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Writer’s Block

I meant to write a real post, but forgot completely what it was about when I sat in front of the computer. The other real post I had an idea for my mind has gone blank on and so it remains a draft.

*sigh*

Anyway, I’m off to my parents’ home for two weeks! Yay me! Time to spend lazing around the house and eating yummy food. Also a good time for me to catch up on reading. I’ve borrowed a couple of books from the British Library here and I have a pile of books that I bought the last time I was home sitting there waiting. I’m also looking foward to re-reading some of the comics that I had boxed away.

A few days early, but Happy Diwali, everyone! 🙂

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Honest injun

Most people do something dishonest and then their conscience nags them about it. Not me, no. I’m the exact opposite.

That is, I do something honest and then I think, damn, why didn’t I just be dishonest about it! 🙂

For instance, a couple of days ago I visited a library, bought one of their withdrawn books and also had to pay a fine on another book. In total Rs 178. I handed over a 500 rupee note and waited for my change. The woman at the register handed me back Rs 431 and said she was increasing it to Rs 179 since she didn’t have change(!)

I took the money. Looked terribly puzzled at her. And when she didn’t seem to get it I finally gave in and returned the extra Rs 110 and told her what she had just done. Of all things, she apologised to me and took the money back! Feeling very surreal, I just turned around and left.

All the way back to the railway station, I was thinking, heck, Rs 110 would have bought me something yummy to eat and I was terribly hungry! 🙂

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Water (b)logged!

So there I was, happily plonking away at a keyboard at work, while people around me ran helter skelter and started leaving for home. Yeah, the rain outside seemed a tad on the heavier side, but I didn’t think anyone needed to panic. It was just rain after all. Then came the announcement over the PA system that all further classes were cancelled for the day and students were advised to go home. Hmmm. That seemed serious then.

But so what, I’ve survived heavy rain before. Not a big deal. What can Bombay throw at me? Ha! Most people seemed to just melt away. I was left alone with a couple of the students doing a small experiment. They lived close by and so they didn’t worry about getting home. We finished up our work and I sent them home. I was the only one left in the lab and the rain was pouring down. It wasn’t just raining cats and dogs, but lions and tigers too.

Around 4:30pm or so I decided it was time to venture to the local suburban railway station. The rain seemed to have abated a bit, but water flowed all over the roads and umbrella in hand, I sploshed my way through since there seemed to be no sign of the buses.

Floods!

In about 20 minutes I got to Nana Chowk which had turned into a little lake with cars marooned in it and people resolutely making their way to the station. I waded through the waist deep water, taking care to avoid the open manholes which were marked with little red metal posts.

The station was packed with people. Announcements were being made that trains were cancelled until further notice due to flooding of the tracks. The lighting at the station, the rain and the cold made for an eerie feeling. Couple that with vendors yelling that they had fresh, hot batata vadas and it was the most surreal I’ve felt in a while.

Grant Road Station

People were slowly making their way along the tracks from the Churchgate terminus heading north even as the water levels on the tracks built up. I watched for a while, waiting with the milling crowds on the platform wondering what to do next.

Eventually, I decided what the heck, so many people can’t be wrong, I might as well walk with them too!

I trudged slowly mixing with the crowds that seemed to only get larger, until we got to the next station, Bombay Central. There the water levels were too high on the tracks and people were scrambling to climb over a wall and get off the tracks. By now I’d given up trying to protect myself with an umbrella and had put it away. I joined the near-stampeding crowd and managed to get over the wall with not too much trouble. The brand new jeans I had worn that day escaped without any damage. Yay!

Grant Road Station

Once I got out onto the road, I decided it was time to try and call some friends. But apparently the cell phone networks were busted too. I could barely get through to any numbers. With some luck, I managed to get through to a friend who worked at Prabhadevi and had a bike. He told me to make it to his office and we could bike it to his home from there.

I still didn’t know or realise how serious things were. I thought I could easily get a taxi to Prabhadevi. But once I began asking them, I noticed the long lines of vehicles stuck on the road. Nothing seemed to be moving. Some of the cabbies had rolled up their windows and were taking naps on their front seats!

