Friday, December 30, 2005
Walked into the lab at 9.30, relatively early for a Saturday morning, and as expected nobody else showed up for atleast an hour. I'm now alone in the lab again.
It's so hard to get back after a month long break.
I seem to have chosen the perfect time to do so - the entire department will be under review for the next three days, so all the principal investigators (read Scientist-types) are under pressure right now. Students have been given exactly four days to prepare posters and set them up to show the Reviewers what their labs have been doing for the last five years. It's a high-stress situation, and in typical departmental style students have been asked to put up their posters tomorrow, that is Sunday.
A weekend? What's that? A productive day squandered away catching up on sleep.
I say typical because we've almost begun to believe that holidays are a luxury. Seminars have been organized on Sundays on previous occasions, and students have been called to attend an hour long lecture on National Holidays. Regularly.
A couple of months ago I was at the lab every other Sunday. I didn't even show up grudgingly- the immense guilt from failing repeatedly at an experiment and not procuring the desired result would keep me pushing myself to try harder. Not that it is a bad thing to persevere at an experiment, but I think some acceptance of the likelihood of every experiment not working out as desired was long overdue.
Sooner or later most students fall into a state of self-acceptance- irrespective of what your boss thinks, there's only so much you can do, and there's no point getting upset over failed experiments. I was asked by various seniors to take it easy, as the only predictable thing about research was that at any given point in time, a certain number of experiments will always fail, for reasons absolutely unfathomable to either you or your boss.
I'm not entirely convinced yet, but I'm getting there.
And as for how I'll be bringing in the new year, you can be sure I won't be doing anything remotely exciting. No parteh, no booze, no drunken calls in the middle of the night. Just hanging out with Roswitha, which is fun enough for me.
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
After the shoot-out at the JN TATA auditorium at the Indian Institute of Science at Bangalore yesterday, anything's possible.
I remember attending an Institute-wide meeting to discuss changes in Security, organised by our Director (at TIFR) Professor Sabyasachi Bhattacharya around two months ago. Most of us couldn't comprehend why that meeting was necessary, and wondered if the Director was being overcautious. Apparently not.
The deceased was a retired professor at IIT Delhi, who was attending a conference at Bangalore. Oook informs me that Prof. Puri had actually heard the first round of firing and pushed a girl down to protect her, but got caught in the next round. The firing was indiscriminate, and four others were injured.
Why would anybody pick on Scientists? They're such a harmless lot. I don't see why anybody (apart from their graduate students) would want to murder a Research scientist.
Then again, considering this was a terrorist attack, the intention was just to scare the shit out of ordinary people instead of a directed killing. As usual, they seem to have succeeded.
Most of the news channels have been harping on about how Bangalore was targeted because it is India's IT hub. I dont' really get what a scientific research institution would have to do with the IT industry. Agreed, the international conference Prof Puri was attending was on IT, but I think that's stretching the connection a bit.
All the drama that's been taking up everyone's energy in TIFR regarding the restructuring of the institute will probably be overshadowed for a bit by panic over this incident.
After all, TIFR is a National Centre for Research in Nuclear Physics and Mathematics. And our institute security leaves a lot to be desired.
Should we be worried?
Monday, December 26, 2005
What did you do in 2005 that you'd never done before?
Did you keep new year's resolutions and will you make more next year?
No, but that won't stop me from making more next year.
Did anyone close to you give birth?
Nope. A few cousins did, but I'm not close enough to them to really be affected by their having offspring. (what is the relevance of this question, I wonder)
Did anyone close to you die?
*crosses fingers* Thankfully not.
What countries did you visit?
None whatsoever, just like the previous 21 years of my life.
What would you like to have in 2006 that you lacked in 2005?
A relationship with my boss which does not involve running out of the lab as soon as she enters. Oh also an iPod, a digital camera, and a social life.
What dates from 2005 will remain etched in your memory and why?
My birthday for being spectacularly uneventful. And December 3rd, for a terrace party that left me with a broken foot.
What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Getting authorship in my first (and by the looks of it, last) scientific paper. Going from being non-descript and unnoticed to being infamous and universally loathed at my institute.
What was your biggest failure this year?
Achieving exactly one valuable scientific result on my project. Also, I sucked bigtime as a friend. Sorry M, S, S and A. :(
Did you suffer illness or injury?
Yes- my first fracture ! *squee* The arthritis and allergies have always been around.
What was the best thing you bought?
Tickets to Independence Rock 2005.
