Tuesday, October 23, 2007

...in the air

Summer is here! Its the festive season and the atmosphere reminds me of holidays in India. Dusshera/Diwali was time off from school. The air was filled with the fragrance of incense and flowers and camphor. The weather was a pleasant warm and we kids would eat, run around and be merry!
It is hard to believe that a cynical old cow like me would enjoy anything traditional - but I love festivals. Most of all I love the 'festive air'. It fills me with hope and joy.
I bought a car two weeks back. I am yet to see if my meagre PhD pay permits such luxuries, however thank the Lord God for my parents! After picking it up I wanted to take it to the temple. Canberra does not have a 'Vahana Ganapathi' and such conveniences so we have to make do with the standard God at the standard temple. Anyhow, since we got there after nightfall, turns out the Gods do not look kindly upon poojas done in the dark. I was content with having the car touch temple ground and smearing some 'kumkum'.
This got me thinking again. I am a physicist (on paper). Every single day at work I am supposed to unearth the mysteries of the universe. I read Maxwell, Einstein and the like. Yet every time I move house I boil milk, I say a prayer every morning on waking up, I take cars to temple and do pooja to my bike on 'Ayudh Pooja' day. All very contradictory really. So I asked myself that question - Why?
In a single word the answer is - reassurance. For me it is as simple as hoping that outcomes are out of human hands! That my efforts will be rewarded, even if by 'divine' intervention! That something/someone watches over my loved ones, because Physics certainly does not ensure that!
Of late life has been passing me by at a phenomenal rate! So much seems to have happened that I was definitely a part of, yet I feel like I stood and watched it from afar.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

I - the robot

I don't like eating alone.
For the first time today I gathered the courage (and was hungry enough!) to run down to the cafe in the adjacent building, sit down and eat lunch - all by myself. For the first time in 24 years.
The cafe has Hollywood gossip magazines that one can flick through as one waits for food. I like Hollywood gossip. It makes me feel better about myself, my career and my life in general. So I wondered what kind of a tabloid headline I might make if I was interesting enough to write about.
'Amrita admits to feeling lonely!': In a shocking new revelation, 24 year old laser physicist Amrita Prasad, who was recently in the news for travelling to locations like Paris, Scotland, England and Germany and the US, yet claiming to have an uneventful life, revealed that in fact her move away from home had left her feeling lonely at times! ' I don't like eating alone' the 24 year old said as she admitted to regularly eating in front of the computer in her windowless cubicle 'sometimes there is no one to talk to'. Amrita now lives with her sister in a suburb in Canberra. The two have been spotted shopping in the mall and buying groceries.

Yes, I wouldn't make the news. But its fun pretending. Ok its deranged.
Well for those interested, Nicole Ritchie's boyfriend was caught cheating on her, Britney Spears realises she is as 'fat as a pig' and Brangelina never stopped making news!
And yes, I do feel lonely at times. I feel like the weight of the world is on my weak shoulders and that in doing, day in and day out, what I have to do, I have forgotten what I want to do. I am the robot at times and some weeks pass by in a daze. Some days I wish I could go back home to my parents, who I miss and don't get to see everyday anymore. At times I wish I had someone to eat with or even somebody to say hello to me when I walk in to work, or someone to have a chat to over coffee. People say I have hardened up post moving out and PhD. Im glad I have my guardian angels - (dark) humour, cynicism and sarcasm - without these I would be lost.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Be the change you want to see!

I want to be controversial today and write with the intention of sparking debate, so if anyone wanted light reading then please scroll down or read another post - thank you!

