Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Everyone seems to be going places. Last month was filled with an unheaval of sorts for me and those around. I want to go places. Going home would be good for starters.
Those that know the events that transpired last month and a bit - thanks for the sympathy! Those that don't - well this too has come to pass so let us move on.
When it rains it freakin pours! Not everybody can claim to have lived this proverb. I totally intend to brag about it to my progeny.
So to be done with this ambiguity - things have finally started looking up since I found a place to live in. Of course the prospect of being homeless, at one stage, looked like a certainty and although I could add living in my office cubicle for 4 days to the list of things to tell future generations, I am glad I dont have to.
House hunting is a nightmare. Take my advice and stay put till somebody volunteers to house - hunt for you/ you build your own house/ you inherit one!!
So after 'viewing' over 25 houses the conversation for house no. 26 (which is to be my residence as of tomorrow) went something like this:

Me: Can I fill out this form and hand it to you right now?
Agent: Yes, but we need photocopies of 100 points worth of ID
Me; Yes i have EVERYTHING YOU NEED right here right now.
Ashu: She's been looking for a house for a while now....
Agent: *Looks around rather unnerved*
Ashu: (while Im filling out the form): Is there anything else we can provide...you know... to make sure ....
Agent: What like a bribe? (smiles)
Ashu: Ya, or Christmas gifts....
Agent: *Smiles politely and proceeds to talk (rather patronisingly) to the other party!*

Anyhow, let bygones be bygones and now that I have the house. My sister and I were trying to figure out whom the agent reminded us of...we eventually agreed that he reminded us of a New Zealander!
Tomorrow I move into the new dwelling and may it herald all good. Lord knows I am functioning on zero energy, zero inclination, almost zero resolve and only will-power. So in all this I think I have satisfied one criteria of Kipling's when he writes:

'If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
to serve your turn long after they are gone
and so hold on when there is nothing in you
except the Will which says to them 'Hold on'!'

So eventually mine shall be the earth and everything that's in it. Yippeekayayy! (as Bruce Willis expressed!).
Yet, I have tried to see the positives in all of this (I know people at the receiving end of a daily dose of yelling might not agree) but I truly have.
For one, I haven't had to trudge through pouring rain to go see the umpteen houses, instead I was 'blessed' with (very!) hot days. All that walking only makes for more exercise! Im sure my character has undergone a lot of building as that is what hard times are supposed to do. And of course my sarcasm (if not sense of humour) has held up throughout.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Im in Heaven, I'll show you Heaven...

Some memories stay
some tastes linger and
some fragrances never fade away.

I am not speaking metaphorically here. Certain things just came to my mind the other day that I thought would be worth 'penning'.
Best holiday - (one of the best holidays at least!) the memories of this will stay forever! Gals trip out to Waiheke Island. Three days of total bliss, wining n dining, absolutely fantastic beachside house atop a hill and marvelous views of the ocean stretching out before us. We laughed till we cried, stayed up all night talking about things inconsequential, cooked hearty meals and spent hours at the beach generally being silly! Those were truly the days!
Most of all we made memories to last a lifetime.

Best Fragrance - Moonflower! I dont remember the exact circumstances of my rendezvous with this perfume from the Body Shop (which is very very odd because I remember every little obscure event in my life!) which just goes to show, I guess, how this fragrance can completely and totally overpower you. It can fill your senses up to the point where you absolutely must own it! Which I do now, thanks to a birthday gift from a friend!
For a while I did think that it was just something that I found appealing. When my friends came from Auckland, we were window-shopping and I casually mentioned it outside Body Shop so we naturally walked in to take a whiff. That moment nailed it! It was not just me - It was most people! The fragrance of wild 'moonflower' with an almost imperceptible hint of musk and a summery charm. I find it irresistable!

Best taste - We contemplated ordering dessert at an Italian restaurant last night. We don't normally order dessert as we are too full from entrees (we order those because they are served quickly and satisfy the growling stomach!) and fuller still from the dinner itself! However, Tiramisu was on the menu.
Now I did argue that it couldnt possibly hold a candle to the 'Belgian chocolate waffles' at Max Brenner.
As and aside the 'waffles' story: On a trip to Melbourne I was suffering from severe stomach cramps for no reason that I could think of. Having spent all morning and most of the afternoon in bed I had to leave to get the bus back to dreary ol' Canberra. With an hour or so to kill, our friend (who now I understand was an angel in disguise!) herded us into Max Brenner chocolate cafe. I had never heard of this heaven on earth and as the magic unfolded I threw caution to the wind and decided to indulge in the Belgian Chocolate Waffles! I guess the Heavens smiled at me and all of the universe joined in an Irish tap-dance as I consumed the entire plate. First thing I had eaten all day and the stomach cramps as if never existed!
Back to Tiramisu, it did hold that candle after all and how! I read once that Tiramisu was described as 'the dessert of the Gods' - Welcome to heaven y'all!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Summer Rain

Imagine this -
Drizzle over the cricket field. Rain coming down on the trees and turning green everything it touches. The leaves glisten, the ducks frolic in the stream and the brances sway as if to the music of the wind. The earth is fragrant with fresh summer rain. The brook overflows and people bustle about in colourful umbrellas. The sky is a dusky hue and threatens a storm, twinkling mischievously. And then it comes! The skies unleash their torrent upon us and the rain beats down on man and beast alike.
The rains pass and everything looks fresh and new. The air is crisp without the chill and a tormentingly hot afternoon has instantly transformed into a pleasant, breezy and comfortable evening. Such was the scene on campus today. One would feel blessed to have witnessed such marvels of nature. I saw it all but sadly had no appreciation - my shoes had chosen to soak in the rain you see - and worse still, so had my socks!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Creatures of habit

Stress is a foreign concept. Foreign i.e non-Indian.
The critical will most certainly ask how I can make such a bold claim having not lived the better part of my life in my country of birth (they of course do not count my first 15 years as 'better' part of life!).
Anything Indian - sells. From kurtis to Kiran Desai. Incidentally, several Indian born authors of books on very Indian themes Booker prize winners, have lived the better part of their lives overseas. Returning to the motherland for weddings, funerals and to write their books!
I write for pleasure - my own not others'. My policy is 'Write like no one's reading'. I guess the idea of writing this in a blog for the world to read is slightly contradictory.
Started reading Carl Sagan's 'Pale Blue Dot' last week. I never watched the acclaimed 'COSMOS' series on TV but I read as much of Carl Sagan as I could get my hands on. Him and I seemed to share a 'cosmic connection' in that we both think that 'we' are inconsequential in terms of the cosmos. And 'we' give ourselves much more credit than we deserve. The vastness of the universe is humbling to say the least.
I had a thought as I sat in my weekly Monday morning meeting with others of the research group. We were going over the list of things to do this week (and forever more as it were!) and the general idea is to go around the table and ask each one to explain what they did (or did not do!) the previous week, the plan for the week to follow etc. I sat there listening to everyone speak and my gaze wandered from person speaking to picture of a 'research highlight' (the space thruster developed here at ANU) showing the gizmo amidst stars of the night sky.
I wanted to get up and ask one question - why? Why measure nonlinearities or make compositions - if we go back far enough we really don't know why? We are up against the wall of 'because that is how it has been for hundreds of years and we know no reason to change it, we are creatures of habit'.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Arey Deewano -

"DON को पकद्ना मुश्िकल ही नही नामुम्िकन् है ..."
Nearly 30 years (?) after the Big B immortalised this phrase in his much acclaimed performance as the DON, SRK dons the garb and is all set to make it his own - again.
I must say that I didn't expect much from this remake and was quite ready to do the ritualistic movie bashing post the theatre viewing.
Don exceeded all my expectations and not just because I had none. True, the movie was too long and the plot much to intricate but the adaptation to modern times is done beautifully. The one thing I thought would be the ultimate disaster instead proved the ultimate clincher - khaike paan banaras wala. To re-do this song, the dance, the voice of Kishore Kumar and above all the image of AB Sr. so ingrained in every Indian's memory to me seemed a Herculean task. However, they haven't tried to re-do it at all! Except the song itself the whole situation is different and has a very vibrant and refreshing aspect about it.
Now to SRK and his portrayal - the SRK image is something that every movie rides on. He makes up for the lack of Bachchan like personality by giving each scene his all and each song has a certain energy about it that makes you want to get off your seat and dance along.
This is not to say that I expect all remakes to be at par. Umrao Jaan with Ash and Sholay with God alone knows who - I have no hopes for.