Whose behaviour merited celebration?
All those people who helped out post-tsunami and Mumbai floods.
Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Most P.I.'s at my department.
What did you spend most of your spare cash on?
Food...and booze! :D
What did you get really, really excited about?
All India Radio
What song will always remind you of 2005?
Kajra Re. The single most played song everywhere this year.
Compared to this time last year are you happier or sadder?
Thinner or fatter?
Fatter. Barely, though.
Richer or poorer?
Poorer. One would think that the raise in my stipend would make me richer, but I don't see any of that money. :/
What do you wish you'd done more of?
Taken time off to hang out with friends.
What do you wish you'd done less of?
Spend time online!
How will you be spending Christmas?
Squatting on the couch watching TeeVee, like every other day in the last three weeks
Did you fall in love in 2005?
How many one-night-stands?
I wonder when I will be able to give a non-zero answer to this question.. :P
What was your favorite TV programme?
What wasn't? Desperate housewives, Faking it, Wife Swap, I've religiously watched it all.
Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
Subhash Ghai, for making Kisna.
What was the last book you read?
Bill Bryson's I'm a stranger here myself.
What was your greatest musical discovery?
What did you want and get?
A long break from work, though it wasn't exactly planned.
What did you want and not get?
What was your favorite film this year?
Let's see - I watched Black, My wife's murder, Kisna, Kung-Fu Hustle and Harry Potter and the GoF at the theaters. Not too much to pick from. I pick Monty Python and the quest for the Holy Grail, which I watched for the first time this year.
What did you do on your birthday and how old are you?
Sat at a window and watched the light drizzle on a sunday afternoon. I'm 22.
What one thing would've made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
More employed, generous cousins visiting from distant cities who're eager to sponsor their kid sister's nightclub outings.
How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2005?
What kept you sane?
Walks by the sea-face at TIFR.
Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Johnny Depp *sigh*
What political issue has stirred you the most?
None. I refuse to invest any thought into politics.
Who did you miss?
Who was the best new person you met this year?
Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2005.
You can't wait for things to happen to you.
Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
I still haven't found what I'm looking for.
Saturday, December 24, 2005
I've never really 'celebrated' christmas, but have always associated fun memories with it.
In school (Canossa Convent High school) we'd have a great class party on Christmas Eve where we got to wear 'coloured clothes' (the only other time being your birthday, in primary school) . We also had to carry along a gift, and there would be a random exchange of gifts between students which I think made it a lot more exciting - you never knew if you were going to get a snazzy pencil-box from someone or a bar of soap. I have recieved both.
In Junior college at St. Xavier's, I was the only non-catholic in a group of twenty or so friends. I knew all the important religious (christian) occasions, and was very envious of all the 'dances' and parties my friends went to.
I still am.
Christmas during Senior College was highly anticipated for an entirely different reason- Mood Indigo!
I remember the first Mood Indigo I went for- with a bunch of snooty over-achievers (I happened to know a couple of them) who won most literary arts/dram events.
I was actually thankful for being able to hang out with 'such cool people'.
Though a lot of people in that group met each other for the first time, I was the only one not invited to a party held a few days later at one of their houses.
Cool people more often than not live up to the cliched expectation that they will be cruel people.
The next time round was a lot more fun.
I was with people who cared about me, and were most importantly, not conceited. Not that they weren't over-achievers who won every event. :) I have also met some of the most fun people I know at MI!
Also, Mood I never fails to deliver when it comes to wacky incidents. For all the noise I make about the IITian stare, I have to admit that I enjoyed the attention... :D
There was no dearth of drama going around, but it wouldn't be half as fun an experience without it.
Watching Bruce perform at Livewire, (accidentally, i swear!) walking into a guy's room while he was standing in front of a mirror, combing his hair, wearing only the bare essentials (my brother tells me it's a common sight in Hostels- yikes!) , spending chilly nights walking around the LT lawns and the SAC grounds, singing songs around a fire, attending any damn event I felt like, (because I knew most people organising the events and got away with walking in bang in the middle of it), and even participating in a few, sleeping in the lounge of a hostel on really uncomfortable sofas, being asked by strangers if we needed 'male company', and subsisting on virtually nothing apart from Maggi.
Sigh, those were the days!
The next year, when a busy week at TIFR prevented me from attending MI, i was deeeeeee-pressed.
Although I do believe it's time I got over it all.
The College-festival charm is finally beginning to wear off.
