My thoughts run free here...

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Just random rant

Going to dinner with my colleagues and discussing with them about adult issues is making me feel kind of weird. All of a sudden I feel really grown up while I'm actually not. My attachment to my parents have also diminished. Nowadays I feel like they are quite irritating, but only sometimes. I feel that it would be great if when I reach home after work, there is nobody else at home except me. I kind of want to live alone. Atleast, that is what I thought until today.

But in retrospect, I don't think it is possible for me to live alone without my family, even if I am able to support myself fully. Atleast, I need a partner to live with. Like when I get married or something. It will still be great to have some privacy of my own at home, at certain times. Like having my own room, even after I'm married. But living alone for the entire part of my life is not my option.

I don't want and like to be reporting to my parents every reason and detail of what I'm doing and where I'm going. It is essential to tell them when I'll be back home and all that. But when they start taking control of my life, I will kind of hate it. And I'm glad that my parents don't do that so much. They trust me and I love them for that.

I notice that I'm starting to hate some of the things that my parents say and I'm still unable to rebut them in any way. If I do, they think of me as a stranger. A different person. They usually think of me as being sweet and concerned type of girl. But they still don't realise that I'm changing and my views are becoming stronger. Especially about my views on atheism. I have become an atheist. They don't approve this view of mine. Sometimes, we remain silent and do not discuss too much of this. I go to temples with them and put up an act just for them. All I can do is look at the statues from an artistic point of view and admire their creators. Thank goodness, they still do not know about other such opinions I hold. I can easily talk about such things to my friends but not to my parents. Afterall, they are our 'creators' and try to mold us in a way they like.

There is another issue I want to discuss in detail that is still on my mind, but I don't feel like doing it now. I might probably do it some other time his week. So until then...
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Saturday, January 27, 2007

On Racism

Human beings come in many different sizes, shapes and colours. However, under the skin, our skeletons and our genes show that we are all closely related. The variations we see today probably all developed within the last 200,000 years as our species diversified from an ancestral African population. Humans have evolved into different 'races' according to the climate of the environment they live in. The book, The Complete World of Human Evolution, says:

People with a shorter and rounder body physique will retain heat better than those with taller, lankier physique. However, a distinctively smaller body may be favoured in closed tropical forest environments.

Therefore, such evolved obvious external differences between human populations in features have formed the basis of racial classifications. Because of this, as well as the views of some scientists that there are fundamental differences between races in characteristics such as behaviour and intelligence, the whole concept of 'race' has become highly controversial.

I am more interested in knowing how these different so-called races evolved. We all have a common ancestral root in Africa. But how did humans start to show regional differences. Darwin's natural selection is certainly one of the reasons accounting, for example, the variations in skin colour, the book says. However, it seems that other factors have also influenced the evolution of variations in humans. One of them is sexual selection. Darwin thought that this mechanism could be used to account for the evolution of some 'racial' characteristics. In such cases, mate selection influenced by cultural preferences can gradually steer a population in a particular direction. Repeated over thousands of genrations, such individual choices can accumulate in a population, changing its typical characteristics.

Other factors include genetic drift and founder effect. Australian Aborigines arose when individuals from Southeast Asian islands travelled to the completely uninhabited continent of Australia-New Guinea, and their particular characteristics multiplied over many thousands of times in their descendants.

Evolution and natural selection played a fundemental role in the rise of 'races'. But it is interesting how the concept of social construct, has introduced some of the taboos that we see and hear of today. It is also interesting to notice that there are classifications within an individual 'race'. Like in India. Hinduism is a race in itself. However, it has a caste system of itself. Religion has also become a part of the 'race'. If you are an Indian, you can be either Hindu or Muslim or Christian. If you are an European, you can be a Catholic or Protestant and so on. Becaue of such divisions and classifications, a lot of stereotypes, generalizations and prejudices have arised.

I would like to read more on such topics and I would also like my friends and visitors to recommend me some books or websites to read about such topics. Thanks:)
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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

My Rant!

