and half my groceries flew out. Chota mota stuff but still sucks. I backtracked and picked up most of it but am missing a small packet of some spice. But it was kind of funny too. (For the record I always carry my backpack or a grocery bag and avoid plastic bags but this was on a whim and I didn't have any bags...) I stopped at the seven-eleven and got a milk crate to tack onto Chameli now, to prevent such occurrences in the future. :)

3. Happy Ganesh Chaturthi all of you!!!!!!. I really miss Bombay and home now. :( Some years ago, I'd get by with these pangs of home-sickness during festivals by telling myself that its a question of a few more years and I'd be back home, enjoying all of that. Now it doesn't seem that simple any more. Or that certain. Makes me all the more sad. :( :(

Anyway, Ganpati Bappa Morya! :)