Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Merry Christmas

Regular readers of this blog would know about what a sucker I am for English songs with an Indian twist.

Someone called Boymongoose remixed my favourite Christmas carol.

Take a look!

For the Flash player challenged here are some of the words

"On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me...

Twelve cricket ball tamperers
Eleven syllable names
Ten-minute yoga ..."

etc etc.

But do check the way he says it - simBly brilliant.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Melodrama! (or work in progress)

Something in her died that night
The light went out of her eyes
And she never smiled again.

When she heard the news that her
Whatever she has lived for had gone
And would never come back

Something in her died that night
The light went out of her eyes
And she never smiled again.

With a poison tipped pen
A few lines written
Her world had shattered and
A thousand shining pieces of
Her carefully constructed dreams
Lay around her as

something that died in her that night
The light went out of her eyes
And she never smiled again.

With horns and trumpets blowing
they tied her hands to the stake and
sacrificed her to the gods.

And she never smiled again.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The masquerade

In olden times, they would have masquerade balls where you could dress up as someone else complete with a mask. The point being that once you are anonymous you would be less inhibited to do things that you would normally not do.

The internet however has brought this 'charade' to a whole new level.

You can write blogs and pretend to be someone else, more extroverted, more bold than you are in real life or be more knowledgeable, more sensitive than is fashionably allowed.

You can have profiles on Orkut with fancy names like Microchip, or Supernova Shockwave or some totally random hep name. The name could reflect your research interests, other interests or something you love

With this anonymous ID you can proceed to conquer the world or demolish it as you like.

And your real persona hangs behind in the shadows - quite unassuming and unaware.

Anonymity is a great thing. Wearing a mask even greater. At this point the more pragmatic would say that all people in life wear a mask but that would be too much philosophy for a day.

Then there are the commentators who leave anon comments. Funny thing is that most of the times (99.9%) they have nice things to say. If only I knew who they where I would thank them properly. But it’s alright. I suppose.

So if you are new to blogging or the internet,

Put on a virtual mask and join in the modern masquerade ball!

(Picture obtained from here)

Monday, September 11, 2006

My latest obsession

No. not the drummer boy in the picture.

The Drums!

I had a chance to hear live drums last week and what a mind blowing experience that was. I want to buy Sivamani CD as soon as I decide which one.

Of course the ultimate would be a drum kit! Better start saving for it right now.

But then my obsessions never last longer than a flap of butterfly wings. So maybe I will wait till this one wears out.

(picture courtesy of G. )

Saturday, September 09, 2006


Like the waves of the sea
Up and down

Heavens own
Two violins

Playing together
Like sand and shoal

Bound from eternity
A storm raging in the ocean

And the silence after
At the same time

Like a celestial dance of
The immortals.

To have those tunes
Forever in my head

To close my eyes
And see it again.

What joy to be alive!

Friday, September 08, 2006

Ode to Morpheus

With pupils dilated
And rose tinted glasses

An explosion inside your brain
That face that said bye from the plane

When will I see it again?
I may not see it again at all

When everyone is witty
And you are the wittiest of them all

One more drink you say
One more that will wash all cares away

One more and then I shall
Call it a day.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Researchatti

(pronouced Re-ser-at-ti)

It has been sometime now that I had been searching for a word to describe them. But it has eluded me.

Society has its glitterati and the chatterati and the world of books has the literatti.

What about the ivory towers of scientific research? Of course we have them too and I call them "Researchatti".

Now we must standardize this things so here goes. To qualify as a researchatti you must fulfill two or more of the following criteria.

1) Eccentricity : This can be anything from the way that he eats food (with his hands when everyone else uses a spoon and fork), to the way that he runs across the canteen after lunch or the way or that he always wears shorts even in the middle of winter, or carries around a pipe(though it is always unlit!) or whose idea of proving his intelligence is poking fun at the nearest grad student.

2) Sado-machocsim. Not the sexual kind. The very student-professor types. (Still not talking about the sexual kind you perverts!). The kind who two days before your qualifying exam your boss tells you I don’t care whether you pass or fail, or the two hours before the poster deadline boss decides that it can be improved so changes it completely or when after you have worked for 24 hrs straight looks you in the eye and tells you the data is junk.

3) The over enthusiastic kind. The one who likes to think that he/she lives, breathes science all day long. Any tea, dinner, lunch session with them is devoted to this. Even if you are caught in the corridor you are subjected to an onslaught of his ‘scientific ideas’. Gradually 15 min turn to one hour. You tune off but still the researchatti continues blissfully unmindful of his audience’s attention, or lack thereof.

4) Field hepness. What they do/don’t do is irrelevant as their field is the most hep in the business right now. That may be quantum computers, single molecule physics ,MEI’s favorite subject, or even the latest fad - biophysics.

