Cold Heart. Warm Hands. & its Chirstmas
Strapped to an SLR, I was witnessing the magnificent candidness of a lovely and vivacious beauty at sight. As the blur narrowed to auto focus through the eyepiece, I saw her actions disappear into the mist of masked reality. Just like the colors of white light, the world divulges to be multicolored through a glass prism. The opportunity at hand, of having an SLR with a zoom lens, along with the magnitude of emotions revealed by this subject, all of a sudden seemed tangentially misfit.
As I drove back on a journey through the new found woods, a slide show of those pictures, which captivated my interests in photography, ran through my mind. With questions behind the efforts and feelings of most famous photographers wandered my head, I decided to hitch towards the setting dusk. As the fog over the frozen lake rose slowly along with the setting sun, new insights over the art and the men behind the art were discovered. I rode back home, did some Google searching behind the histories of most famous photographers, and found the real truth behind those solitude seeking eyes.
The simple yet astonishing oath behind the success of hardcore photography legends - "Cold Heart and Warm Hands" One needs a cold heart to avoid the emotions that delineate the graphic picture of realism at sight, and a pair of warm hands that overcome the prejudicial selfishness of answering our own earthy questions, and press that forefinger onto the silver button of "Life is stopped." Only these guys fall under the category of Diane Arbus' quote. It is best that one finds answers rather than be told known answers.
Was it coincidence?, I don't know. A part of my revelation expressed entirely on the photograph as such, was vaguely addressed at the end of Frost/Nixon. Here is a slightly modified version of the most important dialogue from the script - "The reductive/simplifying power of the close-up is the greatest sin of photography. It diminishes great complex human life. Emotions of grave depth, ages of character build up, whole life, become reduced to a single snapshot."
09 seems to be an interesting year in the prosperity of this new found love of mine. (The post was written over a period of 5 days)
And something cool from the hot life: Yesterday, I was locked at my home due to a severe sleet storm. Unfortunately I ended up taking a power nap, and had to spend the rest of the night watching discovery channel (Awesomeeeee!!!), and season 7 of Scrubs (Awesome Dosomeeee!!!). As Bob retired at the end, I was reiterated with a quote from some movie - "The only lone people are those who have retired" True story ain't it? So far this Christmas eve has been great. I learned that the happiest moments of sharing gifts, is when the gift wrappers are torn open, rather than watching the gift you wanted the most, as such. It's the break even point, where the wait and curiosity finally, is killed in the hunt for the unknown much-awaited gift. It was my lucky day to take the car out after all.... Got another few hours before fat Santa scoots out the sleek chimney....
Reality check on the next half of the Christmas eve: Yes Man (Yes!! It was great), a simple long drive U turned to Louisville. Riverside was closed, and so went on a hitchhiker spree to end up on the other side of the river (A beautiful place. I wish I had a girl friend :P It's near this restaurant called "The Menu on the river" in Jeffersonville), a three wise men go hunting drink, 9+1 seasons greetings, 9+1 crazy lines, 9 vipers, and a random stranger, the drive right only game (on red, turn right, else go straight..) and a sight of my life (being Christmas), an exact to speed limit drive back to Lex, slumdog, a few catch ups with frenz turning to a trip of get to gather in 3 weeks, and finally star gazing. Whew! I wish everyday is Christmas eve... :D
Melllllyyyyyy Klisssmassssss 2 u allll.....
A Tired Smile
As seconds turned to minutes, I noticed a frequency of children being hugged, picked, placed, tickled to laughter, smiled with, and put word at for behaving good. Then also, there were the break away events like the brat who wanted to punch the oldie in his tummy, baby twins crying on the top of their shrill voice, goggles - who wanted to try grumpy granny's glasses, the crappy parent stamping on his foot, etc. But, as I observed in kill time, his eyes started to twitch at the umbrella of lightning strikes, he stretched his leg further than needed, just to keep it from not falling off, his face drooping heavily trying to hold the fake beard at its place. Yes!! Santa was uncomfortable. Though, he was having a hard time making children laugh at the camera and its multitude of flashes, there was a constant source of warmth in his smile. Then I heard a bystander telling her 4 yr old cutie pie, "Sweetie, wanna say Hi to Santa?" "Mmm Hmmm..." and the 4 year old smiled with her tongue coming of her broken front milk teeth. "Promise me, that you'll behave good this year too", mom requested. The kid nodded in agreement, and made a hand gesture which meant a way of saying, "I swear mommyyyyy"
I smiled at the kid and her mom, and walked past Santa. I was stalled again, but for no reason. I turned back, and saw Santa one more time. He saw me waiting for something, smiled warm, said something to the kid on his lap, and he alone waved his hand at me to the surprise of his parents. I too waved at the kid with a smile. Then both I and Santa went back into our own worlds. As I walked past Dillards, my heart wished for his break. But then, considering the number of good children, who wait on Christmas eve, wanting to have a glimpse of the fat man swooshing past their roofs, climbing down the chimney, eating their cookies and drinking milk, placing their gifts, I curved my lips on the silly wish.
