Friday, June 12, 2009

The Midweek Crisis

ooOOHHhhhh ggGAWDddd... It is Wednesday evening! uggghhh... It's been three days. Three whole days, since I spoke a sentence outside what work requires. Not a joke, no chit chat, no hanging out over chaay. Just the knee jerk "Good, how're you doing?" to the guy who walked on without bothering for an answer to his "Heyhow'reya'doin'?". Occasionally on Monday morning, there'll be the "..... Soooo... how was the weekend"..... to swollen eyed Shane who's at the next bench. He can be kind. He'll say "Not much. Just relaxin' at home." Ah! The vividity smothers me!

Others in the lab have their own comfy cliques. The ladies always have things to talk about. Usually its their husbands and other people's kids. I overheard "You know, having babies is infectious, you see one and you want to have one". That has killed any drive to make conversational inroads into this clique. The other clique is impenetrable. It might not have been, if they didn't so fastidiously stick to Chinese. More people might have wanted to talk to me, had boss not taken away the Post Doc's rightful experiment and asked me to do it. Me, the black sheep, is now asked about where that antibody is kept and "What happened with that experiment?"... and that is ALL.

It's summer time too. That means, no free food seminars. These seminars are a watering hole for grad students. So again, no real 'socialising' during the week. Things are very different from most Indian Universities/institutes. No one hangs around a moment more than necessary in labs. They all have kids, wives, girlfriends etc to rush to. The PhD students too. Back when Girija(ji) told me about this, I thought the problem can be easily worked around. Afterall, I thought, you'd need just a bunch of friends to loll about with, the way it was in the hostels, or Mac in TIFR. Girija(ji) was so right. The others have people at home, and their isn't much of an Indian herd here yet.

And in the grand city of Dallas you are physically challenged without a car. UT Southwestern doesn't have a Deccan Gymkhana or Churchgate nearby, the way Garware College and TIFR did. There's no Z bridge or Marine drive to stand at and watch the gorgeous traffic go past. No Roopali to make the best coffee companion ever. There's no where to go to, and no way to get there. Imagine my handicap!

And so here we are again. Wednesday evening! The weekend is usually bliss with the skyping at home and conference calls with pals from school and TIFR. Three days have past since that dopamine rush. The married ones are too busy to talk, even for free!! Being at the bottom of this pit doesn't hurt as much as the slump in getting here. Scraps on Orkut and the odd one line email saying "Hi" are the IV drip that keep me stable. Thank you internet. The online TV shows and movies were helpful, until a public email came along threatening of expulsion for misuse of internet facilities. Books were my poison, until I picked up "On how to be a Scientist".

I'm playing psychologist now. I'll give this non-existent problem, a name. We'll call it the Midweek Crisis. The midweek crisis is the Wednesday evening stab of lonliness, if you will. You might want to speak. Just to listen to a human voice in light conversation. This condition is a step away from randomly calling 1-800... service nos. People do this. They call a Hoover call center when there is nothing wrong with their Eureka vaccum cleaner anyway! Just to talk to another human being. Blame it on the hectic weekly schedule, the pressure to perform or whatever you like. But it's there, although not wholly unsolvable.

Dhananjay Chaturvedi PhD (in Psssssssycology) is working on a cure. I've fixed a weekly wednesday tea gathering in the Rosen lab break room. Over tea we talked about things in the lab, Nepal's political issue's and Papa's weekend trip to Dallas (which I'm very excited about)Yesterday was helpful. Hopefully things will get better in the lab and I'll shed my Black Sheep guise. Hopefully, there'll be more people speaking Indian languages around me, more people just speaking around me. Hopefully...