Monthly Archives: January 2018

A little past midway

Second consecutive month of deadlines is done. I have one more month to go, just as intensive as December and Jan have been, if not more.

I can feel the exhaustion creep into me.  I know I will hold on through the home stretch, but at 10.PM, as I mailed out what appears to be my zillionth proposal for the season (seventh, actually), I feel drained.

Send me strength please…


Sharing my world

I am struggling with an idea on photo voltaic cells, and my head hurts. It is not helped by the rather loud meeting in the adjacent room.  But I think I am finding excuses for my lack of inspiration today.  I have a smattering of an idea, but the proposal is not growing.  Gah.

Might as well take a break and do something that does not involve thinking about perovskites or management jargon.

Share Your World – January 29, 2018

This week’s questions:

If you had an unlimited shopping spree at only one store, which one would you choose? Why?

I am not sure what is meant by shopping spree – does it mean I don’t have to pay for what I buy?  If so, it would be a grocery store with food raw materials from all over the world – an international food market, so to speak.  I don’t like cooking, but in a twisted way that defines me, I like cooking international food – I find the raw materials required for cooking, say, Bolivian food, missing. There is one international food market in my neighbourhood that calls for body organ donations for a hundred grams of Bolivian corn flour.

What is the worst thing you ate recently?

I make awesome apple pies, even if I say so myself.  Our family is an apple pie family.   I was out yesterday at the kid’s school annual day, and found a pastry shop alongside the auditorium.  Finding apple pie there, I bought it for the family, because it was going to be too late to get back home and make fresh apple pie as I had originally planned.

That was the most disgusting excuse of apple pie I could ever taste in life.


Name five things you like watching…

The final form of a document I wrote. There is something magical about seeing a rudimentary idea finally look complete.  Today, that seems like a distant dream to me.

People in intense concentration on whatever they are doing.  I just love to sit by them and watch them concentrate.  Of course, when I do that, they get irritated and shoo me away because I am being a pain.

Ocean waves come and go and come and go and come and go…

An intelligently funny movie, show.

Beautiful people who are unaware of their beauty.

Rant, which may injure

I believe productivity of the world would be zillions times more, if people stopped holding meetings.

I sit in a room adjacent to one in which there is a meeting going on, wherein, a returned-from-America management type person (~55 years old) is lecturing about how to increase productivity and money worthiness of an Indian academic setting.  The walls are thin, and the person has a penetrating voice.  With every pedantic point he makes, I have to control myself from screaming “utter and total B.S”. “Mentoring, role division and scope definition are essential for progress and you must adopt it”, he says, and I want to shout that he is gassing in an academic institution that is built on mentoring, role division and effing scope definition, and “scoping projects in such a way that everyone benefits” is so typically management bat crap that an academic setting could well do without.

It bothers me that people who have lived abroad for decades, consider it their responsibility to “improve” the system in a country, in which they have neither lived nor worked in a long time, and are completely unaware of the logistics and equilibrium that exist in society here, merely because they were born and spent their formative years here.  Is it the arrogant big-brother attitude that the luxury and comfort of America (perhaps other countries too, but I don’t know because I have not heard expats in other countries behave so patronizingly) affords, or an adopted sense of the white-man’s burden, which believes that anyone not from America does not know how to live, and that it is up to them to elevate and amaze.  Equally to be blamed is the abject servitude of our own, who believe that anything downloaded from the West (and by West, I mean US of A) is superior to what works here.

Yes, we don’t have Nobel laureates.  We don’t have as many patents.  We are a poor, dirty, partly dysfunctional, misogynistic, mediocre country.  But we have a dynamic equilibrium that we reach at every point, through local trial and error. Yes, we could do with guidance, who couldn’t, but not some management jargon, that screams pedantry in every word.

But the saving grace is this.  One of the other local participants, is giving it back to him in his own jargon.  “What makes you believe that the young entrants here need mentoring?  And what makes you think that commercialization of academics, which may work in a capitalistic world power, will make things better in a socialist state, in which knowledge has never been connected to market value”.  Ataboy !

Never bullshit a bullshitter !

Disclaimer/PS:  I know there are a lot of people of all origins from USA, reading this blog.  This is not a personal attack, but you know that don’t you?  This is an incident-based rant.