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Meerut's Gandhi park is not the best place to put your arm around your girlfriend. Or talk to your brother. Or take a stroll with your husband.
Unless you fancy getting repeatedly slapped in the face by two butch policewomen, Madhu Malti and Mamta Gautam, who are out to curb immoral behaviour by capturing wayward adults in the act (of taking a walk).
It gets better- all of this was a planned, sanctioned police operation called 'Operation Majnu'. Girls were slapped in front of both print and electronic media persons (ready with their video cameras) to put a stop to Eve - teasing. Hilarious, Wot?
I don't get it. Were they expecting us to laud their behavior?
Wow! We're so thankful for these female cops, brave upholders of our morality who're not hesitant to put us on the right path by beating the immoral thoughts out of us. Not.
I always felt that a woman is another woman's worst enemy, but this is ridiculous.
This has been a wonderfully regressive year for indians, as far as Morality (I hate that word!) goes.The Meerut incident, Responses to Khushboo and Sania's opinions (and retractions in the latter case) on pre-marital sex, the Anna University Dean's ban on denim (or any other kind of)pants for women. Ugh.
And then of course, the hanging (edit: Upside down from a tree) of a youth in Patna, for eloping with his maternal aunt, and making her hold the rope by which he was suspended.
Where do we go from here?
Friday, December 16, 2005
My dad was never very well-to-do as a kid. In fact, he had little or no pocket money. Yet, he had his indulgences, most of which he carried over to adulthood...For example, his love of Comic Books.
Sad Sack, Archie, Richie Rich, Litte Lotta, Dot, a very respectable Amar Chitra Katha collection, Phantom, Mandrake, An insanely large MAD magazine collection, Tintin, Asterix and Obelix, and some obscure shit like Howard the Duck, Laurel and Hardy, Bozo the Clown, Madame Xanadu (*shudders at the mention of her name*), Brain-child and Metalmen, to name a few. No Chacha Chaudhary or Champak, thankfully. There was also a lot of Chandamama, but that's all in Madras now.
I love it all.
Equally, if not more fascinating were the Advertisements. Indian ads in the Amar chitra katha weren't half as hilarious as their counterparts in Richie Rich and the likes.
One of my favourite ads were those for The Amazing Live sea monkeys (1978).
As a (particularly stupid) Kid, I *wanted* them.
Ridiculous product, Great marketing.
This is straight off the ad:
It's AMAZING! Just add Sea-Monkey eggs to prepared water, look in the bowl and see LIVE BABY SEA MONKEYS (Artemia) swimming around. Now simply GROW and ENJOY the most ADORABLE, entertaining pets you've ever owned.
My favourite part:
SO EAGER TO PLEASE- THEY CAN EVEN BE TRAINED!
They swim, play, scoot, race and do comical tricks and stunts. Best of all, we show you how to make them appear to obey your commands, follow a beam of light, do loop-the-loops and even seem to dance when you play a record or tape.
Only $1 25 cents.
Apparently it's patented!
It only gets better- the Sea Monkeys were allegedly part of an Important NASA experiment.
I'm sorry, this is just too precious.
Also, if you really want to entertain yourself, there's a whole set of sea-monkey accessories, just like Barbie had her dollhouse(s).
Fancy walking around with your own live pets? Get yourself a Sea-monkey watch!
This has got to be the winner:
The Amazing Live Sea-Monkeys®Space Shuttle Expedition™
For over 40 years, Sea-Monkeys have always had the Right Stuff! Everyone knows Sea-Monkeys are experienced time-travelers, but did you know they've also traveled to outer space? Sea-Monkeys have been safely used in several NASA microgravity experiments and over 400 million of them have flown with John Glenn!
• Built-in red LED "cockpit" light for night flying
• Requires two AAA batteries (not included)
• Sturdy tank based on NASA Space Shuttle Discovery design
• Built-in Water Oxygenator
Too much... :D
Finally, what makes a Sea-Monkey? I warn you, it's a very unglamourous answer.......
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
I start cleaning/rearranging things.
Meticulously, to the point of obsessing over them. Like today. I spent ninety minutes cleaning my keyboard. Why do I do this? It keeps me occupied. You know, distracted.
Get on the Frump.
I step into my frumpiest outfits. Which is kinda easy to do, since most of my wardrobe is frump. At night, I step into the Nighties. Yes, the frilly ones.
Eyebrows head toward my scalp, calves have plaitable hair. I *ask* my mum to oil my hair.
I stop caring.