Monday, October 16, 2006


My friend Megz sent me this quote:

Success: To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children, to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends, to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded!

Now, most of the quote is very inspirational and to me it seemed to define a life well lived, except for one bit of it - '...to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child...'. I beg to differ slightly on this point.
I am not going to argue for or against this statement. I am only going to give my opinion on some aspects of it. This blog is not for the discerning types, who would say that I am reading too much into a quote meant to convey a general impression, why dwell on the specifics or for the stereo-types who consider that children are God's gift to mankind so make as many as you can or even for those who are unwilling to look at an issue from a practical point of view because they are creatures of habit. This quote triggered a, previously dormant, thought process.
Having a sick child can change one's life, but it does not and should not mean that you have left the world worse off in any way. In fact I have had discussions and thought about this issue of why people have children. Is it the inherent instinct to reproduce and ensure that your genes (how ever terrible they may be!) continue to live on (which, it has been scientifically proven, is a necessity for men and it is left upto the women to impose quality over quantity) or is it something deeper more like the sense of nurturing life and making another being in your image. I dont really know and I dont think anyone knows because it is probably individual specific.
There are millions of children around the world, as World Vision and CCF never fail to remind us by showing us the slums of India, who could do with a life (better or worse). It really wasn't their fault that they were born into this rapidly deteriorating world and really it isn't their fault that they are left to die. So, even with these millions needing one square meal a day (a home, an education etc. are 'door ki baat') the middle, upper middle and upper classes continue to make more of their own - maybe because who wants some random kid, wonder what caste it is, who its parents were/are.
The world as a whole, and not just China and India, faces a population crisis, there are more people than resources and just like we believe that one Green Bag is a step closer to a plastic free world, one less child could, potentially, feed one already born.
This is not to say that people and organisations are not trying - they are. But bringing a healthy child into this world does not amount to, in today's scenario, leaving a better world behind you. To me it amounts to bringing another life to fight a daily battle against the adversities and increasing the population by one more - when you could have changed another, existing life, for the better.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Biking - a way of life!

The day has been a satisfactory one, barring the extreme heat. Maybe 35 degrees on the Celsius scale is not 'hot' by Canberra standards but it most certainly is scorching by Auckland standards. Spring is almost out and summer is about to rear its ugly head. I am not one for extremities, be it of the emotional kind or the climate kind. Moderate is my thing, which explains why I like melons (honeydew, rockmelon, watermelon) they're mild flavours. None of that sour pineapple for me!
Ive started biking to work again. For those of you who missed me bragging about my new bike earlier this year - well the picture is worth a thousand words. Avanti Blade Sport Fitness Bike y'all!
Cycling, apart from its obvious physical benefits (overall fitness, nice legs for summer shorts yada ya) teaches one a lot about life.
For eg. imagine you are cycling in peak hour (ok peak hour rush has a whole different meaning in Canberra, you could wait for 15 mins and the roads will be deserted again!, but for argument's sake let's assume that you have to bike in that 15 min interval when the human being + car count on the road is more than the fingers and toes!), cycling is very popular in Canberra, roads even have cycle lanes. You're on the pavement, weaving your way through people and prams when suddenly there is another cyclist coming towards you, narrow pavement and you are the indecisive sort. You move right, he moves right then u change your mind - Crash!
I am the indecisive sort. And a very nervous rider. My $80 dollar second hand bike sufficed a year ago when I lived a stone's throw from the university. However, living farther now, I bought a new bike ten times the price and to the say the least it took some effort to become moderately competent with it.
Cycling teaches you about decision making. It also teaches you patience. The first day cycling to work was all excitement. New bike, new helmet - by the time I got to work even though I didnt have an ounce of energy left I felt content! Second day - not so great. The initial excitement had been replaced by muscle fatigue and the old injured knee wasnt too pleased either. Even so, for the money spent, if not anything else I biked to work. Cycling teaches you about perseverence It is not enjoyable for a while but becomes easier with time. Much like life and this PhD!
Overcoming the pain barrier comes next. The cycle seat ain't exactly a leather couch and so after you get past the awkward questions of 'Why are you walking funny?' you have to use every bit of resolve you have to ride back home! This too comes to pass in due time.
To those who will learn, it can also teach you not to procrastinate. The ride to work will take you a half hour no matter how fast you go (you can only go so fast without causing damage!) hence time management in the morning.
Last but in no way the least there's that wonderful feeling of the wind in your hair (ok in your helmet!) and a sense of freedom, not to mention that you will be much fitter than your counterparts at 55!
I advocate cycling completely now. Thank you to my friend who took me, in spite of resistance, to buy my first bike. I owe you one!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

"My dear and unfortunate successor...

...to you I bequeath, my history"
The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
my read of the month!
I bought this book at Sydney airport, before boarding a flight to Middle Earth. Started reading it straight away and only finished it last night. It took a while-yes, it is a big book, yes, Scrumptious I like to call 'em big books. 600-700 pages is a substantial amount, very ....filling!
A few thoughts on this book. I wish I could write like that! I will not include much of the story so as to avoid a spoiler but the gist of the book is clear to anyone who reads the synopsis. Dracula is back.
I remember when I read Bram Stoker's Dracula. It did give me the chills and no I was not twelve! Dracula, from what little I choose to remember of it, was eerie. The book succeeds in creating an uncomfortable atmosphere and one where, if you happen to be reading it after nightfall, the creaking of the wood could, potentially, send chills up the spine as it were.
The Historian is Dracula's rebirth in today's world. Kostova brings to life this 'undead' legend. The book does not offer much in the way of a plot. Although, it does once again score high for facts and research. The hunt through Eastern Europe is fascinating and full of information hitherto unknown, atleast to me. One could say 'whats new, its what they do, look at Dan Brown' but hold your horses everyone - Kostova can write! She has a beautiful grasp of the English Language and a certain amount of restraint in her style which allows one to read more than the written words. Unlike Brown, whose only saving grace was sensationalism and an age-old debate, Kostova's exemplifies the basics of book writing - language!
I cannot say that this was the best book I ever read, it wasn't by a long shot. But it was gripping nonetheless, eerie and very well written.
I liked The Da Vinci Code as a work of pure fiction, a figment of the author's overactive imagination and no one can succeed in convincing me otherwise. In fact I feel that Dan B could have avoided a lot of negative publicity and book-bashing had he chosen not to associate his book with any facts whatsoever!
Anyhow, read The Historian people, it is a lovely sequel to Dracula, even if it wasnt intended as one. It is not very often that someone comes up with a line fit to become a classic in modern literature - 'My dear and unfortunate successor...'

