Sunday, November 20, 2011


First off a shout out to all the folks that left comments on my past few posts. Since the posts were really old, the comments got held up by bloggers filter and I only recently got to see them myself. I am indeed alive and kicking and thanks for your concern/comments.

Life is progressively getting a lot better at my end. I got to attend a wedding in my family, the first wedding I managed to attend in the past ten years. My sis, niece and b-i-l were also there, and indeed, that was the best part of it for me- getting to hang out with them like the old days in US where I got to see them every other weekend. Other than that finally getting to wear one of the saris I bought during my wedding but never got to wear, wedding chaos, the train journey with 2 bogeys full of the wedding party, was all fun. We took an extra day off to sight-see around Orissa and enjoyed discovering parts of India that neither B nor I have ever been to, and hope to do a lot more of this now.

We took my FIL with us and at the end of day 1, B was exhausted from having to look after him, as the new surroundings, chaos and change had made him extremely disoriented. We began reconsidering our idea of putting him through the strenuous train journey and were ourselves were feeling stressed out and tired from having to deal with him. We even considered cutting short our trip and returning right after the wedding. But by day 2 he had readjusted himself and also enjoyed all the hungama, watching the ceremonies, telling us that it reminded him of our wedding etc. He also enjoyed all the sight-seeing we did and to his credit, was an excellent sport and never once complained about the stress he was feeling. At the end of 5 days, both B and I were glad we could take him around and didnt cut short our trip on his account, as he seemed to be quite refreshed and energized from it despite the initial disturbances.

So far we have taken 3 out of town trips and taken my FIL with us on each of them. While it felt nice to be able to show him a good time, we also realize that we need to plan a getaway for just the two of us, although we have yet to figure out the logistics of what to do with my FIL. Hopefully this materializes soon.

All in all, the trips have definitely helped to refresh and re-energize us. Another thing that has livened up our lives is getting in touch with friends and socializing. It definitely helps break routine and gives us something to plan and look forward to.

I am undecided about my job- I miss research and feel envious seeing my peers busy actually doing science while I have moved (too quickly for my taste) into more of a people-managerial role. I also have trouble adjusting my expectations with the kind of caliber that I get from my team. They are masters-level people and are very good at doing what they are told to but I wish to see a lot more pro-activeness, spark and drive that I dont see. I am trying ways to infuse it, but not sure I am getting through. On the other hand, I enjoy the field that I am getting a lot of exposure to in this job and the position of responsibility. Lets see where it goes.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Long time no see!

I survived the R2I. Its been 3 months now. There were days it was crazy and other days it was not so bad. There were a handful of awesome days. But none of that has to do with moving back to India- if it were left to me and me alone, I think I would be fine- of course all the things that frustrate one at first about India would still frustrate me- the lack of efficiency, the lack of accountability, the daily struggles, lack of systems- but I got used to most of it really quick . I then find that my husband will probably never be ok with it. Given a chance, he would want to leave India the first opportunity we got. To each his own, but that kind of unhappiness is not easy to deal with. Nor is the realization that your happiness is so inextricably linked to anothers. I think I have had the biggest trouble coming to terms with that.

I started working a month after I got here. The job search was also interesting. My interviews went well and my talks were well-received everywhere I interviewed. Offers took their time coming, and I took the first offer I got - essentially because I could no longer sit at home and do nothing. Now I have 10 - hour long work days and 2 hour long commutes. I enjoy my job for most - the exposure, the responsibility (group leader in a small sized co.) and all of that- but I hate that I have to pay such a huge price for it with my personal life. I work 2 Saturdays too. So that leaves me no time to spend with my husband. Having spent 2 yrs in the long-distance, I was looking forward to returning to India and living a normal life and doing fun stuff together. Instead we have my FIL to look after, cannot plan out of town trips unless we take him with us, and essentially I feel like we have gone from long distance to leading the life married people lead after several years of marriage- totally skipping that in between newly married freshness. Sometimes I even feel like our LDR was more fulfilling in its own ways. Given that most of the causes for this are out of our control (work hours, commute time, FIL) it is all the more maddening and disheartening.

On the bright side, I do think we have brought a huge improvement to my FILs quality of life by moving back and living with him. I am very very happy that we are able to do that. I feel very proud of us and very conscious of the sacrifice we have made to be able to do this, because it is not one bit easy. Every time I feel excessively down I draw strength from the fact that we have helped him live a better life in his present condition.

In the early days after we moved back, my FIL was quite appreciative of the changes we have effected in his life. Now he has lapsed into a phase where he feels restricted (he can not continue with the same freedom and ease here in the new apartment as he would in his old) and as if we have locked him down. I guess the novelty wore off soon, and also a lot of it is just an outcome of his condition- it will be given to bitterness and frustration and all of that. We will have to learn to let it not bother us. We would benefit by slowly getting him to learn some of the things that can enable his independence to some extent, and we are doing that- but it demands a lot of patience and we cannot always do it. So we have managed to teach him to go down for a walk, using the stairs, and the building watchman ensures he gets back into the lift and makes his way home. So he at least gets to have his walk everyday. Us sleeping in on a sunday means he would be sitting up, aimlessly, waiting for us to wake up because he is unable to work the door and take the milk to make his coffee. Its small things like that, that make me feel terribly frustrated at times.

B and I do enjoy some of the fun parts of married life such as shopping for house stuff, buying our first car together, etc. So that has been fun. I have his unfaltering support in my professional life. Being new to the corporate world, Id run every one of my office life issues by him and he taught me how to deal with stuff. I can readily commit to out of town assignments and he will pack my bags while I am frantically working on my powerpoints until the last minute. He took the day off when I was sick to be able to tend to me. He has dinner heated up and ready when I come home tired after office every day. We have a nice maid who cooks our meals, and is nice and considerate with my FIL. We never have to worry about cooking and dishes- a huge and welcome change from our lives in the U.S.

But life easily slips into a routine and theres little we seem to be able to do to fix that. Perhaps all life does get routine at some point, its a question of me realizing it and coming to terms with it. My close friends tell me to give it time. I just keep hoping that in that process, this doesnt become our life. Let us see.

I miss the outlet that blogging gave me. It feels good to come here and vent.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

It is sinking (in) part 2

Next step to really drive home that you are moving out? Putting up your items for sale. After a lot of procrastinating I finally posted my stuff this morning and already have people fighting over my stuff (or so I'd like to believe). :) I was stressing out about not being able to get rid of all my stuff but turns out that if you mark down your stuff there's always several poor post-docs who have just moved in and want it . As of now I am saving numbers in my cellphone with names such as table, chair, bookshelf. :) The phone has been ringing non stop and the new mail icon is bouncing endlessly on my mac. Stay tuned for stories of bidding wars, cat-fights and what not at the home of TGFI. Yay! exciting!

ETA: Of course, it could also end like this

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

It is sinking

in. :-) I remember writing a similar post when I was leaving Lutom. Well, here I am again.

My lab threw me a farewell lunch today. They gave me a nice present and cards with the sweetest things written in them, including "life of the lab" and "the gap will be felt". My boss said lots of nice things about me - calling me the provocateur of the lab, (hastening to add that he meant it in a good way) and saying he was sure I would go places and that I should always maintain my curiosity and spirits and smarts. And I stood grinning through it all, no attempt at modestly accepting praise. I don't know why I did that. He ended with something to the effect of "you've done some great work and it should make a great paper" or something, and I actually found myself saying "I know" at the end of his little eulogy. What is wrong with me?

It took a nice party and yummy cake for it to finally kick in that this is it. My bench and desk cannot continue to look the way they do- they need to be adopting that "Cleaned out" appearance soon. Then I went back to the bench to plan my experiments for my final two days. A huge panic attack set in. I guess a small part of me really wants to be able to finish each and every little thing before I leave, even though I know that is not possible. Thats when I realised that I will need one whole day just to organise my data and hand over my stuff to the guy who will continue my work. So I have decided to slow down on the experiments front- the last ditch efforts aren't really going to do much, as someone else has to anyway step in to fill in the blanks. So I'm better off investing my time in leaving a well organized to do list and boxes for my lab mate to take over.

I barely stumbled past my panic attack that pretty much paralyzed me into doing nothing the rest of the evening. Went out with a friend for dinner and felt a lot better. I have a plan, and all that is left is for me to whole-heartedly accept that I will not be finishing the project, admit to myself that I chose life over work this one time, and that is OK. Labmate will fill in the blanks for me, and the paper will have an additional trailing author. No big deal. My work is done. It's time for me to move on.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Acts of desperation

I caved in and bought the 5 quarters from ebay, to complete my coin collection. Still haven't confirmed the purchase, not sure how I feel about it. :(. How do hardcore collectors feel about purchasing stuff to add to their collection as against really "collecting" ?

decisions..decisions.. :p

Sunday, June 26, 2011


Am in for another sleepless night worrying about what lies ahead. Each transformation the next phase in my life is going to take on seems more challenging than the other. What is it that nags me the most: R2I? R2I professional? Wife? Daughter-in-law? None of the above. The role that worries me the most is that of a "caregiver" to my FIL. And in some sense to my husband too, who is taking the brunt of the blow of his dad's situation. B tells me how, the other day, his dad was ruing about why he ended up with a problem involving memory loss when he'd much rather have chosen diabetes or B.P over it. I can almost feel that pain that might've provoked that thought. Met up with an old buddy of mine few months ago, who had just lost his dad to Alzheimer's. He told me that there was absolutely no way to sugar coat the long arduous journey I was in for. And this when he lived away from his dad and saw his mom single-handedly care for his dad. Sigh.