Lap up that milkshake.
Kinda predictable, I know. Chocolate, Milkshakes, Chips, the usual.
Four chapatis instead of two, followed by ......more food!
Comfort food is really my kinda thing. And it doesn't help when your mom is a GOD cook.
Go away! I mean it!
I get really antisocial. Much worse than PMS. When i'm PMSing, I want to scratch people's eyes out. When I'm depressed , I don't care enough to even think horrible things about those people.
I can go days without stepping out of my house.
I'm the resident expert at this. Exactly why i dread having time to spare. I end up thinking not very pleasant things. All those unhappy memories come back in a flash, and since I'm antisocial at this point, I have a LOT of time to think things over. And arrive at the same self-deprecating solutions to every problem.
Watch hours and hours of mindless TV.
Mediocre movies, Inane soaps, Oprah, ridiculous reality shows and hour after hour of Vh1. There's no stopping me. The only breaks are the ones taken to let my mom catch some of her own mindless shows.
Destroy stuff important to me.
As has been mentioned earlier on this blog, I cut up a certificate.
I've also torn out journal entries and burned them, and mass-deleted mails that I've immediately regretted.
What I'm not likely to do:
Seem to have forgotten how to do it.
I haven't read a single line in the last two days. Before that, i was reading two books simultaneously. The only thing i can palate now is comics.
Cannot do any work-related reading up. Shirk it out of the fear that I'll realise how the sorry state of my project is entirely my own doing.
Listen to noisy music to help me unwind.
I haven't listened to *any* music in the last two days.
This is easily my biggest problem. I would worry because the parents were always staying up with me. Luckily for me they've now begun to crash irrespective of my state of wakefulness.
Drown My Sorrows.
I've never been one of those people who can drink away gloom. I like to drink when I'm happy.. :)
Remember recent resolutions.
See last post...:D
I haven't been sad in a long, long time. I think I needed this.
And please don't mail /call to ask if I'm ok. Because I am.
Sunday, December 11, 2005
Thanks for the fun round of monopoly yesterday, and more importantly for entertaining the sick child- Irshad, Ashwan, Dylan and Kaustubh.. :)
Gonna spend the next fortnight trying to complete the three books I've started reading, watch more mindless movies, and maybe devote a little thought to my work , which I have avoided entirely till now.
Friday, December 09, 2005
Quick update on the foot:
The pain has not entirely gone away, and more blood clots are developing near my toes- the result: a scary bluish foot that has my mother worried. This has also led to her insisting on me following the doc's instructions- that my foot should be raised to a higher level than the rest of my body- all in all , a very entertaining sight, I must say.
Was watching a tackily made Discovery channel documentary called The Real Eve last night, that traces the migration of our ancestors out of Africa into the rest of the world using Mitochondrial DNA, when I remembered a discussion that propped up at a student presentation around a month ago at TIFR.
The student was talking about the process of spermiogenesis, or sperm formation in the Testis. Now the spermatids are all attached to each other while developing, and junctions form between them that allow the exchange of certain proteins between adjoining sperm.
We all know that sperms are haploid, i.e. they contain only one sex chromosome, and the kind of sex chromosome it contains determines whether the zygote (fertilized egg) will be male or female.
The genes present on X and Y chromosomes are not identical, and some of the genes present on the X chromosome code for proteins that are vital for the development of sperms, i.e., sperms containing a Y chromosome would not complete their normal development if the bridges connecting them to adjoining sperms containing an X chromosome did not facilitate the shuttling of these vitals proteins.
This prompted one of my professors to remark, "Yet another example of the redundancy of men in nature and how they cannot do anything without women"... :)
Thursday, December 08, 2005
In fact, I regretted not having paid the nominal sum of Rs.40/- for booze about three seconds after walking into the party.
I do believe that the party wouldn’t have been as much fun if people weren’t high-n-happy.
I, for one, was highly entertained by all the innovative dance moves being unleashed by the inebriated men on the dance floor. What I was NOT amused with was the scene of Grad students drinking out of a bottle they were walking around with, and spitting the alcohol into the air. Please, let’s not watch the Brahmagupta terrace turn into a Desi Daru Bar again.
I was mildly thrilled to watch people from different departments interact without the usual hang-ups we seem to have in our social interactions (ranging from saying nothing to each other to making stalker-like conversation/gestures).
But, of course, things could not stop there.
Students had to proceed to take videos/photos of only the girls dancing.