Friday, September 29, 2006

Womens Self Defence

How many times, Oh! How many times have you said to yourself, if only I had listened to my mother! I know I say it to myself a few times everyday!
My family tries to live by one rule - Mom's! One thing I have learned is that if my mother told me, without any explanation whatsoever, to jump off a cliff, I should do so without as much as questioning her.
So in this vein I finally enrolled for the 'Women's self defence' classes at uni, which mind you, my mother has been telling me to do ever since I moved to Canberra.
My sister and I rocked up to the first lesson on a Monday evening at 7. It had been a long day and I really wasn't in the mood to listen to some butch woman telling me 100 ways to kick a guy in the ****, when I could be home eating food and watching Tele.
I was jolted out of this disinterest by one look at the instructor. Out with the butch woman and in with a preppy, young and, I must add, very very fit kung-fu- martial arts type. The first lesson passed much too fast. We learned the basics, which was that kicking a guy in the groin was not the first option in a life threatening situation and there were much better ways of rendering an assailant inert - sure fire ways too!
I left feeling refreshed, energised and almost believing that 'my body is a dangerous weapon - nobody better mess with me!'. This is what good teaching is all about, turning cynics into believers and turning sarcasm into admiration.
The instructor really believed in what she was teaching and she never failed to impress upon us the importance of doing something in a threatening situation - be it screaming at the top of your lungs or gouging the guys' eyes out! Anything at all because, contrary to common hearsay, reacting does not fuel the situation it can save one's life. We had the last class this week and I was not glad to go, as I had thought I would be. This only reinforced my belief that my mother is always right, even from across the Tasman!
Some thoughts on self-defence in Canberra:
1. Screaming is useless because no one will hear you - there is no one to hear you!
2. If you run into the closest house for help you will most likely be chased and bitten by a dog, so take your pick - man or beast.
3. You could possibly out-walk the drunk, racist, homeless guy who is yelling at you so don't beat him to pulp, just walk away!
4. If you live anywhere other than mid-city you are more likely to be attacked by a kangaroo (as my sister said so wisely) than any man, hence keep those boxing gloves handy!

Light amplification - unleashing a monster!

I have a way with lasers..... a way of making them not work! Sitting in my lab, been here since Monday (ok this is where I work so it makes sense) but making progress still seems a like a long shot. Lasers do no behave, they are inconsistent and moody. Their whims and fancies can drive anyone up the wall and really they have no notion of temperature control. I vote all lasers be fitted with a hypothalamus and a very strong conscience. Something that says to them 'DONT DO IT' when they are about to run amok and ruin a poor student's life (ok I exaggerate, maybe a week!). A laser does not understand the simple concept that weather changes. Cool may come and heat may go but you must go on forever! It is a very simple concept really. Humans are not allowed the privilege of changing with the weather (changing oneself not one's outfit!). Quite honestly it is not an excuse.
Anyhow, back to the point of this blog. Im a firm believer, or rather I was a firm believer in the concept of 'when God closes a door somewhere he opens a window'. Well I realise now that if one with full knowledge of the consequences chooses to work in a lab with no windows, and the door remains closed all the time... well... need I say more.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Home for the holidays!

Many a person has said to me 'Home is where is heart is' but to me Home takes on an entirely new meaning when one lives away. It is no longer the place you have to go back to, but rather somewhere you want to go!
Home is familiar, you can wake up in the morning and in a half-asleep state pick up your brush and you can be sure as hell that the toothpaste will be where it was yesterday. No muddling flatmate would have made off with it, or thrown it away or worse still, replaced it with shaving cream! The face-towel is always accessible and the bat mat is always in place.
Home is where the couch is positioned such that one can always lie on it and still see the TV just fine and there is always junk food to pig out on. Home has a warmth about it (even in winter!!).
Of course one cannot be expected to appreciate these things when one lives at home! However, one becomes more appreciative when Home is just a pleasant (10 day!) break from a hectic routine.
I went home for the holidays. I could put up photographs of home with my family smiling artificially for the sake or the camera, but really all that matters is that they are there!!

Thursday, August 31, 2006

This one's for you ....

Its just like mom to set me near impossible tasks - like washing the dishes properly or eating breakfast or packing lunch, and now this, writing about my thoughts on being brought up in 'The Family'. "...you can be brutally honest" she said. So here goes. Two words come rushing to mind - Tough Love!
I am a Prasad. In this case it means a weird 'Tiwari-Rao" concoction! I will, in this blog, only elaborate what it means to be a Prasad in the Prasad family and not go into the broader, extended version (we could well be the Corleones!).
Anyone who understands the true meaning of tough love would appreciate this. Our parents love my sister and I - fiercely! It is not the kind of love that makes you dependent on them but rather the kind that makes you want to get out there and do things! It is not a warm blanket but rather an armour. It doesnt make you go fuzzy on the inside but rather steels you to face anything and come out victorious. We have been taught to fill time, not telling one another how beautiful life is, but how much better it can be and how one must strive hard to get there. Sometimes there is no time for niceties and other times there is impatience and intolerance of mediocrity but most of the time there is a yearning for creative outcomes. When one is seven or even seventeen one cannot appreciate this 'conform or cease' atmosphere but when the mind (and not just the body!) reaches twenty seven one understands that it was all with good intent. I was the child, so of course I took it all the wrong way! Of course my parents favoured my sister more, of course I was never allowed to do as I pleased, eat or wear what I wanted and go when and wherever I wished. What I see now is that it was a restraining love but never a constraining one. We were taught to make our own constraints but restraint was dictated to us - and we followed, albeit grudgingly at times.
My father once told me that 'the soldier has not been abandoned in the battlefield, he has been given all the arms to fight - and win' and indeed we have!
I will not go into what I have learned from my parents - if it is only that I want to be like them, I think it enough. People learn different things from their families - mostly for the best.
I can almost see my mother shaking her head at this blog and thinking that I was being much too 'flowery' for the benefit of my readers, but just for my parents - Thanks Mummy and Baba!!
btw Happy Anniversary!
It seems the Hindi movie watching world is divided - into people that loved 'Kabhi Alvida...' and people that hated it.
Love it or leave it, this movie has really got the Industry buzzing. The issue of infidelity has, no doubt, been dealt with before. Some critics say that they were unable to identify with the characters, others complained that the plot was not thick enough and even others ranted about the lack of 'dark'ness surrounding this supposedly 'dark' topic! (Im sure that people who go out and have an extra-marital affair, even if in the 'dark' per se, rarely think so at the time!).
One review I really liked, approached the movie in a very mature way - it said that the movie entertains but one comes out not liking it much - so basically watch it but you won't like it! Which is pretty much 'nail on the head'.
A lot of critisisms seem based on people's liking or otherwise of the actors and not really the characters they play. Many thought that Rani Mukerji had no character, I thought that it was her character to have no character! (Maybe I missed something 'deeper'!)
People like RM's character do exist, although I do hope for their sake, that they do not end up with people like SRK's character! I mean ideally they should shoot each other as it is just a disaster waiting to happen!
But coming back to the character - hygiene obsessed (its genetic believe me!), frustrated, pining, sad-sack! Such people are all around us, all we need to do is look and listen hard! People that take pleasure in self-pity, Hell! I take pleasure in self-pity, it is a lovely place to be in. One doesnt have to do a thing, because its a comfort zone. The lack of something to make your life exciting enough - albeit your own doing- seems reason enough to mope!
Such people need to be shaken out of it! An extra-marital affair will not cure this state of mind. In fact I think sympathy makes it worse. You will hate someone (momentarily) for telling you to snap out of it, but when you do (snap!) its like ... magic!
Personally, I have no sympathy for people who indulge in extra-marital affairs. One relationship is complicated enough without adding another to the equation, n'est-ce pas?

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Write me this.

My supervisor asked me to start writing my first scientific journal publication. This task has been weighing down on me. My friend said that it should be fairly easy as writing, supposedly, comes easy to me. Scientific writing is different.
If I had to describe my work in literary terms I might say:
" It was the day of culmination! All those hours of fruitless labour, the hour, the moment in fact, of truth had arrived. I put in the sample and it glowed almost with a surreal aura about it. The laser beam was almost a pure Gaussian and the image was the stuff dreams were made of. 15 minutes passed by like an eternity and finally it was time to get the numbers! One by one, like the pieces of a puzzle, it all came together to complete the picture of non-linearity!"
And then maybe I could put some numbers in for those that cared. But of course no self-respecting scientific journal peer review group is going to look at that and say 'wow! she has really brought out the essence of that experiment'! My 'paper' will be duly deposited in the recycle bin.
Hence, I need to be dreary and account painstakingly all the dull details such as beam width and laser frequency. I cannot use flowery language to describe the beauty of the laser light but rather I must speak precisely about its wavelength and rep rate!
Alas! the woes of scientific study. I never cease to pity these scientific types for missing out on the beauty of language - what the Journal of Applied Physics would be were I to write it!

