Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Three lame mice.

See how they run.
See how they run.

I wait for a social event. In the social event, I wait for an interesting discussion. During the discussion, I wait for conflicting opinions. Once the conflicting opinions are stated, I wait for an accusation.
And then the games begin!


Ten questions I have been asked recently.

Who is your favorite God?
A: Krishna. He made flirting and lying legitimate.

Is it possible to love two people at the same time?
A: As long as you are willing to accept the outcomes*, sure.
(*of the declarations - added after considering Saffy's comment)

What if the guy you are with is monogamous?
A: I doubt any guy truly is. And if he is, then he wouldn't be my guy.

Would you eat something even if you didn't know what was in it?
A: Depends on how hungry I am.

What do you think YUI stands for?
A: Yahoo User Interface?
(Turns out the person was aiming for FYI but made a typo. I am yet to figure out how he messed up that bad.)

Arranged marriages must be really interesting, no?
A: Define interesting.

Why do I meet all the cute guys after I get a boyfriend?
A: Some says it is time testing your "loyalty". Some think its dumb luck. I think it doesn't matter before or after!

If you don't have sequence information, how do you plan to design primers?
A: Errr... umm....

When do you think you'll have the money ready?
A: Err... umm....

Do you think its a good idea to get into graduate school?
A: Err... umm....

The first question led to a discussion about Judaism and Christianity. The second and third was from someone who was trying to understand how polygamy is possible. The fourth was from my roommate who is on IV-coke on our way to dinner. The fifth was from some arbitrary argument with some arbitrary friend of a friend on some arbitrary picture. #6 from a German friend. The seventh is from Ms.IV-coke again, who recently hooked up (congratulations!) and is considering requesting an open relationship (way to go Chick!). Number eight from my omniscient Jap post doc. Nine and ten have been asked so many times I've lost count. Most recently from someone we're buying a car from (#9) and a poor French undergraduate student in my lab (#10).

I think I am largely satisfied with my haul this week.

Color: Fuchsia (I was thinking of one other word that begins with FUC when we play quarter-gone)
Song: You've got me all tied up in knots.. and I love you lots and lots (I can't find the link to this song or remember who it was by :( )

Friday, August 22, 2008

Seeds of time

Okay. So in the last few days I've received a considerable amount of feedback on my blog post about China's political attitude. Mostly in personal conversations than on the blog itself. But the best argument was with my roommate.

It began with something like-
"I can't believe you let Assaf get away with the Kashmir comment."

It thus ended-
"A part of me believes that it would have actually done us some good if we didn't get Independence (so early)."

I am not pro-Pakistan, I am not anti-Kashmir. I love my country and I want to do my bit for its society (that needs a LOT of work, btw). But I am trying to play spectator here and spot if India is doing to Kashmir what China is doing to Tibet/Taiwan.

Thoughts?

Color: Rose
Song: Tamizha tamizha

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Saved by the bell.

The Kite Runner is a must read book. Khaled Hosseini has used the simplest of words to convey the most complex emotions in their purest form. One such emotion is betrayal. (Sorry for being a spoiler) In the book, when the protagonist, Amir, watches his best friend being molested, he walks away without doing anything simply because he is terrified to intervene and is guilt-stricken for the rest of his life. That chapter of the book shook me completely and Hemangini's post here got me writing this post.

Sexual abuse is more common that we all think it is. Cold Spring Harbor labs had its own "Sexual harrassment awareness" program which is mandatory for all new employees. In the program, they say that Sexual harrasment is subjective and sometimes arise out of cultural divides like that between the oriental and occidental parts of the world. An inappropriate joke, an uncalled for hand gesture or even something as simple as shutting the door with only you and someone else in the room can be perceived as harrassment. But the kind of harrassment that is most violating and revolting is physical. Rape is a superlative of this kind of harrassment but "feeling up" incidents are more common.
I was eighteen at the time it happened. I never found the strength to talk about this with anyone until a few days back. It was Hemangini's post that I found here which nudged me to finally discuss the incident with Shri. I was on a bus from Bangalore to Chennai and I was harried enough even before the journey began. My uncle who dropped me off at the bus station ensured that I was sitting next to a lady before he left. Later that night though, the lady switched seats with another man so that she could sit with her husband. I didn't pay much attention to it since all I wanted to do was sleep. I drifted off to an uncomfortable slumber soon enough, only to be woken up twice again. The first time, I woke up because I thought I felt someone touch me. I shuffled about a little in the confinement of my seat, attributed my waking up to the jerks of the bus and closed my eyes in wait of sleep. The second time I woke up from my semi-consciousness was when I felt someone touch my breasts. I waited for a moment to make sure that this wasn't a figment of my imagination. It wasn't. The guy in the next seat was definitely feeling me up and I was disgusted and angry enough to slap him.
I regret not doing that even today.

