The psychobabble is unstoppable at bedtime

Hi guess what ?! I am a person and I have opinions. I am so tired of listening to and reading other people’s takes on things, and ending up feeling like my opinions are as worthless as water to a dead fish or pineapple to a pizza.

This is a controversial sentiment that I am putting out there to filter the brave hearted who will read ahead, from the pineapple pizza lovers who will be offended and leave at this point. If you are a pineapple lover and still reading, thanks for staying. We need a society that can have two different opinions co-existing peacefully unless it’s anything more bigoted than pizza toppings, in which case go away!

This is a “stream of consciousness” kind of blog. I’m “blind typing” right now, without editing, and it feels like I’m high. The alcohol that gives the best buzz is beer because I have a delicate stomach for whiskey or anything hard. Besides, most alcohol seems to have a class connotation (lower or higher). Beer seems to be for the socialist or the egalitarian! Although, as far as I know, the real socialists love their vodka.

There’s two things in life I know myself to get worked up about: religion and politics, and ignorance. Religion and politics are two different things you say. Well, my friend, I’m an Indian, and for us they are two sides of the same coin. We have too much religion and too much politics with some cricket and folk dancing thrown in for variety. However, I’m sure that during every open heart surgery, the doctors find an image of the god we love to crib about having tea while discussing cricket with the politician we love to crib about, practically embedded in our auricles and ventricles.

Look at the state of my country right now! People are defending the indefensible shameful bigotry and hatred spewed around by the ruling government and their minions. Also I don’t think there should be a need for ruling government…surely it should be a serving government?! You know the one that was created on the concept of “By the people, of the people, for the people.” While I love the juxtaposition of hatred with the hopeful sight that is the women in Shaheen Bagh protesting, I am sometimes unsure if they have been co-opted by the liberals for their own agendas. It has now become a haven of protest and a symbol of “azaadi” and “inquilab”, which are words I never thought of hearing outside the period dramas about India’s freedom struggle. The pernicious problem with religion in our country is that it makes people give up reality and logic for imagery and symbolism. And this seeps into the very being of Indians. Watch the music video of an average Indian movie song (language no bar). Each one will have a catchy chorus with an utterly reproducible and repeatable choreography that can be performed in unison by the whole family at the next wedding/ sangeet. Oh my, this sounds like my work actually! I’m an experimental chemist…as in, I perform experiments in lab everyday not that I’m experimenting with my life as a chemist. But that was probably clear to you and I have now over explained everything. Anyway, reproducibility and repeat-ability are also the cornerstones of my work life though it doesn’t involve dancing in unison with my family. Side note: experimental chemists are a dying breed honestly, no one needs us any more and the more experiments I do the more I am making my self unemployable. Everyone loves programming and snazzy models these days. Please buy beer for the next experimental chemist you see.

So far, reading back from line one feels like, an incoherent psychobabble, which means I have succeeded in my goal and if you hated this, it’s because you don’t like to be challenged. I have been reading a lot of difficult books lately…books that are so tough to follow yet so rewarding when you do that if you last through them you want to get a standing ovation from a bunch random pedestrians who flocked by your reading table to applaud your ability to finish a tough book. It would be much like Mamma Mia, where Meryl Streep gets people to clean the rooms, while dancing at the same time in unison. I love that shitty movie because I love ABBA. Always have and always will.

The second thing that annoys me is ignorance because if you stop being curious about the world then what are you! Why are you breathing? You shouldn’t get all your information from only reading twitter or Instagram posts and if you do then maybe you can give up on life now. Go read an actual book on history of the world, the city you live in or just the coffee you drink, and keep reading till you start to feel as worthless in your opinion as the water from paragraph one. Doubt is as important as curiosity. Beware of the self assured unless they are your doctor about to perform the aforementioned open heart surgery.

My boyfriend inspired me to get into quizzing and get excited about factoids and random pieces of information that have no relevance to anything but help create moments of elation in being the only one in possession of the absurd piece of information. Someone at lunch said something about astronaut food or something (I don’t really listen to other people talking)….but I heard astronauts and I could point out that astronauts don’t get the urge to urinate when they are in space. They need to go wee in a hole in the wall every few hours because the ability for muscles to tense up reduces due to traveling at near orbital velocity or in absence of earth’s gravity.