B's strategy is to somehow learn to deal with it all, while celebrating the small joys of life. I hope that works for us.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

On being efficient at work

I've realised the single-most deterrent that slows me down at work is dragging my feet on tasks I feel I should've done earlier. So when I'm finally getting down to doing them, I'm still stalling, wondering, regretting why I didn't do it before. Instead of just putting my head down and plowing forth. 

The second time-waster is my terrible inability to switch gears between projects- even different experiments within the same project. Pulling my mind out of one and transporting it to another.

These are two issues I have been working on in the last leg of this post-doc, frankly because at this point I didn't have the luxury of time. I've improved at both, even if marginally. The solution to the first was to just convince myself that indeed, NOW was the best time to be doing it, not earlier. That is simple to do, just needs constant reminding to get rid of the self-doubt and remorse. The second was harder to get under control. One thing that helped was a lot better organization and some disciplined habits of note keeping. At the end of each experiment, I write out my TODO NEXT while it is still fresh in my head. I put this in a sticky on top of the notebook for that project. So that, I am able to tell, at a glance, where I am on each project, and what is the next immediate experiment I need to do for it when I revisit it, and not have to rewrap my brain over the past few experiments to see what is going on with it. Lately, I've gotten even more disciplined and keep a HUGE running table, checkmarking various steps as I have completed them. The table has gotten a bit out of control, but its a visual tool and saves me time in the long run.

 I do think I my note-book keeping skills have improved ALOT since my grad school days. I kept terrible notes in grad school. I wrote down every detail of the experiments I did, but it was all one huge single story book. :) There was no demarcation of different projects, different experiments nothing. No table of contents, no page numbers.

In my first post-doc lab I saw this superbly organized post-doc. She had a running excel spreadsheet table of contents, and a simultaneous hand-written one for each project. Each project of course, had separate note books. Every page was numbered. At the end of each day she updated her table of contents both on the computer and in hand. This way she could easily search through electronically if she was looking for something. 

Each page in her notebook had a set template. PAGE NUMBER, DATE, AIM, MATERIALS AND METHODS, RESULTS, CONCLUSION. She didn't necessarily repeat M&M for the same kinds of experiments, just said "Refer protocol #x". There was separate binder of protocols, and these protocols were numbered. 

Every project similarly had a different folder on the computer. So that, any analyses she did, figures she generated went into that folder. There was never a stray file on her desktop without a home labeled with an uninformative name like CANON4355.TIF. :) 

I have tried my best to emulate her ever since. Admittedly, I didn't get too far with my electronic table of contents- mainly because I have never had that discipline of sitting down at the same time each day at the end of the day and updating it. For her, it was an inbuilt habit. From 4:45 to 5:00 pm, that's what she did. Her day was planned accordingly. I have realised that just like exercise, keeping good notes is also something one has to invest in daily, we cannot let it pile up and take care of it all at once.

Then there is the added complication of good note-book keeping today when you do a lot of data analyses, write scripts, generate data sets, tables, etc. This my Ph.D. Mentor taught me to do well. To treat each run in the unix box as an experiment itself. To keep track of parameters used, operations carried out, a strict convention of filenaming (Not test, test2, test3). 

I want to continue working on this, and getting better at it at my new job, wherever that will be.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

4 out of 7

Not too shabby after all. I made this list almost two years ago ..and I just got back from a crazy last minute impulse trip to CA. It wasn't' the ambitious trip I had outlined when I wrote that post, but I still managed to pack a lot into my 3 day trip, thanks to my superly enthusiastic friend.

I still have to blog about these trips: Chicago, Lutom, The GC and now sunny California. I have some drafts in my folder that I have to get around to cleaning up. I want to, to record how wonderful each of them were. Will do eventually.

For now, I am just so happy I finally managed to go to California, after all the yearning. I am so glad I made it happen. Yeah!

From Wiki: Half Dome is a granite dome in Yosemite National Park, located in northeastern Mariposa County, California, at the eastern end of Yosemite Valley — possibly Yosemite's most familiar rock formation. The granite crest rises more than 4,737 ft (1,444 m) above the valley floor.....Half Dome is nearly as whole as it ever was. The impression from the valley floor that this is a round dome which has lost its northwest half is an illusion.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Once again, I am having trouble interpreting data in an article and I write to the authors. There have been several other cases where my email was just simply never responded to, even after multiple attempts. Asking for things as basic as primer sequences. This time the authors come back to us in a long winded way and simply say the raw data is not available. How can that be possible? The last time I wasn't satisfied with authors responses (after advice from a comment on this blog) I posted a comment on the journal website. The main author (big man in the field) of the article got back to my boss with a clearly unhappy email saying I was creating an extra hassle for them because now they had to respond to my comments on the website.

There has got to be some retribution for people whose published work cannot stand the trials of other people following their work. Both the reviewers and the main authors need to be able to explain such deficiencies. I guess nobody has the time.

Friday, June 10, 2011

south dakota

I'm desperately trying to fill up my US States quarter collection. In the past several months, I have never seen a South Dakota quarter. Do they exist? Other than the territories, SD is the only quarter I am missing. Has anyone seen one?

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Note to self: Lessons in politics

* Sometimes, when your boss is being stubborn and refuses to concede to your point, you just have to let go. Even if you know that you are right, and you have all the empirical evidence to prove your point. Do not make it your agenda. Instead, give in, and then subtly let the further evidence (After doing what he wants you to do), make your point. Several weeks and months later, he will be telling you what you told him in that same room weeks ago. Minus all that effort that you have put in. That gets frustrating. But do not say I told you so. Feign the same wonderment and surprise that he feels, and ask him what he would suggest one does. Nod.

* Learn to read between the lines. ALOT. People may be super nice and polite in your face, and then continuously use underhanded ways of giving you a hard time because of whatever grudge they nurse. Basically, do not be fooled by niceties.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011


Life is all kinds of crazy right now. My data is finally begin to pour in, and it is very exciting! The kinds that has me at the edge of my seat, working late, sometimes too excited to even function properly. Yeah, I still don't know what most of it means, but it is exciting to just see the result of all that hard work, even if in files that are several MB huge and need some nifty programming skills to extract the information I need. Even better that I have some of those skills, so I'm plugging away, and generating pretty pie charts and bar graphs and what not. I hope it all comes together as a nice story. It plain sucks that I don't have enough time to see this story through its end. But the kinds of ends I want to take it through will take another 2 years. :)

Time is ticking though. And as much as this is fun, I need to be able to work faster, move quicker, and get a sizeable amount done in the next 3 weeks. I don't know how I'll do it. I hate the discouraging drone of my boss who keeps reminding me that I don't have enough time to do all that I need to do for the paper. Essentially hinting that I stay longer. It's like grad school all over again, the only difference being that he doesn't have to sign a dotted line for me to leave, so I am going to leave when I want to.

I feel very out of control of things right now. Million things buzzing in my head all the time. There's so much more I want to do, science-wise and life-wise. There's so much more I want to stuff into my 21 kg suitcases. Then I take a deep breath and remind myself, that there is also a whole new world out there, full off possibilities that I am just going to embark on. So what if it is lined with smog dust corruption and what not. It is a whole new world alright. :) I can buy more books, accumulate more junk, travel more, and do more science. And all of this with the guy I married a year back. That adds a completely new spin on things.

I have decided not to live the principled life in India. I will grease whatever palms need to be greased to get my gas, phone and other connections. I think I will simply have to assume that it is part of the costs. I will not fight with the autowallah everyday over the fare. At least until I am settled in. I will pick my battles. I am not going there to clean up the system. I will do my bit to be a conscientious citizen, but will not expect the same integrity from others. Lets see how it goes.

Just when I thought I will never have to take another exam..

f you are new to Bangalore and dreaming of settling down here, you will have to pass the Std VII exam in less than one year and prove that you can read and write Kannada.

The Kannada Development Authority (KDA) has recommended that the state government bring out a legislation to get non-Kannadigas in Karnataka to clear the basic Kannada examinations. The KDA, headed by MLC ‘Mukhyamantri’ Chandru, submitted its recommendations to the state government on Monday.

Heh. A terrible pic to accompany the rest of this story here

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Skeletons in my closet

So today I overcame my fears and finally attacked the closet I was dreading to go into. It had boxes that I shipped/moved from my grad school days to my first post-doc days to my second post-doc (here) without ever opening. Now I open, and throw throw throw like a heartless bitch. These are mostly research articles- god knows why I didn't dump them in Lutom before leaving. I guess its mostly because they have my highlighting and notes all over them. Many of them were seminal papers in the field I did my Ph.D. in, many of them I spent hours poring over - sitting in the library, in cafes, on my bed- while preparing for my qualifiers, while writing my thesis, many of them formed the basis of and contributed to a lot of my research ideas. They are a huge treasure for me- so what if I never go back and read them?

But all of that sentimentality is going to go out with today's installment of paper recycle trash. Let this post be the lone reminder of their memory. RIP, reams of research articles. You did mean a lot to me, and you will always live on, in pdf. :)

Then come the huge fat reference books. I had each of these brought over from India, one at a time, whenever someone was traveling to here. Each weigh anywhere between 3 to 5 kg. Put in the perspective of packing up into two 21 kg bags- I would only be able to take 4 or 5, assuming I dedicated 1 pc of luggage to them (which is basically not possible). Also, I never went back to them in all these years. The central dogma of molecular biology has been rewritten and modified several times after Genes V. The entirely xeroxed Janis Kuby bible for immunology has most of its pages faded- (25p xerox in chembur :) )so that is definitely going to be trashed. Others again, are precious because they taught me a lot of my fundamentals, I took great pleasure in acquiring my own printed copies of them instead of having to fight with others for the limited library copies in college, and well - when I bought them, they were expensive. But yeah, with a heavy heart, barring 2 or 3 (10 kg limit) I am going to donate these to the library. I used to imagine that I would be a professor one day, and all these tomes would be sitting in my bookcase in my office. :) / :(

Then there's the craziest collection of little bags I own. Little paper bags usually came with gifts etc. or some shopping. I don't know why I have held on to these. But they have gone in the "carry if I can" lot. They don't weigh much and I like re-using them when the need arises.

