Saturday, December 06, 2014

Hushha, abushha, They all got married

I wonder how many of you have similar experiences with friends.

Ascent and King of Blue are two people I've known since I was two. I've always felt very close to them, though not always been very close to them. Different classes and schools will do that to you. And yet, I really feel they're my brothers from other mothers. I haven't spent that much time with them in the past decade and yet whenever we meet we devolve into the same pubescent jokes and silly laughter that we always have. 

In college all of us hung out a lot. Ghodi was this regal figure with rich tastes and expensive upbringing. Brightness was warm on the inside but scorched people within earshot on the outside. Good-peaceful was never ever at peace. The Patient One has to be the most restless man I have ever seen. J and J were completely different personalities and joint at the hip for some reason. Similarly Twilight and Jasmine stemmed from the same pot. Mind truly had a mind of her own and shared heart with a lot of people. Strawberry was a sweet flower who kept her magnificence to her self at most times. Star was the nicest person I have known...

Later there was another Star who I spent a lot of time with. Branchette was one of these forceful personalities who wouldn't let you into her space. Shiva was always a jolly drunk. Point was a tiny ball of laughter. Little lamp was always Ms Diligence Goodytwoshoes. Stud laughed louder than I ever have. Another Brightness was there a year and gone the next... 

Another Krish worked his charm and kept busy. Drey is another brother from an other mother. General Moon had had a long distance relationship for half a decade...

Then they all got married.

Their worlds don't seem to extend beyond home anymore. Which is good in some ways. One wants that: to be lost in your own world with greater predictability, at least for some time. That world seems to change people. They aren't part of my world anymore.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

वेलापन (Joblessness)

The past couple of months have had there ups and downs. People equate this feeling with being on a roller coaster. I'm not sure the analogy fits. Roller coasters are fun at all times if your core packs intestines tightly. At least, there is the assurance of a stable end. My ride began with defending my thesis, meeting Noshi, going to the Grand Canyon. My figurative cart stood poised on that high, at that point. Since then, I applied for Post Doc jobs, got turned down on all of them; stepped out of a life; drove to Michigan for an interview, did well, met with good friends; got told in Michigan that any funding for my possible post doc position might be available only February; decided to join a local lab where a position was offered; that offer was retracted; and now, I've started fresh applications again.
So as it stands, I have three letters at the end of my name, but no job: an unfortunate circumstance which a lot of people share these days. My strategy to stay sane has been to keep myself occupied at all time. To fend off thoughts that might seed disappointment, hopelessness, frustration, resentment and remorse, I've become a Netflix and NPR podcast glutton. Books help but nothing beats complete audio visual immersion, as any eight year old will demonstrate. I rationalize such indolence by calling movies and TV series, audio visual books. I started working out again which brings peace to a storm-ravaged mindscape.
One such storm hit on the sly. On the second of October I got called into the boss's office. He tells me "I cannot pay you any longer and University rules are that if you can't be paid, you can't work. So you're welcome to visit the lab and hangout but I'll finish the remaining experiments on your paper." That very afternoon, the lab went for lunch that we planned in advance. At the end of lunch I was given a Goodbye/^&*% off gift. I was blindsided. And thus at the end of six years, I felt discarded as a चुस्की mango seed.
It's easy to lose it with such thoughts flitting about. And this was just one such thought. It's hard to talk to people outside the inner sanctum of your best friends, however long you've known them. What's to be said? No one likes to hear glum and sombre non-events. 
I find a routine helps me get through the day. Waking up at a fixed hour, having a morning ritual of making coffee and a curious fruit smoothie, checking email and then getting back to an activity that makes you happy and helps with your future. These could be applications, workouts, books, podcasts, netflix, cooking, cleaning and so on. Amma's obsession with keeping the house clean suddenly makes complete sense. I'm disabused of gender role preference stereotypes. I think of this time as a forced, unpaid vacation. I have no idea how people deal with solitary confinement lasting years in prisons. The very thought is mildly traumatizing. It's traumatizing because suddenly you have time to imagine and live out a thought in your mind. It's as close to experiencing a situation without physically doing so. It becomes so easy to make one's mind the proverbial 'Devil's workshop'. 
Nietzsche says solitude needs to be spent in self improvement. Preserving sanity becomes key to this endeavor. I hope this stage of वेलापन ends soon. I'm dying to be productively occupied once more. I'd much rather be working for free than sitting at home jobless. It's funny how one starts with a wishlist of things to do, with things that just won't be considered penned in in invisible ink, and as time passes the shades of ink reverse themselves. Just one item on that wishlist needs to materialize. We'll see when it happens.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Black-Ground-with-strips-of-Snow

A tree... acorns, nuts and slugs
A sunny day and a juicy bug.
Dew on blades of grass, shines.
By 'Black-Ground-with-strips-of-snow'
Sit snacks in skin that is hard to tear
Some such skins lying just everywhere.