Some more walking I guess. I walked, waded and semi-swimmed through Tardeo, upto Haji Ali. Traffic was still clogged up although along Haji Ali it seemed to be moving a bit at least. This was a horrible part of the walking, the wind blowing in from the sea carried with it raindrops and that stung. I was surprised that they didn’t raise any welts!

Worli Naka was flooded in parts and people formed gangs that were directing the others safely past holes, ditches, fast flowing water and open manholes. Pretty neat, that they organised themselves so quickly.

I got to Prabhadevi and my friend’s workplace around 7:30pm. Three whole hours after I’d left home. What followed was a mini-adventure too. The security refused to let me into the office saying that it was after hours. Even after my friend came down, they said I couldn’t be allowed in since I could just stay overnight at the office and that’s a no-no. It boggled the mind. A little convincing and they allowed me go upstairs. I dried off as best as I could, uploaded the pictures I had taken to Flickr and we decided it was time we attempted to get home.

We left (to the relief of the security guys) and headed towards Bandra. Traffic jams, flooded roads and intermittent rains that soaked us, or me at least since my friend had rainwear, followed us all the way. At Mahim, the water flowing into the bike’s fuel tank and engine was just too much for it and it gave up on us. As tired and worn out as we were, we were forced to wheel it along to a service station in Bandra (an ordeal in itself since it involved lifting the bike over a road divider, sloshing through more water, etc) A little fuel in the bike and she roared back to life!

The next problem we faced was that neither of us had a change of clothes and we were hungry! It was now close to 10pm. A quick bite at a small restaurant and another miraculous call to another friend that lived close by who I could borrow clothes from rounded that part of the evening off.

We headed to the other friends home, and I decided I might as well stay there for the night. I managed to dry off and change into fresh clothes. A soggy unread newspaper was removed from my backpack, my camera was still intact if a little wet and the bag itself was soaked through.

I tried to sleep after reading a couple of chapters of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (not interesting enough to keep me awake!) but like what I’d been through was not enough, I picked up a fever overnight and could barely sleep longer than 20-30 minutes at a time.

Thus ended my 26th of July, 2005…

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Update, Books and more

Been a long time coming, I know. But life has been madness and with no proper computer to get onto the net (and now no net connection either) its been tough!

My laptop is as good as dead. Backlight of the screen has gone phut, the battery has been dead for months and now the place where the power adapter plugs into the computer is loose, so if you jog the computer a bit, poof, it goes off. After one such incident, I guess some data on the hard disk got messed up, so it refuses to boot up, I get an “UNMOUNTABLE_BOOT_VOLUME” and a blue screen from Windows. So there you have it. Luckily I have a Knoppix CD, so I hook it up to the network at college and copy stuff off it slowly. Then I can go ahead and wipe the disk and begin the slow process or reinstalling everything again just the way I like it.

In other not so bad news, I went home to Bangalore for a three week vacation. Did nothing but sleep a lot and eat home-cooked food! Yum! I also picked up a number of second hand books.

House of Sand and Fog is a beautiful movie starring Ben Kingsley, Jennifer Connelly and Shohreh Aghdashloo. I had seen it last summer and I found a copy of the book written by Andre Dubuis III. It’s brilliantly written in the first person for both protagonists. A really good read.

Next on the list, Robert Sapolsky’s A Primate’s Memoir, a well written memoir of his years in Africa studying baboons.

I also finally got my hands on Oliver Sacks’ The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat. I’ve read other books by Sacks’ and quite liked them, especially An Anthropologist on Mars, so this was a good find.

There were more books, but maybe I’ll leave that for another blog post!

More news, I finally moved out to a place of my own in Bombay. For the first time in my life (and none too soon, I might add) I’m living entirely on my own. It’s been just three days, so nothing exciting happening yet! 😉 But I’m facing a number of problems, like what furniture should I get? Where am I going to keep all my books? And dammit this city is dusty! And oh yes the water problems in the neighbourhood which means I have no water at home today and have to go to a friends’ home to take a shower! 🙁 But I’m hoping these are small wrinkles that will iron themselves out.