Mother-daughter (un)bonding

During carpool, the girls were discussing the boys in their school, and the most common refrain was “oh, he is gross” – whoever discovered the word “gross” must be shot.

Driver (me):  So, tell me girls…who, according to you, is the best looking boy in your school?

The oldest carpool kid: “Oh aunty, there’s absolutely no good looking boy in our school, none…I mean, no one has anything remotely like a jaw line”.

Driver: oh..that’s too bad.  A jawline makes such a difference (hands over the cell phone to her) for Nathan Page jaw line…it’s so dreamy.

My kid:  No no no no…I refuse to have a conversation with my mom about jaw lines of good looking boys…no no no.

The driver can’t see why not, but that’s how, it seems, the biscuit breaks.


The kid and I attended a brilliant talk by a wonderful writer, titled (the talk, not the writer) “gender equality does not mean gender wars” (Can we have an hallelujah?#).  On returning home, the kid goes straight to her father and says “appa, amma is a huge nerd…do you know she stood up and answered even the speaker’s rhetorical questions##?  She must have been a gigantic pain in school.  Thank God she isn’t in school with me.”

I resolved to attend more talks with the kid in future.  Big fun.

#I will write about the talk and my thoughts perhaps tomorrow.

##No I didn’t.  I only stood up to answer a dozen regular questions, not her rhetorical ones.  Hrmph.


At home, I tell the kid “you know, you should send P (her current crush at school) a message saying you attended this talk – the best way to flirt with a nerd is to say such things…the chap will fall straight in love with you”

The kid walks away shaking her head and murmuring “why me?”.


Another successful mother-daughter day at the gobblefunkist household.


Sharing my world

Cee’s questions this week :

List 2 things you have to be happy about?

  • The kid’s performance in extra curricular activities in school this year.  At the beginning of the school year, she was dejected that she was unknown in school, partly by her own introversion (the distance between the apple and the tree is small), and partly because she didn’t know where her strengths lay, despite my attempts to convince her of the strength of her communication skills .  Over the year, she has proven me right, and now, she is the go-to kid at school if there is anything that requires written or oral forms of communication – as I type this, she is representing her school in an inter-school oratorical competition, one of many she has attended this year.  So, happy that she finally recognized her skill.
  • My first research proposal for the next deadline came out well.  I struggled with it because the idea was difficult to frame into a convincing argument for funding.  The proposal took me longer than usual to complete, but the final document turned out, in my opinion (the agency may not share my view depending upon the funding politics at the time of doling out the dough), organized and convincing.

Obviously, I am not even mentioning the life-blessings that make me content in life, because I am terrified of jinxing them.

Have you ever owned a rock, pet rock, or gem that is not jewelry?

I am glad you asked.  This is a story that’s close to my heart.

I am not a sentimental person.  I never hold on to anything from the past.  I never have as a child, and the fanaticism to shun material connections to memories has only grown over the years.

There was one exception.

I was in the final year of my bachelor’s programme in a popular college in my city. It was January, and we had to start planning for the immediate future.  I knew I wanted to do a master’s but wasn’t quite sure of anything else.

January was the time for Mardi Gras (now renamed), the inter-collegiate cultural event of a leading academic institution (ranked first in the country) in my city and the Indian music choir to which I belonged in the UG college, was set to compete with fifty other teams in it.  I knew of this leading institution because my cousin studied there many years ago, but didn’t know much else about it.  The moment I stepped into the campus of this institution as a participant of the cultural event, I heard the calling loud and clear.  I knew this would be my next stop in life.

As I was returning after the event (we got as far as the final round, but lost in the finals – we sang “anthi mazai”, which needed a male voice to complement the female, which we didn’t have , being a girls’ college and all), in a moment’s rare sentimentality, I picked up a large pebble, put it in my pocket and vowed to myself that I would restore the pebble to its source when I returned as a student here.

For the next three months, I diligently prepared for the entrance exam.  A few more months later, I returned the pebble from whence I picked it, as a newly recruited master’s student.

My first and last dash at sentimentality in life.

Are you a hugger or a non-hugger?

I hug only two people in my life on a daily basis – my family.  As for others, I would rather not, but if the situation requires of it – usually as a gesture of comfort – I would.  Even in such cases, I’d more readily hug women than men.  A hand-shake is all I can muster with men.