5) The rebel: I like to think that I am a rebel so I have to be kind here. The scientist who goes against popular opinion. The validity of this point of view does not matter as long as it is against the general flow, all the time, everytime and he makes sure that everyone in the institute knows that he was against it.

6) High publishing rate: This is the least important but it helps. The kind around whom legends are woven e.g. It is said of a very eminent researchatti that every time you refresh Mathnet, you see that he has a new paper. Another one has said to have 64 papers in his Ph.D and still going strong or the researchatti in a sister institution who only publishes in journals with impact factor of 10 or above say the whispers.

Of course for some reason, these researchatti are the best at what they do. I wonder why?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Encore

Once more
Said the raving crowds
Once more
“The symphony again!”

That music they said was
Like a thousand springs
Like diamond rain.

But SHE turned away
Turned and walked out
Did not look back.

That my mind’s hand pointed
Is the reason for this symphony
That sweet face and red lips.
The symphony was for her
My heart shouted.

But I the performer
Have a life to live
And money to earn.

I lifted my baton
Laughed and smiled
Tore my heart from
My chest and started
The Encore.

(Inspired by the name of band I came across called Thee by Encore.)

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Another ego trip

My Inner Hero - Wizard!

I'm a Wizard!

There are many types of magic, but all require a sharp mind and a cool head. There is no puzzle I can't solve, no problem I can't think my way out of. When you feel confused or uncertain, you can always rely on me to untangle the knots and put everything back in order for you.

How about you? Click here to find your own inner hero.

Now can I have some magic for my research then? May be a little potion to put my boss to sleep for a hundred years? or some clock that will speed up the time it takes for a Ph.D? or a magic wand so that all my experiments will be done with a swish of wood?

Ooops. I am the one who is the superhero. Damn!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

When two astronomers meet

Beneath Taurus glinting red eye
When the Persied showers trail
With the sting of scorpio’s tail
We will meet - you and I.

You will give me a ring (nebula) or two
And I shall name a galaxy after you
Tell me which one you would like
Shall we gift a comet instead of a bike?

We shall catch a pelican by its beak
Take a trip to North Americas peak?
The Great Attractor shall be like naught
For the fiery passions that we shall wrought.

For a lock of Andromeda’s hair my love
Will you cross the Milky Way?
Navigate through the Magellanic clouds
And meet me at heaven’s gate?**

The zodiacal lights still shine
And the aurora borealis is bright
But the hourglass says we must part
The veil of distance must drop.

Till the next time we meet - Orange
Red, blueshift, ultraviolet, infrared
These colours would be like nothing.
Till then life will be but a sack of coals.

(** - could not find a reference for that. but "Heaven's Gate" made up of four stars is the region between Auriga and Perseus through which the entire zodiac passes through as far as I remember from a night sky observation trip I went to. )

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


Udhari var chya prema lar arthach kay?

A serenade on a midsummer night
I was not the singer nor the singee
But I was just the look out
To make sure no one else came.

A glance stolen but never returned.
A question asked but never answered.
A thousand conversations all in my head.

Borrowed love on borrowed time.
Teri pan he mana la kon sangnar?

Messages back and forth
All passed through me
I was the guy’s best friend
And the girl’s first cousin.

Ji kavita amcha sathi lihleli nahi
ter ma tyache point ach kay?

I was just a messenger
But you never noticed me
M’lady was happy and
That made me ecstatic.

But this I promise in
Another birth, another lifetime
I will move heaven and earth
To make you mine.

[This is a flight of fantasy. Extrapolations into real life will be summarily shot down or decapitated whichever is more painful. To people who have been pained by reading this - too bad, take some aspirin.

To give credit/discredit where it is due - the first line was made up by Nikhil in a correspondence and the idea of mixing up two languages was Raamesh's. ]

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Ode to the Fly

Flies are such wondrous things.
They buzz, they smell and they flap their wings.
The little critters come in so many colours,
Ebony, apricot, yellow, white and even ambers.
They hatch from an egg to form an adult in ten days
Indeed the grace of God shows in many ways!

In gay abandon they fornicate.
What joy- when with one swish,
Of my forcep, the fly I castrate.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Black Pain

Pain and blackness
Swirling in my head
Far into the distance.
Hitting behind my eyeballs

A million sunsets
A thousand moonrises
Flash in my head
Unending possibilities

Cinnamon and scandal
Stories of a suicide
On a lazy Sunday afternoon
heat makes me hallucinate.

When life is no longer worth living,
Should I jump from a building?
Hurl myself into an electric box
Or jump in front of a speeding train?

Unending possibilities.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Welcome Rain

Mumbai has been hopelessly inundated by a very early monsoon – about two weeks too early. (Was it just yesterday that we were complaining about the temperatures?)

There is something about water falling from the sky that makes hearts soar and minds leap.

Something that goes back to primeval times perhaps when the first life forms arose from the oceans.

