Monday, March 31, 2008

Suggestions invited

For a good bollywood movie to show my non desi colleagues. Something light, not too long, not too dramatic. But its got to be mainstream bollywood, not artsy fartsy. Help me out here. :)
tia

Sunday, March 30, 2008

we are on a break

I'm taking a break for a small bit. A break from over-thinking, post-mortems, pre-mortems (yeah i do those too), worrying, moping, wondering, analysing, listening, being there, being judged, hanging on to stupid inconsequential bullshit that i just cant purge out of my head....its all getting tiring! I want to live in the moment for once. Not reckless indulgence, but just live. From task to task, from emotion to emotion. Each one towards the next. No noise in between. No fukat ka mach mach in the head. How does that sound? do-able?

Homesick

I want my mommy. :(

Friday, March 28, 2008

The travel bug bugs

I haven't taken a trip in a while. Well, there was India seven months ago, but that was it. (And India again 4 months back, but that was not really a fun trip). It sucks that the one meeting I will be attending this year is just a two hour trip from the city. I feel the need to pack up and go somewhere. To wield maps and guides and take touristy photos. To sleep in a bunk bed and make conversation with friendly strangers in the kitchen of a youth hostel...or perhaps splurge and spend the night in a nice hotel room.

Luckily, summer brings some opportunity. Boston is on the cards to meet up with my old buddies. (Yahoo!) Then perhaps Canada or Mexico for visa work. I really want to go to Mexico , especially since I already did Ottawa once. But it appears Canada might just be a wiser choice, if not the only. If so, the plan is to drive to Montreal. The very fact that I'm blogging about it even while its in its inception stages tells you how excited I am beginning to get. Yay!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

w.o.m.m #14

OK am about to give up with this early to bed nonsense. It has me waking up at 3 am every night. Wondering what to do. Bad dreams. Allergies. Random aches and pains. I resort to the stupid laptop and that doesn't help the aches and pains. Or anything else, in fact. End up going to bed tired and cranky at wee hours of the morning. Therefore early to rise never happens!. AArgh. I'd much rather just go to bed at 3 like I did earlier.

I should get some exercise in the evenings. Or a nice hot bath.

One of the reasons I miss having close desi friends is to be able to freely ask for rides. I never thought twice about asking my desi friends for rides and they never made a big deal about it. On the other hand, with non desi friends, such as S, no matter how close we were, asking for a ride was a non-trivial matter. Heck, I still remember how S's own boyfriend balked from picking her up from the airport just because he didn't want to drive that far. I offered without thinking twice, and she was always so grateful about it.

And I will admit it, I miss the potluck dinners too. My non-desi acquaintances/friends here would rather I cook while they contribute by paying for the ingredients or something, just because they like indian food so much and well, pasta and baingan bhartha are not the best combinations ever. I enjoy cooking for a group of people, but can't be the only one doing it all the time, and really, can't even entertain the idea of them paying for raw material. That is so..pardon me.. american! I also don't like cooking in other peoples' kitchens.

I did one of the lists on my to do list finally today/yesterday. What a relief.

The chasm between me and some old friends just gets deeper and deeper. I cannot pull off a phone call for even five minutes now with some, before the "what else"
and "Aur batao" shit makes an appearance. Drives me insane. Is it just me? I mean, how interesting are my stories about my latest dumpster diving adventures and social networking or cell culture anyways? And from their end too, its the same shit different day story. Just like they cannot relate to my stories, I cannot understand marital discord and the wish to have a baby in the same breath. Much irritation comes. Overall I think my tolerance has just gone down several notches over the years. And that is not a good thing.

I was getting a bit tired of my self-imposed guards and inability to trust people. It is so restrictive. Frustrated at my inability to just let go and have myself a bit of fun without getting too hung up on things or my overactive self-defense mechanisms kicking in. In retrospect, I think its a good idea to recognize my vulnerabilities for what they are and go about life accordingly. If that is who I am, that is who I am. There is no need to conform to a particular idea of fun if it is not fun for me, right?

Stop this stupid blabbering at 4 effing AM and go and sleep, TGFI!

:( sigh. I will try to count sheep now. I really have to get to the lab early tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

India woos its women scientists

Nice!

From a Nature India article here

To see the full text, it appears you have to register (free) but I quote some bits here.

