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'. " 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.