When it rains, you just want to stand and stop and stare. Dream a little maybe.

The best place to the see the monsoon break is from the seashore. With the institute close to the ocean, life seems just perfect.

In MEI, the place to savor the pleasure of the first rains of the season is in the library with its full-length glass windows. So you can sample the raging fury of nature and the voluptuous waves of the ocean (that only a monsoon can bring) without actually getting drenched.

Too bad I can’t spend all my time in the library. For now I shall take solace in this glorious picture. (taken by V.L. , I think).

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Linkety Link

Its that time of the year again folks, when I put together all the great links that i have recieved for you to peruse at your pleasure. (actually no I put them here so that I dont misplace them)

1) The Gamma Song : This is a brilliant geeky parody of the famous Llama song. Best part of it is that it is entirely desi - made by two intrepid students of IIT, Kanpur who blog here and here. Link courtesy of A.B.

2) Mozart : Ever since I saw Amadeus which is about the life and times of Mozart - particularly about his rivalry with his closest competetitor Salieri, I can't get over the music of Mozart. Here is link that takes you to several of his works. My personal favourite is Symphony no 25 which incidently is also the tune used by Titan to market their watches. Pox on the critters for not acknowledging Mozart in their ads!

3) Physics Jokes: there is thread over at one of my favourite blogs about science jokes more specifically physics jokes. Here is my favourite though i needed the help of Maths expert S.L. to figure it out!

The cocky exponential function e^x is strolling along the road insulting the functions he sees walking by. He scoffs at a wandering polynomial for the shortness of its Taylor series. He snickers at a passing smooth function of compact support and its glaring lack of a convergent power series about many of its points. He positively laughs as he passes |x| for being nondifferentiable at the origin. He smiles, thinking to himself, “Damn, it’s great to be e^x. I’m real analytic everywhere. I’m my own derivative. I blow up faster than anybody and shrink faster too. All the other functions suck.”

Lost in his own egomania, he collides with the constant function 3, who is running in terror in the opposite direction.

“What’s wrong with you? Why don’t you look where you’re going?” demands e^x. He then sees the fear in 3’s eyes and says “You look terrified!”

“I am!” says the panicky 3. “There’s a differential operator just around the corner. If he differentiates me, I’ll be reduced to nothing! I’ve got to get away!” With that, 3 continues to dash off.

“Stupid constant,” thinks e^x. “I’ve got nothing to fear from a differential operator. He can keep differentiating me as long as he wants, and I’ll still be there.”

So he scouts off to find the operator and gloat in his smooth glory. He rounds the corner and defiantly introduces himself to the operator. “Hi. I’m e^x.”

“Hi. I’m d / dy.”

4)A different sort of wine: If anyone ever gets around to making this, remember you read it here first. Link provided by T.S. so you can blame him for the consequences.

Thursday, April 13, 2006


Inspired by some of my friends who have started blogging about their science, I will attempt a few posts to spread awareness(!!!) about cell biology and perhaps a little about developmental biology. Here goes nothing.

Ugh! Now that's a face that only a mother could love. Maybe..not only mothers but also the few scientists who have chosen it as their model organism. It is not a rule that the model organism you work on should be cute but it helps.(first said by Ralph Greenspan). Imagine waking up every morning and thinking "I have to go back to the lab to work on Axolotl" and then that horrendous image would come to mind. I for one would definitely just turn back and go to sleep again.

However this awful creature is making waves though for one thing that it does - regeneration. If you cut off a limb of this amazing animal it can regerate it....completely! Magic!

Not really. Of course it would have a 'developmental program'[a series of events involving the sequential expression and use of proteins for a develpomental event like formation of a wing etc] . Just that the specific developmental program is not known yet. Once that puzzle is cracked it would bring in billions to the person who figures out how this is done. (and you thought there was no money in science!)

The brightest among you would have figured it out why this thing is uber-hot by now. The application of this program either in vitro or in vivo could possibly lead to regeneration of human body parts like a factory.

All paradise and glory but there is catch! (isn't there always?)

Unlike my favourite model organism, (the fruit fly - muuuaaah!) the genetics of axolotl has not yet been well worked out. I am sure it is because of its hideous looks but then no one asked me. It is related to lizards and genetics here is difficult. For good genetics you need a way to make 'bad genes'(mutations for the purists) so that you can study the effects of these 'bad genes'. One way is to hang around and wait till you get a 'bad gene'/mutation that arises spontaneously in the population. The other way is to actually just go in and damage the damn DNA.

Recently scientists have managed to do something like that. They were able to make transgenic Axolotl i.e. they have managed to put some foreign DNA into a wild axolotl. Actually they put GFP into it.

Why GFP? GFP stands for Green Flourescent Protein which is actually a gene from Jellyfish that glows under Ultra-Violet light. The beauty of GFP is that it can be expressed in any organism still it would glow under UV. Therefore, this is a wonderful non-invasive marker for cells that you want to track.