They also had to sidle up to dance with girls who had clearly expressed their disinterest on previous occasions: This is a pointer for one particular guy who will be reading this: Wake up. We do not live in a Hindi movie. Antagonizing a girl to the point of scaring her will not make her fall in love with you. This seems to have evaded you entirely till now. It’s not too late. Get your act together soon!
Getting back to the issue: Everything is fine when done in Moderation (Well, most things are). Not to sound preachy and all, but when you’re at a social gathering where some people are not comfortable with all the booze freely flowing, you can act as silly as you want with each other, as long as it does not involve them.
How am I dealing with my boredom?
Mindless movie count:
Girl with a pearl earring
Bride and Prejudice...I know, I know. I was bored.
Countless HBO/star movies matinee movies.
And YAY! it's Jimmy's Birthday.. :)
Currently listening to: L.A. woman.
Monday, December 05, 2005
My first fracture. And therefore, my first cast!
My first afternoon spent asleep on the couch-its the most uncomfortable couch ever. I suppose the climb up the stairs must've worn me out..
My first cute doctor. I think I have a crush on him!
It must've been the deft yet gentle manner in which he cleansed my foot with tincture and went on to wrap it with a fiberglass cast.
There's something incredibly sexy about a man who pretends not to notice your calf stubble despite working a couple of inches away from it. OMG!
Ok, I just grossed myself out there.
And he smiles at me, like, all the time!
*turns into giggly doe-eyed teen*
In other news, I’m beginning to get very bored. Moving out of the house is completely ruled out for the next week, and I really struggled while climbing the stairs to get back home today. The good news is a lot of friends have already promised to come visit….
*and if you haven’t yet, this is a very not-subtle hint*
Bring on the Monopoly boards!
Currently listening to:
Natchithiram Natchathiram unnudaiya Kannil
Chandrianum Suriyanum unnudauya kaiyil
Unakenna Vaazhkai undaa
Annai madi annamai madi unnudaiya paarvai
Patti thottiyellam unnudaiya Sevai
Inbam thunbam irandum pennidam.
Oho ho Kavithai paayum Selvi !
Kanavu thorum Selvi !
That's the theme song of the Tamil serial my parents watch. I have no music. My computer has no music stored on it whatsoever. Thank you for taking the hint..:)
Saturday, December 03, 2005
Good news, the *charming* doc said…only ONE bone fractured.
Forgive me if I’m not bursting with joy, Doc. I’m slightly preoccupied with the THROBBING pain in my now broken Metatarsal.
Luckily for me, I got a ride back home from a very kind Post doctoral fellow in my lab, and made it back last night at around one.
Not that the party was a complete disaster though. It was refreshing to see a somewhat normal interdepartmental interaction at TIFR…save for the occasional drunk guy who would try to get a little too close to the women on the dance floor…and there were a couple of really disgusting guys whipping out their digicams to take photos of the girls.
One guy even snapped away at the (absolutely snap-worthy) fifty year old postdoc who dropped me home…unfortunately for him, she’s the no-nonsense type and gave him a piece of her mind.
For the rest of the evening after my ‘unfortunate accident’, I sat with my foot wrapped in a dupatta holding ice, in the futile hope that the inflammation would subside.
But no, my obvious ‘indisposition’ wasn’t enough to stop a couple of scarily drunk guys who (with who I had obviously never conversed before last night) told me that I was allowed to leave my chappal back and dance with them.
Any attempt to display my inflamed foot to get the point across graphically were met with responses such as ”I’m drunk”….and?!!
Somebody who had contributed to my general grumpiness over the last two weeks came up to me and apologized, going away before I could say apology accepted. So, if you’re reading this, APOLOGY ACCEPTED… :)
I’m impressed with the organizers. Despite all of this, I actually had fun last night…
The kind stranger-postdoc who came and gave me ice for my foot..my friends, who got me a plate full of food and soft drinks before I even asked them..my department students who got me an analgesic cream, tablets, a crepe bandage..and the poor girls who virtually carried me down from the terrace to the car… Thank you all..:)
Here’s to more terrace parties (hopefully without any more broken bones)!
I’m going to be out of action for about three weeks atleast..the doc has currently wrapped a crepe bandage around my foot, and says he wants to wait before putting a cast on, as my Rheumatoid arthritis could flare up if my leg remains stiff for too long…but I expect him to put a cast on by wednesday..:(
I had to cancel my Night Sky Observation trip though.. :'(
Expect me to post a lot more often now, Voice Within!