Then there's another crazy collection of travel-size soaps/shampoos etc. Again a result of crazy hoarding whenever I stayed in hotel rooms or last minute buying before going on a trip, and then not using for whatever reason. Yes yes, I pick these up from hotel rooms. I believe I have paid for them when I paid for the hotel room, and if I leave them, the hotel will throw them. I know, I may slightly delude myself there, but whatever. I like them. Now they are most probably going to goodwill, unless I can sneak them in. :(

The rest of the stuff was a lot easier to throw/recycle/give away. Mostly sheets/covers, room freshners, assorted junk. Some nice gifts from ex-boyfriends and such. I use a lot of these without any sentiment attached - they just became part of my life- but some remind me of specific times and moments and I never see myself using them. They also happen to be the nicest of the gifts and I haven't felt like throwing them either. Now they go to goodwill.

I still haven't figured out how to best recycle electronic crap like cellphones, chargers, modems, ethernet cables and keyboards. I don't want to simply junk them because I know they can be reused. Anyone with specific tips on where to recycle them? I will look up freecycle.

I need to proceed with operation throw in the most detached way, hence I blog to get the sentimental shit out of the way. :)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Udhaari band

I have closed out all but one credit card I own now. Even that one, I do not use, I am simply hanging on to it for all the miles it has. I pay cash for whatever grocery shopping I do, and weigh every purchase I make. For the past two months, I have paid my rent a few days BEFORE the 1st of the month, because I really need for that money to disappear from my checking account so I know how much I really have. I do not spend unnecessarily, spending from cash really makes it hard to do that. I still have one credit card to pay off, but hope to pay it off in the next month. Its a great feeling. To pay off all these cards that had seemingly never ending balances left on them..always accumulating just when I thought I'd paid a huge chunk. And I look at my current spending pattern and wonder, if I did this all my life, it probably wouldn't be such a struggle at the end. Ah well. :-)

I am antsy about being in India without a job to start with and living off B's money. When I tell him that, he reminds me of the short period between his lease ending and his moving back to India when he stayed with me and didn't contribute to rent. :-) He tells me to consider us even now. Weird as it sounds, that explanation makes complete sense to me and I rest easier at the idea that I will be sharing his money, and eventually, ours. Clearly, I have a long way to go at this marriage thing. :)

We're making a lot of plans now. It is coming together. I am also a lot more vocal about my concerns, that have been building up in the months leading to my R2I. Some of them are dissolving, others, will remain concerns, but not something we cannot deal with. I am happy to have friends I can offload to, and get some grounded advice from. That is important and has proven very helpful and comforting. I am looking forward to making new friendships in India, some fun people I have encountered in the blog-world and some that I know from earlier, who live in the same city I am moving to. Yeah!

Friday, May 27, 2011

What would you do if you were person B

Person A is higher in authority to you. The terms on which you part with person A are therefore important for the next steps in your career, such as good reference letters etc, and for most part you have had a decent working relationship with them. But now, all of a sudden, they refuse to see reason or accept your point of view and make your daily life miserable by using all possible tactics - emotional blackmail, snide remarks, subtle pressure- to arm-twist you into going against your decision and choosing the stand that makes them happy?

All of this when, at some point, you would've actually taken that same stand if you felt compelled enough, but haven't made that decision yet and now don't want to be arm-wrangled into it.

Will you

1) Try and push your point and make unemotional strong arguments to make your case?

2) Give up without a fight and give in?

3) Do not fight/argue because it already seems like a lost cause but silently achieve your stand, risking some amount of bridge-burning etc.

4) Do not fight and make things unpleasant, but become superman/woman and keep everyone happy in the equation. (HAH).

There is no middle ground. its A's way or B's way.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

I will not

live in a building with a helipad on top. Will. not. OK? ok.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Interview Q and A

Must have better prepared answers to these questions:

1) Why don't we have a cure for cancer yet?
-There's all the obvious reasons
-There are the specifics. Study the work that has gone into cancer drug discovery. Where did they stop? Why did they stop? And we very well know not all of it has gone to naught. What are the success stories? Not enough to be aware - must be able to articulate.

2) What would you do if you had all the money and resources?
- Cover all bases and find the cure for cancer! How?

3) How exactly has your work added to the field?
-This I know quite well, but could use some polish.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Note to self (Reminder): The things that you dwell on, break your head over, get deeply affected by, today, will remain but blips tomorrow. So do not unnecessarily beat yourself up over them. Think of all the stress you went through thinking about something last month- and how it resolved itself eventually. Conserve your energy for getting stuff done, not worrying about shit. OK? ok.

Friday, May 20, 2011


So my time in the US boils down to about half-a-dozen more weekends. I feel like I have to budget everything that goes into each precious weekend. Ergo, on one day of this weekend, I'm going to laze and do nothing. :-)

There is no disputing the fact that I'm going to miss the US. Like anything. The easy lifestyle, the greenery - especially in the midst of city life, the various conveniences, the lack of chaos, my comfort zones, the ability to walk out and get a drink, the quality of my work life- all of it. Every now and then I find myself taking in my surroundings and thinking wistfully about how I will miss it. Along with leaving the US, I leave my single life and begin living with not just my husband but also his dad. I am also going to miss the freedom of this carefree life- of cooking or not cooking only as I wish, of living as I please, cleaning when I want to. There are going to be big changes and it is daunting.

A friend I'm making plans to meet up with while in her city writes and says "I've dedicated the entire evening to you". Warms me up like no other- at a time while I know we are all busy, juggling numerous things, I was only hopeful of some of her time for dinner, and planning on doing some lone-tourism for the rest of the time. I was of course, pleasantly surprised to see that she was going to hang out with me all evening- and then began wondering if our lives have gotten busier or have the expectations dropped so much, that, the mere promise of more time than a perfunctionary dinner can make one feel so good. I guess its a mix of both.

I found out that my colleague from my grad school days who died recently committed suicide. I have just been absorbing this news - he was very social within the department, took good care of himself- stayed physically fit etc. and really warm and affectionate when I met him last month. I am glad I got to talk to him then. Nobody saw this coming. I began wondering who exactly I was feeling the most bad about- and I realized I was feeling bad for what he went through, in those days and hours leading up to the point that he decided to take this step. How horrible must that have been? But now he is gone. It is moot.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011


I was supposed to be working on a presentation but got distracted and bored and began wasting time on Facebook. That's when I found out about a colleague's death, less than a week ago. A colleague from my grad school days, who, when I bumped into a month ago was very affectionate and it felt so nice catching up with him. Now he's gone. It's really hard to digest news like this. You begin wondering about all kinds of things....and I haven't been able to focus since then. I spoke to a common friend and that helped. But I still can't get it out of my head. The finality of death leaves you so unsettled. :(

But I do need to shake myself up and get this powerpoint in order. My boss sent out an email announcing my talk with " "blah-blah-topic - TGFI: A superb speaker". That's his way of upping the pressure - and I'm definitely feeling the heat. Probably what is also paralyzing me now.

My parents left a couple days ago and I miss them. Miss being able to talk to them at random points in my day, even when I had nothing new to talk about. Miss looking forward to the weekend with all of us together. But we had a splendid time and I am so glad they made this trip. I also remember feeling a bit tired about having to go down to my sister's every weekend to spend time with them, leaving me with no time/space to myself. And feeling terribly guilty about feeling like that. But I guess its all natural. I have become very possessive about my me-time and it makes me cranky and tired when I don't get any.

I finally completed a task at work today- that should have gone out last week. A week's delay at this stage is much more than I can afford. But what to do? I did my very best- things were just slow...and then some errors made it worse. I am keeping my fingers crossed that the statistician who is going to analyze my data magically finishes it sooner than she said she would.

I am looking forward to a trip to Philly this weekend- something that I had not at all planned. I thought I didn't have much emotional attachment to the city, mainly because of all the things that went wrong when I was there, but I do have some fond memories, that I am excited about revisiting. And while I first thought of just one person I wanted to meet, I am now debating if I should meet another. :) Lets see. I hope the weather behaves.

OK, back to work. 

Friday, May 13, 2011


A significant amount of despondence has set in at work. My main project is moving along at snails pace, after reaching a good place. My original plan was to rev up the other project once the main project was mostly done- or during the long waiting gaps that main project involves. However, I feel like I'm in a weird place now. 1.5 months doesn't seem enough to rev up and complete the other project..but I know that shouldn't make me just while away my time while the main project picks up. Its a strange feeling of defeatedness that I need to fight and purge out of my system. Do the best I can in the next 1.5 months. So what if I don't get anywhere with it. Best case scenario: I'll find something cool and then ways of continuing that work will materialize- I can continue in my next position, my boss can hire someone else to take it up- the possibilities are endless- I need not give up, yet. Don't leave before you leave. I am trying to be perfect- wanting to be able to execute the project from start to completion, and knowing that is impossible in the time frame I have, I seem to just give up. The classic mistake I have always made. Must snap out of this.