How I love these Iron deer
With strange round rubber hooves
Mumma said to stay away
But they leave the best snacks everyday.

Food is where the fun is
I'll head over for a peck.
Squirrel's head is lying dead.
'Black-Ground-with-strips-of-snow'
Looks smeared with all his blood.
Is it his blood or the Hawks's?
Whose feathers look strewn about?
He came to snack on Squirrel's keister
Like he did at my sister.
Or is it Deer's, whose tail I see
At the end of red rope
Piled outside his belly.
It has to be old Skunk's,
I still smell his fury.

I won't get too close
to Black-Ground-with-strips-of-snow.
Though I'd still like to know
Why only Black Ground has strips of snow.

I see no Iron deer left or right
I want to see these strips of snow.
This is not what snow is like
This is flat and not powdery white.
Why did Deer, Squirrel or Skunk cross Black Ground?
I don't know!
Chicken never crossed Black ground!
They stay away and stay sound,
Like us smart Raccoons.

SPLAT....

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Destiny..?!

As years whizz past, I subscribe to the notion of randomness. Succinctly put, $#!+ happens. Concepts of pride, hope and wishes in adult human life, appear evermore futile. It appears that human behavior and fortune are an outcome of genetics, the environment in which we grew up, physiology and random circumstances that we face. As invigorating the thought of being "masters of our fate" is, too many untold life stories speak otherwise. Shelf me in any religious, Shakespearian or Nietzschian system of philosophy you may, I say the genesis of these memes was foreseeable to start with.

However, I have no idea what to make of my dreams: these silly galavanting electrical romps in circuits of neurons, while consciousness sleeps. Some of my dreams have been very vivid, almost as though, I've been inside someone's head while they live heir lives. Please don't judge me for what I say next. Some dreams, have born a remarkable likeness to small episodes in my life to come. Maybe the likeness has been a post facto construct of my brain. It perceived something and drew parallels from instances on the hard drive and said... deja vu. I will not venture an explanation. But let me tell you of such instances.

The earliest such episode I remember was in 11th standard. I was looking at the chalkboard which  was green frosted glass. My sight veered to the left where I saw a short kid with one forearm missing. I continued to turn left where a girl in a blue and white uniform turned away and leaned to talk to someone in the back. This was nothing extraordinary or foreboding. I had had the dream before I joined Kendriy Vidyalay. It so happens that this vision manifested itself in reality. 

The next few "visions" came true in college. I was with my "tutor" in Pune University talking to some visiting students from Mumbai. There was a skinny tall guy, a skinny short girl and a tall girl as my head moved from right to left. I had dreamt of hugging someone on top of a misty hill in the dark. There was also that panoramic view from the top of Sinhgadh. There were a couple of others whose details I can't remember. I swear I had seen them before. In college I had a dream of sitting at a computer in a high red chair in what looked like a room with a white floor and black tables. It came true in Masters. I can't think of any dreams that came true in Dallas.

I write this today, because something happened yesterday. I can't say when I saw this dream. I had seen someone showing me some data... which looked familiar... on a laptop screen and when I turned left, it was someone in black T-shirt. It came true yesterday in Ann Arbor while interviewing for a Post Doc. 

I'm neutral and agnostic on the verity of these events, let alone assigning any meaning to them. Certain details give me pause. The child with one hand; the tall guy-short girl-tall girl combination; the tall red chair, black tables and white floors... could perceivably arise in dreams from nowhere though with a small probability. Having said that, I dream a lot. Then of course there are general views from mountain tops and hugs which could just be a product of hormones. People's experiences through life can sway them towards nihilism or destiny. At this point, I'm confused. Maybe I'll learn.  

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

No More Jokes!!