As I drove back with a couple of friends back home, I floated into a dream, of what if's? As I gained conscience into reality, I gave a smack at the back of my head, and said, "Sheesh... Holidays and the jolly good spirit... And life was back into its high gear gravity.
Why so SeriousSSSS?
"You've done?" R's tone was both childish and sarcastic.
Smiling with a puzzle, I nodded my head in agreement. As he continued to get back into the snarl, I saw confusion in the faces of H, C, & Mi, while Mo and N showed frustration from the tricky paper. 10 minutes later, as the rest of the grad students walked out of the exam hall, everyone had the same question - "Completed the paper so early, in spite of being 20 minutes late?" Fortunately everyone assumed the same answer, "You didn't prepare for the exam"
2 days later, as I topped the exam with 97%, every grad student of the class had a "What the?" look on their face. My professor had other feelings. He privately called me the same evening, and tested my skills on the paper just to confirm that I didn't cheat. :D
While, this turned out to be the match for the forest fire, among the department staff and students, I was pretty disappointed for losing 1.5 points for wrongly summing two constants to one of their constants (C1 + C2 is not equal to C2, unless C1 is zero. This wasn't the case) If I had rechecked the paper in the final 10 minutes of the exam, I would have got more.
The reason I remembered this strand of department popular memory now, is because, all my life, I had always been like this. Never had been a time, that I actually rechecked the paper for minor errors, which if I had done, might have given me that extra edge over the few toppers in school. As I received my answer sheets, I had been disappointed several times from my past. I had been even pleaded by my mom, coerced by my friends, promised by my brother, and a lot more, just to make me recheck answers after an exam. The things I did to stick to these peoples promises was mostly sketching on the question paper, watching upset students panic at the last moments, glazing on the blackboard for any left over impressions, or even day dreaming.
While, this habit slowly creased into my professional life (except those instances of SOPs, important essays, etc), and revealed demons in research reports, I learned to adapt to the various mistakes. There was a time, when I truly turned into my advisor in terms of writing e-mails and reports. But somehow, the skill of proof reading never enticed me.
After spending 40 odd hours (of 2.5 days) in the lab, working on a new paper with new insights into results and concepts, I finished the paper like an hour ago. Then, something strange happened. I self emailed the copy, went to the other lab, took a print out of all the sheets (including the 6 page references), came back to my desk, and did 'proof reading' of the entire paper (it's 5 am now). Only at the end I realized, "Huh??? What did I just do?"
Guess, my biological clock has shifted gears into my 11th hour crisis clock. For a guy, who got second or even third ranks for being lazy, in rechecking answer sheets, and cared a damn about the extra effort, proof reading of a paper, which I can submit anytime next week, seems to be pretty "Serious". Guess am all in, for this game of hunting my career....
(PS - Watched Dark Knight for the second time during my break dinner period. While, the theatrical experience seemed to throw questions on judging the movies integrity as one of the greatest movies ever made, today's screen show, turned out to delineate the movies impact. The movies, got a dark and cool ultimatum than you can ever imagine of. I need fresh grey matter to replenish my pot now. Time to leave home for some rejuvenating sleep.. Friday and 5 movies to select from this weekend's release.)
Sometimes truth isn't good enough, sometimes people deserve more. Sometimes people deserve to have their faith rewarded. - The Dark Knight.....
Why so serioussss? Let's put a smilEY in this post...
The Right Decision
But as years moved on, as I tanned under the lights of mercury, in the closed basement cell, I slowly started to wait for those moments that define my PhD career. It is the wait that earns the respect of a PhD candidate rather than the degree as such. At times, the wait turns so gleem that one does ask the question of "What's happening to the PhD plan?" PhD life ain't just a strip of phdcomics. It is supposed to be more enchanting than a magical land of profits, and professions.
Today, as I spent nearly 13 hours (and still to be counted next 12 hours) firing neurons isotropically, at all angles, ends and sides, solving the thickest of the hypothesis' and theories with a class so filled with action, I realized, "F***!!! I am the best God damn PhD candidate ever. I rule my world." "Who cares, if I am lagging behind by a few papers? I just made the hardest project of my lab (from scratch) working for the team." Today, is one of those hard earned memorable pages that goes into the 'I did make the right decision of taking the PhD road' ballot box.
