Doctoral Dogma

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?

9 responses to “Doctoral Dogma”

  1. neha says:

    oh you’ve seen nothing of hell buster… try working in a government hospital, where chances are that in addition to the emotional numbing and olefactory hallucinating, you will have a complete social grossing out, an acute case of not-knowing-when-to-speak-what and in some cases some brain wrecking too. if you have a love life (which most probably you wont – owing to odd working hours, emotional imbalance and incredibly low wages) it will be ruined because you wouldn’t ever want to touch a human being again.

    *Devil Grin*

    So welcome to the life of a medical social worker…!

    Funny piece though, this one!

  2. M says:

    *grin* I couldn’t help but nod my head to that comment by Neha. I don’t work for a hospital at those insane hours, conditions or salary…but I heard alot about it and seen friends wither away. Takes alot to be okay at the end of it.

    Good attempt at sarcasm here.

  3. […] Mottled Memories explains why he believes that being a doctoral student would suck. […]

  4. Patrix says:

    Not that we have any more fun, but your rant remains valid only for natural sciences doctoral students 🙂

  5. Black Tulip says:

    boring? ur life? i dont believe that after having read ur previous posts LOL!! i hope u dont mind my linking u? 🙂

  6. tgfi says:

    I hear ya!!! Thanks for making me feel even worse when I thought I’d hit rock bottom 😉
    And the worst part? Post grad school, life as a post-doc holds NO attraction whatsoever.

  7. ciph3r says:

    Funny read. A person who is working towards his/her phd may be disillusioned from time to time but sooner or later when one realises that it was a decision based on beliefs deeply ingrained into one’s very existensial zeitgeist, things sort themselves out. Spending valuable years of one’s life pursuing knowledge amidst cranky profs, uncanny rules must be a decision that should be made keeping in mind all these issues. Afterall any well-versed person can shred any profession to pitiful tatters or endow it with surreal fantasy. A matter of perspective, as is life.

  8. Anil says:

    Thanks everyone for your reactions and feedback. I was trying my hand at a different way of looking at things. Nothing serious.

  9. Tushar says:

    Damn funny, I cracked up laughing. Funny for the rest of us I mean. For you it must be a different experience living through it all.

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