Advantage Axolotl...and now you can track the cell lines with GFP as they develop so that you will be able to follow which cell gives rise to what(the so called cell lineage). So then you can determine in the final regerated limb which cell came from where. Of course this technique can be used to damage DNA to make mutants as well. With this new technique we should be able to figure out soon how axolotl manages to regenerate body parts.

So will be able to order our body parts soon? Don't hold your breath. There is still a long way to go.

P.S. For the nitpickers, axolotl is not the only organism that can 'regenerate', there are also the planaria(lower in the evolutionary ladder and therefore farther from humans), lizards(tails!) and earthworms. In addition, there was one report of a mouse that can completely heal its heart.

(The picture is from here.)

Saturday, April 08, 2006

My Bloginfluence is 105.6

Got this nifty link from this blog.

My influence


The most comprehensive 'blog ranking' system I have come across. It takes into consideration blog links, post links, web links, bloglines subscriptions and Google page rank. To top it all, it has a formula to put each into perspective. Of course, perspective is always a subjective matter.

Thursday, April 06, 2006


Somethings irk me. This is one of them.

My dear institute has been facing an accomodation problem for the graduate students. Right now there is absolutely no space in the hostels for the new students that will join this academic year. In fact of the ones that joined last year some of them are still living in the colony flats. Most are still sharing rooms.

It is not as if this problem was not forseen. Surely they would have thought of this when they were taking students last year. What would the solution to that be? Take less students which they obviuosly did not do or build a new hostel of course.

How long does it take to make a new building? There was a four storey building in Colaba that fell last May. Now it has been rebuilt and is functioning normally in less than a year. Keeping that in mind, you need a maximum of one year to build a four storied new hostel. Given that this problem was foreseen last year, why has that new hostel building not been built?

Even the construction work on the new hostel has not begun but we hear that the plans have been approved. Anyways, the fact remains that there is no new hostel yet.

All paths now closed to them, what do the power-that-be decide to do? They take their ire out on the students since they are the most expendable commodity here. They ask the sixth year students to leave with a notice of two months. Of course they have been provided accomodation in a place far away from here which would take at least two hours commuting everyday and commuting a city like bombay is hell.

I agree that our having an accomodation so close to campus is a nice thing and it is a luxury that not every grad student in the world enjoys. All I am saying that it would have been better if the students had beeen given some sort of warning that they will have to leave so that they could have tried to finish by the stipulated time. But that sadly did not happen.

If they do this next year it would be justified as the students would have had enough warning to at least try to finish things on time. I would have not have any problem in that.

But who am I anyways? Just a student and I don't have any say in this.

They have the impression as if we like to stay in this rotten place and that we actually enjoy it. We don't. Most of us would like to leave right now if possible but it is our bosses that don't let us go. "finish this and that and then we will see", he says.

Of course that brings us to issues like if a project fails and the student actually spends a long time on a Ph.D., then whose reponsibility is it? The student or the P.I.'s but that deserves an entire post altogether.

No I don't have any friends who have been affected by this decision for whom I am writing this and no, my real world alter ego will not subscribe to any of this if you ask her. Sorry but yes she is chicken that ways. It just the indignation of it that rankles. No this is not an attempt to incite students. I know that they have done whatever was possible. This is just an attempt to put my point of view across. That's all.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Quiz time!

No not the intellectual, mind bending variety but the less brain power consuming types which makes them perfect for yours truly.

How much of you is owned by your blog?

I got this.

43.75 %

My weblog owns 43.75 % of me.
Does your weblog own you?

43.75% of me is owned by my blog! That leaves a little more than 50% for research. I hope my boss is not reading this.

Are You A Hit-Obsessed Weblogger?

Here I got the following.

45 points is in the 40 through 59 precent
TYPE U (HIT-UNDECIDED). You have a healthy number of readers that you'd like to maintain but you don't think you can keep them happy all the time. It bothers you when your weblog gets less hits than usual. You know there are things you can do to increase hits to your weblog but you just don't think you're desperate enough to actually try it.

This result was spooky. How does the damn quiz know that I have a healthy amount of readers. Are they tracking me? What does it mean by healthy? Who or what in MEI is healthy (in mind, spirit or otherwise) anyways ?


I do not believe in signs (you know like if you see a white pigeon when you leave the house, then your work will be successful or when you see a dead leaf fultterring down then you know that whatever new project you start will be not work etc). If you do believe in signs and you are trying to cross disciplines, then you will love this.

Is this a sign from above that greater interaction between biology and physics will tell us the secret to the life, universe and everything?

What is this wondrous sign? A DNA nebula!

This a actually a nebula that is shaped like DNA. Like some divine Aprils Fool's day joke on physicists.

There is also an explanation for this phenomenon.

