Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Happy New Year...and More

Wish you all a very happy 2014!

This was in Athens. You could see the Acropolis in the bottom left corner :)

For me, I wish it is as eventful as 2013 has been. I got rid of a lot of unnecessary thoughts and habits that I was carrying around, I gained a lot of understanding about myself, my profession, but most importantly, I gained a somewhat more fleshed out idea of life. The kind I want, and the kind I would not want. I realised what and who are my priorities in life. I can't even begin to jot down the multitudes of thoughts and events that shaped me in this year. It is overwhelming. The point is, good and bad, it was never dull, the year has been a happening one, and I wish 2014 is as good if not better.

Since I will be leaving soon, my mentor came and talked to me at length about how I enriched his lab. I was basking in all the attention I was getting coz there was hardly any in the past year. Just to be sure that it wasn't all staged and rehearsed and repeated to everyone who leaves the lab, I asked him what was so special. I don't need to repeat all that he said because it will be bragging about myself :) Yeah, it was mostly good! I also asked him what could be improved, since people hardly give any critique these days.

One thing every postdoc wants is to create an impression. Our times are fleeting and apart from the urge to be remembered, we depend on these impressions a great deal in our careers. Asking some masked and some blunt questions to gauge the truth of his remarks, they seemed very believable. I was highly satisfied with myself and also got some tips about areas where I could improve. It's good to feel content and laidback once in while. Also, hearing these things about myself was very important to understand that I am not as hopeless or as great as my mind makes me believe sometimes.

I suffered from the 'imposter syndrome'. Last time it happened was almost a decade back while I was starting PhD. When you start thinking less of yourself in spite of all the great things happening to you. You think you don't deserve them, it just happened to be you, and that it could have been anyone else. That's what we call an imposter syndrome. Well, there's nothing more humbling than that, but if you feel that on a daily basis, it is a great killer of your self-worth and self-esteem. On the other hand, feeling like an imposter can work wonders professionally since you tend to overwork and push your boundaries. Which is what happened to me I believe. I worked very hard past one year, and it didn't go unnoticed.

On a tangent, a little bit about ethics of science. Lot of scientists believe that it's okay to exercise gratification of the knowledge buds that we so tastefully cultivate and pursue all our lives. That sometimes it should be reigned is a concept agreed upon in theory, but difficult to internalise and easily forgotten in practice (common examples would be cloning or biotechnological interventions in day-to-day lives, and there are a plethora of such scientific issues which we know could be dangerous and are yet pursued...then there are those which are fuzzy and the fuzziness and lack of clarity about their repercussions makes them easier to pursue, but could be dangerous nevertheless). Everyone has some dichotomy in their lives where they sacrifice ideals for practical issues. But if we sheepishly agree that it's a compromise why even venture in that direction? I will never ever do science for personal gratification that has adverse costs for humanity. Even if the percentage of cost is minuscule, I will not do it.

I want to hear more, talk less and talk only when asked something. Various reasons: 1. There was a stage when I had to speak to feel important. It was a way of asserting myself on the scene. I don't feel that need anymore. I believe now I already feel important enough not to resort to such extraneous things. 2. While I am talking, I can become the third person and observe myself talking, and it is definitely not as interesting as watching someone else do that. 3. As an extension of that thought, I realise talking is an output while listening and thinking is an input. I wish I could talk and think at the same time, but it doesn't happen. Listening and thinking however go hand in hand. So, if I need to evolve, I need to listen and think more. 4. It helps to keep boring conversations short. Negating things or showing interest by asking related questions just fuels people to talk more of the boring stuff. Also, sometimes, one just needs to space out. And you can never space out while talking. 5. My growing concern these days is how less anyone listens. We cut in while others are still speaking, we speak when not spoken to, we don't think about what we are speaking, we borrow others' thoughts and project those as our own. I dislike this in others, so first step is not to let that happen to myself.

Some music that has been on loop of late.

Ab Mujhe Raat Din...

This came out around the time I was in 12th and was playing on all the channels and radios then. Like any other college song, very nostalgic. I end up thinking of people and places and memories of Wardha while listening to it. Apart from the fact that it's totally my type of song..Slow, soothing, strewn with piano and guitar...

I wonder why no one uses the sound of breeze these days in songs. They used to incorporate that a lot in the 90s rain songs, but then stopped it for some reason. There's nothing more refreshing than the combo of breeze, guitar and light rains..

Dad likes this song a lot too, which is surprising since it's not at all his type.

Most of our pop music is banal..except Silk Route, Indian Ocean and some of Lucky Ali..Some songs across the border I like. Their Coke Studio is so much better than ours..Makes me want to explore more Paki music. Songs like Mora Sainyya (Khamaj) by Fuzön..

Sounds quite similar to the Begum Akhtar ghazal - Ulti Ho Gayi Sab Tadbeerein...

Coming to Hindi film music, one of my favourites is Ye Parbaton Ke Daayare from the 1968 film Vaasna. Music by Chitragupta, lyrics by Sahir..

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