Getting back to religion…the problem is that it has possibly outlived it’s use as a force of bringing people together and is now just a way of keeping them apart like the strong and weak nuclear forces. You can bring two electrons only as close and no closer than the limits permitted by laws of physics and nature. We have now done to our country what most crumbling economies and literary dystopias (such as Animal Farm) do…we have started “othering” our own people. We look the same, eat the same food and have major overlaps in language. We are even of the same species. Yet we refuse to build a common identity and believe when the idiots in power say we are different because my uncle prayed to a different god than my neighbour. Well I refuse to read godly literature and pray to anyone so who does that make me? And why would I care to take the opinion from some weirdo who happens to be in the parliament ? They don’t know me. I was born in India and I recognise its history…the good, the bad, and the ugly. Thanks but no thanks.

I think it’s time to ebb my stream of consciousness because I have written too much (1500 words in 25 minutes). Amazing, right? I almost don’t want to edit but I won’t put you through this weird post without at least using spell check. I do care for your opinion on my opinion so I hope that you liked it. And if you didn’t, I can recommend some very smart people with amazing opinions who sure will do the trick.


Snow boots with dresses: transgressions for the weak

I am heading to a “networking meeting” organised by some important people to help other important people (I include myself brazenly) meet up and find a possible “network.”

Like clockwork, when asked to put my best foot forward, arrives the crisis of confidence in both my personality and in my wardrobe.

Why is the corporate and conference culture so obsessed with formals? And more importantly why does it send me in a tizzy? There’s something about the idea of putting on a jacket that boils my blood. As if I am only worthy of being considered a serious student/ employee/ employer (what have you) only when I don the grey facade.

I’m a fairly compliant person with no will or interest in transgressive behaviour. If I have to be described for a police sketch, the sketch artist would automatically put me in a t-shirt and jeans without the need for consulting or verifying with the witness. Boring, isn’t it?

Now when it comes to dressing for formal events such as this one…what drives me mad is the need to look “professional” because it is a bonkers notion. If by professional one is implying that the costume I wear should appropriately reflect my profession, well then, I should be turning up to events in full length clothes, closed toe shoes and lab coat (eye glasses and gloves optional). However, as per accepted conventions, the implication of formal events is to go with the “corporate look.” The fault with this is that in today’s world the biggest corporate giants actively encourage hoody and shorts in working life. Kindly look at the average engineer at Google!

In August 2019, I went to my first “conference” as a graduate student looking for peer approval for my work. It was an industry heavy audience (read: big men in suits). One look at the crowd in the hotel near the venue told me that I had to wear the dreaded “professional” clothes. After spending €200 and still not feeling confident I decided to wear my own sneakers for the presentation. This was my first time speaking in front of close to 50 strangers and I was not going to trip on my way to the podium in “corporate culture approved heels!” The minute I put my sneakers on, my feet were happy and I felt confident. I recognise that my grasp on my own presentation must have played a part in my confidence but as a person with severe anxieties about the idea of being “out there” and being one of only three brown people in the room there was a certain constriction in my throat the night before my presentation that seemingly dissolved when my heels came three inches down and directly earthed my body. I apparently work like a tall building with a mounted lightning pole! I understood in that moment why transgressions pump dopamine in your system and why some people love breaking rules. This was me breaking my own accepted conventions.

So today despite putting on a plain grey long formal dress which according to my boyfriend makes me look like a Congresswoman of the Clinton or Warren ilk, I put on my everyday ankle length green and grey snow boots. It’s all petty and pointless, I hear you wonder out loud. But I submit to you that if you’re a swagger-less human trying to navigate the world, and if you suffer from tiny social anxieties in your everyday life, finding something that makes you feel grounded before you step out goes a long way in keeping you sane.

Additionally it works as a filter. Only someone with a whacked out sense of what’s appropriate or someone with a complete disregard for conventions would indulge in a conversation with me. Hence I have decided that wearing sneakers in a crowd of black leather shoes and click-clacking heels is a tiny transgression I will not shy away from.

So I wrote all this stuff on the way to the conference in the morning but at the time of publishing I have already attended the conference and am on my way back home. So here are the thoughts post today’s conference: To be completely honest this piece (read: rant) is pointless because when we reached the venue for the conference today I found myself in a sea of sweatshirts and sneakers. I remembered the oft repeated maxim…you become what you hate.