Morris hypothesizes that the wave traveling up the magnetic field lines and creating the double helix nebula is a disk of gas at its base, made to spin by the gravity of the black hole at the center of our galaxy. The double strands of the nebula are created by the dumbbell-like structure of the spinning disk, which concentrates the magnetic field lines in two areas, he said—otherwise, the nebula would be cylindrical.

The original article is here and the link is from one of my favourite blogs.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006


Sometimes you come across a picture that is perfect. In earlier times you would probably ask the person who took the picture for the negative, get one photograph processed for yourself and then you would stick it in your album.

In these 'modern' times what do you do? Why, bloggit of course!

Here is a picture taken by S.C.J. on a recent trip to Mahabaleshwar. A pretty pink rose.

Personally though I like yellow flowers more. There are a row of pretty yellow hibuscus near the entrance of my institute. It feels wonderful to see them every morning. They make my day. Everyday. (Now doesn't that sound like a bad ad for coffee. Ugh!)I must get over my laziness, buy a camera and photograph them sometime.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Intrigue is in the air

[As usual, I exaggerate. So take this with a bucketful of salt]

The annual MEI(My Esteemed Institute) quiz contest is coming up. Very exciting. It is the highlight of the MEI social calendar in large part due to the person who conducts the quiz, with great flair.

What is more interesting to the social observer is the political intrigue that goes on to form a team before the quiz. For a quiz you need a team. When it becomes a team then the people you associate with becomes more important than you. It’s not a question of being the best it is more about getting into a team which has good people. This requires more politics than the stuff that happens at the Parliament every four years or so. Indeed the intrigue is so thick at MEI these days that you could cut it with a knife.

There are furious machinations going on at this point. The best quizzers get several offers. [Clarification: Yours truly is not one of them.]

Some offers can be very very spooky like a SMS at midnight from a number you don’t know. “Will you be a part of our team?” It asks cryptically. Then you ask equally surreptitiously “That depends on who is in your team.” Of course once you identify the number you know the answer to that question already. But this is just to stall the situation for a little time so that you know which are the other teams being made, who are in them and what are your chances of getting into the better ones.

The music and the current affairs are two important sections in the quiz and there are people who specialise in these things. Hence the next questions.

Negotiator 1: Who is the music guy?

Negotiator 2: We have E.W.

1: That guy cannot differentiate between Ayyan Ali Khan and Amjad Ali Khan. He is tone-deaf!

2: Who is the current affairs guy?

1: R. D.

2: A girl? For current affairs. No way! Might as well not take part. We need a guy. Get T.L*.

1: Can’t

2: Then I cant either. I will not join unless T.L.* is associated with it.

1: Where is the hacker***?

And so it goes on the furious haggling in some cases till minutes before the quiz starts and in some cases involving exchange of several bottles of intoxicating liquids.

[* - the legendary quizee who had won all the quizzes he participated in when he was a student.
*** - hacker - This is the guy who will try to break into the quizmaster’s computer. Of course this has never happened so far. But that does not mean it can’t right?]

Then you have to make major decisions regarding where your loyalties lie – with the department, your friends or to the person from whom you want that little piece of programming done that will save you a week’s work.

After all this you have to confront your labmates who are forming their own team. First reaction is open hostility.

Labmate: WTF? Samu? How dare you not join us and form a team with someone else? THEM? They are not even from the same departement!

Me: Sorry but they are asked first. When force does not work, they try to invoke pity.

LM : You left us for them. You ditched us. How could you? Then they make faces like a baby seals about to be slaughtered. And you imagine that a tear does slid down their face so you actually start feeling guilty.

Me: I am sorry yaar! Next year I promise. This ends with threats of violence.

LB: Next time next time, you come to us to get that fly stock that that you killed by mistake. Their hand inches toward the scalpel they use to dissect flies. Yikes! You exit the lab before a murder is committed.

Of course after all these machinations, time and again it has been proved that the most rag-tag team formed at the last minute is the one that takes the prize but that dearies is another story and for another day.

Side note: For those still in the Holi mood, hop over to Kate's blog for a near-accurate description of how I spent my day.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Cheapo 6

Random surfing brought me to this interesting post about an international conference that was held at My Esteemed Institute recently.

People were begging me to do a post on the the Ayaan Ali Khan concert and the President of India's visit to My Esteemed Institute (that were associated with the conference) but that guys post presents the whole thing from a very unique viewpoint.

For the record I don't agree with what he says. I agree more with Kate and Nikhil.

Another one for the record, the questions after the President's talk were not staged.

Isn't the Internet a very powerful thing?

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Sabka Katega!

One advantage/disadvantage of being brought up in the Middle East was that there was nothing that you could identify with. Your cultural input was either the uber-americanised cartoons where they had pizzas for lunch or Indian films where the only reason people went to college was to find life partners. You as a 13-year-old N.R.I. did not fit in anywhere.

