Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

A bus ride

Posted: December 27, 2007 in Personal

 

I boarded the bus, this evening, to get back home. My car was in the garage and I was compelled to use public transport. There were a few minutes for the bus to depart. Passengers started filling the empty bus but the seat beside me was empty for a while. The driver was having a rather loud conversation with a few frequent travelers. The clamor was unbearable and I was getting impatient. An old lady hopped into the seat beside me and the bus started moving. The old woman was in her mid-fifties. Her clothes were soiled and looked greasy. She carried a gaudy striped purse which was mended in many places. The black hand-made stitches holding the pieces in place had loosened and a wad of old one dollar bills stuck out of the purse. Her face was heavily painted with cheap make-up. The eye-liner was shapelessly used above the lashes. One of her dull eyes had turned opaque with cataract. Her dark purple lips parted revealing her half crooked, half pale brown teeth as she smiled and greeted me. I greeted back.

“Indian?” she asked. It was quite obvious. I smiled and nodded. She looked at me and smiled back. Her gaze rested on my ears. “Nice earrings!” She said. I smiled again. After a while, she repeated,” Very pretty earrings, are they real?” I shifted uneasily in my seat and lied “No, not at all.” She sat quietly. “Then why do you not give them to me?” I looked at her trying to sound calm, “They are a gift from home.” Silence. “I will give you a dollar. Give them to me.” I froze and did not reply. Her expression turned cold. Her eyes glittered as she continued looking at the shining metal. I could see immense rage in her eyes. She hissed,” I have a sister, she is so mean. Some people are good, they give, but some are so mean, they do not give! You know, I feel like pulling her hair and beating her!” I cowered back. Had she asked me one more time, I would have given them to her. I gathered courage while she was still seething in anger. There were quite a few people in the bus. That comforted me. I quickly got up from my seat and alighted at the next stop not bothering to know which stop it was.

Just Do It!

Posted: October 28, 2007 in Personal

Just Do It!

I am not an athlete. I had never raced before. I signed up for the Kaiser Permanente Corporate Run in June. I had begun to realize that I truly enjoyed running. It is not just a sport for me. I run away, primarily from calories, but also from anxiety and sadness and anger. I run to excitement and elation of the endorphins. I decided to seriously train for this 5K for the experience – for the high. I just wanted to complete a five km run in a decent time.

I bought myself a pair of new Nike Air Pegasus 2007+. I scourged through a plethora of websites and articles and finally settled on a training schedule chalked out by Runner’s World. I had a even bigger 5K that day. A mid-term, a class assignment, another midterm, the real 5K, another assignment deadline, all within 41 hours. There was a conflict of time between the race and my mid-term. I had already preponed my exam. By Sunday, I was overwhelmed. I did not know how I could do it and almost compromised on my goal. I will just try to complete the 5K. My lecture on Monday ended early. I was in a dilemma. Should I just take the midterm on schedule and give up the race? (I had a valid excuse!). My troubled mind sought shelter on the treadmill. I went to the CRC and I ran. I ran 4.01 mi in 35 min. I was soaked by the time I was done. I also had my answer. ‘What the heck was I thinking!’ I thought. ‘I will not just complete the 5K, I WILL race.’ I could not let three months of hard work go down the drain.

I decided to stay in the study room. Home would make me cozy and complacent and I had to study for 2 exams and keep up with my training. I had very little time. The day of the race had finally dawned. I had not slept for more than five hours for the past four days and was caffeinated for most of the time. Today, I did not want the caffeine. I put on my Head Sport Tee, my sweat band and took my shoes and shorts with me.

First, I had to attend class, then take my exam and then run. I would wear my shoes just before we leave for Turner Field. The assignment was done, the test was fortunately not so difficult. I arrived at the CRC. Liz gave me my bib. And my Mizuno Tee! We had a team T-shirt. I was to run with my team T-shirt on. I felt the soft silk white garment Liz had put in my hands. I ran my fingers over the cloth and walked off to the changing room in a daze. I changed into my white Mizuno which read – ‘On the move, with Georgia Tech.’ I stared at myself in the mirror. It was too big for me. You could barely see my shorts. But I did not seem to care. I just kept feeling the shirt. I felt like I was an athlete. I had a mission. I had to run, run as fast as my motor units could take me. Strangely enough for that moment, I could imagine a caricature of me, my upper body straight and stream-lined to propel ahead and my lower body; a pair of wheels rotating at full speed – like when you see Asterix when he has had his potion or when Tom is on a hot pursuit after Jerry. I knew as I walked out of the CRC, my gait had changed. I was determined and ready.