Women scientists in India will soon be able to choose flexible working hours and even work from home if they have children below the age of three. Campus housing will be provided for women and all institutions will be required to establish state-of-the-art crèche.

....
The announcements made March 8 at a conference of women scientists in New Delhi stem from recommendations of a government task force on women scientists set up two years ago. The panel headed by renowned nutritionist Mahtab Bamji found that women scientists faced discrimination, sexual harassment and other problems besides their poor representation in committees and science faculties.

....
The conference attended by some 700 women scientists (and practically no men) demanded more opportunities for women for re-entry after a break in service due to domestic or other reasons.

W.O.M.M.#13 :O

I have been working hard on the early to bed early to rise thingy. So far I have gotten down the early to bed part, but early to rise is not happening yet. :p

Consequently I am dreaming a lot more. I dreamt of random bloggers/commenters the other night. I don't remember that dream now. Such a pity.

I dreamt of A last night. Completely out of the blue. Still not sure where that came from. Weird. But amusing.

I have two things on my to-do list for two weeks now. I have to have to have to get them done today. The longer I push things off, the more difficult and unappealing they are becoming, and the vicious cycle continues. Sigh.

I am hungry. I couldn't make my chai today because doodh fat gaya. Damn. Will have silly black tea now.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Paranoid city

Even though I have been blogging long enough, I have still not completely gotten over my paranoia of being "outed" by this blog and still pore over the several site-tracking thingies i have installed on here. One day I will just disable all of them and stop this pathetic behaviour. But in the meantime, whoever it is from hyderabad spending a lot of time on this blog of late, please just tell me you're not my mom or dad. Thanks. In case you are mom or dad, fyi akka only brought back one small box of sweets of for me from India. Is that all there is to my share? Where is my kaju pakoda from Pullareddy?

"To be submitted"??

"You are only as good as your last paper" said someone, and like it or not, there is a lot of truth to that maxim in academia. I have ranted enough about the woes of writing in this blog. But I have some words of advice for any grad student reading this blog. Do not think it will be trivial to make "small final changes" and submit work from your Ph.D after you graduate from the lab and move on to a new life. This is probably pretty damn obvious, but it gets overwhelmingly tempting when you reach the end of your rope and are just dying to get out of grad school. Several P.Is have a strict policy against it, they want the student to at least submit the paper before leaving the institute. Several others let the student graduate with a chapter in the thesis labeled "To be submitted to journal of blah". I was one of those students who left my lab with a paper "in the works". Really had to do one more analysis, add a couple figures and incorporate all the changes my committee suggested (not many) and just submit the dang thing. It should've taken two or three weeks of dedicated work. But that was not to be.

I graduated, did all the happy stuff and said goodbye to my lab and lutom. Went home on a holiday. Worked a bit on the paper but was sluggish- it was hard to get things done while in India on vacation mode: bad internet, power cuts, etc. only being easy excuses to make it harder. Meanwhile PhDAdv got busy and took time to get back to me. Then she went for a conference and found someone working on the same stuff. Hit all the panic buttons, many international calls were made and a week or two of my vacation just before I was to return to the US were ruined in this. I came back, was just settling in, no easy access to internet etc. and busy trying to learn the ropes in my new lab. Sitting in a new place, it was really hard for me to think about my old work. There was a phase I was tackling pressure from two bosses and believe me, it was not fun at all. The work soon began losing its charm, not just for me, but for the community on the whole because it was no longer "novel". Others had begun taking similar approaches and presenting preliminary data at meetings. That is not all. There were more practical issues. The journal we had decided on submitting this paper to would now not let us submit without paying a hefty fee. Just a few months earlier, we could've submitted for free thanks to our University being a member of that journal. That membership expired a couple months after I had graduated. PhDAdv. didn't have the funds for this now, and I couldn't even appeal to my grad school or dept. for funds having left the place. The only option was to downgrade to a lower-impact journal and submit for free. Thankfully, ever-resourceful PhDAdv. somehow managed to do "jugaad" and fork up the money for it. Finally the paper got submitted about seven months after it was written, the reviews are back and I have a sh!@load more work to do on it before it sees the light of the press, if at all. Now even if I say so myself (actually the reviewers said so too;) ) , this is some really good data and it is a bit of a shame to make it to the press so late. Pressures in my current place of work have only gotten worse and that makes it only more hard to work on these revisions. I may end up having to dilute authorship and add another author to the paper, which originally was just PhDAdv and me.