So many years wandering in this wilderness of life trying to figure out why Whigfield sang 'saturday night and I like the way you move....' (Back where I lived, in the middle east friday was the weekly holiday. Saturday was the first day of the week so I thought she was having a crush on her office mate or something)

When George Micheal crooned "Last christmas I gave you my heart....." the juxtaposition of joy and un-joy was lost on this Confused Desi.

In the Middle East, there are only three seasons - hot, very hot and unbearable. July and August were the worst months of the year - scorching hot! Autumn - never heard of it. In such a place, the following legendary lines made no sense at all.

No warm july
No harvest moon to light one tender august night
No autumn breeze
No falling leaves
Not even time for birds to fly to southern skies
No libra sun
No halloween

The first person whose music resonated with me was Apache Indian. When he rapped "Sweet like Jalebi..." in Arranged Marriage my heart truly sang with him.

Recently, something like that happened again. Every second line I heard I could identify with. I was going yes that is me and I know someone like that and then that too.....

That was this group called the BodhiTree - a band from XLRI, Jamshedpur. First the bad points, they could do a little polishing and their lyrics need to be more focussed. Three songs I liked.

1) Sabka katega! What a great motto for a Ph.D. and is fast becoming a lab anthem. I agree very much with the second line of the second stanza.

2) Too many potatoes. This is about the preponderence of potatoes in the hostel menu. In MEI(My Esteemed Institute), we can replace potatoes with green peas. One intrepid day the MEI cooks managed to serve peas pulao, mixed veg(with green peas) and kheema(also with green peas) at the same time! Methinks, they have something illegal going with a green peas trader.

3) Xl ki kudiyan I cant get the damn song out of my head! Sometimes I find myself replacing Kudiyan with Profs and XL with MEI to make something like this.

MEI ke Profs bade bade smart
Hai meri tauba tauba
Theory bhi mardiyan, Fundae bhi mardiyan,
Theory bhi mardiyan, Fundae bhi mardiyan,
Fundae bhi mardiyan bade bade wrong!
Hai meri tauba tauba

Go listen!

(Link shamelessly stolen from VW! Picture taken from here.)

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

My Requiem for a Dream

(The following was written after consuming a bottle of feni. If you believe even half an iota of this stuff, you need to get you head checked, mate!)

Just finished a terrible book called Memoirs of a Geisha. (Also saw a movie by the same name but that was so bad that it is not even worth discussing). Anyways, the interesting thing in Japanese culture is their intricate system of bows. Deep bow for someone who is elder/more revered than you, middling bow for less revered and slight friendly bow for peers.

How wonderful that you can classify all people you know into different degrees of a bow? Pity that we don’t have that in our culture.

Or maybe such a thing does exist. Herein, follows a classification of the people that a normal MEI(My Esteemed research Institute) student** comes in contact with and how he/she may deal with them.

1) The boss - seeing and then running away in the opposite direction.

One of the advantages of being in the fourth year is that by now you have perfected the fine art of sensing where your boss is and finding something infinitely more urgent to attend to in the opposite direction. This is to avoid potentially career-threatening situations that begin like this
Boss: Have you started that uber-crucial experiment that will get us that nature paper?
You: Actually….ummm…aaahhh…

2) Labmates - Big smile. Then stop and say a few words.

This is for people in your lab. Of course the main reason for such joviality is to get truthful answers to the crucial questions "Is the boss in the lab?" And "Did the boss ask for me?"

3) Department mates. Big smile and maybe a few words.

This is for members of the department. You never know what reagent you have to borrow from them and who will make the next batch of best competent cells (which are worth more than gold in mol bio work and the Lord in his infinite wisdom hath blessth very few with the ability to maketh them). Or you may need to use some precious instrument that only their boss can afford.

4) Friends. Then a hand wave around the shoulder area. And smile but no teeth showing.

This is for people who you know from other departments, who of course you are never going to need during the course of your experiments but who are friends. No no not friends in the normal world sense with jokes, laughter, shared interests, shared passions and stimulating conversation. Friends in the MEI(My Esteemed Institute) sense that is people you have played badminton with maybe once or have had lunch with them maybe half a once.

5) Batchmates etc. Then the slightest of hand waves but much lower than shoulder maybe around the waist. Very slight almost-not-there smile.

Those you have to tolerate for the sake of tolerating. You know the saying. God gives us batchmates. Thank God we can choose our friends. [Edit: this does not mean that my batchmates are weird in anyway. They are extremely nice people.] [Edit 2: The previous edit had nothing to do with the fact that half of the guys in my batch look like they could break a concrete slab into two with one arm if provoked.]

