Saturday, January 21, 2006
The things scientists do to entice prospective grad students! *sigh*
Universities in the States encourage senior grad students to take the first year students out (all expenses covered by the university) and ensure that each student settles down well into their university.
Things work a little differently here.
While some will talk to the prospective students' parents to ensure them that their son has "great" prospects (such as admission into Harvard) if he joins their institute, others will bend over their backs to accomodate the student's demands..like giving another slavechild-of-lower-designation's project to them, if they fancy it...or even a workbench they fancy.....
Until they join the lab, that is.
Illusions are shattered on a daily basis thereafter. The smiles become scarce, patience minimal.
Entering the lab after eleven ensures a glare, instead of the inital , "Good Morning, P.S.C.(Prospective slave-child)".
Time management, or the supposed lack of it, is brought up with every mention of a visit home, or a weekend outing.
Or even without any specific provocation.
You're no longer asked why you're in the lab on a Sunday, and if you are asked so, it's follwed by a *you mean you're just starting the experiment today?!*
Disclaimer : All of this is based on what I've heard, not experienced. Also, it's not specific to my institute.
In fact, I hear that people elsewhere in India have it worse.
I wrote this post a while ago when fresh bunch of students had just joined, based on all the rumours that were doing the rounds at that time....don't know why I didn't publish it then..
But it's not that I was deprived of toys as a kid - I had my fair share of stuffed animals , most of which I still have..:) , though I was always more fascinated with my twin brother's toys.... I took this photo just before my mum was packing them to give away. :(
Here is my extensive doll collection as a kid- two fairly hideous Indian dolls and one Barbie, who my brother relieved of her head not very long after this photo was taken.
I think at some later point I was gifted a 'Skipper' doll too, and a vanity set for Barbie, but I can't trace the two of them now...
Birthdays were always highly anticipated occasions - apart from the suckiness of having to share a birthday party, we always hoped that our guests would have the good sense to give us separate gifts. Some tried so hard that on one birthday, I recieved the same garden furniture assembly set from two separate guests. I suppose the number of things you could buy a little girl was rather limited in those days.
At the Rao household, it paid to fall ill - every time we recovered from the throes of some contagious affliction, my dad would gift us a toy :D.
My brother got either ram-man or man-e-faces after he recovered from chicken pox... :)
On another occasion, one of my uncles got both me and my brother Jigsaw sets after having belted us for doing something really stupid (can't remember what).
What I do remember is not being pacified with the gift....
I recently found out that this was a rather common practice in my extended family!
Thankfully it was a one-time incident with us.
I've told myself that if I ever have kids, I won't beat them up as far as I can avoid it, but I've been reassured by older cousins that it's very unlikely I'll stick to this resolution.
Kinda depressing, that most people believe you have to beat your children into behaving themselves.
Monday, January 16, 2006
Thursday, January 12, 2006
Spent a sleepless night at the M.Sc. housing flat wondering how my prodigious respiratory system could block itself up within thirty seconds of having been rigorously cleaned out. It only got worse in the morning.
Left the lab at two thirty with a splitting headache and came running home to mom.
Two steam inhalation sessions later, I'm feeling better. Only just.
The Biology geek in me just melted when I came across the Giant Microbes.
If they were used as teaching aids in class, nobody would ever think biology was dull.
Atleast I wouldn't.
Maybe that's just because I'm really fond of stuffed toys..:P
And here's what I work with - Would you ever guess he's called Saccharomyces Cerevisiae?
My personal favourite from the lot is the flesh-eating bacteria, Streptococcus - don't miss her belly!
Although she really doesn't look much like the real thing, unlike the Ebola virus :
Tuesday, January 10, 2006
That was what an anonymous commentor said here.
For all those who were disappointed that kate was sobering down, Kate courts controversy yet again.
A labmate saw this article on the notice board near the east canteen.
Blogger and researcher, Kate, wondered if Tata Institute of Fundamental Research would be the next target. Other bloggers analysed the possible reason for the attack and the threat it poses to the security of the nation.
How do I manage, really?
I got lucky this time round though....all other blogs mentioned in the article had links provided. For some reason they decided not to publish mine. *yay!*
Also, nobody really reads DNA anyway...:)
I had a panic attack when the Director mentioned this article at the Security meeting - had not read the article back then, and didn't know exactly how much trouble it could get me into..turned out to be quite harmless!