Long live this super geeks awesome brain..... :D
(Timely song at the background: 'Yeh Jo Pal' from Ru Ba Ru.... :D )
A Tip for those frustrated PhD candidates: Seriously don't listen to the bull shit talk of "Be Patient. It ll work out." Instead, start realizing that there is a lot to learn in PhD that is out of your subject too. Start appreciating yourselves for simple, out of PhD experience stuffs, such as fixing the printer, going out for purchasing work-related stuff, etc. Simple small things do add up to your work (no printer - no paper or no results/reports printed - get the point). Keep on ruing about your bad outcome coz it keeps your brain so active that you'll figure out something. It's much better than idling and accepting defeat in the name of 'patience pays'.
My recent driving belt for my work - I self gift myself for every work I accomplish in a stipulated period of time (which is the hardest thing to control in a PhDians life, unless, you are a schedule oriented zombie). Self gifting, is like having a chicken burrito instead of a veggie, or having a fling of snowball on the departments patio :D, etc.
But, yesterday for the first time, I liked politics and politicians. Thanks to this "No more a sitting duck" incident. I suddenly have high regards for W for his cool snubs after the event (added to the movie 'W' which portrayed clearly that he is not the only one to be blamed for). Consider the case of the Texans Bull Eye was bulls eyed and smacked with the size 10 boot. It would have been the roll over, smoking gun, tape for the next two weeks, in all news channels (Our fellow Indian reporters saying, "I just got an sms from an inside source, that the right shoes lace was untied; it was a "made in Pakistan" shoe, there might have been additional shoes thrown at the President - from 1-4; an average of about 2 shoes or a pair, blah blah blah blah....").
Bush is 62, and he ducked at snakes pace. He is being constantly bullied, and scrutinized for his actions. Well, don't give respect for his positions. Try giving respect for his age, and let him live the next 32 days of presidency with some dignity.
And for the guy who threw the boot - Condolences for all your losses. Standing ovation on your guts to throw not one but two shoes on the Most important Man in the World
And for the reporters - It is an insult in any culture to throw shoes on a person (not only arabic, or islamic.. Don't fucken bring religion or culture into the picture)
What cascades into the worst - Friendship.
What keeps you away from both the most and the worst - A promise to a friend.
Smile from a true friend, and tears for a true friend, beats all feelings, I'd encountered all my life (Including falling in love). For the very first time, I see the future of my personal life clear - Unclear. Hah!!!!!
Old Pages New Turns
The above quote, is from a 11 year old safeguarded (diary) page, which by sheer chance, I had to read, along with several other gathered pages from my past. Lucky for me, those eventful life changing memories, turned out to be jokes of wisdom 'now'. Several sequels continued from the various memorable events, and slowly as life's pace, grew faster than that of light, I realized that "Life Defining Memories for one, is just a mere event for the other"
Strange world it was then, stranger it got till now, and I know that it will be the strangest sooner than I can assume.
I recollected, thought, laughed, and finally trashed those pages (Yes! I did trash 'em out), as my memories are the secrets of my mind and heart. It doesn't carry any value in the eyes of the other.
I am glad that I did something different from the usual me - being crazy.
Events of the day: I converted a 15 second drive up a road to a 15 minute traffic laden smart-ass by pass. Murphy's Lane Theory was proven finally. Played at the swing in the negative temperatures just coz I had eventful memories of the place. Bid farewell to not 1, 2, 3, but 4 close friends as they prepare to leave LEX soon. I'm starting the realize that it is that month of the year, when I get loads of free treats, but the problem is these are all farewell treats. I've finally decided to start thinking of something good for my new year resolutions (Breaking the resolution of no resolutions this year :D )
My current state of mind.....
The last time that happened was during my birthday (Oh yeah... I do remember to pen a post on it..... Wait for some more time. I've got one more cake to cut). While, it started minutes before the clock struck midnight (technically, its minutes before the birthday), on receiving an angry snub for being concerned, it continued with many other awkward things throughout the day. But, the best part of that true smile occurred as I did a two way discussion with the deities of (not one, but two) temples. That conversation between my funny-go-happy-live-freely conscience of heart and my serious, pragmatic, question oriented, mind made me laugh my hearts out for several minutes. To be truthful, I don't remember the last time, I encountered such a happy feeling in my life.
Today, after all the struggle I had with excessive 'excessiveness' of everything I, damned and dealed, the expected laugh from the doctor on my symptoms (I complained of anti insomnia, unlimited hogging, potty quenching of dehydration, and a gist of uneasiness), and a nostalgic trip to the past several years that made me say "Shit! I've changed a lot faster than I had expected", I realized that I've become too complicated for even myself. Slowly, the frown turned to scratching my head, and suddenly, my mind craved for peace.