We had a little break room conversation today. We are colleagues that have worked together for around five years, and hangout a lot and know each others families. Two of us were male and two were female (states to which none of us have any contribution to). We have joked at several occasions about a vast variety of things: from silly jokes, language puns, accents, funny situations, funny remarks in odd contexts, raunchy stuff and occasional harmless banter based on communities. We have always laughed together and to this day we have never taken umbrage to non-PC jokes.

Privately, I find amusement in a lot of things. A lot of events when viewed askance in the right angle are giggle-worthy. That, I believe is the beauty of humour. Most jokes that make people laugh out loud are at somebody's expense. The popularity of legendary stand up comedians, specially contemporary ones is a testament to that. The propriety of a joke is of course a function of context and audience. Jokes that adversely affect an individual's or group's social and professional opportunities, I believe are wrong. In the presence of impressionable minds, no such jokes are appropriate. I believe a joke is a joke until it affects one's own attitude leading to prejudice.

The break room chatter today turned out to be different from previous occasions. The boss (who happens to be male) has been under a lot of stress lately and his moods swing from one day to the next. After some chitchat someone asked why he is upset today. I offered "That's coz he is 'Man'struating'." E v e r y o n e laughed out loud. At some point in the next few minutes the we shifted to talking about people behaving strangely on a cyclical basis. The subject of on specific individual came up. One of the ladies said she was been acting crazy. The talk about "time of the month" came up. I said "Women be crazy!!" with an attempt at an African American accent (too many episodes of "The Wire" will do that to you). The other lady LOST it. She complained for good while about how such jokes stem from sexism and chauvinism. Jokes like this have far reaching affects on women being discriminated against for employment and them not getting positions as judges in Egypt. She explained that women are thought not be capable of rational thoughts when menstruating and so can't be appointed judges. And some facts about women not being able to drive in Saudi or vote in Kuwait were mentioned. 

That outburst was unexpected. I never thought that this joke to this small group of well acquainted people who have known me so long, would ever have implications on Gulf countries. From my point of view, the same group, us, has joked about far worse things on several occasions. Mood swings and irritability are medically established behaviors associated with that physiological state, and often joked about. This joke would never prevent me, or anyone else there, from taking female human beings seriously, in any context, ever! I would never crack this joke outside the small circle of my long acquainted friends, not even with my brother.

If we are going to be this PC, lets just forget about jokes all together. There are seldom jokes anyone laughs out loud to that aren't at someone's expense. I for one, have decided that conversations with colleagues necessarily need to be insipid, bland and "professional". There goes any hope of having a happy workplace out the window!

You might wonder if I'm overthinking this. It is just that I'm tired of men being accused of chauvinism when their own lives and behaviors have shown no trace of contempt towards women.  

Thursday, September 04, 2014

If Nietzche had a blog- Part1

I find it notable how discourses on how life should or can be lived are often unburdened by context. I guess that is when need for commentaries and allegory becomes most obvious. Again, I do not claim to be a theologian, just someone interested in why religious/philosophical memes survive through scripture for so long. I attempted to read the the Hindi translation of the Gita. I have been able to read only three chapters. Partially I attribute my failure to go any further to the sheer incompatibility of the teachings with modern life, as I perceive. As far as I read, the Gita says all our actions should be geared towards becoming one with God. As stated this thesis seems strangely abstracted from the realities of life. My cousin Nonu Bhaiyya says that's because I'm reading a very advanced book on a subject for which I'm barely equipped with the basics. Point taken. I'll continue to read more and try an take what I can from it.

I've recently been reading 'Thus Spoke Zarathushtra' by Nietzsche. I claim specifically NOT to understand everything he says, specially from a translation to English.  Also, I specifically DO NOT agree with all of what is being said. But I'll be bold, a tad presumptuous, and write the interpretation of his writings as a blog entry.

"I spent ten years as a hermit. In those ten years, truths came to me and I insist on sharing them. I'm sad to hear the drivel from charlatans drawing awe from the masses. The fact is, God is dead! What is coming is the next step up in human evolution. We all need to make way for him even at our own expense. We have to go down for him. He is Ubermensch (Superman in English). I find the following to be eighty truths of human existence.

1.      Based on our intentions we undergo three stages. The first is where we want to prove to ourselves and the world how much burden we can carry, like a camel. Our abilities are then guided by intention, much like a powerful lion who does what he wants. Soon we become like children, doing what we want, when we want.    