Another KANK rant

Writing about KANK seems to be the thing to do - for anyone who has half an opinion about this movie. So why bother with another (S)KANK blog? Well because its a free world and we are all entitled to, not only our, but also others' opinions on matters that, well, really dont matter!
Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna is another Karan Johar flick with 'substance' (or should it be 'on' substance!).
I am not going to go into why one wouldnt like a movie where two losers are responsible for two failed marraiges and end up in a relationship with each other, which is doomed for failure from the word go!
Some factors worth considering:
1) SRK is a pitiable loser whose ($5 million) career was abruptly ended when he sustained an injury - while trying to contemplate some surreal 'connection' with another woman, who was not his wife (and not watching the road because he was too busy waiting for this other woman to turn around for a very DDLJ moment!). Good on that car driver, if it was me, I might have reversed a few times to make sure I didnt leave the job half done!

2) Rani Mukerji personifies the word 'loser'. Full credit to KJ for 'building' her 'character' or the lack of it thereof. She has a massive chip on her shoulder for being unable to bear children and amidst her self pity and unfulfilled life as it were, she doesnt realise that she has a gem of a husband and ends up ruining something good. Such people, in the real world, need therapy not a song!

3) I am unsure as to where KJ's movies are heading. First there was K3G, where the issue of marriage between 2 people from different socio-economic backgrounds was dealt with. Then were was KHNH, where a dying man professing his love for a woman and hands her over to this other guy - they live happily ever after even though the woman's love for dead man never wanes! And now we have KANK - extramarital affairs. All for the greater good, KJ might say. But I think there is more to it than meets the eye. Is KJ just gearing us up, slowly for a 'out-of-the-closet' type (I hope to God it doesnt star SRK and Saif Ali Khan!). Because if this is the case, mark my words all of you out there - I wish KJ would just 'come out' with it and save us the agony of more 'Kabhi..'s and 'Kal...'s.

Now that I have vented some of my bitterness - I must say that the songs are darned catchy! Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy are really a class apart! The Rock'n'Roll really did!!

A lot of movies rant and rave about relationships. Think about it, animals don't marry because, plain and simple - they are not as evolved. Whether evolution has handed us the short straw or not, we have yet to see, but any relationship is a gamble. All this talk of soul-mates and matches made is heaven, to me, seem futile.
The eternal question still hangs - what is love? - Maybe all we need to do is wait for Mr. Johar to answer that!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Soaking in the Sun

A direct consequence of being cooped up in a dark lab in the basement (no less!) for close to 10 hours a day can be severe Vitamin D deficiency (osteo-something-or-the-other). So I decided to soak in the warm spring (or soon to be!) sun.
Now, Canberra does not give one much in the way of winter sun. Apparently just walking around in the sun and getting sunburned does not count as upping one's levels of Vit D to the required. It involves things more complicated like the warm sun rays actually touching the skin (shock horror!). One option (suggested by a good friend, sadistic nonetheless) might be streaking in the middle of the afternoon, across South Oval, running at or close to the speed of light etc. so no one notices you in your birthday suit whilst you make merry soaking in the required amount of supplement. However, it is a few million decades before this even becomes an option, let alone a reality!
Anyhow, so the Physicist comes out of lab, looks in either direction suspiciously. Two polarisers are stuck to the prescription glasses to serve as makeshift sunnies. Contemplates wrapping full body in aluminium foil to prevent sunburn!?! but decides against it (for all the wrong reasons!).
I walked across South Oval, actively avoiding anything with webbed feet. Towards union court, where all the food lives.
A friend offered me something to read on the walk! I declined politely, as I might bump into someone or worse still fall into the duck-infested creek and make for them a long-awaited decent meal. For the want of something better from my life, something more meaningful than watching light distort itself while passing through a material of my choice (any material! do you realise how powerful that must feel!) - I took a walk!

Friday, August 18, 2006

A Must Read

Why write? is a question that has plagued my mind for a fair while. Some people write things to remember them, others write to put things into perspective and even others (like yours truly) write because they want to!! :-D - a bold statement that!
The last book I read was 'Fermat's last theorem' by Simon Singh. It absolutely and completely lives upto its reputation. Truly, it takes you on a roller coaster ride through time, where one moment you are sitting alongside Fermat, chuckling with him while he silently reveals the problem to the world. You are then transported through time to Andrew Wiles and witness to his sheer frustration during a lifetime committed to solving the 'Last Theorem'. No other book has made me want to do Mathematics more than this one. That is not to say that I want to do it enough to actually do something about it, but this was the first book that made me feel like I had half a brain where Maths was concerned.
Prior to 'Fermat..." I always came away from Mathematics (be it a book, an exam or even a puzzle!) feeling like an idiot. Plain and simple. In fact it seems like a global phenomenon that children, students and young adults fear the subject (although I am unsure as to whether Physics wins out on the sheer horror factor!). My initiation to Maths was not pretty and to cut a long story short, I never liked it. I thought that all Mathematicians were sadistic fiends (like the person who wrote our seventh form Calculus exam! Hope someone sued him!) and they delighted in the idea of tormenting young minds. However my perception had to change, now I think that some, not all, Mathematicians conform to the above.
The aforementioned book opened up a whole new world. One in which ... wait for it... they were actually human and (much less frequently than I) experienced periods of despair and frustration. Ok, so they experience it over Fermat and I over 3 x 7 (I will never forget that 3 x 7 = 21; it was whacked into me!!) yet I feel an instant connection.
However, the point about all this ranting and raving is that - go buy this book and read it and I would be very interested to know if you, like me, wouldnt classify it as 'unputdownable'.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Workshop and Whales

It is very difficult to sit in a lab and spout Shakespeare. In fact I would consider it almost impossible. Shakespeare requires, demands rather, a more suave and philosophical atmosphere. Im thinking - diffused lights, wine and banter ...
Last week was a culmination of all my work of the last few months and in saying that I really mean that I, along with other people from work, was shipped off to a seaside resort. None of that secret agent kinda thing, more like a lot of Physicists gathered to 'chat' about 'theories' and 'practical application'.
Whale watching was on the agenda and although this could well mean sitting around gawking at more 'well fed' members of the group, it actually involved going out into the water on a ferry yacht type and looking around for 'there she sprays!!'.
The experience itself was exhilarating! I love the water and everything it has to offer, this does not mean I take a shower ten times a day, it more like I love wandering on the beach, the calm waters extending far beyond the horizon, watching the sunlight shine off the ripples and generally enjoying the peace of it all. I also prefer vast expanses of water unadulterated by sky scrapers on the horizon and Hervey Bay, Queensland offered just this!
Now to the whales. What size!! One should be astounded and humbled by these massive creatures who inhabit the deep, dark oceans. Their speed can be deceptive though, they are gone as fast as they come!
Physicists are funny whale watchers. The tour guide said to us in no unclear terms "whales respond to noise so make some and wave your arms around and they will come to you" and we, the physicists, stood there listening and sort of nodded and acknowledged the information and stored it away in the 'useless trivia' part of our brain. There was no noise and even less arm waving!
The whales still came and showed us that nature extends far beyond the realms of Maxwell and Electromagnetism.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Im running out of time to breathe! If He came to me right now and said "Alright Missy, time to move onto the 'other world', chop chop"I would have to say to Him - "Lord Almighty, I have about 15 Z-scans to finish that were due yesterday, a few bills to pay, 3 meetings, a netball game and a self defence class so, I don't think this is a good time!".
I need a crash course in time-management. A bloody good one! Tell me who here has time to do everything and still have that half hour or so before bed, to write a blog, read a book or just -to be! And, does it not strike you as odd, that all the people that did not have time for a 'hello' now have time for full fledged hour long conversations! The irony of it all!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Travels and Tribulations