And this is not all. It would've been really nice for me to have had this paper in press by now, as I am trying to apply for post-doc fellowships and this paper would've made that difference in my application. Another thing nobody tells you is that a lot of post-doc fellowships (of the few that us non-US nationals are eligible to apply for, in the first place) are often restricted to first year post-docs. So you only have one chance at these, and they are inevitably highly competitive. Every small edge you can gain, therefore, is important. Grades, publications, teaching experience, everything. You can rarely expect to have anything from your new lab in press at such an early stage, so really, you are counting on solely your tangible achievements from your grad school stint to give you that edge here. (In addition to a strong and well written proposal, of course).

I will chalk this down to another lesson learned the hard way and move on just because I have no choice and no time for self-flogging. But for all those still in grad school, take a leaf out of my book. Submit that last paper, even if it means that you stay on a extra month or two in your Ph.D. lab. It will make life that much simpler for you post-Ph.D.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Jodhaa Akbar

on big screen.

Hrithik hottie Roshan.

Enough said. drool.

Friday, March 21, 2008

HOLI HAI!

Happy Holi! I was not the biggest fan, but always got dragged out against my will. My mom insisted I go out and play, only because she was afraid that my friends would come in and mess up the house. ;). But they were good times in all...the gulal and the water balloons and the hosing and the mithai. And the pink faces and pink fingers for days after. I never ever got to try bhaang though. :(

On feeling foolish

Some people go to great lengths to avoid feeling foolish. Like pretending they don't know, for example. Or refusing to see what is crystal clear. Or hunting for explanations to replace "i got taken for a ride". I am beginning to see how it can happen. Perhaps its okay, then, as long as you enjoyed the ride, as long as you know the truth for yourself and can still manage to laugh about it. It's only when one enters the zone of "Denial" that things get messy. And the lines, as always, are very faint.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Liberated

Thats how I'm feeling this morning. The heart sings. Its a rainy crappy day outside, and the past few days and nights have been rough. But the very decisions I agonized over make me feel happy and light today. :) Sometimes its hard to separate heart from head and think with one or the other. What the heart wants, the head warns against. It's a frustrating conflict and it becomes hard to trust either. But the one thing that has never failed for me is going with my gut feeling. Always works like a charm. :)

yay!

A friend just told me about couchsurfing, while looking for cheap acco for a couple nights for our meet up in summer. Sounds sidey to me, I think I'll pick the YMCA youth hostel over that. Anyone reading this couchsurfed ever?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Thinking about..

Would'ves, could'ves and should'ves. not fun.


and the worst of the lot?

if only..

:)

Don't drink and do science, says this. Wha? Such tripe in the NYT!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Four

I've a total of four friends in and around the city now. Not counting folks at work, with whom also I've developed some semblance of happy social interactions. They are actually quite good fun to be around, so long as you screen out the irritants and the negativity. But I am more happy about these non-work connections. I am regaining that life where I can call someone, fix up a time to meet, go out and discover a new eating place, walk around town, chat, discuss a book, make more plans to meet. I think the better weather is also helping. The break from my self-contained world is nice. Life is such a see-saw, though. Just when my personal life is looking up, the work-front misbehaves. But at least the social outlet keeps things sane. And if not, the blog is always there. ;)

Sunday, March 16, 2008

I

I depress me.
Thankfully I also do an equally good a much better job of amusing me. :)

Life is funny like that.

I swear I am not drunk.

Friday, March 14, 2008

What's distracting me

OK. I really need to get this work done before I go to bed tonight. Instead, I'm totally distracted (but of course), by several thoughts. Perhaps this will fix it.

* A college friend's trip to the US this summer. A mini-reunion of three close pals, meeting after 5 years! I cannot stop being excited about it. Oh god please let nothing jinx it. Please. I promise to stop being excited now.

* A friend's birthday several months from today- I just picked what I think is an awesome birthday present and now I can't wait for the birthday to come.

* My sis and niece return from their month long India trip this week. Finally, my parents will pay me attention when I call them. Finally, I get to see my niece and make weekend trips and harass by b-i-l again. Yay.

* New guy on floor. Cute. Desi. Good dress sense. (Shut up overactive paranoid gaydar.)

* A feeling/fear of being screwed over. Not entirely baseless, but I really don't want to deal with it right now. Go the eff away.