2.     Preachers of wisdom can be foolish themselves and practice nothing of which they speak.

3.     The good old days were not so good. They may been simpler, but not necessarily better.

4.     Love your body and be healthy. Many, do not. They who don't, can't be bridges for Superman to this world.

5.    Joys and passions are the first steps to virtue. Let's develop a single virtue. Too many virtues in a single man breeds confusion and therefore evil.

6.    People will judge intentions. Doers will do, regardless.

7.    Life can be hard, heavy and confusing. Wisdom is a double edged sword, it can help you in life or it can hurt you. People who delight in the little things are the happy ones. For, I should only believe in a God that would know how to dance.

8.    Come, come young men. Don't despair in your pursuit of virtue. Many start off well, patter out and devolve into sensualists. Stick with it. You'll get there.

9.    The world is full of life haters and bleeding hearts. Life is short. Live it wisely.

10.   If you really like war and violence, you'd better reconsider your choices. But whatever your choices, be a an obedient soldier and fight well.

11.   People can live in groups. The minute they constitute a State, everything goes to hell. Jingoists and power mongers suffocate the rest. Once the State is gone, Superman can arrive.

12.   You do not bear the responsibility to correct notions of fools of whom there are many. Go do your own thing, by yourself if need be.

13.   Be chaste if you can. Do not try too hard to remain so. If you do remain chaste, do not abuse that virtue.

14.  Friendship is valuable. Keep your closest friend at a comfortable distance or you can kill the friendship in many ways. The love of a woman is fickle. But then, who is truly capable of a perfect friendship?

15.  I've seen  a lot of lands and know good and bad. One's good is another's bad. I've seen a much bad be revered. What is indispensable and hard is called good. What brings relief in the direst circumstances is called Holy. Whatever gives you an advantage over others is appreciated. A behavior is good or bad depending on how it affects social order. Humanity has thousands of goals, but humanity is not one of them. 

16.  Try and love the ones most emotionally separated from you as opposed to the ones closest to you. The latter can get messy.

17.  Let your solitude have purpose. Let peace, not loftiness and ambition be your purpose for isolation. People say, stay with the herd at all costs. They're wrong, but remember, being alone with your own opinions about yourself can be MISERABLE!! In loneliness, you might refute complex truths beyond your grasp. You might reach out emotionally to just anyone, regardless of whether they're right for you.You might even just want to hurt them for no reason. Loneliness is confusing and misleading. Be sure to like yourself and desire to improve yourself before you choose solitude. 

18. (I know you'll think I, Zarathushtra, am a fucking misogynist after you read this part. But, wait for it.) I met an old woman who said I talk at women and about women but never say anything concerning them. She assured me she can take whatever I had to say.  So I said 'Women are riddles and their solution is pregnancy. True men like danger and diversion. Women are the most dangerous plaything. They manipulate men. Their aim should be to bear Superman. They need to exceed the expectations of their man in all emotions, such that he fears them. *some shit about women's souls being shallow and men's being deep and gushing*... And the old woman said 'You go to a woman? Do not forget your whip.' (Personally, I think Zarathushtra was talking to some crazy hag... and that Zarathushtra was deprived of affectionate and genuine females in his family let alone friends. If this was a joke, it was unfunny and ignorant. Stupid fuck!) 

19. In a time of injustice, stand up for yourself. A small revenge is more humane than no revenge. I prevents the injustice from spreading to other. Also, never hurt a religious recluse. If you do, kill him too.

20. To be entitled to have a child, you have to be victorious, a self conquerer, ruler of your passions and master of your virtues. An animalistic love between a man and woman is no more than mutual sympathy. A marriage is holy only if the couple thirst to bring Superman to this world.


