It’s a beautiful day, the sky falls
And you feel like it’s a beautiful day
It’s a beautiful day
Don’t let it get away
See the world in green and blue
See the canyons broken by cloud
After the flood all the colours came out
It was a beautiful day
Don’t let it get away
A beautiful day
Life as a doctoral student sucks. It doesn’t suck in the ordinary nobody loves me suckiness (does that word even exist?) level. No, it takes sucking (pardon my vulgar language) to a different level, a level where you are the lowest form of life in the world. I mean even bacteria have more fun. They are practically immortal. They have sex almost every 20 minutes. They can live on almost anything. And they have the coolest of names. Chlamydia. Nocardia. Vibrio. Contrast that with an average doctoral student. He is a mouse (although even a mouse would be offended to be compared to such a lowly being) like creature, most often with spectacles and irritating habits like trailing off in the middle of a sentence into vague silences. Their only sex appeal lies in their detailed knowledge about how two proteins fold exactly around each other. You get the picture.
What do such specimens of the human species do when a beautiful woman goes up to them and talks? To digress a little, such events do not happen in the real world. The probability of such an event happening, according to knowledgeable sources in the Mathematics department across the road, is 0.00. In fact, apparently, this is the only known event in the world that has such a perfect probability of not happening! So let me add the rider, in a hypothetical world, to the above scenario.
Continuing with the hypothetical situation, the said graduate student will first start perspiring. His pulse will be racing because hormones are being dumped into his blood, leading to rapid changes in his metabolic profile. He starts blushing. When he opens his mouth, either no sound comes out or else mumbled and garbled words pour out, which of course do not make any sense. If that beautiful woman still has any sense she would leave. However, if she is one of those rare beings, who for some insane reason either enjoy tormenting such innocent geeks, feel pity for such lowly life forms or genuinely like disheveled and bespectacled nerds, she will stay and talk further.
Oh no! This is the worst case scenario. This will lead to a dangerous lowering of blood pressure in the said PhD student’s body. He will suddenly feel cold all over and his hands will start shaking. He will find it hard to concentrate as his brain is not supplied with enough glucose. Due to this, his eyes start glazing over. If the conversation continues any further he will faint. Into the arms of the woman of course. They then fall in love, marry, have ten kids and basically live happily ever after.
Wait. Back up a little. Such incidents happen only in cheesy Bollywood films. So let us rewind and go back. What actually will happen is that he will faint but fall straight to the floor, break his nose and while falling spill wine all over the dress of the said beautiful woman. That ought to cure her love for the other kind.
Ah, what to do? No wonder doctoral students spend all their waking (and some even their sleeping hours) in the lab. I’ll let you in on a little secret. This is not because they like their work. In fact, no self-respecting graduate student will ever say that he likes his work. They bitch, rant and curse the project they have. Listening to them, you would be led to believe that they got the most unfortunate deal in the whole world when they were given their project. However, don’t even try to take that project way. Nooo, that would be a big mistake! Be prepared to be killed by disembowelment for I forgot to mention that a doctoral student is also obsessively possessive of his project. He might curse it every single day but he will take it to his grave if needed.
Ok, I lost track. Where was I? Ah, I got it! The spending all their time in the lab part. See, most PhD students are invisible to the outer world. They are like those people living in the shadow world in Michael Straczynski’s graphic novel ‘Midnight Nation’. They have slipped through the cracks into another world, another dimension, where only other such research labs exist. So they have no choice but to continue with their lives in that different world for they can never re-enter the world where normal human beings live. A whole different level of existence actually. Long hours. Low pay. No women. No fun. Only endless pain. Wait a second, isn’t that nothing but Hell?
Ths is one of the rare animal photos on this blog. Perhaps, you will see a couple more animal photos over the next few days.
There is quite a lot of noise in this photo especially in the shadow regions but I still like the whole scene.
What rights do a people, who have been dispossessed of their land for half a century and live in another country, have? This must be the question Tibetans must be asking themselves in the wake of Chinese premier Hu Jintao’s visit to India.
