Thursday, April 29, 2010


I have a caffeine-induced rush from drinking one cup of coffee at lunchtime. Thats all it takes for me. I am finding it super hard to concentrate on work as my mind flits from one task to the next- on the several tabs open in my browser. I just opened up yet another tab (this one), with the hope that once I get all the distractions out of my head and onto this blogpost, I can go back to work, one task at a time.

My lab mate is speaking loudly in mandarin on the phone. This time though- I am not complaining. He just found out that his mom was diagnosed with cancer, and he is trying to get things together to fly to China. :( I think he is talking to his mom right now- "Ma" is universal and worry and distress sound the same in all languages. Tumors and stages and biopsies are pretty much daily jargon in our lab, but its hard when you hear it in such a personal context.

Our lab has become closer after all of us went to the conference two weeks ago. The guys came out of their shell a bit, they even almost danced at the social/mixer thing but stopped just short of it. Anyhow, it feels nice to have a more personal relationship with them and I grudge the mandarin-speak a lot less now- I am beginning to sympathise more with their difficulty in learning English and also sometimes openly rib them about mandarin-speak. I also have a non-mandarin speaking person for company so that has helped. To their credit, they are also communicating more in English with me and the other labmate, as some of the ice has broken. So we discuss house-buying adventures, children. experiments, and what not.

One of the chinese labmates, Jo, has a halting, staccato style of speaking English. It is clear he is making a huge effort. Recently, I asked him how we could get a new trash can and he told me "You. need -a- to. ask. the. uhhh superman". He meant Super. :) Another time, we were both in a tiny room within another lab doing an experiment. It was after hours and nobody was in that lab. The room we were in was the size of a broom closet, and we had the slding doors shut as we worked. Half way through our experiment, we heard the security officer outside the tiny room, perhaps just wondering why there was someone after hours in that lab. So, Jo opened the door, walked out of that tiny room, and with me trailing behind him, Jo declares to the security officer-before even being asked anything-  in his typical halting tone "WE. ARE. UH- DO-ING. ESS-PERI-MENT." It was hilarious. The security guy had a funny look on his face and muttered "Do what y'all got to do, man!" and went off, and I had to work really hard to stop myself from bursting into laughter.

I also have renewed sympathy for slow-walkers. I typically walk fast by force of habit. Ever since I started having knee problems, I have had to learn to walk slowly and often remind myself to slow down. Sometimes, I realise how I am holding up people behind me- when there is no room to step aside- and I remember how I'd get very impatient at such slow-walkers earlier. Not any more, I am one of them now. I am worried about my knees now- worried if they will ever get fit - they are taking abnormally long to heal and have not shown much improvement since a while now.

I have a headache. Also caffeine-induced, may be?

OK, I will try to get back to work now, one task at a time, and leave soon.


Drenched said...

LOL @ "we're doing ess-periment"! As if a child was caught doing some mischief and had to explain!
What's up with this knee issue? Old age?

Kits said...

Will a hug help to cure the knee? I used to have great difficulty explaining to my Mandarin dorm mates in the kitchen how excluded I felt when they did speak. Sometimes they got it. And other times they didn't!

The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

@ drenched,
yeah, and when you grow up you'll be able to see even funnier connotations to that scene where we walked out of a tiny room with jo declaring that we were doing ess-periment. :)

thanks for the hugs, always help. :)

Drenched said...

I got it! I got it! Now I see why it's even funnier. Also, *ess*-periment. Bwahahaha. Makes it worse. :P

Ni said...

No one ever gets caffeine-induced head aches!

ummm.... that's what I tell the hujband every time. :)

The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

really? :)