Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The End of 2013

The year wasn't particularly better or worse than all the previous ones. Apart from functional dyspepsia, annoying rashes (on my forehead!) from an indeterminate allergen, and various joint injuries, I was in good health. I did not have any major breakthroughs in my research, nor contributed to my university in any monumental manner, but I gave my fair share of effort and energy, taught my students with my whole heart, and treated all who had to deal with me with utmost respect and sincerity. I was not deliberately hurt, slighted, nor slandered by anyone... I was adequately occupied and sufficiently happy. All in all, 2013 was fine - no complaints.

And here we are... at the end of it all.

Hope 2014 brings everyone the passionate drive, strength, and determination to work and strive for the heart's most desired.

To my loved ones - I love you still.

To the cockroach which flew right at me during class last week - please don't do that again. Kindly inform the rest of the members of your species too. Thanks.

Happy New Year, folks!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Costume Party

Two months ago, during Halloween season, my roomee's department organized a party in the office and everyone was expected to dress up, of course. My roomee spent quite some effort (by my standard - for her, she didn't consider borrowing a few items, buying a black tiara, and doing the makeup "a lot of effort") transforming herself into the Black Swan. I wondered then, for a moment, what I'd do if I were invited to a costume party. (I'd never been invited to a Halloween party...)

At my previous company, there was a theme for every annual dinner we had. I am not that ashamed to admit that I never bothered to dress accordingly... I'd just dig whatever out of my closet that was closest to the theme, and wear it... often without accessories or even proper makeup. I am this sort of boring person, at whom you right now probably feel like shouting "You only live once!" (my roomee just did...)

So, what if I were invited to a costume party? Turns out, I am... and not just a party, but a wedding celebration party! The theme is Gatsby. *Gasp!*

Right. Google showed me that I would need a basic loose-fit dress, a long bead necklace preferably with matching bracelet, and an extravagant (= ridiculous) headband. I should be able to put that together... *Ahem*

Yup, this will be my once-in-a-lifetime best-effort costume assembly. Maybe, who knows, I will find the passion for a once-in-a-lifetime go-all-out one in the future, before I die... =P

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Our Long Journey Home

We were, never in our existence, sure that we were worth this much trouble. But she thought differently. Granted, she probably did not expect the extent of the trouble she was signing up for, but she definitely thought we were worth the risk.

So, there she was, half the world away, exchanging messages with a friend who would be temporarily located at the side of the globe where we were. The plan to was to secure our purchase, pay extra for expedited shipping, and have us safely delivered to the friend, who would then bring us home by hand. Alas, our three-day journey with the courier proved too long. There was an inevitable change of plans with the friend, and she, the friend, had to leave one day before we got to where she was. We missed our passage home by just one day!

She was not devastated - she understood the risks of the undertaking right from the start - but was sorely disappointed. The first option was to have us returned. The horror! However, while the return arrangement was in the midst of being made, another idea struck her. Why, she has family in the area! Of course, since they are living there, it is very unlikely that they could get us to her, but maybe we could stay with them (indefinitely) until such time when opportunity of being taken home would chance upon us!

So, she asked, and the cousin said yes - she, the cousin, wouldn't mind picking us up, and keeping us safe with her, until the time someone in the family makes travel plans. It might not have been the best option, but it definitely beat making a return. So, we went home with the cousin. There, in our foster home, we stayed more than a year. We stayed almost 15 months! To be honest, we didn't think we would ever come home. We didn't think we would ever get to know her.

Then, fate smiled upon us. Oh, fate! A friend would be visiting the part of the world where we were and staying for several weeks - more than enough time to arrange for us to get to him. She extorted a "yes, I'll bring them back for you" out of him, communicated with the cousin... and, lo and behold! The cousin said she was booked to spend a few days vacationing at the very city the friend would be! Oh, fate!

All arrangements were made, the cousin safely hand-delivered us to the friend (we are eternally grateful to the both of them) and in a couple of weeks, we were home.

Home! Home to her, at long last!

Oh, how do we describe the overwhelming exhilaration we felt upon meeting her for the first time? How do we spell the intoxicating joy and excitement of finally being of use? How do we explain the contentment we feel to finally be at home? Ah, bliss!

Here are a few more photos she took of us -

We love her =D

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Pain Is My Constant Companion

I did not sleep well last night because I had a nagging pain in my right knee. Still do. The reason - I knocked it into stuff three times in the course of the day. Different furniture, same knee, same spot. I applied cold compression but it didn't help much. It still hurts. I expect it'll hurt for a couple more weeks, at least. What is worse is that this happened while the bruises I sustained on both knees from two weeks ago, when I slipped working out on a Swiss ball and landed on them on the hard marble floor, were barely gone.What is worse than worse, is that I am still "nursing" a pain in my left knee, which I suspect is accumulated from older furniture-accident injuries, and has been with me for at least two months now. That's just the knees. I will save you, Reader, from having to read all about the other sprains, strains, scrapes and bruises - all sustained from either climbing, yoga, or knocking into stuff.

The other day, I bumped my head into the opened boot of a car while loading stuff into it. It doesn't hurt now, but it did, rather badly, for a few hours ensuing. 

There isn't a staircase in my life that I've used and not fallen down on. It is quite amazing, in hindsight, that I've not gotten seriously hurt so far...

I guess that is the positive side of things. Despite living in constant presence of small injuries, I've not gotten seriously hurt so far. That's got to be good, right?


Thursday, December 12, 2013


The human memory is a very poor storage medium. The very questionable accuracy of recollections aside, the mind is much too easily tricked into seeing things not the way they really are and distracted from noticing perhaps crucial details. When the brain fails to connect completely the chains of events due to the imperfection of the memory, it invents details for filling in the blanks... and this is not done consciously so the human would sincerely believe in the abridged version of his memory.

Growing up, I believed that my grandfather had super memory powers. The adults were always talking about how the stories he told never differed in a single detail, no matter how many times he told them, over the span of tens of years. I fancy my father inherited that from him, for I remember he too, could repeat flawlessly identical retelling of encounters. I realise now, these are all, literally, just memories of memories.

Convinced as I am in my own "elephant" memory, science tells me I am not to trust my brain completely. This is why: it is easy for me to see how conveniently my memory keeps parts of certain conversations and not the rest, because I keep records (journals, blog posts etc.) of any events or incidents I deem significant (or not... oh, well). This, perhaps is, although not consciously thought of at the time, the reason I started keeping written accounts. I don't want to forget. I want to always remember it when someone does something nice for me. I want to remember every enjoyable discourse I had with people I cherish and every light-headed moment and folly that had me in tears of laughter. Over the years, I've come to be known as having an excellent memory among friends and family (hence, elephant memory). Truth is, I have a better memory-keeping system than them. Not much else.

In some strange way, it is not altogether unwelcome to think that there will always be, in someone, a memory of my memories published in this virtual space. I guess, in some not-so-strange self-serving way, I don't want to be forgotten.

We will all, one day, die and be forgotten, unless we leave behind writing so important humanity will not forget us - achieving, in effect, immortality. This idea didn't come from me - if I remember correctly, it was William Saroyan.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Vegetarian Lunch

It was a feat that took two years to realize - an emotionally-charged, nostalgic trip down memory lane.

It's been seven years. The food is every bit as good as I remember, the people every bit as nice and friendly (and they remember us, still!) I don't miss my old workplace, but I do, really do, miss this vegetarian mixed rice we used to have every single day.