6) Pesky juniors and competitors - the MEI stare/sneer

This is the perfect combination of disinterest mixed with just the right level of contempt so as not to be insulting. It is for those pesky juniors who think that MEI is just a college and that everyone here is their friend. Not true. In MEI even acquaintanceship has to be earned and as for friendship see point number four. This can also be used effectively with people who due to some fault of theirs (unknowing or otherwise) ruined your experiments some time ago. Be warned. Some recipients of the perfect MEI stare/sneer never recover and are left with deep psychological scars for the rest of their life.

7) Others No reaction.

This is easy for people whom you don’t know. But it takes a lot of effort to keep a straight face when you pass some of the characters that inhabit the MEI campus like the guy who made an ass out of himself at Gokul the other night when he got drunk and asked the waiter “thoku kya?” ,or the biology babe who talks to her flies (and even has names for some of them!), or the astrophysicist who believes that the Big Bang happened when Brahma sneezed, or the chemistry guy who watches Kyunki Saas bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi on the sly. There should not be one flicker of laughter, disgust or any other reaction on passing them. Not one. Because an emotion would acknowledge their idiosyncrasy and science thrives on idiosyncrasies. Therefore this no reaction is the look that requires the greatest control of the facial muscles and the greatest mental strength to accomplish.

** - There is no such thing as a normal MEI student!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

A bouquet of links!

Past few days I have come across some links that are profound, some that are memorable and others just plain hilarious. Happiness shared is happiness multiplied and all that sentimental junk. Therefore, I put them here.

WARNING: Pursue only when you have ample time on your hands!

1) Would you like to have some coffee? I never thought that those seven words could have such powerful connotations. Here is a discussion about a female scientist who was asked for coffee by a male colleague and what followed. Of course underlying all this is the question about whether the double X and the Y chromosome can ever have a platonic relationship. (From Nanopolitan's blog)

2) Asimov has always been a perennial favourite. My deepest, darkest secret- I always wanted to be like Dr. Susan Calvin. From Arjun's blog got this amazing short story by Asimov that made me look at computers in a new light. Oooops, did I just give the ending away?

3) I like satire. One person who used to write the best satire I know, has now stopped blogging unfortunately. But then there is always David Letterman. A collection of David Letterman videos! (I actually thought I would post this as an antidote to post V-day blues.) My favourite - Ten things that would sound creepy when said by John Malkovich.

4) Also listen to the songs of Taxi No. 9211.Something different to come out of Bollywood for a change. I particularly recommend Ek Nazar Mein Bhi. I have problems with the song Azmale Azmale, when he goes, 'Beech ka parda uthale'. Huh?

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Hamar blog......

Here is an article on Bhojpuri movies. about which we had a discussion some time ago.

Interesting facts

1) Two Bhojpuri movies did more buisness than Bunty Aur Babli last year.

2) Amitabh Bacchan and Hema Malini have signed up to do a Bhojpuri movie together.

3) Several foreigners have acted in Bhojouri movies including one Cambridge educated babe.

More power to the vernacular!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The Silver Lining

My experiments are not working these days and I dont know where to take them. Anyways, I will not bore you with the details.

But once in a while even a failed experiment can be a great source of pleasure. Like this one. Isn't the picture worthy of Picasso himself?

For your information that is my model system - immature fruit fly sperms!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Hilsa and other musings of the idle mind

Regular readers of the BBC may be familiar with this.

In a study carried out at Avon, it was observed that mothers with greater intake of Omega 3 fatty acids had children with more IQ. In what form did they consume this fatty acid? Oily fish!

What are oily fish? Wikipedia says that oily fish are those that have oil throughout their fillet and body cavity and not just the liver. Like a scientist you will ask, 'Give me examples, Samu!'. Oily fishes include salmon, mackerel and hold your bread.......HILSA and KATLA - the last two of which are consumed so heaviliy by the residents of Bongaland.

One wonders - is this the reason for the intellectual dominance of the Bongaland people over other less hilsa/katla loving people? Are the others doomed to wander in intellectual wilderness then?

But the tides are turning.

Recent reports indicate that the beloved hilsa is getting endangered due to pollution and heavy fishing. Will this lead to the intellectual decline of Shonar Bangla? On a more sinister note, is this a deliberate ploy on the part of the government/foreign agencies/Al-Qaeda/aliens-from-outer-space to reduce our average IQ by hitting where it matters the most?

We wait and watch.

Next: Is there a link between coconut oil fatty acids and Mallu wise cracking?

(The picture is from here.)

Monday, January 30, 2006

A poem

To all those people who have loved and lost.

A rose is only as good as hand that chooses her
A poet only as great as the praise from his admirers.
The fact that I like you does not make
you great in anyway.
It makes me greater 'cause I see things in you
that no one else can.

Friday, January 13, 2006

So what sex is your brain then?

Here is a quiz I came across on the BBC website.

It has been claimed that your brain can be either male or female and that may not have anything to do with your actual sex. (Dont ask me how - neurobiology was never my favourite subject). Therefore, it aims to find out the sex of your brain by asking questions based on surveys of male and female behaviour and comprehension ablities. All very scientific.