A friend told me to recount my travelling experiences in a blog. Once again I shall refer my readers to a previous post, enlightening them of my sheer despair at the thought of travelling, let alone the actual undertaking of a journey.
When I finished my undergrad, I took up a PhD. The feeling was one of comfort and like a warm blanket knowing (rather hoping!) that I wouldnt have to travel much (ok home to work one cannot avoid even if it is Canberra!) and I could spend three years, or more, of my life cooped up in the warmth, isolation and familiarity of a lab. ITS ALL A FACADE - PHD STUDENTS HAVE TO TRAVEL! Woe is me.
So anyhow, back to my conquests for this month - turns out June-July-August are 'conference months'. Come end of June everybody's bags are packed in anticipation of a paid holiday of sorts. Days filled with pointless lectures (of which only about 5% have to do with your work!), filling dinners and flowing alcohol. Great!
So, first getaway spot was sunny Brisbane, or so Ive heard. While Canberrians froze in sub-zero temperatures, Brisbanites were takin out their light jackets for an 18 degree breeze! Flight into Brisbane was uneventful (although, I must say one cannot appreciate a cold breakfast at 6.30 am in Canberra winter!). Upon arrival weather was satisfactory and we all headed to UQ for the conference. Ok, so given that the first 2 conferences I attended as a PhD student were at the Sky City Hotel (5 star no less!) and The Hilton Sydney - UQ unfortunately could not hold a candle.
However, such minor lapses as 'no tea upon arrival' can be overlooked in the light of bigger things such as - the conference!
Now people often ask me why I am paranoid about travelling, the reason is simple. When one travels one needs to put up with things. I am out of my comfort zone and hence I must bear everything that is thrown at me with a stiff-upper-lip and a smile to boot.
The accomodation was pathetic in Brisbane! Common toilets and showers! *uggghhh* and Brisbanians think that the room doesnt need heating even when temps hit about 5 deg C in the night! Anyhow, I think i must put an end to this ranting and raving because a week and a half later I was enjoying myself in beautiful, 'has character' Melbourne, 4 star accomodation, good food and the like. Bliss.... I guess one must have the bad to appreciate the good. However, in all that Brisbane had to offer I had a wonderful time at the conference and with two of my friends who made the trip one to remember!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Aha! Take that all you cynics of my writing style!

I just didn’t know how to begin. The words, the thoughts, the lines, they came and went and with them they brought and took away a million feelings a million times. I was not ‘consistent’ they said. ‘Consistent’ is a strange thing to be as one learns one must change every second. Survival is adaptation so ‘consistent’ I was not – did not want to be.
Poetry, I thought. Rhyme and rhythm. That amazing combination of words that express emotions unsaid and sights unseen with such laconic expertise that it bewildered. It had to be poetry. There must be poetry. Yet there was none…as yet. And if it were to be then I must write it.
This was a disturbing conclusion so I ignored it. For writing was something of the past. The rhyme had deserted me and the rhythm no longer beat in the freely flowing words. So I turned to words. Just plain words with no frills. And then there was the abstract. That which was known yet unknown and that which was above all loved because it left all but a slight notion to the imaginative mind. Was this an option when I wanted to make myself clear? To make myself heard and most importantly understood.
The fact of the simple matter was, I did not know. Did not know what was to come. What had passed and what was now. Yet there was no sense of foreboding. No uncertainty for that had passed too. With no help from the world I might add.
And then it nagged again. Something between thought and feeling, somewhere between mind and heart. So elusive that even though it was within me I was unable to grasp it. Even though its origins lay in, possibly, the deepest darkest recesses of that unknown part of me, it was as swift as the most fleeting glance.
It turned the day into night and the night into a gloom cast. It made the laughter artificial and it made the heart heavy and the mind dysfunctional and dull. It nagged at joy and boosted the sorrow. What was it, this creature? So illusory yet so effectual.

Something between thought and feeling
Lay somewhere between heart and mind
In swirls of darkness hopes were reeling
Till solace those illusions did find
Its origins lay in the deepest,
Farthest part of the soul we had
Illuminated were the recesses darkest
With memories sad and glad
Strands of thought formed from the mist
Of reason and belief, they stood
Alone and apart from the rest
Enshrouded beneath the sacred hood.
The Holy Grail, it has been lost
And the purest blood has flowed
The boundaries of faith, they have been crossed
The seeds of doubt are sowed
What will become of reason now?
What destiny does lease
We have lost what was ours – and how!
We have shattered the simple peace.
The bonds that hold the world together
Have snapped between you and I
So now there is no forever
It just seems like there is goodbye.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Those were the days my friend...

So I have made a grand entry into the elite group of 'blogs once in a while'ers. Almost feel like re-writing my 'profile' in something:
Living with - out a choice
Political view - opaque
Humour - Ive done better!
Drinking - need a stiff one to get over today!
smoking - arite hand me that too if it will make today better!
blogging - occasionally :-)

Today was a bad day, one of those where all your effort leads to zilch and you feel stupid and almost...almost... decide to come away with a Masters instead of PhD (blasphemy!!). Anyhow, so just as I was thinking that I am probably the stupidest moron (if such a combination is legal!) to walk God's green (and smart!) Earth, not to mention the harrowed halls of the LPC, RSPHYSSE(that's an acronym for where I work!) - just as I was on the verge of wallowing in self-pity, somebody pulled me out (kicking and screaming no less!).
Self pity is a blissful state where everything is justified. So also the pre-awakening state where 10 mins more is always justified, never mind that you will get to work an hour late and have to sneak in the back door of a different department and then down in the dark corridors of the dimly lit labs and then very swiftly past the administrator to your desk, get rid of bag and coat in the blink of an eye, put bottom on chair and look around as if to say 'What! ive been here all morning!'.
Back to self-pity, so it is a state where one can be lazy, depressed, lethargic, condescending and critical. One can eat ridiculous amounts of food for comfort, watch TV all day to feel better and do nothing if that's what it takes. If you are a very unlucky self-pityer you will have some 'enlightened' soul around you who will give you the whole rigmarole about how nothing ever came off self-pitying (although Im not sure how they know that!) and one must pick oneself up and move onto greener pastures as it were. A very lucky self-pityer will have another self pityer so they can self pity together :-D!
Im a moderate self pityer, like to wallow in it for a while but then have to drag myself out of it because big things at hand. A hot cup of tea to brew and some good company to drink your sorrows away with is that not all one needs - or is it?

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Of Blogs Thus Far

I find my writing skills rapidly deteriorating, anybody who has had the misfortune of keeping up with my blogs will vouch for this - that is of course if they consider honesty more of a virtue than niceness. My first few blogs - ah! sheer class (or so I would have myself believe), the intermediate ones were struggling between heaven and hell and the last few were competing in a downhill race!
I like to think this happens to the best of us. Mr. Archer should agree since his 'Sons of Fortune' seemed to draw inspiration from a bad Saawan Kumar flick! (sincere apologies and sympathies to anyone who liked the book!)
Personally I find that writing, although it begins as a very intimate thing, in moments of introspection and reflection for those blessed with (or willing to put in the effort to acquire) a rather more flowery vocabulary than the masses - it very quickly digresses into something more appealing to these very same masses. A tried and tested style will, no doubt, work but a different style that recieves just as much attention will soon become tried and tested too!
I am unsure as to where blogs fit in in the general scheme of things. One cannot pour one's heart out nor can one write about the blueness of the sky in any great detail.
There are of course things like last week's dream or 'How I was chased by ducks around South Oval' (in that case I reckon a picture would be worth a thousand words and a video would be priceless!).
Current issues is another subject and will always recieve attention as they are ...well...current. they don't get outdated! However I am not keen on unleasing a monster with such open endedness as 'please feel free to share your views on *some sensitive (non) issue*'.
Where there are numerous options, indecision is paramount, hence the random rants about seemingly random things.
THE question, at the end of every day is 'What do I write about'. Should it be something that my 'readers' (I have readers now?!) care about or something I would rather they cared about, or alternatively (and this is the easier option) something I care about. More often than not I choose the last option and the eternal struggle is to make something I care about sound so worth caring for that the reader, by the end of the blog, cares about it too.
Here's to success!