The race started at 7pm with the Elite runners at the forefront. I left the start line at 1:38 past the actual start time. I began slow and steady as we climbed the gradual hill on Hank Aaron. I continued at a steady pace till my muscles felt warm and I could sense the heightened blood flow through my lower body. Then, I picked up speed. I had crossed the first water stop at the first mile. We were on Piedmont and turned onto Harris and then on to Courtland Avenue. I could see the descent on Memorial Drive. While other racers were gaining speed on the slope, I was trying to maintain a steady pace, I knew a few wrong strides on the slope and my knee would hurt. I waited for level ground and sped ahead as fast as I could, trying to put behind as many as had gained over me on the slope.

As we turned right on Hank Aaron to complete the last fraction of the mile, I saw the five Olympic rings in gold, glimmering over the finish line. I stared at the rings as I ran towards them. The timer read 25:39. It was dark by now but I think I glowed. I had completed my first 5K in 24:01 minutes.

376 first dates

Posted: September 15, 2007 in Personal

It has been a few days now, since my goldfish – Splatter – fell ill. When I woke up last Thursday morning and checked up on Splatter, he was almost half out of water. His eye abnormally stuck out of water and each time he changed course, his belly protruded out. He floated awkwardly like a buoy bobbing superficially on the calm waters of his pool.

I spent three long hours staring helplessly at him. He was writhing in pain (at least to me, it seemed that he was). The sight depressed me immensely. I was frustrated and almost burst out, ‘Why do you not tell me what is wrong with you? I can help!’ After a few quick calls to my cousins and a confirmed diagnosis from Google, I knew that my baby was suffering from severe indigestion. I would have to starve him for a couple of days and then put him on a fiber-rich diet.

I could hardly concentrate on my course or homework and spent almost all my time near his bowl for the next few days. I could see Splatter swimming around in the water. He was getting better. He responded well each time I fed him. The morning after, he was carelessly making his usual rounds of the bowl, and I again blurted out, ‘Did you even know you were sick just a few hours back?’

And then, it struck me. He can only retain events that occur in a span of 15 minutes. He probably does not recall the great peril he was in, not too long ago. Yesterday was eons away for him. And here I was, still reeling from the episode. He may not even have an idea that he has been going round and round the same bush every day and I am the same person as yesterday and the day before, who has been feeding him. I tapped on the glass to feed him. Sadness took me. I looked into his eyes and muttered, ‘Would you ever remember me?’ Splatter held my gaze for a second too long, his round black eyes boring into mine. He gave a light shrug with his flaring translucent tail and turned to complete his rounds.

Working out

Posted: April 22, 2006 in Personal

There were a zillion things on my mind as I walked into the premises of the CRC building. There were so many things to do and I found myself unable to work out my way through the mess. The day was hot and humid. Even the interiors seemed damp today. The CRC is always a busy place at this hour. I got a towel and changed into my sports gear. I started out; walking slowly, looking around to see if I knew anyone around but did not seem to care much. Two long minutes passed by and I started walking fast. I could feel the warmth of my blood rushing into my legs. I started jogging. At only 5.5 mph, I had already begun to feel my rectus femoris and soleus gasping for oxygen. But I continued, knowing very well that my body would comfortably accustom to the rhythm and make up for the deficit. I ran… faster and faster. I was not even looking at the screen in front of me. I could just see the one point where my forefingers alternately reached as I took each step. Each time my shoulders swung around my torso, I could feel the soft cotton of my shirt sticking to my skin right down to my lower back. Sweat trickled freely down my forehead and I immediately wiped it off. I still had a while before I could stop. The incline was even greater now and my thighs burned. I slowed down and then slowed even further. I then felt cool as the sweat dried off. The endorphins had started taking effect and I felt good and calm. It was the most wonderful work-out session I had had. I had covered 3.2 miles on the treadmill and come as many miles away from all the clutter filled up in my mind when I had entered the CRC. When I stopped, I was where I had started but I was ready to take on anything that came my way.