People carrying out loud conversations on the phone happens to be one of my pet peeves. I just don't get it. Are you so self-involved, that you think its alright to subject everyone in your immediate surrounding to your personal phone conversations? Unless you are a doctor directing a life-saving procedure or other such emergencies, I think its entirely unnecessary, exhibitionist, rude and polluting to have people talk loudly and make general conversation on buses, trains, in stores, restaurants etc. Surely it can wait until you reach a more private place? I see this most amongst younger people- speaking in high-pitched voices, discussing their travails and tales without a care to the fact that they are imposing on other people around them. I am quite tired of doing the glaring, staring, changing my seat. The very act rankles me.

We are all entitled to a few mistakes in life. That's what makes life that much more enriching and interesting. I am happy with the lot of stupid things I did. They all taught me some really important lessons, and made me that much more stronger and wiser. Without them, I would've never known.

Monday, May 09, 2011


Just after I blogged about my parents and niece's obsession with staring at others I had to share this bit. This past weekend we were walking about downtown Princeton- my parents, my sis, my niece and me. It was a nice sunny afternoon and there were a whole lot of people- locals, tourists etc. strolling around. My mom was wearing one of her beautiful saris and was probably the only one in a sari, despite the fact that that place is full of desis. As she stood leafing through some clothes on sale on a rack outside a store, a little girl- a bit older than my niece, and perhaps European ? happened to see my mom, and stood at the store entrance gawking at her for a bit. As if that was not enough, she then went and got hold of two of her younger sisters and these three little kids stood transfixed, gaping at my mom for the next five minutes or so. It was the most hilarious sight. We think they all thought they spotted a bollywood actress. :)

Days are slipping by fast. The next few days are really really tight for me, deadline-wise. I was hoping to get done with this one big task by Thursday, but now I'll be happy if I get it done by Friday. Fingers crossed as I still wait on other people to do their bit so I can take it forth from there.

Spending time with my niece is the best de-stresser ever.

I really do want to learn how to wear a sari and pull it off with grace and confidence. And no, not so that I can have random kids staring me down. :-).

Friday, May 06, 2011


I hope these keywords don't bring a shitload of spam my way, but do airlines even understand the meaning of discount airfares any more? I keep getting these emails about great deals from my black out dates etc..and I go, plug in the dates, do the math and its never less than $300 RT. Are we supposed to be giddy with delight that we got a RT domestic ticket for $300 now?

Today as I gloomily waddled home from lab, I decided to do the "fake it until you make it" thing. Pretend that I am doing great. Pretend that I am super happy and optimistic all the time. Become that person everyone hates. And see if that helps improve my general state of mind. :D

I really want a weekend of vegetation and some alcohol thrown in for good measure. Not least not this weekend. :/

I have four more paychecks to come..and that's it. They will all go into the next 2 months rent and remaining credit card debt. I'll end with zero balance. That, is a terribly depressing thought. That is one of the things that is making it so hard for me to call it quits here - for the past ten years, I have been self-sufficient and the idea of sharing my money with others, or theirs with mine, is just all to foreign to me. :/

The good part about getting away from my apt this weekend- won't have to put up with my idiotic upstairs neighbours stomping their floors all the time. @#$@#$S.


I just had the once-in-a-lifetime experience of finishing a task way before the deadline. Granted it was a simple task, but sometimes those are the ones I procrastinate most on, knowing that I get it done in the last minute. This feels good. All those google reminders can go take a hike, because guess what, it's already done! :-)

I find that every time I open an email from my PI, I develop a defensive stance. Most times he is just responding to a discussion and voicing his thoughts. I need to stop getting so edgy about it.

I had a very uplifting meeting yesterday with my collaborators. Everyone promises to work as fast as they can to help me get done quickly. The support feels good. Interacting with an A-level team, 3 women (me included) and my PI, also feels great.

I will still have some unfinished ends left in my project. As it stands, my PI and I decided to bring another post-doc on board to finish it up. I still have mixed feelings about this arrangement. Mostly it is the pangs of letting-go, I guess. :/ I learned from my Ph.D. experience, where I let my last paper dawdle along for almost a year before publishing, mainly because I was resisting outside help, that an extra author on the paper if thats what it takes to GET IT DONE is nothing. But I guess in this case, I feel like I don't have a hard deadline (except a personal one) and so, why not linger for a bit longer? I am not sure. I do know that B and I are already making plans with a certain exit date in mind and it will suck to keep pushing those indefinitely. And that another 2 weeks more here may not accomplish completion, then what? I will still have to bring someone on. Sigh. What a never-ending-recursive-loop this can be. But I need to take a stand and make my peace with it. :(

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Parental Guidance

So my parents were here with me for a week. It was awesome. I'd get into lab early so that I could finish up and be home at a reasonable hour to spend time with them. My dad made me chai in the mornings, my mom had lunch for me when I came home for lunch. They cleaned up my place and organized all my books that were in random stacks lying around the house. I had also spent a great deal of time cleaning up the apartment before they got here, so it was in general nice to have a neat and tidy place. :) My mom folded my laundry. She even organized them into piles of "these really need to go", which I promptly mixed and stuffed back into my closet. Clearly my mom hasn't heard of emergency days, that lead into the actual day one does emergency laundry.

I also got to play tour guide and take my parents around the city a bit. It was fun to do that. Once I got comfortable with the fact that my parents are big on staring and were not going to back down. :p. They stared at everything and everyone. Skimpily clad people. Fully-dressed people. Fat people. Thin people. Biracial couples. Homosexual couples. Heterosexual couples. PDA. My dad even glared at this random couple smooching on the line front of us at Magnolias. LOL. My parents have been to the city before so there wasn't much sight-seeing for them to do. Other than people-watching and people-gawking and what better place to do that than NYC. I think we are a family of starers. I eventually stopped minding my parents because I figured, after all they are tourists. I am sure Americans would come to India and gawk at Indians. As tourists, you are allowed to. But my niece- she was born here. She is a BIG starer. It's so embarrassing. Having given up on distracting her, my sister has started to look in the other direction and pretend she's not with her when my niece begins staring at others in public. :-)

Then there came the advice. So I have put on loads of weight since the wedding. It is scary to see how the pounds piled on unnoticed- mostly from eating unhealthy junk food. And perhaps a good amount of stress. And of course these knee and foot injuries along the way that prevented me from getting any good exercise. So my parents are still trying to get used to the sight of their daughter, a good 15 lbs heavier than they last saw her and definitely not pregnant. My dad kept looking at me as if I was going to die any minute, and my mom went on and on and on. And then some more. It was of no use that I tried to tell them I was taking care now, and trying to get it under control. They just couldn't get over it. If it was not weight, it was other life-advice. They tend to forget that I am 33 and have probably figured out things for myself at this point. I did the best I could. But I will admit it got to me every now and then, and I had a preview into what life is going to be like, back in India when I R2I soon. Scary.

My high points of my parents visit were my dad successfully hailing us a cab on a crazy evening in the city when Obama was in town, and sitting at a nice streetside Hungarian bakery and..people watching with them. :) And bringing them to my lab. :) And going to a Broadway show with them and my niece, sis and b-i-l. We went to Mary Poppins and it totally rocked.

It sucked to come home to an empty apartment as always- even more unfair that this week at work is a little light compared to last week when I was battling all sorts of experimental failures and deadlines. But oh well- that's Murphy's law at work again. The apartment is abnormally clean and unusually silent now, although I am doing my best to bring it back to its normal untidy state. :)

Monday, May 02, 2011

Note to myself

Dear TGFI,

If you ever forget or are tempted into thinking otherwise, please remember your current post-doc experience. The fact that someone with very little independent thinking and completely lacking any in-depth understanding of the science can look stellar on paper, produce of reams of data, have the most well-organized lab-notebooks, and land positions at big name labs. They will also go on to get big jobs, have glowing letters written for them in praise of their productivity. Of course, your opinion of this person is extremely slanted, because of your rotten experiences with them. So then remember that your opinion counts for precious little. Learn the art of beating the system, playing the game, and, in addition to all your intelligence and passion, pay attention to appearances and to looking good. Stop taking pride in your messy desk, because outward appearances do matter and go a long way in shaping your reputation. In addition to learning about conflicts and lab politics, also learn that an early arrival to lab, a disciplined approach and quick turnaround of tasks and projects are very much well looked upon, perhaps more so than traits of scientific thinking and enthusiasm. And the best part, these habits- of discipline and working quickly can be easily acquired by you, much more easily than one can learn enthusiasm and scientific inquiry. So, you're in good shape! :)

Monday, April 25, 2011


From my 5 yo niece, as she peeks into her mom's laptop screen and sees the Google homepage:  "You're not working, you're on the internet".

Saturday, April 23, 2011

On Tough Love

I am constantly conflicted between being sympathetic and giving tough love. I wonder how I will ever be a good parent, if I cannot learn this tough love bit. It doesn't take much for me to melt and give in to my five year old niece while my sis and b-i-l behave like horrible cold stones. Hopefully I will get better when its a kid of my own that I would not want to turn into a brat.

People suffer all kinds of unthinkable tragedies in life. Things like the loss of a parent at an early formative age- shoes that you don't even dare step into for the sake of better understanding- it only tells you how much for granted you have taken some things in life. But then, how long can a person continue to blame such life-altering tragedies for everything? How long do you let one flounder aimlessly, live in his own bitter world, blaming every one for his situation, and when do you ask him to snap out of it? No one can ever get over such tragedies, but people have to move on, gain a sense of self and take responsibility for their own lives. No? What do you do when they don't, and get stuck in the rut of inertia and lethargy and just about manage to stay afloat in their self-pity pool?