The only reaction my brain offered at the time was to stand up, which was pretty hard considering the legroom available in Indian buses, and without looking at the man (who sat unabashed and unmoving) I squeezed past him to the conductor to ask if there was anywhere else I could sit. And when he asked me why, I couldn't bring myself to tell him the real reason so I mumbled a lie about some noise and not being able to sleep. He said there isn't another vacant seat so I made my way back to the 2x2 hell I had paid three hundred rupees for and sat upright and alert for the rest of the journey. My molester eventually fell asleep. The rest of the night, I wondered if he was even slightly guilty about what he did.
To this day, I regret not raising a ruckus. I regret not complaining to the conductor. I don't know if it would have done me any good then, but I would have been at peace now that I tried to put a woman groping a-hole in his place. Perhaps I could have saved other girls from being violated.

Do such men reason with themselves about what they are doing or did? I don't know if there is one straight solution to this problem. But I do know that a lot of women are subject to this and they don't speak out. Why? I don't know. Maybe because we were taught to be submissive and run away from trouble. If the same thing happened to me today, I'd make sure the guy regretted it every bit. I wouldn't hesitate kicking him in the nuts (pardon the indecency) if I could. It is aggravating to see the effect such incidents have on women's lives. My landlady's sister was harassed on the subway and she was so shaken that she quit her job in the city and moved to Long Island. She was a successful lawyer in a big firm, confident and well-read. For the first 3 weeks after the incident, she walked around the house like a pale ghost barely speaking more than ten words a day. She now works in the city again but drives there and avoids taking the train whenever she can.

I am not sure if it would be sexist to say that its more common that women get molested as opposed to men. I don't have a significant data set to conclude that. The internet seems to suggest that. Either way, this is a site that everyone who has a such an experience must visit. The others should take a look as well. We talk about woman empowerment and reserving seats & rights for women in my country where there are filthy hypocrites such as my molester walking free. I can't and don't want to find anything other than the molester himself to blame such behavior on. Not even my favorite scapegoat, society.

Color: Blind
Song: Blank noise

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Asking for it.

Politics and I have never gotten along well. I have never felt the need to read the paper or watch the news to find out more about who is running my country or any other. And hence my knowledge of politics is equal to that of a eight year old who can name the Prime minister, the President and other important heads (I wouldn't be surprised if I got even those wrong, I discovered only ten minutes back that Gordon Brown was the Prime minister of England).

Given that deliverance, China's political attitude pisses me off. No, wait. That could be an unfair generalization.
The political attitude of the Chinese people I know pisses me off. It infuriates me to the point of wanting to slap them back to their senses but the Father of my country taught me non-violence (I know something). Every Chinese person I know has this condescending know-it-all tone when they talk about Taiwan and Tibet. They think both those "pieces of land" belong to them and that they hold no significance or meaning by themselves. I've even witnessed statements like "Taiwan is just a game piece between Japan and China." and "The Tibetans will not survive without us."
It is not easy for Taiwanese and Chinese to travel between the two countries. (It doesn't solve anything at all if you cordon off your geographical boundaries. If you want to stop co-operating with another government simply because they didn't succumb to you, then you need to go to political kindergarten.)
Displaying the Tibetan flag is banned and is a punishable offense in China. (This may sound dramatic but I have a friend who's uncle runs shelters in Tibet for children. These children are ill-treated (READ: have eyes poked out) by the Chinese locals for petty crimes that were poverty-driven.)

The last I discussed about this was yesterday night with an Israeli and a Taiwanese. Like the Taiwanese so graciously pointed out, we're all allowed to have different political views. She also went on to say that they (Chinese) are educated to think that way. (The Israeli said just one word, Kashmir.) But no, the purpose of education is not to make you think a certain way. We are educated to make us aware of the facts and ways of the world so that we can form opinions for ourselves about what is acceptable and not. Our generation is often talked about as the one that is open-minded and advanced. We often criticize our parents' generation for being single-minded, conservative and not progressive in their views (especially of dating, sex etc). Then why don't the current generation of Chinese (that I know) extend that progressive logic to the way their country is handling political issues? Why don't they see that Taiwan is happier without their constant hovering about and Tibet doesn't want to be run by them?

The world is organized into countries because we all have different cultures and views and it is easier to govern a similar group of people within a certain geographical reach. That is all there is to a country. Patriotism and national pride are not about yes-bossing to your country's views. It is simply about being happy that you are from wherever and you are happy indulging in your culture. That's that. Developing prejudices (like India and Pakistan) and going on a power trip (like China and USA) will never make sense to me, political or otherwise.

NYC is mon amour.

Color: Saffron
Song: Calabria

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Social b(l)inds.

Note: This post is partly Nikhil's opinions that are now mine too.