The one thing that kept me going all these years, is my instantaneous action to fill my cravings. I did something, I thought I might never do in my life. I took my car, and hitched to the city temple. Before, you all go blooms and showers on me going to the temple, I'd still like to remind you that, I'm still an agnostic atheist (whatever that means to you all.... :P ). Well, while I ran to the temple to have a small chit chat with my own self (I had a silly belief, that I can meet my simple side in a temple), I ended up revisiting chapters of life, when I spent time with my dad, polishing apples during special poojas. Somehow, I had this liking to shine apples using my shirt whenever there was this big pooja in the temple. Dad used to tell me, that apples have a natural shine. (I still have this habit of 'trying to shine the first grape' to disprove my dad). Well, thats it. I never accomplished in meeting my simple side, and talk with him. I just ended up gaa gaa goo goo'ing with all the shiny shiny marble deities.
It's hours after that incident, and am still waiting to curve my lips. This might seem strange... But seriously, I feel like, I've lost the spark to smile for some self reason/act. That doesn't mean I've lost the spark to smile. I just don't know what crazy act of myself would make me smile. Get it.... It's the self smile, for a self reason.....
Ok! before I finish this post with the impression of 'Hari... you've lost your marbles?', I'd like to add that, today, in addition to the apple and gaa gaa goo goo, I did something, I always wanted to do, from the moment I became a non believer. I said, a BIG 'THANKS FOR EVERYTHING' for no reason to the shiny shiny marble statues. Guess, after all, people do need to say thanks to those whom people demand miracles from... Right????? ;)
Oh Yeah, the title for the post - The difference between what I am now, to what I wanted to be several years ago, needs a diagnosis (which in medical terms is called as 'differential')... This is an awkward time, where my heart is not thinking and the mind is not feeling. It's all fuzzy rainbows to me now.....
Black & Whites of conferences
Life by all means, gives us opportunities to take control of our opportunities. Period. “I sound philosophically dumb with that statement” What I meant to express is, “ahhhh….. Never mind” I just went through a phase of solid questions (questions related to research and not life…. :D ) and my mind is racing at a prophylactic pace with all the graphs, simulations, plots, concepts, etc I just saw in two days of this awesome (Rhino from Bolt Style AWESOME) conference.
Day 1 (yesterday), started a bit queasy where my mind was hoping to get a good answer, for my belief in making it to this conference all alone (of course, I paid for self too). Good thing was I met three really really “REAlly” big shots who were very keen in knowing my interests in their fields. While, the funny debate between the chair of a session and the attitudinal British graduate made me laugh out on the open (which also got some equal smiles from the crowd, and a heavy “Your dead” stare from the British ‘Lady’), I managed to use it to put some casual talk with the session chair. Thanks to that, I was ‘well’ introduced to a European Faculty, who through peer discussion, turned out to be one of my reviewers for my Langmuir paper.
Somehow, the jolly good mood, turned out to be a pleasant 20 minute break with some ‘very old’ ladies, who packed my gifts with the respective wrappers. In fact it was fun to tear the paper, cut the sides, fold the wrapper, hold the tape, get the bow, add the label, and finally give a tip to these Lions club Ladies. The better thing that happened during this interim was their discussion of “He is a good boy. Isn’t he?” (I don’t remember the last time I was called a ‘good boy’ or even a ‘boy’ :) ). Lunch break went super awesome, as I managed to move around the Barnes and Noble crèche just to get the perfect gift for my nephew.
Although my brain screamed ‘post doc option’ ‘post doc option’ ‘post doc option’, post lunch session turned blurry with sleep taking control over my eyelids. Gave up on the last talk, and returned back home in the subway (which somehow, always keep me interested in the strange world)
Today (a few more hours to go), was the balancing act to day 1. Ended up screwing a potential post doc opportunity by continuing a discussion with regards to a dumb question I posted minutes ago meeting the faculty. While this should have turned trivial, its essence was manifested, when my memory failed to elicit the face of a faculty whom I’ve been trying to meet from minute 1 after I saw his talk. Cursing my memory as usual, I ended up sitting in this ‘out of the bloom’ faculty’s talk. (Oh Wait… The British Lady just went past me, and yet again threw a scary glare at me). While, I was strategizing a way to use his student (who was the second place poster winner at AICHE), to get myself acquainted into a discussion, the mention of the students name in a Science and Nature Nanotechnology Paper just threw me overboard. I just acted cowardly from meeting up with the faculty. Now, I have about 90 minutes, to get myself back on stage, and meet him, and one more faculty.
Yikes…. I’m about a minute late for the next talk. Break’s over. Adios… Cheerios…. Wish me luck before I yuck again.
(Post day 2's conference: Made sure I rocked the day as it ended. Had a 15 minute solid discussion with a MIT-co-Harvard Group of faculties, who were in a fix solving an issue. Good that my skills in multiple equipments finally paved way for such a discussion. And a million thanks to that unknown stranger who asked a simple question and provoked me into asking a second question with a comment. It made the group of faculties approach me after the session. "It's true that, everything happens for a reason")