Yes, pictures on Flickr will be put up as soon as I get a decent link and a computer to transfer pictures from camera to computer. I’m planning a before and after set for the apartment! 😉

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Life as I know it

This used to be the name of a friend’s blog, she has since changed it. Twice. 🙂

Anyway, I decided I was not boring the few readers I do have enough, so I might as well write about my daily routine… hehe

So prop up those eyelids, fasten those seat belts (so you can’t run away) and away we go…

So the first interesting thing, I teach at an all girls’ college. Which means, being the cool, young prof makes me very popular (or so I like to think!) The department doesn’t have me take any lectures or assign work to students, so no one hates me yet. I spend most of my day talking students through their work, their lab experiments or any other questions they may have. The general purpose trouble-shooter, thats me.

The main mandate of my job though is to take care of the department’s intstrumentation needs. Currently, this means I have to co-ordinate the negotiations and purchases of a million different things since we have just received a sizable grant. This part is not fun, except when I get to ask the college to issue huge sums of money! 😉 But once all the instruments are ordered and delivered and installed, it means I have so many toys to play with! Yay!

The worst bit of my day is the commute. I spend anything from 45 to 90 minutes travelling one way to work. But this can’t be helped, Bombay is that kind of a city. I’m still working out a good routine which will help me minimise this travel time. Of course, I can’t really fix that since I haven’t yet found a place of my own to stay and am still living with relatives.

/me pokes everyone reading… Hey! Wake up!

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Gifts!

As a goodbye gift, Heidi sent me two magazines of puzzles to occupy me on the airplane, a bag of Jelly Beans (I love them!) and some sleazy postcards… Well, cheesy at least! 😉 There’s also a mystery book wrapped up which I’m not supposed to open until my birthday!

Rebecca sent me the DVDs of the Lord of the Rings movies!! Simply awesome… I’ve watched them all again in my last week here. 🙂

Shivanee & Chhavi put up with me being cranky for almost a week, that’s also a cool gift. hehe! (They also fed me well :p)

Gauri drove me all the way to Chicago.. (I had to put up with her being cranky then 😉 )

*sniff* Thanks, you guys!

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Going home…

I leave for India on a flight this afternoon out of Chicago.

After months of agonising (and not posting anything here either) I finally made the decision to leave grad school and go home to India. This was something I considered as far back as last summer, but a bunch of meetings over three days with the Director of Grad Studies at my dept. convinced me otherwise and he also told me to explore options with other depts. I did and found a dept. and a lab willing to take me in and that I was interested in.

A year of mostly no work but lots of interesting new things followed. Which also included me teaching in a classroom regularly and having a great deal of fun doing it too! But alas it was not to be. For sundry reasons I find myself deciding I’m better off out of grad school for a bit and looking for a job. I can’t stay in America unless I am in school, so I have to go home.

The 20th of this month was the last day I spent in East Lansing. I spent the day finishing up sundry chores and doing a little shopping. In the evening I met up with some friends at the Peanut Barrel. It was a happy-sad occassion. In fact I feel a bit sad writing about it now.

I got home later that night and had a ton of laundry to do. And of course pack my myriad books and comics for shipping the next day! I ended up not doing the packing and catching a few hours of sleep.

The 21st morning was spent in a frenzy of packing and sealing and clearing out my closets. My friend arrived to pick me up later and helped quite a bit. We spent ages at the post office trying to ship the books back to India and I think it was past 1pm when it was all done.

We drove to Chicago right after that. My friends in Chicago were annoyed since I promised them I would be in town by afternoon and they had great plans for the afternoon and evening. Taking me to the beach, out to a club, etc.

I have spent the past week, mostly just faffing around here, meeting people, taking walks in the evenings (Oak Park is a beautiful neighbourhood.) I also found a book sale and quickly snaffled up a copy of Steven Pinker’s “The Blank Slate” for just about $4.

Yesterday, I walked over to a local cinema and watched a sub-titled version of “Hero.” This is absolutely the best Chinese martial arts film I have ever seen.

Earlier this morning, I went to the post office and mailed off a box of my Groo comics and also my phone to A in Maryland… sigh, I’m going to miss that phone too! 🙁