End of Part 1 of this post

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Le Grand Canyon

You may have already seen this video. You're probably thinking it's been a week of talking about the same thing over and over. Maybe you think it shouldn't be as big of deal because I am not the first and definitely not the last of the millions who have already been or will go to the biggest hole in the earth. In my defense I state, some thoughts and experiences need words to be pictured and conveyed. Especially, if you may the kind to sit around imagining water horses and sunshine in a bottle.
I had been looking forward to this trek since I came to the US. Before that, it was never within reach. The magnificence and scale of North American landscapes was sequestered in pictures and Geography textbooks. After the Big Bend I almost certainly thought we'd be able to go to the Grand Canyon soon. That was two years ago. Maybe this was fated to be my soul cleansing exercise after defending my PhD. Then again, is life a Shakespearian proverbial play where we are pawns, or a cosmic game of chance? hmmm.... I'll think about that some other Sunday afternoon on a lawn under a balmy sun.
The soul cleansing aspect of hiking is absolutely true though. Those three days I was away from work (or as I call it: life) were worth a great big three week vacation. For no more than fifteen minutes on the whole did I think of where I am in life or where I'll be over the next couple of months. The relief after having defended my PhD is melting away under the salt sprinkle of having to find a job, the next step in what I want to make a glorious journey. I was ambitious in thinking I could go to the foot of the North Rim from the South Rim. Ambitious because it was nearly 50 degrees celsius in the basin. I felt a little like my fruit flies that die at 30 degrees celsius. I was going to write something I thought of titling, 'Romancing the Road'. This road wanted a restraint order on me ASAP.
Grand Canyon Park rangers, another group that heavily selects against the y chromosome, advised us to just camp at the basin and see how much we were up for the next day. When we did start hiking, looking down into the basin where hikers looked the sized of bed bugs, it looked very doable.
One's knees or quads, depending on your gait suddenly demonstrated their presence in each stride on the steep downwards hike. My shoes garbed in light brown, then pink, then red and brown dust were having their own little fashion try out. Armasquillos... I haven't said anything about them yet, but hang on. For the longest while, we didn't see any kind of wildlife except the Armasquillos. These were fat fur ball squirrels whose fur seemed to have an armadillo plate like pattern. They are so used to and comfortable around people that they could be used in movies without much training. Down in the basin were these black lizards with tails twice as long as their bodies. Annoying Ravens the size of large rabbits were everywhere. Their presence was freaky, almost warning hikers of their impending recycling to dust/raven poop if they weren't careful. On the way up, large raptors soared, which we guessed were condors.
However, humans appeared the most abundant species down there. After the deer, of course. Deer hung around the trails and campgrounds with the nonchalance of dogs and cows in a busy Lingampalli market. Among the humans, the vast majority of hikers weren't speaking English. The majority of that subpopulation were speaking French without the delicate sounds that embellish a Parisian accent. The french speakers also had a distinct odor, probably to ward off predators on the trail and evil in general. A smell so potent it crept into the title of this piece. What amazed me were the seven to ten year olds hiking the trails. Yes, their parents must have come prepared but their doing the hike without whining was remarkable none the less. It's good for children to start appreciating nature early and these were prime examples. The respect all hikers had for the environment was laudable. I remember getting into an argument with my aunt for not letting my niece throw a candy wrapper on the ground at Pachhmarhi. No one need have had such an argument here. People to the 'leave no trace' policy very seriously and lugged the tiniest bit of trash with them unto the rim. It's something we, my people on the other side of the globe, need to take more seriously.
Lugging the twenty kilos up and down 2 km vertically and 15 km horizontally was trying though. It may not have been if the thin straps of my bag weren't biting into my flesh. Throughout the trip and after, us boys who easily were different characters from a buddy movie had fun, though we didn't agree all the time. I thankful to the powers that be for feeling such camaraderie. 
As you can clearly see, this isn't the story of the hike. It is the sum of effervescent feelings for nature, friendship and a respectful nod to temperature. I recommend the mix to everyone who is curious. ;-)

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

It's a Richer life

Two days ago, I defended my PhD Thesis. And just like that I get to add "Ph.D" after or "Dr" before my name. In many ways one wonders if the title matters. But why give up on title if you're being offered one. I thought I be inspired by AC DC and go around yelling "P H D... I'm Dynamite! PHD!!" What prevails however is tremendous relief: that it's over and that I can move on. 

These past six years have been full of all kinds of education. In research I've learnt there are never enough controls for an experiment. In addition to research, a lot of life happened in the lab. People making science happen, people getting in the way of science and that nature doesn't conform to the whims of people. I won't philosophize it right now though I have a license to :D

The next step is waiting to be found. I don't have a job yet because the labs I'm interested in either don't have space or or don't have money. It's time to put my head down and make the best of what I have, or will have. We'll see how it goes.