Nature is a blanket term for scientific jargon and a bourgeois word for the 'world around us'. Either way we tend to generalize and make patterns of the "natural" happenings around us and thus the term unnatural is born. Some people think homosexuality is unnatural and some even think Michael Phelps getting eight golds is unnatural. While I don't have such important opinions, there is one such thing that I feel isn't natural. Monogamy.

Monogamy is just a social norm, a limit that is put to maybe test the character of a person. But definitely not something that is natural. It is a choice that has a lower rate of occurrence in the XY population. I am not questioning anyone's fidelity here, I am just saying I know a lot of people who would be much happier when the imposition of just-one-partner is lifted. My sample size is definitely not small and my views are mostly unbiased. For the smallest and silliest of things we borrow examples from animals. Intelligence, loyalty, organization and other blah things. When I hear the frequently abused phrase "Even animals..." I want to ask back a lot of questions. I bite my tongue and let it pass because I know my argument is rarely well-received.
When some say Nature didn't notarize homosexuality, do they also agree that Nature completely votes for polygamy? Monogamy is something society designed to make a more peaceful state and its on the same lines as religion ~ a way to be able to control your emotions. I know of people who force themselves to be monogamous. Some can't control their emotions and "cheat". We waste no time in pointing an accusatory finger at the "cheat" without even pausing to think if what he did is unnatural at all.
I'm not against monogamy nor for it. Its a preference that you can either have or not. And just like other preferences, you respect people's choices and let them be.
Vive y deja vivir!

Color: A meterosexual yellow (I pity the meterosexual man for the effort he puts into his image and bearing the disatrous side-effects, if any)
Song: Pappu can't dance saala

Friday, August 15, 2008

They have pills for this kind of thing.

I've had more remarks about my blog in the last one week than I've had in the last year.

What is www.twobananas.blogspot.com?
~Balu being his usual "creative" self.

Dude, you write about July the 4th but not about Aug 15th. You have no patriotism. You suck.
~ Ashwin who is convinced that I am all pro-American and irrevocably westernized.

So you are looking at matrimonial ads finally.
~ Nikhil's opening comment in the seemingly long discussion about marriage and its uselessness.

You keep saying you write well, but no one comments on your blog. Do you think something is wrong?
~Someone who really thinks writing and I don't fuse well. That I just try to turn just about anything into a blog post. (Now why would he think that?)

If grad life is injury, blogging is the added insult. I take up both voluntarily with a masochistic attitude that never fails to make me laugh. They say there are pills for this kind of thing.
Really, there are.

Really.

Color: Blank
Song: Blank

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Furcht.

Recently, I've been reading a lot of matrimony ads. Strictly for entertainment. This change in my humor preferences is a direct result of the fact that I am bored of PhD comics and am almost done watching all episodes of South Park.
Anyway, people use silly adjectives to describe their candidate or to describe what they'd like in a candidate. I mean no insult to their intelligence or their language skills. But don't you try to think of the many different ways in which a reader can interpret it your "ad", given that the reader is most probably a 24-30 year old? Mabye I'm being nitpicky and just trying to make a blog post out of nothing. But I want to know why matrimonial ads mostly begin with a 'WANTED'.
Wanted? Really? It makes me think of a mugshot of an unshaven dude in striped PJs holding up a number plate.
Well-educated. Who isn't? Every T, D and H has a Masters from the States. Every Gita, Sita, Anitha has a Bachelors with "excellent scores". How about something like she can converse in 3 international languages? Now that is something I'd proudly put in a matrimonial ad.
God-fearing. Now don't get me wrong on this one. My theistic orientation is perfect (by my standards) and I'm a total believer. But why would a normal person fear God? Believe maybe, but fear? I'm inclined to think that only someone who's wronged would fear God. What does that say about the candidate? (Don't give me that look, I am just the average reader).
Slim, fair, good looking. That is just as informative as Well-educated. Would be more convincing if you attached a picture, no?

My expectations are high perhaps. But hey, if we're using computers to draw squares and predict horoscopes, don't the matrimony ads have to catch up?

My favorite matrimonial strip so far reads: Looking for a smart, understanding and a helpful housemate.
Ironically, this is what I would put on craigslist if I were gay (no offense to my homosexual friends) and was looking for a partner. Is there any such profession as a matrimonial ad drafter? If there is, I want it. If there isn't, maybe I should be the first one. Our newspapers and matrimony websites could really use my services.

Aaah, yet another day in grad life. Yet another imaginary alternative career.

Color: Maroon
Song: Ghita (Cleopatra Stratan)

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Not the difference.

Why? is more than a question.
It is a rhetoric, an evasion tactic, a way of life and the umbrella under which all other questions take shelter.

Why not? is more than a question too.
It is inspirational exclamation, an accusative statement and the umbrella under which all unconvincing answers take shelter.

Color: Blue
Song: Kangal irandal