Monday, June 05, 2006


Sometimes people do things that leave you at a loss for words. Now I cannot personally say that I have had this experience several times. I can spring in my two-cents to anyone at any given time without thinking twice about it. But every once in a while someone does something - so thoughtful and nice that I am at a loss for words. Honestly only unadulterated kindness can leave me tongue-tied. I have never been big on self-confidence, I dont possess it in any reasonable quantity and I dont inspire it in the masses, as it were. However, there have been instances in my life that have made me sit up and take notice - of myself! Generally I am of the notion that my life makes not an ounce of difference to more than a handful, and those handful I can explain myself to, hence I can continue with the general air that by simple statistics my life makes no difference to the person next to me (almost 99 out of 100 times!).
Even so, as I mentioned in my previous rant (about tools building life and such) I try (strive even!) to be a nice person and thanks to several people today I know I have succeeded.
So basically this is a THANK YOU! blog - to everyone who has made a difference and although I would love to gush like I've just won Miss. Universe, with a bouquet in my hands and a crown on my head and start thanking this lot - Im going to do something a lot more from the heart.
Im going to put it in black and white (words!!) - THANK YOU!

Monday, May 29, 2006

Rainy days and Mondays always get me down.....

Another blog title that has nothing to do with the actual content of this blog (just happened to hear the Carpenters on TV yesterday!).
I dislike grocery shopping - I am bad at it and I lack the inherent skills required to make complex decisions such as "what vegetables should I buy". Of course this stems from a deep rooted fear of decision making and also from the fact that I can always count on somebody else to make decisions for me. Only the seemingly insignificant ones though - other major life decisions like "I dont want to go to work today because I can pass off my countenance as slightly indisposed", I make myself.
When my mom walks into a super-market she has a plan of attack. She treads purposefully towards the right aisle and we are always in-and-out in a few minutes, armed with exactly what we need - not a tomato more or a potato less.
Every saturday morning I decide to take an inventory of the 'larder' (so Enid Blyton I love it!). A moment after I am faced with 'grocery type' things or the lack thereof, my resolve comes crashing down and I give up even before I have begun.
Come afternoon I trudge off with dragging footsteps towards 'SupaBarn' (very 'barn'like and hardly 'supa') and here starts the misery. The second I enter my brain begins it shutdown process, I walk through the aisles dazed and overwhelmed by the sheer amount of choice surrounding me. I pick up random things at leisure and put them back (sometimes in the wrong places). Few things I buy out of sheer habit (even though I might have 10 of the same in my 'larder'). Few things I avoid because I know that I will go into an uncontrollable frenzy at the sight of potato crisps or Cadbury Hazelnut hot chocolate powder!
Chaos reigns supreme in my mind and before I know it I am at the check out. Post check- out I suddenly snap out of this hypnotic state and take a moment to look through my shopping for the day. Usually I have nothing to show for it and invariably I always never know what to cook that night because I have not bought anything that I can make a decent meal out of.
My friend has got grocery shopping down to a science. He can reduce it to a simple mathematical equation and as they say when God shuts a door somewhere he opens a window - I find it quite simple to work with equations coined by somebody else :-).
Calculation goes something like this:
(i) Calculate the no. of meals that you will cook before your next visit to SupaBarn (and be honest about this, your laziness factor can be accounted for right here without causing more strain on the pocket!)
(ii) Divide by 2 in my case because food cooked for one meal usually lasts for another (call this no. x)
(iii) Subtract the number of vegetables that you already have at home that can be cooked for one meal (and last for two!) - call this result y.
(iv) Buy x-y = z number of vegetables!
SIMPLE, BEAUTIFUL AND ELEGANT - reminds me of Veronica's French chef in the Archie comics when he smacked his lips and gushed "bellisimo".

Friday, May 26, 2006

Wheels of time

Its been a roller coaster ride y'all!
Over an 'extended' lunch break today my (very unlikely) friend and I started discussing issues. Beginning with the kind of people that we can get along with and the kind of people we cannot, delving into the depths of human relationships and the like and the icing on the cake was realising that paediatricians have a completely different outlook on life (when compared to the rest of humanity)!
This got me thinking on the walk back to work - i have strived all my life to be a good kid, a good friend and generally a good person to be with. Im sure that as a baby and a child I still believed in the inherent goodness of the world - heck why else would I have let every other person carry me and 'say hello' or 'say bye' (all the while thinking 'lady/dude I can barely cry to let people know im hungry, saying 'hello' is not an option right now! OR "I didnt not just say bye, I was trying to cough out something stuck in my throat! There really isn't anything to get goo goo gaa gaa over!). But as people grow and learn (all kinds of things!) all this talk of inherent goodness takes the very last seat on the bus!
Now that I re-read by blog thus far I realise that I have majorly digressed from the initial point I was trying to make (but of course digression is what leads you to greener pastures!).
The point I was, and still am, trying to make is that my life has been a mix, hell its been a concoction! Every time I am asked "So, where are you from?" I have to stop and think of a suitable reply (this reply hugely depends on the person asking this question :-) ). I now realise that this indecision regarding my origins is unnecessary - or is it?
If I tell somebody that I am half Jamaican, half Bohemian and I have been brought up in Timbucktoo - would they say 'No wai, bet yeow a dollah you're Eendian, brought up in Neow Zoilan for a beet, mate!'
And if they did say this, after I had finished reeling from the shock of it all, I would of course try to fathom how they figured it out. Would it be my accent, my clothes, my love of beaches and other vast expanses of water or the fact that I said thank you to an auto-driver in B'lore! (which nobody does apparently!). The answer does not strike me as 'elementary, my dear Watson'!
I think (for what its worth) that I am what I am because of my environment and a small set of basic beliefs. It is as if my parents handed me down some tools and told me to build my life with 'em. On the way I found other tools and the occasional spanners in the work. Tools I kept, spanners I got rid of.
So I turn as best I can, the wheels of this system and it trudges along no doubt to some distant future.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Writer's Block

As the title of this blog suggests the above is exactly what I am suffering from. Writer's block seems to be a genuine thing and not something that came into existence because somebody had to hand in an essay the following day and had whiled away all their time drinking and partying and then realised 'oops! umm...sorry maam I had writers' block' (of course if they could back it up with a medical certificate confirming the same then they might have gotten away with it!).
As I never fail to mention, I have been out and away from the writing scene for quite a while, I like to think that all this time I have dedicated to more (arguably) useful things like studies - although what greater good this will serve, we have yet to see.
My first few blogging sessions were quite productive. In spite of the half a decade long absence I was able to write something that I thought could be read for the 'goodness and enrichment of one's soul'. Ok who am I kidding, those words were said by my Prof. to a class of rather atrocious students who really couldnt care less about 'Analytical techniques in Physical Sciences'. Actually an interesting story surrounds this comment. We were fresh into our first year (and this means it was our second day at university because things get quite stale a few months into a degree!) at university, still in that phase where we thought 'hanging out' at 'uni' was cool and we were oh so 'flash' because we would be 'Btech-optoelectricians' four years down the line. So first week into our course we were told that we would be the first ever batch to study 'Analytical techniques in Physical Sciences' taught by Prof. BP! What, very convieniently, they failed to tell us what that Prof. BP was Little Nicky with chalk for a pitch-fork, who thought that we were actually there to learn these Analytical Techniques!
After about 99% of the class (comprising of 11 students, one of whom was there to actually learn and so he passed) failed - Dr. MH came to our rescue. MH shared an office with Prof. and had been his student - so he was fully familiar with the effect of Analytical Techniques on young minds and how traumatic the whole experience can be, so to save the university having to pay through its nose for lawsuits filed by the parents of aforementioned, traumatised young minds, MH decided that he would tutor us - on the sly- for weeks before the exam.
In one of these ill-fated tutorials one student who had been religiously pouring over the techniques and burning his belongings one-by-one (as midnight oil must've run out!!), in sheer frustration chucked his book on the desk and shouted 'Why the heck do we have to learn all this c**p"! To this lad MH calmly replied 'you must learn this for the goodness and enrichment of your soul'!!!! The shell shocked student is still trying to comprehend this remark, as are the rest of us but for that moment in time we actually believed that we were on the brink of something remarkable. That learning 'Analytica techniques in Physical Sciences' was the one and only path to nirvana...

