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!


Amit said...

"Pity that we don’t have that in our culture."

We do have. Charan-sparsh for elderly and revered ones, Namaste (with hands folded) for elders, and now a days Hi for friends.

Notice that here also, the height of your palms above the ground level is strictly in the increasing order.

kate said...

Such a fun read.

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.

*me worries*

musafir said...

I did not know feni can do such wonders, ha ha ha !!!!!!

Shanta Laishram said...

Quite an interesting post!

Shubham said...

incredible example of lateral thinking :)

Abi said...

Could you please -- please, please -- tell me the brand of feni that you had? Should it always be mixed with reading a bad book (or seeing a bad movie) for such great effects such as this post?

Are their parallel universes? Does Brahma sneeze often?

samudrika said...

Insightful as always. I stand corrected.

Thanks. The best antidote to a MEI stare is the anti-stare. ;)

Of course feni and its related drinks work wonders. How do you think that MEI manages to be so productive inspite of all the tea in between fun and recreation we have?

Thank you too. I think

No, I was not entirely lateral after the feni. :)

Any Feni will do as long as its free. :D Brahma sneezes every 12.5 billion years I think.

musafir said...

Now I understand why I wasn't so productive !!! Regular doses of that wonderful potion would have helped a lot.

Anonymous said...

Nice blog with so many interesting observations! Your skill of story-telling is almost at the height of perfection it seems.

samudrika said...

You want me to believe that you never took this magic potion. Yeah right!

"height of perfection"?!! Thats a new one. Very gracious of you.

musafir said...

I never said that. Watch out for the word "Regular" !!!!! But I never could reach the stage you did, yes, I agree with the anon, Height of Perfection.
Do please carry on, you may know the old saying : It is difficult to reach the Height, but it's even more difficult to maintain it. I wish you all the success.

samudrika said...

Yes more difficult to write! Let's see.....