Sometimes we are so na├»ve that we don’t realize that our loved ones are being such hideous hypocrites. I have been like that for almost my entire life. This time when I went to India, I was expecting a lot of things. Obviously, from the tone of this post, none of them came true. But some unexpected things came true. I had a good time chatting with my friend Sriram about various topics, like the education system in India, his activities, actor Vijay. But I only got to see him for two days. I am happy that I am being a good influence over him. Atleast that is what aunty says.

It was really uneasy to stay in my grandmother’s house this time. I don’t mind the living condition also. Actually they are quite fine. But people change a lot. And this is the first time I noticed how. People’s real character comes out when they are in some kind of financial trouble, This time they were in such a situation and therefore, the house was a bit dull. My uncles, aunt, grandma and grandpa all behaved differently towards us, because we refused to help them financially. A lot of politics is involved here, so I can’t really explain the reason here.

Previously, whenever I went to their house, there will be two or three servant girls. I’ll play with them in the evening when their work is finished. I really liked them and treated them as friends. Way back, in my mother’s time, there were 5-6 servant girls in our house to do both housework and business work. Their business is to make pattu dhoti (silk sarong). Then there were my cousins to play with too. The house will be full of noise as we play hide and seek, cards, carom and so on. What a contrast this time! My cousins are busy in their own lives. No servant girls anymore because they are already married and settled and there is also financial trouble. All I did was talk and talk.


Then one evening I heard a big fight going on in their house. It was terrible how they treat their daughter-in-law (my aunt). They asked her to go inside when the 'guys' were have a pretty bad discussion. They didn't even let her support her husband(my uncle). They were no longer the kind of kind people they supposedly portrayed. And all this happened while my parents were away. All this happened after my parents refused to help them. What an act in front of my parents! I should probably applaud. I don't even know whether becoming bankrupt has changed them or were they like this all the time. They used to buy me gifts. But none this time. I don't care so much for material possesions but I expect some form of affection from them.

I'm ranting a lot here, I know. But it's really saddening to know that the person you thought to be someone, is not that someone anymore. Especially if that person is your loved one.
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Saturday, January 20, 2007

The 'Feel-Good' Factor

I have never realised how difficult it is for Malays and Indian Muslims in Singapore to find food in public restaurants and hawker centres that is halal. I have just realised that most of the stores like 7-eleven, Cheers, outside so-called 'dhabas' have food produced by muslim companies/suppliers. Halal, according to wikipedia, means 'permissible', mostly refering to food. The Malays here prefer halal food and most of them have no problem finding a muslim food stall in hawker centres and food courts. The other races are sensitive towards the Malays, and have also made their stalls certified as halal.

The 'feeling-good' moment we experience is nothing but the release of the neurotransmitter, dopamine, in our brains. I think that this neurohormone gets released in me quite frequently whenever I listen to A.R.Rahman's songs. Not all of his songs. But some of his songs, which is like almost three-quarters of the number of songs he has produced. So I have made a podcast on him. I have not praised overly. I have also pointed to his poor performances in a few of his films like Tehzeeb and Udhaya. But honestly, most of his songs are really good, that even non-indians seem to like his music.

Download



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Saturday, January 13, 2007

Consciousness-raisers

Work is taking a toll on me. I find myself spending more time than ever going for work, thinking about work, doing extra reading for work, and even dreaming about work. But i've learnt something from this week's work. I am really getting the hang of this researcher job and i'm starting to like it. I think i'm really suited to it. Ok, i think i've reached to a conclusion very quickly. Let's wait and see until the attachment period ends.

In the same time, it seems my friends are having a good time teaching. Especially Kasturi. Kalpana, well, i think the teacher job is not suitable for you if you do not feel the commitment to your job naturally. Even after facing a lot of troublesome students, Kasturi still wants to go on and become a teacher. If one is not strong-hearted like that, then that job is not for you. It's the same for every career. There is always some aspect of that career that one does not like at all. In my lab, none of my colleagues ever talk to me. Fine, they say 'good morning', or 'hi', or atleast smile. But they don't socialise much. Mainly because they are so engrossed in their research work. Actually, i myself notice that i too am fully engrossed in my work, as mundane as PCR and gel electrophoresis. Moreover, the repeating of failed experiments and getting back bad results again is frustrating. If i want to become a researcher, i have to tolerate the inadequacies of such a career.

