Sunday, November 29, 2009

My blissful experience with pain:

I am sure, all and sundry must have heard about people savoring their pain in achieving their dreams. I endured the same when I ran a full marathon a week ago. I rejoiced from start to end of 26.2 miles long run.

The marathon kicked-off about 7 am on a cold winter morning. There were about twenty thousand people, from all over United States, took off from Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia. I was in penultimate coral to begin the run as I opted the estimated finishing time about 4:30 to 5 hours. I was wearing black under-armour and a white T-shirt with a caption ‘SMILE’ on it. I chose this T-shirt especially to bring out the smile in my fellow runners; for we all know how much of an effect smile has. I really felt invigorated listening to the cheering from spectators. I must say true act of altruism was shown up there. May be most of the spectators have had someone running in the marathon, but the way they were cheering all the runners was truly amazing. Several people were holding placards saying keep running, run strong, looking strong, keep-up the good work, you’re kicking ass! , personal messages for their beloved, and so on. While I was running I felt as though I was watching some sort of parade. There were several old men and women running at a good speed, looking at them running I felt even more enthused and ran faster (although I felt bad passing them). Some of the runners cheered for the fellow runners, as I heard from one of them saying “he cheers himself by cheering the fellow runners”. People made fun, said things, and laughed out loud. I heard several anecdotes as I ran along. Small kids were giving high fives to the runners. Several people ran for their Mothers to show much they love her. Volunteers were saying encouraging words to the runners. The total event was like traveling a long journey in train with enthusiastic fellow passengers and spectacular scenery outside the window.

Even though I was in pain in the last quarter of the marathon, the cheering from spectators kept me running. Having seen the kick-off, I decided myself that this is only the beginning of my marathon series, and the decision had not changed at the end of the marathon. I reached my destination in 4 hours 15 minutes although I could have done little better. My next target will be less than 4 hours. One thing I learned from this experience is “Running can also be an addiction”.

Vaishnava Janato

The English translation of "Vaishnava Janato “ -Poet Naris Mehta

One who is a vaishnav,

Knows the pain of others

Does good to others, especially to those ones who are in misery

Does not let pride enter his mind

A Vaishnav, Tolerates and praises the entire world

Does not say bad things about anyone

Keeps his/her words, actions and thoughts pure

O Vaishnav, your mother is blessed

A Vaishnav sees everything equally, rejects greed and avarice

Considers some one else's wife/daughter as his mother

The tongue may get tired, but will never speak lies

Does not even touch someone else's property

A Vaishnav does not succumb to worldly attachments

Who has devoted himself to staunch detachment to worldly

Who has been addicted to the elixir coming by the name of Ram

For whom all the religious sites are in the mind

A Vaishnav, Who has no greed and deceit

Who has renounced lust of all types and anger

The poet Narsi will like to see such a person

By who's virtue, the entire family gets salvation

For those who are interested in listening to the actual rendition of these verses in Gujarati

English translation by Unknown

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Trying to be Indian

Last weekend I was a part of Diwali celebrations coordinated by a group of non-resident Indians at State college. You might be wondering if it was too early for us to celebrate the forth-coming Diwali; the answer is yes, but actually we were celebrating Diwali that should have been celebrated last month. Never mind, everyone and their uncle was there to rejoice the event. Despite the prolonged delay in the festivity, what strikes with awe was the ‘verve and gaiety’ people showed in facilitating and celebrating the event. There were several stage-shows related to Bharathanatyam, Bollywood, Hindustani music, Yoga and others. All acts were performed by the residents of state college and most of them were some way or other tie in with Indian culture.

I want to talk about one particular act named “Twinkle with the stars”. Although the main theme of the play was taken from a youtube video ( by Revathi Sankaran , the way the program was enacted by performers was stupefying. Every one of us would have sung “Twinkle Twinkle little star” when we were wet behind ears. In this program, a group of women, who were dressed to nines, personated as if they are from different parts of India (actually some of them really are!). It was really a sight for sour eye as we watched one by one singing “Twinkle Twinkle little star” and dancing in their native style. I would say it was very comical without mocking any culture or language and am sure everyone and jack must have enjoyed. Apart from the fun, one can easily learn something from this program about India. Undoubtedly, “Unity in Diversity” that many Indians always feel proud off. It also portrays the way we Indians take anything that is as foreign as this song and makes it our own. As Swami Viviekanada rightly said we belong to a culture where we welcome everyone and everything with our open arms.

Coming back to the event, for once I felt that the Indians over here feel more Indian than the Indians who are residing in India. I don’t know why, may be absence makes the heart grow fonder or maybe we feel that we owe something more to our nation. In any case most of the non-resident Indians feel their roots with India by celebrating all events, even if they have very remote connection to India. Although we celebrate the festivals at the end of the week, we celebrate it irrespective of the fact that whether our parents or grandparents have/do not have the tradition of celebrating that particular festival back in India. We try every possible thing that makes us feel Indian and do everything to make India a better nation.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Top ten things that Biologists WOULD NOT want you to know

1. We claim that we work for 10-15 hours per day. In actuality, considering the down time that we have, our working hours do not cross 8 hours per day.

2. Sometimes we intentionally do not present our negative results, which would compromise the quality of the journal we are about to publish or down-play the significance of our work.

3. Many a time our motto is just to publish research papers and do not care a straw whether or not our research directly/indirectly aids in enriching the human lives.

4. Like in politics, in Science also ‘connections’ are very important for scientists to succeed.

5. In the name of attending conferences and exchanging ideas with fellow scientists, we travel around the world and have the pleasure of visiting places.

6. Success in Science is not always positively correlated with Intelligence/Creativity. Serendipity and Zemblanity play their part in grooming scientists’ future.

7. We strongly believe in Evolution, and make fun of theists when they say god created this world in 7 days.

8. Some of us do consider research just like any other job, and work very professionally without having an iota of passion for Science.

9. Doing Science is a rat race, so unfortunately sometimes unethical paths are chosen to achieve the desired goals.

10. In general, hypothesis precedes observations. But in Science most of the times we do experiments first. And having obtained interesting results, we beguile fellow scientists by saying that we had a hypothesis and we verified that by performing experiments.

P.S. I reckon some Scientists do not practice or believe in any of the ten things (let alone all) I have mentioned. I sincerely respect and salute them.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Top ten things that Life Science researchers would want you to know:

Top ten things that Life Science researchers would want you to know:

1. Most of us do not work towards developing medicine (to cure/prevent diseases). So avoid asking lame questions.

2. The kind of Science that we do is very different from what is shown in ‘Hollywood movies'.

3. We work very hard and don’t get much in return. So we are basically volunteering for good cause. Keep that in mind and ‘respect’ us.

4. We all know that Cancer and Aids are two top most killers: that does not make all of us know everything about those diseases.

5. We are not bunch of crazy people who has nothing to do other than Science. We do have our lives outside Science.

6. Rather than donating money to build Churches and Temples, fund Science, which will surely take you to heaven.

7. We do not kill animals indiscriminately. We, according to the rules of ethical committees, sacrifice their lives to save your/our lives.

8. Not all of us are going to get Nobel Prize. So stop asking whether our work is worth a Nobel.

9. Don’t believe the scientific news that you read in daily newspapers, they exaggerate our findings.

10. Not all of us are atheistic; so stop seeing us as a ‘threat’ to religion.