I am beginning to think that some amount of bluntness is required, but I feel much too privileged to be able to say "Look, I know this all must be tough on you, but you need to take responsibility for your life" - because I don't really know how tough it is for them, do I? But I do very well know that they need to move past it and end the blame-the-world-for-my-sorry-state cycle- for their own sake. At some point, the fragility and the sadness and the inertia are all mixed up and its hard to separate one from another. And I suspect that it is this very conflict that allows such a situation to go on for years on end. But how long do you keep hoping for the person to learn from his failings, and when do you tell him outright?


Wednesday, April 20, 2011


I have become one of those people that cannot find the time to reply to emails. (or comments here). Atleast for unanswered comments, I can apologise here. :-)

I don't understand how girls walk in heels, having never owned any myself. Really- how do you manage, when your feet are at an incline all the time? It has got to hurt! I don't see how it cannot. I have been suffering from acute foot pain for a while now- called plantar fasciitis. I bought some really expensive walking shoes with "full arch support" and plod around in them all the time. Even they have stopped helping after a while. But while I'm confined to putting my feet in sports shoes, I find myself staring at women all around me in heels of all kinds  - not in envy- but pure curiosity and wonderment. Those tall pointed stilettos, those boots with heels, even those ballerina shoes with a tiny heel- how does it work?  I am this close to walking up to one of these girls and asking them how they do it. Are some people just better equipped than others to walk on an incline? Cross the road, climb into a bus, train? Get through a whole work day - do experiments, shuttle between the ice machine and the lab, go to seminars, lunch? Do they simply get used to it? Quite some mystery, this.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Am in that phase where i type out a whole block of mind-dump and then just delete because I don't feel like posting and the job is done, the stuff has stopped bothering me.

Detachment is what I need to learn.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Thoughts from the conference

So I'm almost done with the meeting I'm currently attending. This is a huge meeting - 16,000 attendees - and the organization of the conference has been superb. Anything you'd want or need or wish for was available- on site child care, on site fedex, efficient and warm customer service and what not. I hope I can keep coming to this meeting even after I R2I- this will remain one of the most well organized meetings I have been to. I am in total awe of the organizers and almost wished I worked behind the scenes of such a fantastic event. :D

I have a nice hotel room in a very functional hotel. I steered clear of the fancy hotels because I didn't want to waste money on a room I'd only be coming to sleep in. I am happy that I only went ~$200 over the travel grant I got. This room doesn't even have cable-tv unless you pay ~$15 - $20 for an episode of something you want to watch! It has wired internet though, and that's good enough for me. I have a nice view from the window, am close enough to the conference and well-connected and overall happy with this room. My hotel-room craving has finally been fulfilled.

Last year my entire lab attending this meeting. This year I am alone. It totally sucks being alone. I think back to my grad school days and I don't think I went alone to too many meetings, it was always with my lab group or P.I. When I went alone from the lab, I had made a good enough network at the meeting beforehand (part of some committtee/volunteer group etc.) and always had company. Otherwise, it was a small meeting and people mingled easily even if you didn't know them before. I ended up striking close friendships with some people I met at those meetings.

At a big meeting like this, its very different. Everyday, between sessions, I have been enviously looking at groups of people who exchange notes, plan their meals/sight-seeing together etc. I don't have anyone to do that stuff with, and it has been bothering me. I tried my bit but its hard to break into well-established groups. At most people humor you for a few mins following introductions and then go their ways. Today was the heights of desperation and I even pulled the "Lagta hain aapko kahin pehle dekha hai" line on this desi girl in the hope of striking some kind of acquaintance with her so that I could get some company for dinner. But she said no she never saw me anywhere and went back to chatting with her friend. :/ I feel for all the guys that have tried this line and failed. :D On second thoughts, may be I should've tried it on a guy. :)

I tried my hand at the whole networking thing to make some professional connections. It went better than the attempts at trying to wrestle a dinner invitation, :) but I didn't do much of it either. I tried to advertise my poster a bit, talk to a few people, etc. But I made some starts, overcame some inhibitions so I am happy.

And while I didn't get to make any acquaintances to group with here, I found out that a very dear friend of mine from my grad school days was attending another meeting in the same city so I got to catch up with her yesterday. It was by far the best evening I had here, and it was so wonderful to meet her, sit and gossip and exchange notes on the past 6 years and feel like the good old days.

Science-wise it has been great as always- talks and posters of the highest caliber. The entire experience has been intense and inspiring. I have some nice ideas for what I want to work on if I start up a lab in India. :)

I did a lot of people-watching at the meeting. I noticed that all the company types were always busy between sessions, black berrying and clearing out work email and such. The academic types seemed more relaxed, enjoying scientific or non-scientific conversations and not glued to their smart phones. Of course, there were the poor sods working on manuscript revisions and such. :D. So many people were flashing their ipads, using it to keep track of conference schedules, take notes at talks and posters etc. The were better off than those that had to lug the fat ass abstract book around.

I didn't lug that dead tree with me- instead I made use of the online scheduler the meeting had and planned all of my days before hand and took printouts of it with me for each day, so that I only had the relevant info per day and knew where to go next after each session, which posters I wanted to see etc. For a meeting of this size, a few hours of advance planning is essential and I'm glad I did that. Today, I skipped the afternoon to come to my room and nap and that was also a good thing I did.

I am not going to do any touristy stuff here- I have been to this city before and there's nothing in particular I want to see. I will take advantage of the awesome weather though, and go out for a nice long walk and get some desi dinner. :-)


Monday, April 04, 2011

"Happiness is the best form of revenge"

When my first post-doc wasn't working out, I went and spoke to the head of post-doc affairs at that institute, a famous woman scientist. She was very supportive and sympathetic about my decision to leave and admitted that my situation was not the first she had seen come out of the lab that I was leaving. She gave me some advice on how to find my next post-doc and her parting advice to me included the line about happiness, but I know how miserable I was in the months that followed.

Two years later, at a huge international meeting I bump into her. I introduced myself and thanked her for her advice and support way back then. She seemed to recollect. Then I  told her how well I am doing now, about my work and the awards I have gotten. That her advice was well taken and I am indeed a very happy person today. It felt so great to share my accomplishments with her and I am riding on that high ever since.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Email draft

Dear all,
please see attached near-final draft of poster (on which you are all co-authors). Thanks a lot for all the help or lack thereof.


i guess this draft will never make it out to sent.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Don't say yes when you want to say no

A rant about people who cannot say no. I wish people just learned to say "Sorry, I cannot do it" (Followed by a reason if they feel like it). Period. I don't understand why, instead of saying no, they go about giving me hazaar alternatives, that I've already thought through, considered, and then come to them asking for a favour. I ask for favours easily- mostly because I believe that if it truly inconveniences a person they will say no, else they will help me out. I know people who balk at the idea of taking any obligation from other people- I don't take my friends for granted but don't see anything wrong in asking them- "hey- can you ask around for me if ..blah blah". And I am prepared to be refused, no hard feelings. But I'm beginning to see why people, including my husband, would rather have it not done than ask for a favour- its because some people make it out to be so damn uncomfortable. They cannot refuse directly, they offer further unsolicited advice that can be tiresome, or worse still, they say yes but back out in the last minute or ignore your phone calls or do it almost begrudgingly, making you feel like you are putting them through an inconvenience. Why the fuck does everything have to be a charade? I have reached a point where I'd rather ask random people off a forum or mailing list for help- at least they can refuse without qualms and self-imposed obligations and truly just do it out of simple kindness and not because they feel obliged to say yes.

Friday, March 25, 2011


All the nasty stuff with my coworker gave way to a cheap thrill for me yesterday. It is essentially a cheap thrill, but I am going to bask in it for all its worth and enjoy it till it lasts. She got what she deserved and I hope it helps in taking her horribly arrogant attitude down a notch or two. But I doubt that.


While I am aware of there being two or three sides to every story, sometimes I can't help judge based on one side alone. Even if you give the other side all the benefit of doubt, what presents itself is still unacceptable. Makes you wonder what the hell happens and why people do what they do. Or if you ever really knew them well enough to be surprised by the happenings? I will never know.


Every so often, I crave being in a hotel room. Not necessarily a fancy shmancy hotel room - I guess its got to do with craving being in a new place. I'll get my travel-bug-fix soon. Very excited. I also got business cards printed for the conference I'm going to. I remember going last year, and not having the opportunity to give them to anyone. I hope this year will be different. I'm going to try harder (and stuff these newly printed cards into peoples hands whether they want it or not :p)


Nothing like a guy leaving you a voicemail early AM asking you not to stress about losing weight and telling you that you are adorable. (:D Right out of a cheesy song) Especially when the guy is not your husband.
I have been stressing about losing weight- I know it doesn't help. I am trying to correct eating, but its not going that great. The 3-days a week exercise routine went right out the window. I have relapsed into long working hours, coming home late, eating whatever I can manage to and fretting. And waking up late. With fatty nightmares. Not nice. This weekend, I'm going to give the cook-a-week's worth of food a shot.

We all "know" what's good for us and what's not. It's being aware of it- of what we eat, what we think, how we conduct ourselves- in the moment, all the time- is what is needed. That kind of constant self-awareness takes practice and discipline and a non-escapist attitude. (Gyan that i got from the don't lose your mind book).



Tuesday, March 22, 2011


My niece (5 yo) is growing up faster than I can keep up with. Her vocabulary includes words like "embarrassing", "Recommendation" and what not. Gosh.

The other day, my mom was busy yelling at my sis over the phone, saying that she yelled too much at my niece and that was making her thin. LOL. I told my mom that there was no bigger irony than her objecting to my sister scolding her daughter- our entire building, and the ones around ours will vouch for the amount of yelling from my mom we had to deal with while growing up, especially my sister. To which the smitten grandmother responds "You girls were terrible kids. My grand-daughter is an angel, and doesn't need to be yelled at". HAH!