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

On the shoulders of giants

In one of my earlier blogs I had written, rather discerningly, about how sad it was that all my writing eventually digresses into something Physics oriented. I had also expressed my deep sorrow at this fact and then continued to write about something Physics oriented albeit with a sorrowful countenance.
Now that I think about it I realise that it is the most natural thing, the path of least resistance and thus I take it. My friend who is well on her way to saving the lives of many, weilding steth and scalpel, is an eager blogger - and she writes about - you guessed it - steth and scalpel!
Not that her every blog tells of symptoms and treatments, but majority (in fact maybe all!) of her day to day experiences involve the 'sick and ailing' in some way.
What we choose to become heavily influences who we are at a given point in time and, like it or not, we are very likely to view the world and then use our knowledge/experiences to explain it. However, the strange thing about all this is that people that truly realise the world, people we (I) consider giants - Buddha, A.Einstein, Michelangelo to name very very few - seemed to have broken through this barrier of the preconcieved. Of course I have never been in the presence of these esteemed beings and had the opportunity to say 'how the heck did you come up with that!', but history tells us of their lives and how they openly flaunted authority, seemed to be prodigies from the word go and basically took the responsiblity not to let schooling interfere with their education.
So many a time I think that maybe my life is getting nowhere because my thinking is based on prior knowledge, I look at and think about everything in terms of a preconcieved idea that some such giant put forth - while what I should really do is research, rethink and react.

All of eternity...

A big Thank You! to everyone who has read my blog and showed their appreciation. It is definitely a moral booster as its been about half a decade since I wrote anything readable by the general population. Not to say that for the last half a decade I have been filling in speech bubbles for japanese cartoons (that's the stuff of nightmares!) - quite the contrary actually - I have been writing scientific reports (nothing world changing and certainly not revolutionary but scientific all the same). This morning during 'educational net browsing', I came across Albert E's original published papers (photoelectric effect, special and general relativity etc.), translated to English of course. I was excited to say the least (and totally confused by that 3 page document that changed the course of science as they knew it and caused many a student to wake up in cold sweat the night before an exam on the aforementioned topic).
Amidst all this uncontrollable excitement a slightly more subduing thought came to mind - the language of science is so ... dreary!
As I read through that document - on which this unequalled, undeniable genius had poured his mind out - I was amazed at how practical, simple even, he made it sound. Almost as if he was not saying 'these pages will change your world forever!!' but instead saying 'hey, what a lovely day!'. In some ways I appreciate Archimedes for running out in his birthday suit screaming 'Eureka!' because this is exactly what I might do if I find so fundamental a fragment of the 'ultimate theory'.
I am unsure as to what Albert did the very second he realised '....and....that means...E=mc squared' did he stand, eyes wide with amazement at this seemingly impossible yet obvious conclusion that drives the world we live in - I think he did! He must have!
The magnitude of such a moment cannot be adequately expressed even with the most descriptive adjectives of the English language - let alone the practical language of science. It is almost as if you are standing on the brink of creation and in a moment the entire universe unfolds before you - exactly as you said it would - abiding by laws that you understand. Then you sigh because such is the beauty and this simplicity is beyond the comprehension of the masses - yet this knowledge is now within you for eternity.
If I ever have my very own annus mirabilis I will write a book (and of course publish in 'Nature'!!) because I think that even though the language of science could communicate my conclusions and derivations - it is only the language of literature that can communicate my thoughts, my trials and triumphs.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Random Musings

One doesnt appreciate what they have till they no longer have it (be it for a day or a couple of months!) - and I am now experiencing that very appreciation!
Someone said (Im not sure who, maybe Milton, if you know please enlighten me!) that 'Every man is an island' -and to him John Donne replied saying:
'No man is an island, entire of itself
every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main
if a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were,
as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thine own were
any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind
and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls
it tolls for thee.'

I plead guilty to preaching the former philosoph, although life has taught me that I conform to the latter. There was a time when I thought that I was happy on my own, that my solitude would give me time to think and reflect and thus pave the way for major breakthroughs in life. What a fool I was!
Indeed no man is an island and our social interactions help us to grow and learn the ways of the world that we (fortunately or unfortunately, by some curvature of spacetime and on the very very off chance!) inhabit.

Then the phoenix rises from the ashes as it were...and we begin again...to wait and hope.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Random Musings 2

I was thinking yesterday (save the smartass comments- and anyone who doesnt know better, this is the time to leave :-D) that all my blogs, even though they might begin with random philosophies and/or seem to be about life in general and my life in particular, eventually digress into something Physics oriented. This deeply saddens me.
Anyhow back to the usual digression :-) - everyone who has the distinct impression of Physicists being the clumsy, 'Albert haired', slightly ditzy and extremely klutzy strange people walking around talking to themselves in strange languages, is in for a rude awakening!
I too am guilty of this thoughtless generalisation. The truth however once again happens to be the opposite. The aforementioned generalisation can only be applied to to the 'theoretical' community. Which, I hear, is rapidly shrinking!
During my first week at work (umm..us PhD students who many accuse of doing nothing but mooching off taxpayers money and calling it a well earned 'scholarship' like to call our work 'work') my supervisor (a gem of a man whose brain is the physics equivalent of a concorde and his countenance just as cold as the upper atmosphere) told me that I cannot afford to think of this as a 'job' - and I cannot afford to turn up to work drunk! I assured him that he need not worry about the latter!
Anyhow - I never finished this blog when I should have and now have lost my train of thought so I am going to abruptly end this blog!

Friday, May 05, 2006

Curiouser and Curiouser

So I sat down to write again...it's been a very long day...with ups and downs and I am just about ready to head home, head filled with Faraday, Verdet and the like. It is a thrilling ride this Doctorate. Whenever I mention it to my grandparents, who are giants in their respective disciplines and without whose guidance and support I would be nowhere, their eyebrows go up in approval. However, I know my worth. I reiterate - it has been a long day and getting longer still.
The weekend is ahead, wonder what it holds. Hopefully some uninterrupted sleep and of course more work. A little bit of enthusiasm for the latter thrown in wouldn't hurt one bit!
Ive been reading 'Big Bang' by Simon Singh. It made me think, as books do, of our place in the universe. I dont know if anyone has put a number on this vastness that we are a very insignificant part of - or what dimensions we will have to venture into if we ever find ourselves in the vicinity of an answer to the question - 'So how big is the universe again?'.
It is freaking huge, unfathomably (if there is such a word!) huge , vast beyond our wildest dreams and imagination....and empty! So empty that James Jeans said of it - "Put three grains of sand inside a vast cathedral, and the cathedral will be more closely packed with sand than space is with stars!". Amazing - Hell ya!!
We hold a place in this vast emptiness of space
Our stand is little more than a speck of land
In which we sow to reap and work and toil
Dreams to build, amidst growing turmoil
We seek the truth and nurture notions
Of greatness and such futile emotions
As the universe watches us - born to live and die
It goes on unchanged, as life passes us by
For on our speck we stand mighty and tall
Amidst an almighty vastness - that renders us small.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Bollywood Masala

Ever notice how my blog titles have nothing to do with the content...I did! Oh well to each her own I always say - but this one does!
Tried to sleep last night but didnt succeed till about 4.30 am. My flatmate had 'subhan allah, subhan allah' blaring on his laptop while he worked and so I asked him what was with the 'subhan allah'ing lately and turns out it is a super-hit song from the soon to be super-hit movie Fanaa (c/0 Yash Chopra Prod.) and just as I was getting ready to roll those eyes he said 'it has Aamir Khan' - done deal! Im watching it. Ok for those that know me, I will watch any hindi movie. It just that, plain as day. I find hindi movies mindlessly entertaining and so far fetched and surreal that although I dont fancy them, Ill watch them, if only to see how mindless they can get! People that say 'how can anyone watch this shite..why can't they make better movies' .. think about it!
Majority of the bharatiya population is composed of working class people who spend their day and possibly their whole life working towards something they can never achieve - immense wealth! So try telling a guy who has just slogged for 10 hours, beaten crazy traffic and come home to a nagging wife (who is completely justified!) that when he turns on TV, he is going to be shown a movie about...corruption in India! He will very graphically tell you to take a hike! Hindi movies cater to the delusional senses of the Indian masses. It takes them, if only for 3-4 hours, into a life that they can never live, full of hoardes of riches and pretty dancing damsels. Where good triumphs over evil and everything ends happily ever after. Momentary bliss and then they are thrown back into harsh reality. So for all those hindi movie critics out there...put yourself in the shoes of the common Indian and maybe you will then fathom how much those few hours mean to them.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

voyage heureux !!