Immediately after the Defense and the little party that followed, I drove to see Noshi again and it was the most relaxing drive I've made so far.  Eight hours of uninterrupted good road and me! The last time went I wasn't in a good frame of mind. Without podcasts I could have become unstable. This time was different. Just me, Dimples and the road. Dimples with her new timing belt, tires and aligned wheels rolled along on tarmac. I did hear a clunk from the front right side as soon as I left Dallas though. A hundred miles out I HAD to get a red bull to avoid dozing off at the wheel. I was talking to the guy at the counter of the gas station and stepped out to stretch for a bit before driving seven hours straight. The gas station guy stepped out too and asked me if I want to pop the headlight back in. I had no idea what he was talking about. Turns out Dimples was sprinting on the highway with one eyeball popped out. He fixed the problem with duct tape. The fix lasted me my entire drive back. Jugaad, I say, is a wonderful thing. The sun set as I drove and the moon shone later. On stretches of road near the Kansas border, I was the only soul within the horizon and the stars as big and dense as ants in a nest, beamed down. The moon was showing off her gold negligee, but as I am accustomed to now, I avoided the distraction.

Just chilling with Noshi was fantastic! Like I've said before, we really don't have to talk to have a good time. Most of the two days I was there was spent waking up, going out to eat and taking a nap. He got me a copy of the complete stories of Sherlock Holmes and Nietzsche's "Thus spake Zarathushtra". The guy at the counter at Barnes and Noble was surprised that two brown boys picked up the mother Nazi philosophy. The other thing we did together was to attend Kansas City's... wait for it.. "Tamil Sangam"!! Yes... complete with Vadas, Bhel poori, Adai, idyappam, Masala chai and so on. It was a Mela with my people. Families hanging out, kids being themselves... I need such a feel from time to time. It felt just like home, without the dirt and smells.

Time will tell what happens next. I'm excited but sans anticipation. I feel grown up somehow. A bit of soul building in the Grand Canyon this weekend should be good. It keeps getting richer and richer!

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

It's a Rich Life

One mild January afternoon, I sat on a rock in the lawns at school. The stream flowing by, clean for this time of the year, gurgled in with childish whir. Sunshine stroking my face warmly, felt like an ethereal comforter. The brown lawn patched with gold, a little like my beard, sat under a blue grey sky, filled with sleek and tall clouds glided to the East like the office crowd rushing home.

The stream reflected sweet sunshine. Its ripples and waves danced like harmonics on gold membranes. I thought it would be nice to have a bottle of this sunshine to carry around like a lamp, instead of the cellphone flashlight. It would be equally nice to have a horse, like any other in every respect, but made of water. It could gallop across the lawn misting passersby like the barber readying you for a haircut. That's always been my favorite part of the haircut. The horse would never need a haircut of course because the silvery mane and tail of water would be quite dazzling in the sun. Sunshine internally reflect at so many points inside the horse's water muscles and water bones that it would get lost in there. I'd show off a bottle of sunshine like that one. You could even keep a pet goldfish in this horse! Maybe Koi would just swim up its neck as the horse went to the stream. The fish would breathe the same air as the water horse.  Algae would do really well in the mane and tail giving it an emerald tinge, because the water hair would trap sunlight so well. The huge surface to volume ratio of water hair would lead to copious gas exchange. Of course in summer the water horse would get all slimy around the neck and backside because the algae would do too well trapping all that sunshine. When this water horse would die, it would die in a great splash of wet light.

But for now, no such water horse exists and I'm not on drugs. I know that thought crossed your mind. To my left, a flock of blackbirds roll over itself like amoeba or macrophage. The birds in the rear of the flock fly over to perch right in front of the vanguard over and over. One could easily imagine the legs of these birds like integrins attached to surface of vasculature and birds' flight to the front of the flock like cytoskeletal proteins rearranging themselves to push the flock/cell ahead.

A tennis ball floated and bobbed down the stream. It could have been a soliton if it was just a ball of water. In ninth standard when we were studying waves in physics I asked my teacher about a soliton. She didn't know of it. A then neighbor who is a professor of physics had mentioned them. A standing wave in water would be a loose description. It's a remarkable phenomenon, partly because the rest of us don't know of or understand them. They say a Scottish engineer saw a soliton and chased it for a mile on his horse way before the mathematics behind it was worked out. That tennis ball could have been the soliton and I could have been John Scott Russell on my water horse chasing it for a mile. It's a fun thought.

