Every day when I wake up, the one thing I immediately tend to ponder, thanks to you, is the number of hours that I have to socially sacrifice myself. When I perceive that I'm ready to accept the same, I figure out that I don't indeed have the weekend to myself; while I gawk at the magnitude of energy that you possess, I sometimes think of things like 'Well, is this why you can't figure when the grey in your hair arrived?', 'Is this why you can't figure sarcasm?', 'Is this why you don't seem to enjoy all the attention that you're getting despite the dark pits dug deep under your eyes?', 'Is this why you don't get the fact that some lectures can be, indeed boring?', 'Is this why your dance moves have become more like a cry for help?', 'Is this why you still find words like 'pig' and 'underwear' filthy?', 'Is this why you seem to be sleeping with your eyes open?'. I think and think and finally when I realize the number of thoughts, I just stay a little afar fearing sheer contagiousnes.
However, the more I stay afar, the more I realize that you are secretly doing everything that you can like cutting a long experiment short in ways that one can only comprehend, giving me a chance to mess up and of course, promptly leaving for lunch and snack breaks to pull me closer. Just when I have come closer, I find myself astonished to find that being a science-savvy person, you too have the nervousness in your fingers when you're handling even the smallest of things, like your wristwatch. This not only gives me a sense of respect for science for having made the strongest of brain weaker, but also the sheer truth that we are all indeed kids still fearing that we might break glass bottles with just a slight touch. Nevertheless, I am proud of you!
Well, now that I have a vivid (I believe) sketch of you pictured out, let's go through your routine. Right from the moment that you step into the laboratory in an attempt to derive pleasure out of the day (but failing miserably) to the time you find that your eyes, brain, ears and nose can't take it anymore, you remain an enigma. (With reference to the way you remain puzzled almost all the time).
I see you arrive with an enthusiasm that I have only seen before in the eyes of a high school boy looking at a picture of Megan Fox and automatically develop a deep sense of awe, keeping in mind the condition in which you left the previous day. The moment you step inside the lab, you sense something and you suddenly realize it's the smell of failure, thanks to what you did wrong the previous day. Despite that, I like the way you try to still be sanguine about the way things are going to shape up that very day. (Poof! When is she ever going to realize!) Respecting all the ideas that came in your dreams the previous night, you take out your notebook and pen it all down only to realize that instead of appreciating your ideas, you end up adoring your pen for the way it lets the ink flow to your paper. Beep! It's time for tea break: One of the few times that the enthusiasm in your eyes is revisited. After having consumed the oxygen to keep you going, you find yourself a little amazed at why even tea won't put a spell on your hands to do wonders on your experiments.
Despite all the hard times that your experiment gives, you still try finding logic in everything, which I deeply admire. (Not to mention that I even like the way how you blame it on the other factors of the universe if you aren't able to find any logic) It's surprising how much persistence you possess to keep going straight ahead without looking back, because you know that when you do, you will find yourself banging your head against every object in your way.
Just when you think it's all sheer waste of your scientific intellect, a breathtaking result gets itself placed in your way. It's impossible for me to suppress my laughter when I observe that it's just one positive result that takes you from being yourself to being the Queen of England. When I return to see you after a period of half an hour, I'm intrigued to find you still basking in your newly-found happiness. This new-found love is all that takes to kick-start your other slower-than-a-turtle experiments. But, oh boy, just when you're about to continue embarking on this new found venture, you prefer to listen to the demands of your stomach. It's time for our second break. This break, being the only time for you to re-live all your long forgotten memories with all your friends, who all seem to still think cracking Pre-independence jokes will get them popular, you seem to lose track of time and travel down a new lane only to be reminded by the truth of your life that it's time you wake up and get going.
Okay, now that the first part of your story is over, you decide it's time that you take a small break and then get back and eventually realize that the word 'break' is de facto not written anywhere in your fate. In continuation of the overwhelming sense of happiness that took you after that breathtaking result, you decide to repeat the same again, just in case. Eesh, and we are back to square one. (The one where your life was as dry as the skin of a 97-year old person) Nevertheless, you read more and some more and finally figure out that what you have done wrong. In this process, you tend to add improvisations of your own (of which I don't see the point, but you are you) and finally come up with something called a 'standardized procedure' (which is nothing but sheer plagiarism of a certain other procedure with maybe the exception of a few punctuation marks). This marks your gateway to 'Fame, popularity and nerdiness' in the laboratory. For the next few days, people just worship you for being the first person to have characterized something awesome (Err...) and when you can't seem to get enough of it, you are back to your dry self.
Well, suddenly you realize it's not all about work in the laboratory; somewhere, there's a salesperson waiting to put a smile in your face, a bunch of trainees like us, waiting to install irritation into your system, a machine that decided to stop working exactly when you wanted it to, a package that hasn't been delivered especially at this time when you're frustrated enough to kick someone, the sound of your cell phone which reminds you that it is only the Network personnel who are contacting you, thanks to your lack of socialism and the constant happiness of married people around you who get to go out just by that one excuse. Amidst all this, you still manage to work your way through to the evening by pushing all the other bucket load of nonsense to the back of your head. And how does this happen? Thanks to the NCBI bookshelf having become your new-found Facebook, you constantly engage yourself in not just the nonsense happening to your experiments, but trying to implement some of the novel features by which you can make your 'nonsense' unique.
So, you have reached the evening, which means no more alarms in your head, no more sensations to bang your head, thanks to the mere presence of the third break. Now, you think you can go back to your former brilliant-result-obtaining-self, but not even a cup of tea could prevent you from anticipating the pressures of the days to come, the number of grey hairs in store for you, the number of years or decades that you will be stuck to your spot on the table, the number of procedures that you have to plagiarize (Sorry, standardize), the number of anti-ageing pills that you have to keep in stock and the vast expanse of nothingness that has to come after all this gets over.
Somehow, you push yourself back to your lab, only to listen to people giving you suggestions, when all you are doing is trying to look at either the color of their eyes or the texture of their lips. Finally, after all the trials and tribulations that you have been through, with a determination that will come to a person only when a cheetah is trailing him, you decide to get, set and write a fresh start, keeping in mind the things you should not repeat.
Well, at the end of the day, that's the only thing that is getting you closer to the goal: To realize what you have to repeat and what you must not! Oh boy, just when you have started to write, you widen your eyes at the amount of nail-chipping you have done and the mess of hair-fall that you have created down the floor.
You wait and wonder, It starts here and it ends here.
Disclaimer: "References made to any character directly or indirectly are to be deemed fictional. This is not an attempt at pointing fingers but rather joining all our ten fingers in an attempt to learn"
The author, Shankar Chandrashekar is a final year student at Center of Biotechnology at Anna University in Chennai. He is currently occupied with his undergraduate dissertation program at Indian Institute of Sciences (IISC) Bangalore. He writes this article in fond memory of the people in the Institute he's currently associated with.
Image Source: Flickr