I've been reading a lot on the subject of whether there exists a god. All along in my life, i have been told to believe in the gods that i worship (the hindu gods). And i have always done so. Especially at night before i go to sleep. This is because praying gives me an invisible protection from bad dreams and so on. I used to get nightmares quite often last time. But reading Richard Dawkins's books like The Selfish Gene and The Blind Watchmaker and getting to know more about evolution and natural selection, has made me feel sceptical about the existence of god. Now the very notion of the hindu gods sounds quite ridiculous to me. I have stopped praying for quite some time at night. And i don't get the nightmares that much as i used to. I sleep peacefully. My disbelief in god has also made me sceptical about the existence of spirits and ghosts.

My parents are strong believers of the hindu gods and i think any other gods. I don't think they will ever understand the arguments put forward by Richard Dawkins. Even my dad who is well-educated. I think belief in a god comes about easily, rather than not believing. It's like a pillar to lean on in times of trouble/suffering/pain. And i feel surprised that a lot of students who study evolution and natural selection are believers in christianity. I wonder how. Are they scared to tell their opinion on the existence of god out loud? Like what Richard Dawkins says, it might be true. I myself have not told my parents that i do not believe in god at all. I have told it to my close friends. And sometimes, it's easier to talk about it to a friend who agrees with you in this matter. Kasturi is one such person. But she still believes in a god who created this world. Then who created god?:)

Another thing that is running on my mind now is about this childfree issue. i've been to India and have visited my cousins. One of them got married last year and is 8 months pregnant now, going to give birth later this month. And another cousin of mine, 24 years old, has finished her MBA. I asked her if she is going to go for a job? She said no and that she is not interested. Then i wonder why she has ever studied at all? Well, she doesn't have to go for a job, being rich and all. The thing is, she is of a marriagable age and her mind isn't in career planning at all.

Lots of girls are quite ambitious when they are teenagers. But once they finish their degrees, i don't know why they lose interest in their ambitions. They just want to get married and 'settled'. And i don't know what they mean by 'settled'. If 'settled' means giving birth to a child and bringing it up, man that's not the end of life. All these girls ever think about is when they want to have children and not if. Why don't they ever question about such things and why do they just accept it? There was a book in the library i was browsing through. It was about the other unpleasant side of motherhood. The third trimester of pergnancy, the labour, lactose intolerance and so on. The book also has another section in which it gives advice to girls in their late teens and 20's on preparing for motherhood. What crap! We have to prepare for motherhood knowing that such unpleasantness exists in it? Stop romanticising the idea of motherhood and let's just face the hard truth, shall we?

All these thoughts have been a kind of consciousness-raisers for me in this part of my life. I think i'll post more on them when i have time. I have spilled out quite a lot that was lingering in my mind. I feel quite peaceful now:)
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Friday, January 5, 2007

My new job as an intern

I've been quite busy with my new job as an intern in the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB) for the past few days this week. I joined on the 3rd of January. My friends have also embarked on a journey into adulthood. Alas, bye bye for the thought "this is the end of school/education." It's taken me a while to realise that this is just the end of the beginning.

My job seems pretty easy at the first glance. I have to extract mouse DNA, purify it, run PCR and then run gel electrophoresis to determine the genotype of the mouse. But one single mistake anywhere in the process, i have to repeat some of the experiments again. Furthermore, there will usually be 5 to 20 replicates. So it takes some time to complete the process step-by-step for each replicate. That is the only tedious part. And there is also the waiting time for the PCR to complete. It takes around 2 hours and 30 minutes.

I really hope that this experience pays me off. I would like to embark on a career in research. There are 2 Indian women in he lab that i work. They seem to be doing their PhD. I'm not exactly sure about this. But they really encourage me to be like them. No matter what degree i take, i want to do a PhD. That will be my ambition.
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