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 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 ( 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'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 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 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 see Europe :-).
However, I have a fervent request of all quantum physicists...beam me up Scotty!