Sunday, August 01, 2010

So, my first paper is being submitted this week. Well strictly speaking, it isn't really 'my' paper, I'm third author on the thing. Still! It's a first. And it feels momentous because of all the struggling, failure, uncertainty and doubt that one survived (somehow) to get to this point. So we are feeling quite blessed today. A trifle unworthy, and definitely blessed.

Being rather ambitious, we have decided to submit to the NPG (Nature Publishing Group). I have no idea if our work is worthy of such a journal, so I shall have to take the boss man's word for it - he says it is, so we give it a shot. To me, it seems comprehensive, a good piece of experimental physics. But I would say that!

Now to hold our breath, bite our lips and hope to god, it'll be accepted!

Friday, July 30, 2010

I'm thinner, I'm reminded! Yay me ?

Nothing has made me more aware that I've lost quite a bit of weight than the way men on the street react to me these days. No, I'm not talking about the cute, gelled hair sporting, Benetton pullover wearing, all-too-meterosexual-for-me kind of boys that might be seen traipsing down M.G Road. ( I don't really care about attracting them come to think of it. I like me my geeky boys who don't really know they are cute but are in fact terrifically so, that I might notice at a bookshop, just in case you're wondering. ) I mean, whom our politicos like to refer to as the aam-aadmi. Apparently, my attractiveness to this section of the sea of strangers that I pass by in my daily doings has sky-rocketed.

A couple of months ago, I noticed the flicker of a second look from a passing Auto-driver. At first, rather unthinkingly, I just presumed that I must have been looking more the absent-minded physicist than I usually did. Perhaps I had on too yellow a shirt with too green a pair of corduroys or something. Availing of the nearest reflective surface, giving my self the once-over and not really finding anything remarkable or strange about my own appearance, I thought nothing more of it. Until I began, over the following weeks, to catch it more frequently.It took me a while to figure it out,and then, when it finally dawned on me that is what it was, I chuckled about it. I even allowed a moment to be smug, I must admit, before catching myself.

Since then however, that faint feeling of self-congratulation that accompanied some chap or the other noticing me (or to my mind admiring the not-entirely-unpleasant figure I have managed to acquire these days) has entirely vanished. In its stead is, a growing sense of distrust, an increased awareness of the space around me, and the urge to walk faster and out of sight of anyone whose attention I might inadvertently catch. The acute awareness that unsolicited attention is a double-edged sword has set in and we are now wary all the time, again.

A couple of weeks ago it was, someone brushed past as I was on the crowded street that leads home, and neatly extended his hand to smack me on the ass - well he tried anyway, he got my back and it stung! And ofcourse everyone noticed 'cos I screamed out something. But they all just stood there, no one saying a word - alternating between judgement and pity in their eyes.

Why, just yesterday a man purposefully bumped into me at a bus stop. Full on. The bastard! I was so furious because I knew he intended to do it. But before I had a chance to do anything, he just turned around and ran off. The asshole had timed it so, even if I had caught him, I had the choice of hurling abuses or getting in the bus which was quickly moving away. Ofcourse I got in the bus, mostly just stunned at his gall. I found the first seat, and plonked myself down besides another young lady who had apparently seen the whole thing unfold. She asked me rather contemptuously why I hadn't just slapped him. As though that were the most obvious, natural response to something like this. I told her I was too stunned to and I didn't see it coming. In fact, I wouldn't have slapped him anyway. I just don't think it's prudent.

Anyway, she informed me that the little twerp in question had most certainly done it on purpose, and that she had seen him returning to a set of friends whom he had proceeded to high-five, for having successfully accomplished his task. Not surprised at all, but quite indignant nevertheless, I reminded myself that this probably happened to every woman at some time or another and that it could have been a lot worse.

I know this. Because ofcourse, ALL the women I know have a dozen stories each like this to tell. Why, I have plenty of them myself. So why am I so aghast, why does this suddenly feel remarkable, why do I suddenly feel so violated by what was quite a common fact of life for the first 21 years of my existence - "Are female ? Be groped!"

And then I realise, I haven't experienced this in four years. When I moved to Belgium I left behind quite readily the travails of urban indian living. And eventually, when I came back,I was terribly out of shape. Thus rendering me quite invisible to these jackasses apparently!

So for the last four years, I haven't had to worry about people ogling,winking, air-kissing, whispering a hasty 'hey baby' as they passed me by, shoving into me, trying to touch my breasts, or pat my ass or grope at whatever part of me they could readily reach. For four years I just walked down the street and no-one bothered me.I got used to that. Too soon!

For all my ranting, I know that it just begins all over again now.. I don't honestly believe there's anything to be done but grin and bear it. Besides curse violently after the offensive episode has concluded to get it out of your system that is.

Sigh! Perhaps there is something about being over-weight that I will miss - people leaving me the hell alone!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I think I have to begin to write again. It is constancy in uncertain times, familiarity in estrangement, clarity in a rising tide of incoherence - the only way I feel some semblance of a grip on things. For, at the moment,I am unanchored, terribly unsure of how my life will unfurl, which way the winds will blow.

All I can do is knuckle down, settle in for the long haul, keep hope and seek some catharsis in the meanwhile. Which is really all my writing as ever been.

So here I am again.