Ever since China’s brutal invasion and occupation of Tibet in 1959 India has hosted the largest community of Tibetan exiles including their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. They have lived here for three generations and the younger members have no living memory of Tibet, except for their parents tales of it, and a nostalgic yearning for a lost homeland. Every time a Chinese official visits India the Tibetans have organized protests demanding freedom for Tibet. This time too the Tibetans geared up to greet Hu with protests and sit ins. But the Indian government took no chances and muzzled their protests. Tibetans were placed under preventive custody and those who actually protested were arrested and whisked away.
The Tibetans have a right to protest and express their grievances in public spaces. Especially since China is still continuing with its brutal occupation of Tibet and has reduced the Tibetans to a minority in their own land by encouraging Han Chinese to migrate there. Tibetan culture has been brutally suppressed in the name of development and China has arrested thousands of Tibetans.
But surely India is a more politically open country. Or is it? If Tibetans are Indian citizens (and most of them are) they should be able to express their dissent. It is guaranteed by the constitution. But the government, perhaps not wanting to displease the Chinese, muzzled the rights of the Tibetans. Let us remember that China is an aggressive nation that has border disputes with all its neighbours. It has claimed Arunachal Pradesh on the spurious grounds that a Panchen Lama was born there and until recently refused to recognize Sikkim as a part of India and they still hold parts of Kashmir. Going by the same logic my great grand uncle’s nephew was born in Beijing, so I will claim Beijing as a part of India! Ridiculous.
I wonder what it must feel like not to belong. Not knowing your own country. Knowing that your land and people are not free. Knowing that there is no hope of returning to it. Despite celebrity endorsement, the “Free Tibet” movement is a lost cause (at least for the time being) caught as it is between the cleft stick of a pacifist Dalai Lama and an increasingly restless younger generation. Despite Richard Gere lending it charm and sex appeal, which country has dared to challenge China on its occupation or human rights record in Tibet? Countries and corporations will put economics before human dignity because all want a piece of the Chinese economic miracle.
Till now the Tibetan community in India was secure in the knowledge that this country was a democracy where rights were by and large respected. That confidence will be just a wee bit shaken now.
The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) recently held a meeting of major Indian scientists in Bangalore to discuss the feasibility and economics of sending an Indian astronaut into space and then later landing him/her on the moon. This has given rise to the usual arguments both in favor of and against such a venture. There are those who argue that India, with her many social and economic problems, should not waste money on something that has already been done before and will yield nothing new. That instead, the money should be used to help the poor and the downtrodden. Simply put, India should not dare to dream that big and be constantly aware of her limits.
I firmly disagree. I think India should seriously plan on putting a man into space and then later on the moon. Yes, it will be expensive. However, what no one realizes is how much of a kick start it will give to the science and technology fields in India and ultimately benefit society. The space race between the erstwhile U.S.S.R. and the U.S. in the 1950s and 60s led to the development of many new technologies that later found widespread applications in many different areas, ranging from health to housing.
Poverty or social ills are important problems and need to be tackled but they need to be dealt within their own space. One cannot link space exploration to how India has so far failed to help many of its poor. There were many who were skeptical or opposed even India’s initial modest attempts at developing satellite launch capabilities. ISRO is having the last laugh now. India has one of the most cost effective launch systems in the world. The satellites put into space by ISRO have helped greatly in early cyclone warning, broader reach of education and world class remote sensing to mention a few. The early cyclone warning process enabled by ISRO’s satellites alone has saved thousands of lives by letting authorities evacuate people before a cyclone hit.
In addition, space exploration is not just about boosting a nation’s self esteem. It is the exploration of the final frontier. Humanity needs to look beyond Earth. We need to get off this planet sometime. There are not enough resources on Earth to feed, clothe and satisfy the world’s population forever. Space exploration is a very costly and cumbersome undertaking but all new technologies are expensive. The first computers were huge monsters and cost small fortunes. In the same way, the initial decades of space exploration will demand huge spending but there will definitely be tangible results. If not for our generation then for the next.
Sometimes it pays to have a broader vision. To think and dream big. As long as we keep drawing lines and limiting ourselves we can never truly achieve anything big. For more than one billion Indians space exploration should not just be a distant dream but a tangible reality.
After a week of stark black and white photos here is a splash of color to soothe your eyes 🙂