Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The PhD Launch Pad

Living in the IT-hub called Seattle and hanging out with a bunch of techie geeks, I listened with yawning boredom to all the tech talks, the heated discussions about if an Ipad is better than an Ipod, an Ipod is better than the Droid phone, and so on. I was surrounded by gadget maniacs, people who lived, loved, and were wedded to gadgets. I have known friends who window shopped at the apple store for hours, or booked iphones even before they were launched. 2G led to 3G and then 4G. I don’t really get much of it, and learning new technology sure does scare me. I like to keep the things in life simple. I used my phone set, a simple one that can be used solely to talk, for four years till it’s parts were threatening to come apart, thanks to excess usage and baby Kalyani fiddling with it whenever she could lay her tiny hands on it. Last week G forced me to get a new phone, a free upgrade that I had resisted for so long. It’s a simple phone, again used solely for conversation, but just the thought of learning how to use a new device scared me. It took me days to figure out how to control volume or put it in the silent mode, how to send messages without sending it to the wrong person, and how to set the alarm clock so that I wake up on time. You get the point I hope.

My advisor is a gadget crazy person. Like I’ve noticed with most men, his eyes light up with childlike excitement whenever he talks about those cool machines he ordered and the glamorous phones and computers he uses. I am yet to see the cool machine he has that tracks eye ball movements as one gets into deep thinking. In one of those states of deep thought, he finally blurted out, “I need you to get an ipad.”

I didn’t think I heard him right. Who needs an ipad for research? He said he needs to keep in touch with me even when I am traveling. I tried assuring him such a situation wouldn’t arise as I wouldn’t travel if there was work. I mean it takes me hours to figure how a simple mp3 player works. I thought ipads are toys for the rich and spoilt CS people. I left it at that.

The next day he asked me again if I had given it a thought. What was there to think? I didn’t want an ipad, or any gadget. Why couldn’t he get me a gift card from Barnes & Noble? Or take me to his next conference where I could see a new place? But then, words of wisdom came from a senior who I asked if there was any need for me to have an ipad.

“Take it as a gift from a person who loves technology and leave it at that. It’s much simpler that way.”

So dear friends, I’ll soon be a proud owner of a 64 GB ipad 3G. I don’t know what those words mean, I just googled the name. Like I told a friends, “I usually have an apple in my bag just in case I get hungry…... now I'll have 2 in my bag :)"

How times change. 4 years ago, my school gave me a flash drive as a gift. It had thrilled me beyond everything. The world has come a long way from giving away flash drives to ipads.

How much I learn to use it is yet to be seen though.


Monday, August 23, 2010

School of Thought

It's time to start the next chapter.

It’s time to leave those fancy handbags behind and pick up that backpack.

It’s time to hunt for free food on campus and live on Maggi, Subway, and Chipotle.

It’s time to stop living in that apartment alone, and to have fun staying with roommates.

It’s time to brag about the campus you will be spending the next few years of your life in.

It’s time to get into the vicious cycle of sleeping during classes and staying up late finishing assignments.

It’s time to subscribe to PhD comics.

It’s time to start taking the bus again instead of hopping onto the car every time.

It’s time to aim for those conferences and travel at the advisor's expense.

It’s time to push myself to do something new and creative, and to try to be productive everyday.

After a break of 2 years from school, it’s time to get back to school again.


Thursday, August 05, 2010

What’s up?

It’s been a long time since I visited my own blog. Talk about priorities. So much has happened ever since the last time, I keep penning down snippets of thoughts till my mind wanders off to the next thing.

So what’s been happening? A lot actually.

I miss Kolkata. But not as much as I miss the home cooked food. The biryani ma made for my farewell lunch was awesome.

I miss watching Indian Idol 5 live. It was something to wait in anticipation for Mondays and Tuesdays. Now I just update myself watching it online.

Germany is a very efficient country. If there is a place I would like to work in, it could be Germany.

Europe is all about nice castles and palaces, trains and trams, cobbled streets and nice little shops. US doesn’t seem as visually appealing to me as it used to ever since I left Europe.

My obsession with my favorite movie “Before Sunrise” led me to plan a trip to Vienna where the movie was shot. I wasn’t disappointed. Vienna lived up to my expectations, and more.

My other obsession with Mills & Boon, and those tall, dark hunks led me to plan another trip to Italy. Italian men look as handsome as I always thought they would, and Italian women are the best dressed and good looking women I have seen. Italy seemed like the fashion capital.

Prague was beautiful, just wish it wasn’t that hot there.

I am sporting a nicely developed tan as a gift from my Eurotrip that will take me years to get rid of.

A little accident on the streets of Sicily, I tore my ligament and am in bandages and crutches. Not that it has stopped me from doing anything, but the bandage needs to be there for 6 more weeks.

Which is why I am not driving from the western coast of the US to the eastern coast anymore. My big plans of the 3,000 mile road trip I had planned for this summer goes down the drain. Sob sob !!

I am in the US now. I entered the US in a wheelchair. Which also meant minimum security questioning for me, and minimal waiting in queues. The services and assistance provided by Lufthansa impressed me.

I am slowly catching up on emails and posts, but am spending most of my time figuring out how to ship my car and stuff, preparing myself for school that starts in 3 weeks, and meeting friends in Seattle. I never thought I would make so many acquaintances here, but for the next few days, my lunch, dinner and evening schedules look full.

Lastly, I just turned a year older a few hours ago. As a kid, you wait in anticipation for your birthday, waking up and meeting all your friends in school, your friends wishing you, your teachers being nice to you. Your perspectives change as you get older. For me, the people who mattered to me and who I mattered to were all there, personally or in spirit.

It’s time to plan the move again, but will catch up soon.