I had another informational interview today with a Co. in India. It went well as in I got some information, and I definitely would like to explore opportunities with them further. Everyone's standard response is come here and visit us and then we'll take it from there. I guess its pretty reasonable, I would also want to visit a place before deciding to work with them. These days I am telling everyone that I leaving and I wish I had a more solid answer to "Where are you going next" instead of the "I have some possibilities..". Ah well. Both my Ph.D. mentor and my post-doc mentor are overtly supportive of my decision to go into the industry, but not without leaving subtle hints like "Why aren't you considering teaching- you're a natural" and other such attempts at brain-washing. :)

B is currently house hunting for a place for us to rent and move into together. I don't have a big list of things for him. All I want is a spacious kitchen and an Indian-style toilet. Those are my only demands. And he tells me that the latter is becoming more and more rare. How sad.

Experiments, data, packing, job-hunting, life. Its all coming together. That much is for sure.

Monday, March 21, 2011


All kinds of stuff on my mind. Am distracted and irritable at work. I know its because I was here past midnight yesterday.

A lot of my work these days is dependent on other people and it irritates me to have to wait for them to get to my stuff. Some waiting I understand, after all everybody has their plates full all the time, but after a point it gets frustrating. I cannot do anything but twiddle my thumbs and hope that they bring my work to the top of their list soon.

Then, I suffer from a horrible case of inertia. It takes me FOREVER to revisit projects that are lagging behind, kept on hold in the freezer. I really need to work on this and get over it, because all this down-time that I spend waiting for others can be used in pushing ahead these forgotten projects, which are equally necessary and at this point, equally urgent. I have to stop compartmentalizing so much.

In a few months I will be moving to India- my husband and I are going to live together with his father, who has a neurodegenerative disorder and currently lives alone with no one to care for him. Time and again, I have people coming up and telling me- "its going to be really hard for you". I am a bit tired of these comments, even though I realise they come from concerned well-wishers. Other people ask us if we considered alternatives- like old-age homes or living separately down the street from my father-in-law instead of moving in with him. You know what- if I had it my way- my father-in-law would never have had this problem, my husband and I would never have had to make the compromises we're making and we'd carry on our jolly life in the U.S. or in India, wherever we ended up.

But it is not so. The whole idea of moving back is to care for my father-in-law. I have no illusions about moving back, and living with someone whose brain function is compromised and is going to get progressively worse. I have no experience either- just like most of the people that warn me about how tough it will be. But I also know that a person suffering from such a disorder needs the company, care and support of his children, and not the loneliness of living alone and fending for himself, or amongst other old people. And I know that if I were in my husband's place, I'd want to do the same for my parent and would expect complete support from my husband. And I don't have the time or effort to tell all my concerned well-wishers this. Sometimes I wish people thought a bit before spouting these statements. May be put themselves in my shoes before making these comments that don't achieve anything. I am not touched by their concern for me. I am just reminded of the complications that lie ahead and that does not really help. I'd rather focus on what colour curtains I plan to get in our new place.

Our plan is to be able to provide the best care we can for my FIL. We are also aware that we cannot always be the ones making sacrifices, so we are hoping to balance it out with some support (hopefully from the same concerned well-wishers :)) , and with the understanding that in some instances my FIL, despite his condition, may have to be the one to make a few compromises, go through some hardship, on account of us. And we're hoping to strike a happy balance. This is life.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Consumerism in science is at an all time high now. I'm getting a bit tired of all these zillion kits in the market for doing an experiment. So many different kinds of kits/reagents with fancy names and wrapping. So much redundancy. Like entering an aisle with 200 kinds of cereal to choose from, I just want to do a simple experiment..I shouldn't be so overwhelmed with choices, have to read through the fine print, pay heed to the disclaimers and caveats, and feel so boggled. So much gloss. Long tutorials, webinars, "Field Application Scientists" come in and give long seminars and ply you with food and drink. But will not give straightforward answers. Big claims. I'd rather do things the good old home-made way, sometimes. Its harder to keep track of the goal when you get lost in these experimental details, sometimes limiting our experiment by what a kit can or can't do, or needs. We need to simplify doing experiments, not complicate.


Monday, March 14, 2011

While trying to stop myself from dozing off

at my desk, I resort to blogging to wake me up. I cannot believe I am so sleepy after a cup of coffee. Yet another reminder that I refuse to look in the eye ..that I need some serious exercise. :( My current goal is to work out thrice a week and so, I let today pass. Sigh. :(.

Listening to good music takes some effort. You need to seek good music, make a note of good bands/songs when you see hear them, and try to listen to more like them. Or have friends with good taste who point you to the good stuff. Or easy access to good live music. I miss those few good music influences I had in my life. So now I have settled for bollywood dhinchaak and a pop radio FM station. Both have become addictive just by nature of their repetitiveness. The bollywood stuff is peppy and upbeat, at least. The radio channel I listen to plays the crappiest music. But I find myself humming some of those songs, and even searching for them on youtube when I feel like listening to them. Gosh.

I read this really terribly written book "Don't lose your mind lose your weight". Don't ask me what I am doing reading books like that in the first place. :D. Someone praised it to the skies and curiosity got better of me. The message of the book, and all the principles it recommends are all spot on. I hope to adopt some of them and live by them. Its the style in which the book was written that totally put me off. It was coarse, over-familiar, all kinds of really bad jokes scattered all over, the author (a nutritionist) constantly deriding the reader, mocking her clients - apparently that kind of style actually appeals to a lot of people. Not me, for sure.

She has paraphrased my thoughts on the horrible NYT story reporting the gang rape of a 11 year old in Cleveland, Texas. We have a long long way to go in social conditioning and response to crime and abuse against women. For starters, I wish media (in all forms- TV ads, bollywood movies, music videos) would stop the blatant objectification of women.

* Currently Listening To: Lady Gaga - complete with humming and head-bopping. Somebody, kill me.*

I am doing a lot better in the get to work early department. And am less allergic to the hostile work atmosphere that has taken form over the past several months. I am finally learning to pretend that the nasty people don't exist and stop feeling bad about the negativity, just focus on what I need to get done. Stop comparing and belittling myself. It helps that I am now finally getting some neat data, that is keeping me excited and motivated.

My sister always told me this :), but recently I was made to feel really conscious about how much I whine (not just on the blog, but in real life :)). I need to consciously curb it. I guess I have never worked on what I project outward- I say what's on my mind, my face always betrays my emotions even if I make an attempt to hide something. My fake nod and smile really doesn't go too far, except in keeping things non-confrontational. But I will have to learn some amount of modulation. Learn to desist when I'm tempted to confront and lash out, learn to sugar coat somethings, learn to not come across as whiny, even if I am indulging in what I think is just telling it as it is. All in the name of being professional. Hmm.

* Currently Listening to : "Dynamite". (some Taio Cruz) Sigh. :(

I have a lot of travel coming up, and I am excited about that. I go to a big meeting next month, get to show off a prestigious travel award that I won to go there, and my shiny new laptop bag that was a gift from a friend. :). And yes, some cool data also that will morph into a pretty poster soon. Later, I make the trip to Lutom that has been on the cards for a while now. I get to visit PhDAdv. and other profs, as well as hang out at a few of the places I frequented way back then in grad school. I am so excited about going back to visit!

I really, badly want a friend like Elaine. :D May be I should watch less TV and go out more. :)

My latest pet peeve is all the buggers that talk loudly on their cellphones in small restricted spaces like trains and buses. What the eff is up with them? It smacks of complete disregard, inconsideration and absolute self-absorption. These people in their loud shrill voices discussing their lives as if everyone else's lives would be enriched by listening to them, whether they want it or not. I have done the staring, glaring, asking people to tone it down and getting up and changing my seat. But it annoys the hell out of me. The latest addition to this is people who play their ipods loud enough for the entire compartment to hear their crappy music. Selfish bastards all.

Mountain of dishes beckons. Ta.

want you to make me I'm the only girl in the world......Rihanna- .yeah..that's how bad it is.

Monday, March 07, 2011

It's been a while

Life has been busy. I am reaching the point where I am getting overwhelmed and then paralyzed into inaction just because I am worried about all that I have to get done. It's not trivial. And I have 3.5 months left! Thats 14 weeks, of which 2-3 are going to be gone in traveling. So that leaves me 11-12 weeks. 11-12 weeks is really. not. much. time. :-o

Lab life has gotten quite unbearable. While earlier I used to complain about not having social lab mates, now it is downright hostile with one coworker- its an icky feeling to share my bay with this person now, and I hate being in the lab these days and keep looking forward to leaving as soon as I get in each day. What is worse is that I am letting this behaviour affect me and my productivity so much. There is nothing I can do to pander to another's insecurities or egos. It is out of my control and its not my problem. So I need to learn how to ignore this obnoxious behaviour and just get my work done. Hope I get the hang of it soon. All the unpleasantness apart, I am really glad I got to experience this - I have been lucky thus far in having awesome relationships with all my colleagues and having mostly wonderful people around me. I have faced little nastiness, come to think of it, especially on such a regular basis as this. This is a good taste of real world for me here.

I am preparing for an upcoming meeting I am going to in a month. This is probably my exit conference from the US, and I want to put to use all the stuff I learned about networking, planning my time at the conference etc. Lets see how it goes. I'm excited.p

I'm tired now. So much more to write but no patience to string together meaningful sentences.