A bit time consuming but fun. Keep a scale handy.

What is your sex?

As for me I turned out to be just as female as all the other average females who were tested - not one bit of maleness in me. I was slightly dissappointed as I consider myself a techno-geek and all that. Looks like I will have to hit the mascara and rouge now.

P.S. My cold turkey lasted for much shorter than yours, Kate. Whatever have I got myself into?

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Seven signs that you need to join the BA

Seven signs that you need to join the Blogaholics Anonymous.

1) You sleep with a notebook and pen next to your pillow. So that you won't miss a good idea even if you are half-asleep.

2) When you reach the end of a newspaper article, you are dissapointed that no one left any comments.

3) You spend three or more hours everyday, tweaking your template.

4) When something sad/happy happens to you, all you can think of is "How can I blog about this?"

5) You think that "friends" is just another word for "people who link to me".

6) When you understand the difference, you realize you have more of the latter than the former.

7) You no longer recieve any e-mail (mostly because you don't reply to any). People who want to see if you are alive just leave comments on your blog.

The Blogaholics Anonymous meets every Tuesday at the 'Z' block conference room at 9 p.m. right after the Orkutoholics Anonymous meeting.

[As a mental experiment, I am going to go cold turkey for a while. If you see a female going into paroxysms screaming 'I want to blog', that would be me.]

Currently listening to
Cocaine - Eric Clapton

Sunday, January 08, 2006

I am a stapler.

As a rule I hate quizzes. With their apparently tailored answers, they give you a fake sense of individuality. But they are good enough when you are too bored to think of something original!

Quick and snappy.
You make your own rules and boldly go where no one
has gone before. Some may think you are
arrogant and even rude, while others admire
your keen observations. Not that you really

What kind of blogger are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

This one is interesting for two reasons
1) It tells me I 'boldly go where no one has gone before'. Nice to know that I have imbibed some Star Trek principles.
2) I can't, for the life of me, figure out the connection between a stapler and individualism!

New feature!

Currently listening to Hallelujah by Rufus Wrainwright. (For the nth time, no less!)

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Depp rules!

We interrupt the regular transmission to bring you a news flash.

For the second year in a row, Johnny Depp has made it to the FIRST spot on the IMDB's top 25. This rating is based on the search behaviour of over 30 million users of the IMDB. To celebrate this, we present a picture of Depp from one of our all-time favourite movies - The Ninth Gate.

We wait eagerly to feast our eyes on The Libertine and of course, Shantaram. We fervently hope that he drops by in Colaba for the actual shooting of that epic novel.

Beware! Disparaging remarks about Mr. Depp or The Ninth Gate will be deleted. More power to the Deppster!

We will resume regular transmission shortly.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Rage Rage Rage

Sting operations are a crowd pleaser with the hidden cameras satisfying the voyeur in everyone. Of course they have their utility like increasing awareness like the Tehelka tapes or providing entertainment like the Shakti Kapoor stuff. But when it directly affects you things are a different matter.

In the aftermath of the IISc incident, one intrepid reporter decided to try getting into My Esteemed Institute (MEI). She had a hidden camera in her bag and actually managed to get inside the place by giving false names to the security guard. She wandered around the whole institute - the reception, a professors office, a chemical room and even our famed auditorium. She says that her bag was never checked and she was never asked for an I-card. This was gleefully touted on CNBC as a report about how the security at research institutes is lax. She also got into the IIT, Mumbai and wandered around in the some room with a lot of pipes and ducts and was able to access keys to several rooms

How will this incident affect me?

Security at the gates will be tightened. They will check our bags thoroughly. Life overall will be difficult. But that I do not mind.

Did it serve the purpose?

God knows. In my opinion, if someone actually wanted to attack the institute they are a million different ways of doing it –none of which involve the security gate anyways.

Did it benefit the general public?

The first time I came to MEI was when I was doing my Master’s. I did not have a proper laminated I-card then. I just came with the recommendation of my professor. If the guard had not allowed me inside then I would never have able to access the rich library of journals I could not get anywhere else. To use a cliché, coming to MEI then opened my eyes and all I wanted since then was to a part of it.

I doubt that anyone with good reason in spite of having the right documents will be allowed in at all, unless they personally knew someone with a valid MEI I-card. Hell, it will be difficult even for me to go to IIT to use their instruments.

How did it benefit the reporter? A raise definitely and a promotion maybe.

I hope the reporter realises what a loss it is for science in this country if the limited resources that we have are not shared with the general public and especially with the students who come from institutes/colleges that are not as well funded.

I condemn the reporter as mean, petty and selfish and I condemn CNBC for using this cheap ploy to boost TRP's (and therefore advertising revenue).

I hope she rots in the deepest circles of hell.