Lately I have been involved in a lot of talk of marriage, relationships and the like. Not my own but those of near and dear ones. Anyone who knows me well enough knows that I have extremely strong opinions about this topic. It is a no-compromise zone for me and therefore a no-go zone with me for several people (you know who you are!).
One can wax philosophical about things and say 'it has been this way for hundreds of years and I see no reason to change it!' - to them I say ' I see reason to change it unless you convince me otherwise'.
I and a lot of people I interact with, have been brought up in a very liberal manner - in thought and action. I have been taught and in fact encouraged to make my own life, plan it and live it!
In the course of my life, if I choose to wed (unfortunately as my father would say!), then I can do so knowing full well the consequences of my actions.
I am Indian by birth- and a lot of my friends and all my family are Indian. Having lived in the society I can appreciate the reasons for marrying off a daughter when she turns 20 odd years. The Indian society, even to this day, is not congenial to a single woman - regardless of her age and social standing.
However, in saying that I cannot agree that the same applies to somebody who has left the system, a girl/woman/female who does not live in India and has not lived there for most part of her life. We were shipped out, given independence, motivated and encouraged to think and live an independent life. Nobody told us not to plan past 25 - and so we did!
No one has been able to convince me that it is feasible and correct to uproot a woman's life just because she has turned a certain age. I will never agree (depending on the argument presented!) that it is OK for a girl to have to move countries, jobs, families because some archaic system said so or some biological clock decided to tick.
So, I can see you ask, what do you think? - Here is what I think, believe and practice:
Every individual must go about their life. Plan as far in the future as they want to. In the course of their natural life, without any pressure or deviation, if another person comes along that seems interesting, loving and caring, somebody who just joins you're life and makes the transition smooth and natural - THIS to me is marriage and a relationship!
I will in fact take this opportunity to thank my folks - thank you Ma and Baba for giving me the reins to my life and for helping me to be the change that so many of us want to see!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Hard day's night

This week is best described by the lyrics of the Beatles' song 'Hard day's night' - mostly for the 'working like a dog' and 'should be sleeping like a log' bits not for the 'come home to you' and 'be alright'!
Ive been working only to find myself at multiple dead ends. This maze of what is to eventually be my first, first-author journal publication must have a way to the centre. Im just praying that the cup is not a portkey!
Isn't it great that we can now do Harry Potter sayings!. 'Let's hope you're cup is not a portkey!' ,'I hope my wand has the right feather!', 'Don't get you're robes in an uproar!' - you get the drift!

Anyway - amidst paper writing, experiment re-doing and car-hunting, last week I managed to read "Longitude - The True Story of a Lone Genius who solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of his Time". This book is by Dava Sobel and follows the life and time of John Harrison, an English clock-maker who devoted his life to, not only creating an extremely precise and accurate time piece, but also to perfecting the art of precision watch-making to aid in measuring longitude. To us in this day and age longitude is something Google can possibly spout out at a click or others who can be bothered might want to look it up in an atlas or a book. Back in the day such ways were non-existent and turns out poor wanderers on sea either hit land unexpectedly or lost their way and died of scurvy on the high-seas for the want of a method to measure the longitude. This book is a great read and very concise and I would urge one and all to discover 'Longitude'.
In other goings-on, as the world and its father knows, the All Black's lost to France. Taking with them the hopes and dreams of that nation- New Zealand. We heard news of the mourning, the accusations, the aftermath. All very sad. Yet there is hope of winning the big one at home - in 4 years!
I have a weekend not-worth-looking-forward-to coming up, although I just heard from a friend that the oktoberfest is in town. Beer and sauerkraut might be just the thing needed after a hard week and weekend of labours! - Auf Wiedersehen then and wish me Viel Gl├╝ck!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

In the land of dreams!

I have often wondered why my dreams are so benign. Not that I want 'malignant' dreams of world domination or violent outbursts, but I often wonder why my dreams are not grand. Aside from the usual 'teeth falling out' or 'room full of snakes' that recur frequently, almost all of my dreams have me running errands for somebody else, or studying for an upcoming exam - you get the drift. I have never dreamed the cliched 'naked in public' dream or 'winning a beauty contest' for that matter. It may be that my conscious being does not permit these thoughts. It might well be that I am far too sure of never being caught without clothes or equally certain of never participating in a beauty contest! I don't really find solace in this. Are dreams not meant to be exactly as the word suggests - exciting and sometimes unachievable, fantastic!
Speaking of dreams - I am now (almost!) recovered from my trip to the US of A. LA and San Jose all in a week's work. Exciting stuff. 'So... how was it' you ask? 'Wonderful' ... I say.
The best part being that I caught up with my cousins whom I haven't seen in a very long time, far too long really. Do not nurture dreams of Californication yet, however it is a great holiday 'desi'-tination!
This visit has made my family members very happy. In particular my grand-father who has relentlessly tried to make me see sense and move to 'the states'. 'Aun noDo, software engineering maaDi, America li tumba sambLa ante' (look at him, he did his software engineering and now earns a fat sum of money in America). Although I let him down by not doing Software Engineering, he still hopes that I will move to America and strike it big.
Maybe, it is after all 'the land of dreams' is it not?