The events and characters described below are completely fictitious and a complete figment of the author's overactive imagination. Any resemblance to anyone alive or otherwise is purely co-incidental and completely unintentional.

This is a story...it has not yet happened, but the events leading up to it are well in progess. It is a tale of a transition - Ramji Canberra Wale to Herr Ram of Wuerzburg. So pray tell where in the scheme of German things does a cricket-bat weilding, perugu-annam eating, pickle slurping, strapping young lad fit in. Let me enlighten you...he just happens to possess a mathematically 'Beautiful Mind' (minus the schizophrenia so far!) and us Canberrians and them Germans hope that one day (in the next two months!) he shall enlighten us all with a theory of err..antenna...wave...propagation...matrix...Heisenberg help me!!
Keep those equations rolling Ramji and we wish you the very best!!

Monday, May 01, 2006

Wouldn't it be loverly!

Its Monday afternoon and the weather looks like it is mourning a lost friend! The skies have been crying all night and the general atmosphere can, at the height of optimism, be regarded as gloomy...and I am at home...on sick leave!
So of course my perspective on the gloomy day is a cross between ecstacy and elation! In my home, tucked under a warm duvet on the couch, Taj Mahal tea with ginger brewing on the stove (really!!) and a copy of the Big Bang by Simon Singh..ah total bliss!!
Then it hits me....its MONDAY AFTERNOON!!! darn it!! sick leave doesnt justify not doing work!!! So very reluctantly I pull out a copy of Non-linear Optics..and the day passes me by.
Come Monday night, I read a blog by a friend of mine who spoke about Time-travel and how teleportation would be so darned convenient! Amen to that!!
I hate flying...I hate travelling and the thought of packing my bags sends me into a state of total disarray! (lately my psychosis termed as 'travel anxiety' has become so bad I have been contemplating treatment for it!) .
Here is an e.g. of total mental breakdown at the thought of undertaking a very simple journey. I live in Canberra, capital of Aussieland. Family is in Auckland, not the capital of New 'seLan ;-).
Hence the journey back home goes somewhat like this - wake up 4 am - bus to Sydney (3 hrs) and fly to NZ from Syd (3 hrs). Not at all complicated, very straightforward.
However, about a week before the travel day I cant sleep anymore. I become very irritable when people mention the fated day and I cannot bear the idea of even looking at my empty suitcase to fill it up. To add to the general trend of things - appetite loss, stomach upset and nausea - we dont have a pretty picture people!
After much careful hindsight and contemplation, I have arrived at the conclusion that I am not scared of flying, I am neither acrophobic nor am I claustrophobic ...what I may be is a tad agorophobic!
Plain and simple...the thought of change scares me...I do not like being disrupted from my present state of inertia...in fact I am the archtypical Newtonian 'object'!
All this is not to say that I dont want to see the world, in fact I share a dream with almost all my fellow human beings...to see Europe :-).
However, I have a fervent request of all quantum physicists...beam me up Scotty!

Friday, April 28, 2006

Thanks a lot Mr. Dickens!!

I think the biggest impediment to my writing, anything in general and a book in particular, is the opening sentence. I am up against such greats as Charles Dickens ("It was the best of times...") and of course the all encompassing Mr. William S! and umpteen others who have been lucky enough to have their go before me and luckier still because their golden words (opening words, mind you!) have become so ingrained in our minds, that nothing less will be considered noteworthy!
I want my opening line to be nothing short of remarkable....but of course, why would anyone read something that started off "This is a text book on electricity and magnetism..." (that is how the book on 'Introduction to Electrodynamics' started off...and I read it and thought to myself... if the person reading this book doesnt even know that "This is a text book on electricity and magnetism..."then they should shut this book right now and dedicate their life to more useful things...unfortunately I now know that reading that book cover to cover was the biggest mistake of my life...no actually it was a big mistake, the biggest mistake was thinking that I understood that book cover to cover - a misconception that I am very dearly paying for!).
Anyhow, back to opening sentences, I realise after writing this that maybe it doesnt matter after all how one begins....or does it??

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


It is my dream to be an author and whenever I get the chance I never fail to tell close friends that, someday I will write a book. What about - not sure yet, how - no idea! But I still dream on, I say dream and not persevere because in reality I havent even begun!
So when I created my own blog-site what-have-you, I vowed that I would try to write something everyday, or atleast every other day - and so far I have managed to keep this up (I think I have!). However, it might soon become every other other day and eventually just when I have time. So till then do keep up!
As it were I am getting side tracked from the main subject of this blog - ANZAC Day. 25th April is a day dedicated to celebrating the lives of the numerous soldiers who give their lives for their country. Fight till the end and never question - just do or die. In Canberra the celebrations began as early as 5.30 am with the dawn service and...wait for it...I attended!!! Since I live a stone's throw from the War Memorial I thought I should add this on to my (rapidly gettin longer) list of experiences. The service itself was lovely and solemn and Im glad I woke up early (I can count on one hand such early morning risings and this one was definitely worth it!).
Sadly, I dont know much about the Army Corps. Few distorted snippets of information is all I have but something in the way that everyone seemed that morning, the record turn out of people of all ages and from all walks of life, parking their car several kms away and walking in sub zero temperatures to pay tribute to these armed men and women whose unquestioning dedication allows commoners like you and I to sleep at night knowing that we are secure in some way - all this made me think.
Many of us go through our lives in a very careless and sometimes callous manner. How many of us think of these others, people just like us, who are driven by an urge to serve their country. I hold the Armed Corps. in high esteem - it is the most selfless service.
Very unfortunate, though, that the governments these people serve are, more often than not, undeserving...

Monday, April 24, 2006

Trials and Tribulations - Life of a laser Physicist Part 1

Its been 5 hours - 5 long hours of my life dedicated to coupling light into a chalcogenide wafer on silicon substrate (dont look- there is no appendix to explain the 'geek and latin' terms! :-D). In fact it would be good if God had given us an appendix to refer to, a book of life with suitable appendices to which we could refer whenever life gave us something we never bargained for. Somewhere we could look and check, where things were in context! A place like no other where all the c**p that happened to you was explained - plain and simple! Look in there and you would think 'Aaaaaaaaaahhh...that's why ... now it all makes sense'. But, as life (and God) would have it there is no such book and no such appendix - hence we must trudge along our lives and keep pondering and wasting time over things that seem so trivial and so useless (such as the aforementioned 5 hour long task) and better still we must suffer over things that never work and to cap it all off we must still have the longing and drive to be the physicist that we set out to be in the first place. In spite of coupling being so difficult, there is still hope! :-)
Maybe God did give us an appendix after all...

Friday, April 21, 2006

New found Land

I am new to the blogging world...and I think half a decade too late! Its just that nothing hinders creativity more than having to do the most mundane chores of existence. However, without further ado I shall launch myself into this newfound land and let the creative juices flow as never before! Umm..err ...sure... till next time!