Monday, February 28, 2011


Been corresponding with my Ph.D.Advisor regarding my job search in India....feels good just to be able to discuss stuff with her and enjoy her vote of confidence in me. She encourages me to take risks, saying that I am smart and if it tanks I can always get a job elsewhere. :)

Getting very irritated with my current boss, on the other hand. He walks up to my desk Monday noon asking "So, anything interesting over the weekend?". I wish I could have said, yeah, the interesting thing is that I didn't come to lab. Gah. Then I remember those periods PhDAdv. did similar stuff and how much i hated her for it then. :) My current boss will never come close to the place PhDAdv. has had in my life though, I am just drawing parallels between the annoying behaviours of bosses. :)

I don't fit into the R2I clubs that I am seeing online. These are people who have had full-fledged family lives here in the US, and are discussing taking back their sofas and matching lampshades back to India and have their companies paying for big ass containers so they can transplant their entire lives, mini-walmarts and costcos back to India. I have none of that kind of stuff to worry about. No 401Ks, no US-born kids for whom I have to worry about diapers and cartoon-character-bedsheets, no leather sofas, no artificial flowers to decorate my house (Because what you get in Michaels you can never find back in India) or tubes of toothpaste (because the toothpaste is too foamy in India) or any of that. Heck, I brought back Dabur Meswak with me when I came from my holiday to India last time. I plan to go back with 3 suitcases. (Will pay for that one extra), and hopefully have the remainder ferried back by a friend or two. Thats it. I do want to hold on to some of the stuff I already own- esp. camping gear and books and dvds, and those, as of now are the bulkiest things and are going to be the biggest pain to take back. :/ . But here is something cool I found on these R2I forums and wanted to share: A shipping company is organizing a donation drive, so that you can ship a box or two of gently used clothes/kids stuff- anything you'd want to donate towards charity and they will ship it to India for free. I found this great because I own tons of desi clothes that I didn't want to give to goodwill here because they seemed more suitable to Indian use. During my past trips I have taken and dumped some but they still keep piling up. I have to incur the cost of shipping my box to the collection center for this drive but that is a small price to pay. I am excited about getting a box ready to ship out to them!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

On integrity

I recently got to witness, first-hand, how someone's ego is so all-consuming, that they would be unwilling to admit a mistake they made to the extent that they'd let it go into records and eventual publication unaltered, just because they do not want to admit they were wrong. And that is how scientific malpractice can take form. If someone like a post-doc can be so full of themselves, one can only imagine how wide-spread and worse this kind of mentality is as one goes higher up, and leads to a lot of false and irreproducible results that get published. It may not make a difference to the bigger picture, but having come upon a mistake, don't you just fix it and move on? I am plain disgusted and put off.

Friday, February 25, 2011

I'm back and I'm not loving it

B left a couple days ago, and I have been resistant to resuming all the things I did before he came, because it only reminded me of the fact that I was back to my life-sans-B. I have been dragging my feet at work, resisting even calling him during our regular phone hours as I don't want to face our routine phone-call schedule when just few days ago we were enjoying time with each other in the same room without worrying about distances and time zones. Going to bed alone sucks, waking up alone and having to make my own chai myself sucks. Its amazing how two weeks can spoil you so easily. In short, it sucks to be back.

We had a splendid two weeks. Traveled, met up with friends, crossed a few things off our list. Almost like our married life has gone from one honeymoon to the next with 8 months of separation in between. To add that touch of reality to it I also managed to get sick, get slammed with an urgent submission deadline when I should have been on holiday, and B had to take care of a sick wife glued to her laptop. A close friend asked me how things were between us having met after so long. I have to say, in a very self-congratulatory tone, that I am quite proud of the way we have made it through this 18-month-long-and-still-counting LDR. I tend to give a bit more credit to B, because left to me, I'd have done things a bit differently. He has, in his own little ways, made sure we're very much in tune with each others lives even though we are apart, still managing to retain a healthy balance in our respective individual lives. While I would've probably taken a bit more distant, self-preserving approach to it. This is not my first LDR, and ghosts of the past have off and on played on my mind through this one. That said, we've figured out a way that has worked great for us and meeting after 8 months and picking up has been seamless and effortless. We definitely noticed and had to deal with subtle changes in each other, that crept in from living in different places and evolving differently over the past many months. More so in B thanks to his readjustment to R2I. But that cannot be is pretty much par for the course.

Dropping him off at the airport was a tad easier this time than it was the last time I had to do it- but I still managed to put little crying snotty kids at the airport to shame with my unabashed water works. :D Coming home to the cold lonely apartment sucked. We are now slipping back into our routine LDR, whether we like it or not, and I imagine I will be consumed by work over the next 4 months by which time we can pack this up for good :).

Friday, February 04, 2011


In preparation of my husband's arrival from India, I have.....the dirty dishes and laundry waiting. Because compared to me, he lives like a king in Bombay, what with Kantabai to do his cooking and Meenabai to do his cleaning. Therefore....

The weather sucks. From beautiful snow we have gone to slick icy surfaces and all the snow piled up and frozen into ice mountains on every block and corner. Today I slipped and fell on my butt. Falling in snow doesn't hurt as much, but falling on ice/concrete is no fun. But my biggest worry was if my nice expensive jacket was ok. It was. :)

The cabbies in my area continue to surprise me. Every now and then I'll get a grumpy cabbie always trying to fleece me, and then every then and now i'll get an honest, chatty, helpful, sincere cabbie. Today was a nice cabbie day. :)

How social media has messed up our real-world relationships. We are now capable of causing hurt to people in that many more ways, thanks to blogging/facebooking/tweeting. You can be hyperactive on facebook and not return your friend's calls and they will feel bad. You can reciprocate to facebook wishes before phone calls and offend someone. You can bitch about someone on twitter in as vague a way as possible and that person will get to know of it. You can discuss life on your blog and not even be thinking about your best friend who happens to read your blog, and the best friend will take it personally. The written word has a stronger impact sometimes than the things you say, do, or don't. And, funnily enough, as we intentionally or unintentionally alienate and hurt these real-world friends, we find ourselves cultivating stronger bonds with virtual acquaintances. For the virtual ones are that much more convenient. There's no baggage. They are more in touch with you because they have read your latest rant/outburst. They "get" you. And, you can shut them up by simply clicking on a tiny x.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011


Things have been one stress after the other. As soon as I was done with my talk I was slammed with the deadline to submit the review article I was working on. In the meantime, I had promised my niece that I would visit her on the weekend, having not seen her in almost 2 months now, and I was having a tough time seeing how I could live up to my words as I sat at home working through Sunday. But what can you do when a 5 yo calls you and leaves a message on your cellphone that says "TGFI pinni, this is me Kavita speaking. You said you would be here Sunday morning and its afternoon now and I don't know where you are so please call back". ?? Of course I had to go. Her face broke into a huge grin when I showed up, even if at 4 pm giving us precious little time. I spent a few hours playing with her, and as I began packing my things up to leave early next morning, she pleaded with me "Why can't you stay here and work from home? You can do some experiments on my weather station". Her latest science-gift she got for christmas. :) If only.

The review out of the way, I finally breathed easy and unwound last evening. The first thing that came to my mind, when I finally had a moment to relax and not feel the stress of some urgent to-do task, was how much I am missing B and how hard this LDR is. We have come up with our own definition of LDRs, and as per that, people have to be separated by at least a coast to claim LDR status. Weekend couples who live in Pune/Bombay or NY/Boston are just couples in SDRs. They have it too easy. :p

The sense of urgency is back at work, and will probably remain so until June. BUT, the most awesome-est news ever is that B is visiting me this weekend for a whole two weeks! Yeah! I'm taking a week off work and we're going to do some traveling, meeting up friends, and such. His trip calendar has already filled up- and we're trying to walk the tightrope between fitting in too many "things to do", "Friends to meet" and just spending some good quality time with each other. I have finally begun getting excited about getting to see him after six months. As we're telling friends and making plans its nice to see the excitement spread and his friends changing plans and making night-long bus rides to come see him. Part of our plans when B is here is to go and surprise a very good friend of his. It is becoming harder to keep this surprise what with the way everybody is everybody's (facebook) friend and B finding it very hard to curtail his excitement. :D This is going to be fun. My boss granted me a week off very willingly, saying that I have been working hard and I should spend time with my husband, what with us having been apart for so long. This is the same boss that didn't okay 1.5 days off when I wanted to go to California for my birthday. Oh well. I am definitely not complaining right now.

Of course, needless to say, the blog will be quiet for the next two weeks :).

Sunday, January 30, 2011


As soon as B and I start living together, this is the kind of stuff I look forward to,

* To be able to say, when any friend is trying to make plans with me "I'll check with my husband and get back to you"

* To be able to nag nag nag my husband. Yeah! I love!

* To be generally unavailable to friends on the pretext of wanting to be with my husband, nurse a sick husband, entertain relatives, being busy doing couple stuff etc etc.

* To be able to put the phone on speaker in the midst of a phone conversation and let my husband be privy to everything my poor unsuspecting friend is saying

* Ofcourse, to reply to gtalk conversations from my husband's friends saying "Hey this is me TGFI on his computer. hee hee".

* To sign off birthday wishes to other friends with "TGFI & B"

Can't wait.

Friday, January 28, 2011

This I'll miss..