Friday, January 06, 2006
@$%! Now she'll never know.
There was still a faint chance she might bump into him on her way out...
It's not like bumping into him served any purpose.
More often than not they noticed each other only when they were less than ten meters away...A stunned acknowledgement, an awkward three second glance, and then she would look away, almost embarassed and continue talking to her friend.
She hoped her friends wouldn't notice that she stopped talking everytime she ran into him.
She had never said a word to him. Not because she was shy, or didn't know what to say. Whenever making an impression was important to her, she got very nervous. And ended making the wrong kind of impression. Known for being blunt and outspoken, she was surprised at her own overcautious behaviour.
The only potential icebreaker, an institute get-together, was wasted as he was a no-show.
Was it ever going to go beyond this?
Ended up staying over at TIFR on the 31st, and brought in the new year in the company of my labmates..:)
Apparently I provided most of the entertainment that night - got totally smashed on vodka and was talking continuously for about an hour or so. About mosquito guts (as in intestines).
My poor labmates - I called one 'God', told another that everyone was secretly scared of her.
Thank goodness there wasn't any music on, for I would have surely proceeded to inflict myself on the dance floor.
The scariest bit is that I don't remember saying a lot of the stuff that was captured on the digicam. It is rather unsettling.
Thank heavens the only people around were sensible, trustworthy labmates who stopped me right there - after watching those videos I'm a little less convinced about my ability to hold my tongue when drunk- and that's a scary thought. Who knows what I might have said if they asked the right questions? :D
Must not drink at work. Must not!
A couple of days later I finally got to meet Roswitha at Yoko's, after watching three previously made plans collapse for various reasons. And what a fun outing it was - meeting TJ was long overdue, and was pleasantly surprised to catch up with Ram, p@me and Bolli too.
Udipi-hotel-type pizza was had, random boys from IIT were gossiped about, an obscenely unhealthy amount of food was consumed, and I was dropped home by Ram in a rickshaw with bright blue neon lights. It would've been exactly like old times if chamiya music was blaring from the rickshaw.
I miss being at Xavier's.
Digressing: Happy Birthday, Rowan Atkinson!
Black Adder, Black Adder, with many a cunning plan.
Black Adder, Black Adder, you horrid little man.
Wednesday, January 04, 2006
Yes, of course, was my reply.
Which means not very much time left to blog, or waste time in any other way.
Another daunting prospect this year is the number of exams I have to give - GRE, AGRE, TOEFL, CSRI ( though I think I'll wait until later for that one) . And it doesn't help that I've entirely forgotten how to sit down with a book and study.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, the Departmental review was on this week- The functioning of the department was reviewed by four visiting Scientists who went about talking to all the Principal Investigators about their past work and future plans, 'openly' discussed the grad students opinions on their courses and projects, and attended poster presentations by all students.
All departments at TIFR will be reviewed over the course of the next couple of months , and this is part of the larger plans of the Director to restructure the institute. His plans were all over the papers, and it's a little hard to discern what part of all of that should be taken seriously.
For example, the Times mentioned that he has divided all departments here into three categories-
1. Functioning decently well.
2. Good but needs help.
3. Seriously needs help.
Our department featured in the second category..:P
What is the likelihood that the Director would have discussed an issue as sensitive as this in a forum accessible to the press?
Personally I think a Review of the department by external, competent examiners is a fantastic idea if anything constructive is derived from it. I do not expect the department to consider most suggestions of the reviewers, and act upon them immediately - it will be rather sad if all of this turned out to be a purely cosmetic exercise.
I was not present at the meeting of the Reviewers with the Grad students, but from what I gather students were pretty vocal about their grievances. In fact, when my boss quizzed my labmates about the meeting, their description of it prompted her to ask if anything positive was said at all about the department. :)
Too bad for the P.I.'s - the students do get rather limited opportunities to be heard (without the fear of repercussions) , and they weren't quite ready to let this one slip.
Today is expected to be rather unpleasant for all our bosses- the reviewers' opinions will be conveyed to them. It's nice to not be at the receiving end of 'constructive criticism' for a change..:D