Inter-collegiate shuttle

Posted: October 31, 2005 in Personal

I wait for my shuttle to Georgia Institute of Technology almost every day. School is just about 10 miles away but it takes me exactly an hour and 27 minutes to reach. I wonder whether I should read a book or call a friend as I sometimes do. I look at my watch; the minute hand seems to make an effort to lift itself. I do neither. The time is perfect for the view, the campus and the route have to offer. Trees on the campus have changed color but here, the trees are still green. Fall has arrived and darkness has set in a little before 30 minutes past 5. Pale yellow light floods the sidewalk of the Emory University Hospital as I board the bus. As we leave the campus, I look at the Atlanta skyline; now a black silhouette against the fiery orange sky. The torch light atop the Sun Trust tower pierces the wispy clouds. The sight sends a wave of exhilaration through me. I take this route so frequently but today, the view was breath-taking. As we enter the quiet residential areas of Piedmont Park, orange pumpkin heads and witches look back at me. The houses which looked so pretty in the bright sunshine a couple of weeks back, now look spooky in the dark. I do not know why but today even the lights in the shuttle were not switched on. A sudden glare of light enters through my window. I immediately feel the presence of the crowd and the busy shops in the downtown area and realize that I am close to my destination. The shuttle turns onto Fowler Street and enters the campus. I make the same journey everyday. I take the same route everyday. My eyes meet a different sight everyday. Today’s is the most vivid.

Strictly Speaking

Posted: October 6, 2005 in Personal

Currently I am reading a book called ‘Strictly Speaking’ by Edwin Newman. It describes the usage of English in the present times- how English had changed to just a few ‘cool’ phrases and how the language is manipulated to describe simple situations in complicated terms to gain importance and how wrong English is used today as if there was nothing wrong in using it the way it is. I can very well identify with most situations described in the book. Using phrases like ‘funner’, ‘name of the game’,’ like this… like that…like like…’ does not and should not make you cool. Not using them does not make a person less funny or less interesting to talk to you but the use of these words in your day to day speech decide whether you are amiable or not. Spellings do not matter as long as you can convey the word. I purposely said ‘convey the word’ because I cannot understand how you can convey the meaning of a word without knowing the spelling. Words are not generated form phonetics; they are rooted in the meaning of your action or description of something. I have pointed out errors to my friend who often misspells words and does not find it worthwhile to pay attention to her spellings. ‘Everyone does it and nobody cares’ is the reply. Well not everyone does it and some people care. Think about it this way. ‘If I were to rite a leter to your compani and descryb myself as metyculous and efactive in comunication and that you would greightly benifit if you higher me’ what would you think of me? A person hiring you will definitely notice these controversies. What you write reflects on you as an individual. Words have the strength to characterize you for someone who reads what you write without knowing what kind of a person you are. They convey much more about you than their mere meaning. Words are not complete without their correct spelling, form and pronunciation.

After six years of hard core electronic design and advanced image procesing, it seemed quite difficult to face the challenge of studying cell physiology. I started off, rather intimidated by the subject and its contents and extremely anxious as to how I could cope up with this ‘new’ field. But soon it did not seem so hard. After all, it was just the state of the art information, no complex theories or the standard mathematical proofs and yet everything I have learnt till today in this class is perfectly ‘engineered’. The more I understand about the mechanisms for DNA replication, and protein synthesis, the more amazed I am at our cellular engineers. Everything seems so perfect that I feel nothing can get better than this. You have a trigger for every process, a control mechanism, a feedback system, repair, an emergency stop,and a systematic termination. Each cellular process seem to occur in an assembly line one step after another in a pre-decided order. I am intrigued by how we use all the ‘engineering’ terms to describe these perfect cellular factories and in general, any biological event. For example, some Mr.X works like a machine, the brain is like a computer, cell builds proteins, DNA ligase stitches Okazakis and yet I cannot imagine the opposite: The computer is brainy! My tailor ligates clothes! It makes me think that biology can be easily visualised and the processes easily simplified by an engineer’s mind and not the other way around but we could end up finding the solutions of all engineering problems in biology.