And a twelve year old broke my reverie stumbling on the other bank. I'm not certain why I think he was twelve. He hopped across the stream looking in the water like it were a crater on the moon. He threw in a stone and poised himself as if something scary were about to emerge. I tried to look through his eyes. He probably saw the bed raked up and tadpoles, rushing away from and then towards the splash. Scum probably waved around before it stopped moving. He kept looking at it and then moved on. He reached a tree and hung by the branch for a while. He got on his bike and then rode away.

Stepping back in time, I did the same things that boy did. Throwing big rocks into the lake in HCU and standby to watch the splash. I really disliked the floating slimy algae and the friends I was with would pick gobs of it from the lake and put them into my shoes. I even grabbed tadpoles out of the lake and took them home. I was so surprised when one day there was no tadpole in the jar. I used to climb up the green trunked kapok tree all summer afternoon.  That so satisfied the monkey portion of my genome :). It still does. I'd ride my bike proudly wherever I went and it was so much fun!

Stepping forward, I ask myself if all this time spent learning and working in biology labs has given me more than credentials. I think it has. All my learning amalgamated with imagination led to a very pleasurable afternoon rich with images and stories. Fun today, compared to fifteen years ago, honestly feels like a magnificent mural compared to scribbling on the wall. It's a rich life! :)





Monday, April 07, 2014

Will she consider?

Life, just got real... again. I'll hopefully graduate with a PhD soon. The last time it got real was when I was about to finish my Masters and had no idea where life will take me. I was crapping bricks because I wasn't sure what kind of letters I'd get from my Boss for my applications to grad school. The metaphor is apt, I assure you. Before that, I was crapping bricks (very apt again, though it doesn't do justice to intensity), when I didn't know whether I'd make it to a decent university for my masters. This time... I really can't say where my luck and past nearly six years in this lab will take me. The normal, strong minded reaction would be to swallow your apprehension, see where life turns and make the best of that situation. Survival and thriving in whatever situation you are, makes you evolutionarily viable, for several generations. But then, I'm the kind of person who knows a good blogpost when he conceives it, most of the time :) And people like to read about folks in the metaphorical predicament to which I allude. :D

Anyway... I have a wacky idea for a post doc. This is the only chance I'll get to do experiments that won't be a safe bet. If they fail, I'll look for another career, but what's life without a little whimsy. When the chair of my thesis committee said "High risk is high rewarda, righ'!" I never believed him. But seeing the direction of research that is asymptotic with with maximum funding and publications, whether they mean anything or not, I'm reading up on a subject which right now seems worth exploring.

To interject, the other day, Amma said to me on Skype "Someone called to see if you're interested in marriage. The girl is from %^&*)) college. She had a good job but went off to do her master's to  $$$$ University but she also had the option of  !@#$%^ School of )#$*@*(%#." The flavour of that sentence can best be likened to a smooth, rich 90% dark chocolate. Go on, analyze what that flavor means to you and what it might mean to me. :)

In exploring this new field I was reading a paper. I'll give you a snapshot of how I read it.