I love the snow. I love how it transforms the whole place into this white landscape. And sitting indoors, with hot chai and a nice book, while it is snowing outside. I love the sight of snowflakes flitting to the ground slowly - especially watching it from my huge windows in the lab. I am looking forward to building a snowman this weekend with my niece. This past week I spent two nights in the lab, one of them was during the heavy snowstorm. It was almost surreal to be up all night, seeing the snow fall and by daylight you could see just how much of it had piled up within no time. The snow plough trucks were up and about early, working hard, keeping the road clear of snow, only ending up shoving it all to the sides, boxing the parked cars in. I watched with fascination as a guy dug his car out of the snow today. Poor guy. He was at it for more than an hour. Patiently shoveling the snow off, throwing it across on the road. After a whole hour and more, he had cleared it up enough to get into his car but when he started the car, it wouldn't make it out of there. Finally some passer by helped him out with it. I was so glad someone helped him. And I'm even more glad I don't own a car. :)

In other news I had my talk today. It went well. My labmate, who is a super-efficient machine of sorts, went up before me. Her talk was superbly polished, very very data-heavy and, in my opinion, reflected the work of two post-docs. :) I had nothing to match up to. But I went up and did my thing. Gave my shpeil. I was very upfront about the fact that the machine broke down a month ago and my samples weren't processed. Then I just talked about my other project which is also straggling. A couple people came up to me and said nice job, and I got a few suggestions and questions. So I will be happy with that. I think that in itself is a huge step for me. The fact that I am managing to be happy and not beat myself up into misery about how my lab-mates talk was so much better than mine, chock-ful of data and how I had such little data. Of course I did agonize about all of that in the days leading to the talk, but I'm not going to flog myself over it. I am sure my time will come. And I am glad I went up and gave the talk, despite it being so data-poor, and I am glad I am dealing with it well, unlike last year, when the exact same thing happened and I remember how much self-flogging I indulged in. I remember walking home in the cold pouring rain, tears streaming down my face and hating myself and questioning all my abilities the day before the talk. All I could think of was, that I had quit my 1st post-doc after a year with no data, and then I had spent a year here with no data. I think my self-esteem was terribly battered thanks to leaving the 1st post-doc. This year things are a bit different- first, the whole machine breakdown thing is not my fault. Had it not happened, I'd have some blazing data by now. That is part of what's keeping me up. Of course, if I wanted to, I could get into "But still, what about Project B- you should have worked more on that and had more data on that". I can almost hear a tiny voice in my head say that. But I have managed to make that voice stfu.

This is my last talk at this dept, and I had hoped to wow people with all kinds amazing stuff and the cure to cancer. It was far from that. But, I must say, I have achieved a personal milestone of sorts. Finally learning to rise up and above the "beat the crap out of yourself" syndrome that I was suffering from for the longest time. That is what I'm proud of, and I can strongly feel that I am very consciously beginning to get rid of that attitude, learn to be easy on myself and respect myself. In other words, I have mastered the art of slacking off and not being ashamed of it. :D

Monday, January 24, 2011


Last night was my first ever all-nighter in this lab. After almost 2 years of being here! Yeah! Just the other day, I was bemoaning to a friend how I can no longer do these and I miss that feeling of accomplishment at dawn after one finishes an all-nighter and is riding the bus home as everyone else is coming in to work. :)

As I walked back home this morning at 7 AM and the cold draft hit my face, I thought I was ready to turn around and go right back to lab. But when I got into my warm apartment, the bed beckoned. 3 hours of sleep later, I am getting ready to go for the next shift. This is how it feels when you feel good and you feel like crap, at the exact same time.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


So I have been OD-ing on my Seinfeld DVD set for the past many weeks- less than a month since I got it and I am already done with the first five seasons. I totally love Kramer and Elaine is just the kind of person I wish I had for a friend. In fact, I've been seeing so much of it that sometimes when I'm at work I think of the situation and imagine how Elaine would've reacted. She is slowly morphing into an imaginary friend. :) I am also getting to enjoy the show in a renewed way now, having lived here and getting all the references to the city etc. much more than when I used to see it earlier while i lived in India and lutom. The downside of this show is that it makes it look perfectly ok to sit around all the time, drinking coffee and eating at Tom's restaurant, discussing complete non-issues with friends and gossiping about everything. I more and more want that life instead of mine. :/

P.S: Completely off-topic and random but I felt the immense need to record for the sake of it: I just learned that "warts and all" is a phrase to mean the good and bad included. I'm cracking up because I have seen this being used on a few occasions in reference to the same topic- being the city of Philadelphia. A few people, including Sujatha on my blog said to me on independent occasions "Oh I like Philadelphia, warts and all" or something to that effect. Then, it got me confused- i thought there was some reference to a wart-like-structure in the city of Philly that I had never heard of. So I probed but only got vaguer replies. A google search for Warts and philadelphia brought up various things like skin cancer and genital warts, but surely, this is not what people were referring to when they commented on the city? So I let it go, and when I left Philly, although I had seen my share of figurative warts, I felt sad that I never discovered these warts that everyone was talking about. Oh well. Now I know.

And now I shall stop wasting time.


Friday, January 21, 2011


The stress is setting in. And I am aware that I might be making it out to be more than what it is. But thats the way it is. A friend once told me I thrive on stress. If I don't stress like crazy, I totally let loose and unwind and don't get anything done. Or, at least I'm afraid that will happen. So I have to keep feeling this horrible overhanging tension, terror, feel like I have gotten nothing done and what not.

But the truth is that I have been working hard the past few months. It hasn't come together at the end, in time for this talk, the way I was really hoping it would. And that is really not my fault. The machine is broken. So I will have to let it go at that. Eventually I will have all this wonderful data that I can analyze for bigger reasons such as a publication- which is really what the end goal is.

And then, the overwhelming worry of not being able to give a good talk- of feeling small in front of the classy audience that is always giving great talks...I need to just get it out of my system. It is inconsequential. I go up there, I talk about what I have for 15 minutes, end of story. A great talk with awesome data would get some oohs. Mostly, though, people are thinking about pizza after. And what am I so worried about making an impression with the crowd that I am going to be a part of for only another few months? It does not matter. There are bigger and better and more important milestones, and I need to keep the big picture in mind and stop psyching myself out into feeling like crap.

SO THERE. I woke up this morning badly feeling the need for a pep talk of some kind- i think I have given it to myself. I need to shake it off, go about my list, not worry about outcome, and not worry about how the talk will reflect on me. Its not the be all and end all of my academic trajectory: far from.

A letter

To whomever this may concern,

Fuck you.

And that is all.


I feel much better

Monday, January 17, 2011


I have realised I enjoy working after hours and weekends in the lab because I can play the music at loud volume and my annoying coworker is not in my way. But it is still not the most productive way for me to function so I need to stop letting her get under my skin.

Some of the things that annoy me about her: the way she clangs and bangs equipment and stuff around as she goes bustling about in a big rush. The way she hogs all the machines at the same time and thinks its ok if she leaves post-it notes on them saying that she will be using them all day. The way she gets horribly defensive while discussing her data at lab meeting. The way she completely ignores other people discussing their data or presenting their problems at lab meeting- she is busy making her to-do lists or staring into space. I find that very very offensive. The way she never looks at you when you talk to her- just goes about her work, won't take her eyes off her computer screen or whatever she is doing, and answer in short monosyllables. Her complete lack of participation as a team-member. And finally, the ways in which she has tried to screw me over and create a distasteful lab environment over the past few months. Aargh.

I had a setback last week in my experiments that took a lot of head-scratching and trouble shooting and a few near-heart-attack type episodes as I was trying to get things under control. I think I have caught up over this weekend, at least identified the problem and now I'm back in the running. Less than two weeks to go for my presentation, so I'm hoping things continue to come together. I still have a long way to go. But at least things are working now.

I still haven't finished the review. :( But I feel like I have it under control.

I agonized so much over buying this expensive jacket last winter. We were half way through the winter then and I wasn't sure if I was going to be here for one more whole winter season after that. But well- I bought it anyway, and here I am, roughing it through one more whole season. The coat has come in very handy, so I 'm glad I caved in and bought it. It is super comfortable- it's like walking in a cosy snugly fitting sleeping bag. :) I love it! It's what inspires me to brave the elements and get out in the cold everyday. :)

Over and out.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Auto stories

B has several blog-worthy stories of his R2I experiences that I desist from blogging simply out of respect to his privacy :). We both grew up in Bombay at a time when it was so easy to go out on the street and get an auto to wherever you need to go. I also remember loving the auto-wallahs because you could often strike up a conversation with them- on politics, on the city, and such. But since B returned to India last year things are not the same. Auto-wallahs will deign you with a ride only if your destination is convenient to them. The horrible traffic situation, the effed up bombay roads are all part of the problem. Since his R2I, B has had a love-hate relationship with the autos. He has gone from hating the auto-wallahs who refuse to go where you want them to, to boycotting them and insisting on taking the bus every day back from work just because he hates having to beg and plead with a dozen auto- wallahs each time before anyone agrees- to befriending Naushad- the autowallah, who, after picking him on the street outside his lane at the same time for a few consecutive days in the morning became his friend and started coming and waiting outside B's building every morning to take him to work. The last story totally warmed the cockles of my heart and Naushad soon featured in our daily conversation, until, recently, he got a coveted job in the Gulf and left. :(.

B's latest skirmish with the autowallahs was quite something, so I'm blogging it with his permission. He had a flight to catch one evening out of the domestic airport, and after getting off the train, found it impossible to get an auto willing to come to the airport. After getting frustrated and worried about missing his flight, he just decided to walk it up to the airport (a ~ 20 min walk). He walked through the dirt and grime and dodged all the traffic - of course, that area is totally unsuitable to walk through- and when he was inside the airport complex, an auto kept stalking him. He shook him away a couple times but this guy wouldn't let go. B finally told him that he needed to go to the airport and he was already there- to which the auto guy says "Nai saab main paisa nahin loonga, aap ko bas chodh doonga - udhar havaldar mujhe pakdega agar main khaali auto leke wahaan gaya to". :) !!