* A feeling of impending doom if I don't get to work right away. Yeah. this is definitely the closest in time. :p

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The most stupid mistake of my life

I caught myself telling that to myself, and realized almost immediately that there's no such thing. In fact I recollect telling myself that at several different points in my life, only to outdo myself again!
:) heh.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Uff

look out for yourself. watch your back. learn from past mistakes. put yourself first. don't ignore warning bells. be aware. be prepared. speak up for yourself. know where you stand. if you don't ask, you don't get. if you have to ask, you are not there yet.

sigh.. does life always have to be such a struggle?


Search query of the day

Just when you think these stop being funny, gems like this show up on my sitemeter.


"Sumit ne aarti ko choda"

For some reason that phrase cracks me up!

And while we're on that topic, whoever is getting here by googling the site url/post titles - what's up with that? i'm curious.

Good Morning Merry Sunshine. Today is looking nice.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

w.o.m.m #11

Vulnerability. is a sad feeling. not at all empowering. but it's very real. so it might be easier to just accept it. And the knowledge may actually make you stronger.

Self-deceit in the name of self-preservation is not a good recipe. It works for a short while, but before you know it, will either come flying apart or make you incapable of separating the real from what is not.

I found a desi radio channel on itunes. yay!

Edited in on public demand

The two channels that Itunes streams here are (Bombay Beats) here. They can be found under "international" in radio in itunes. And they just play bollywood myuzik and occasional bhajan type stuff pops up too so don't let that catch you off guard. :p Enjoy.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Nobody understands me!

I have managed to piss off/worry/hurt/surprise an assortment of people over one weekend with things I've said. And saying "arre yaar I was just jokingggg!" doesn't seem to fix it. :/ What is it with people taking me seriously and not getting my jokes? I always thought they were pretty funny. :p

I need [seriously, just kidding] or [sarcasm] tags on instant messenger & email- all those zillion emoticons are not helping. I also need a button on the phone that I can press at the start of making a non-serious statement. "joke alert..beep beep" kinda thing. I also need to practise making a funny face to prelude my "funny" statements. And everyone needs to take themselves and others a little less seriously damn it!

Sigh.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

RTFM

I am tired. The blogging break was because i've been having crazy busy days at work. i have no problem with crazy and busy. I am an expert in those. I thrive on those, often. But nothings been going right. Mixture of things. I am tired. disappointed about how things are turning out. Frustrated sitting at the scope all day and having it not work. Getting help...that didn't help. I spent the last couple hours finally reading the manual for the microscope, since clearly a combination of things were wrong and I had no clue which of the million things to fiddle with. And the cells waiting to be photographed were just dying on me. Days of work. Sitting on a plastic dish and dying. Perhaps laughing at me even while dying. Stupid cells. Stupid scope. I just want to go home and cry.

(Just another outburst/vent. to be ignored).

Saturday, March 01, 2008

OOOOPS!

This blog just turned two! And I almost missed it. Check out the first post ever published on Deep Thought

"Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Reflections

What does it mean to be a scientist? The halo around a "Ph.D" implies that one has thought deeply about issues..relevant to the degree. But when I reflect on my life- i spend most of my time just getting experiments to work, generating data for a paper, writing the thesis. Once in a while, a paper/seminar inspires some creative thinking. But for most part it is trouble-shooting those teeny-tiny details of an experiment, just to make it work and move forth. Where is the philosphy of science? What is it?
I need to add value to my life, if I want to feel like a real Doctor of the Philosophy of my science at the end of it"


Awww.:)

Heppy Budday to yoooo dear blog!!! When I go through my archives, I think sometimes I like my older posts more than the recent drivel I have been writing. The older ones were more self-contained. Whether you like it or not, and even if you don't intend to, blogging eventually turns out to be writing for an audience in some sense. So you start explaining things you wouldn't if you were just writing for yourself and not responding to comments. I think that takes away some of the spontaneity and rawness in the posts. That said, I have totally enjoyed the interactions in the comments spaces, the support, sympathies and wisecracks of readers through this journey. Especially through the days of writing and submitting the dissertation and finally defending. I am certainly glad I documented the process in all that gory detail, it reminds me of how badly I once wanted to be where I am now.

Ah. So this certainly calls for celebrations. Cake and chips and drinks on the house. No smearing of cake business here, vun tite slap you will get if you even try. :@

Enjoy!