Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Here we go again: Spring 2015.

The Spring 2015 semester begins. After a pretty long-ish break. Which I must say I enjoyed, but I certainly look forward to starting classes again. Being a little busier, chugging coffee while rushing to class, seeing more people, being forced to do more reading and thinking and learning new things and marvelling at science - that sort of thing.

I did some things I missed doing last semester - like lying in bed all day and reading. I'd forgotten what that was like. Reading is a great way of going on vacation without actually going anywhere. Which is why you should do it when you really want to get away. You'll be living in a different place, living someone else's life. It's very refreshing. I just read The Fault in Our Stars, which I got as a Christmas present. It was sad, but not earth-shatteringly tragic because you expect the tragedy, you know it's coming. But there are some very beautiful thoughts in there.
I got to spend a good amount of time in the very peaceful cozy library.

I also did some cooking. Home-style. Things like daal and spinach. With detailed step-by-step instructions on the phone from my mother, of course, which I hastily scribbled down in my notepad and kept next to the stove and periodically squinted at diligently to make sure I got everything.
Can't wait to make maach-er jhol. Slightly longer instructions for that. I guess cooking is a lot like doing experiments. It feels like that to me. Like reading a protocol and adding things and heating and stirring and then optimizing it. You need to be organized. Maybe if I cook more I'll get more used to it.

I also discovered the most amazing cookies-and-cream milkshake at the cafe in the Biology lounge. No wonder I gained a huge amount of weight in the last 5 months. (I officially fall in the category of 'fat' now.)

It's been raining and snowing on and off lately. I like snow but I don't like rain. Snow is just so white and pretty.

I am currently listening to a lot of Hindustani Classical and Coke Studio. Currently playing on loop (thanks to Pritam): Cheene re mora chain', sung by Rashid Khan.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Beginnings update

And so, my year has begun with confusion.

I'm confused about my work, confused about what I really want to work on, because I just realized everything I thought I'd like to do isn't quite turning out to be something I want to do. Learning new things has changed my perspective. So I have one more rotation left and I need to think very carefully about it. Because I have to decide on a lab after that.
Not to mention my experiments and what I'm getting out of them is confusing.

And life in general is confusing and I'm having a hard time trying to figure things out.

I would say the vacation is going pretty well - no classes for a while is probably what I needed but it's made me lazy. And I'm somehow ending up making a lot of mistakes. I can't believe I'm actually looking forward to the semester starting again. I'll be stressed like crazy, I remember last semester. But I'll be more active, I'll see more people and I'll always be doing something. I might be depressed but I won't have time to feel it. But well, it's good to enjoy the break while it lasts. I should have done more during this time though. I didn't write much or read much. Or cook yet. I basically slept a lot and ate a lot of waffles and ate breakfast every day. And spent some time underground with the optical tweezers.

Just 2 more weeks till normal life ends.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

And starting off

I know resolutions are cliched, but I like to make them every year more as a reminder of the things I would like to focus on. It's just an opportunity for a new start. A chance to re-focus. Nothing dramatic.

Well, to start off with, I did cross off one thing from my bucket list - watching the Times Square Ball Drop. Arguably, one of the biggest new year events in the world. Despite (literally) freezing my ass off in the cold for 7 hours and not being able to walk much after that, that's not what I remember. I remember the people around me from all over the world, the excitement as we counted down the long minutes till midnight together. It was great meeting so many different people, becoming friends for those few hours. There was a girl from Ireland, a bunch of Bangladeshi college students, a software engineer/video game designer from California, a Stanford graduated mechanical engineer from Hong Kong, an orthopaedic surgery resident from Mexico. And us, Hopkins graduate students. It was bearable only because of them. We stood and talked about our work and what life was like where we came from, and shared food and heating pads and shivered.

I guess sometimes you need to be forced to standing around with a bunch of random people in order to really socialize. I probably wouldn't have bothered otherwise. It was a pretty good experience to get out of this place, where sometimes I feel like I'm the only one here. I was reminded that a huge big world exists out there, with very different people who do very different things and are chasing their own dreams and have their own stories.

Times Square reminded me of Durga Pujo in Calcutta. College Square and Mohammed Ali Park on Ashtami evening.

I think sometimes we undermine the value of good conversation. We get so caught up in the other things that we forget that sometimes, you need to sit back for a while and just talk. Even better with good food and cocktails or coffee. Maybe I will do more of that when I find time.

One of the things I should probably do is try and feel good about myself more. On most days I wake up feeling stupid and inadequate and demotivated. It reflects on my outward appearance too. Because there will always be so much I don't know, so much I haven't done. I need to figure out a way around it. And the only way I can think of is to make sure I know more and do more. If there's one thing I can't stand, it's feeling crappy because I don't understand or know something.

I want to read more books. Write more, as always, though it turns out writer's block is my default state. Cook more. Try something totally new, like dancing. Join a dance class next semester. Try to make my life a little more balanced and healthier. As much as I can atleast, with graduate school life and all. Simplify and uncomplicate. Talk more. I'm sure if I tried talking to people it wouldn't be so bad. And I shouldn't skip parties if I can.

And as usual, I start off with a whole lot of hope. Here's to the (highly overrated) new beginning!