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! :)