"In this case, in addition to EGT, transfer of genes between the unrelated organisms by lateral or horizontal gene transfer (HGT) and loss of genes occurred as a result of the ‘‘merger’’ of the two nuclei (host and endosymbiont) (7) She seems interesting. Maybe she'll have more to talk about than... mundane rags of conversation people employ. You know, subjects that encompass more than petty details in the lives of people I don't know. In this case, in addition to EGT, transfer of genes between the unrelated organisms by lateral or horizontal gene transfer (HGT) and loss of genes occurred as a result of the ‘‘merger’’ of the two nuclei (host and endosymbiont) (7) As a result of primary and sec- ondary endosymbiosis, plastid genomes (ptDNAs) encode less than 10% of the predicted 1,000 to 5,000 proteins required to sustain the metabolic capacity of the plastid (8, 9).It would be nice to be with someone. I'm 28 years alone, 12 of them were spent away from family, or people who really truly would be affected by my sudden disappearance/death... That's long! And I've found over the course of the past three years, I'm not superman. I thought I was, but I'm not. I'm as much controlled by biology and kicked around by loneliness as the next single guy in my demographic. *shaking my head* In this case, in addition to EGT, transfer of genes between the unrelated organisms by lateral or horizontal gene transfer (HGT) and loss of genes occurred as a result of the ‘‘merger’’ of the two nuclei (host and endosymbiont) (7). As a result of primary and sec- ondary endosymbiosis, plastid genomes (ptDNAs) encode less than 10% of the predicted 1,000 to 5,000 proteins required to sustain the metabolic capacity of the plastid (8, 9).
Examples of HGT between unrelated or nonmating species are abundant among prokaryotes (10, 11) but less so between pro- karyotes and unicellular (12–14) or multicellular eukaryotes (15–
20). Most of these latter examples are associated with parasitism or phagotrophy, including the elegant studies of HGT from the 􏰒-proteobacteria Wolbachia to insects and nematodes (16 –18), and the finding of rhizobial-like genes in plant parasitic nematodes (19, 20). The exchange of genetic material between two eukaryotes is extremely rare, or at least not well documented to date. The best-studied cases include the transfer of mitochondrial DNA from achlorophyllous or epiphytic plants to the mitochondrial genome (mtDNA) of their closely related photosynthetic hosts (21), the exchange of transposons between two animal (22) or two plant (23) species, and the presence of plant genes in plant parasitic nematodes (in addition to the rhizobial genes discussed previously), which are hypothesized to be ‘‘defense’’ genes whose products protect the parasite from host detection (20).
The sacoglossan mollusc (sea slug) Elysia chlorotica represents a unique model system to study the potential for interdomain HGT between two multicellular eukaryotes—in this case, from a filamentous secondary (heterokont) alga (Vaucheria litorea) to a mollusc. This emerald green sea slug owes its coloring and photosynthetic ability to plastids acquired during herbivorous feeding (24–29). But then again, if she is that appealing to me, there'll be other suitors, probably better off in life, with more hair than me right now, who will be interested as well. Then again, she might want to wait to settle into her career, irrespective of whether there is anyone else interested. And not everyone gives as much of a damn to what their parents' suggestions these days. Damn! if I didn't care... oh screw it... It's her life you know. She may have her mind set on a career and/or someone else and that's all. Dhananjay's law of availability "Girls are either taken or untakeable." exists for a reason .. But it would be nice... company, intelligent company. More like a smart, quick witted friend who laughs at my jokes and doesn't interfere with my life unless absolutely necessary. And likes to dance, because that is something I can do. Who understands from having been away from home for a while, the value of good, honest, faithful company; following your ambitions and the costs of loneliness... and following your ambitions. *Cursing in Hindi under my breath*The sacoglossan mollusc (sea slug) Elysia chlorotica represents a unique model system to study the potential for interdomain HGT between two multicellular eukaryotes—in this case, from a filamentous secondary (heterokont) alga (Vaucheria litorea) to a mollusc. This emerald green sea slug owes its coloring and photosynthetic ability to plastids acquired during herbivorous feeding (24–29)."Heterokont", such a funny word. hehe. This emerald green sea slug owes its coloring and photosynthetic ability to plastids acquired during herbivorous feeding (24–29) But just think for a second. Someone I can be happy with, and with whom I can have kids. That'll be SOOOO AWESOME. Yes they'll poop and cry and keep me awake. But so do my experiments :D yes... the kids. I can be the first one to tell them all the jokes in the world for the first time and they'll laugh each time. Maybe apart from Amma, Papa and Noshi they'll be the only ones to actually like me, just by force of knowing me throughout their lives. I'll get to play with them, and we'll learn Tamil together. I really want to learn Tamil. That sound they write in the roman script as "zh"... ohohohhhhoo. Also, Spanish and Italian would be great languages to learn because of their texture on the tongue. They can learn Mandarin. I have failed at every basic attempt. Arabic will be an awesome language to learn, with the features in my family and everything. Hindi will definitely be a priority. And then of course we'll go hiking and and play cricket and football together. Hell! I'll even learn basic stitching and embroidery with them. I wish I could just bud them off my arm right now. Who knows whether one will have a happy marriage and how that'll affect the upbringing of children. The best probability I can glean of a happy marriage, however the couple met, is about 0.5.... Hang on.... I'm thinking about kids when I don't even know the girl or vice versa. Do Estrogen levels rise in men before 60? I didn't think so...

I went on to finish the paper after that. I started thinking of where I'd be if I didn't get a good position. Would it matter whether I'm single or not, if I got into a shitty place? How much would I value my life then?

Life, just got real... again.