Monday, February 23, 2009

My Questions over time...

I was spurred to write this after reading a prompt here ....I've never sat down to write inspired by another's thought...this is a first!

So this is a topic I have consciously avoided the past few months...that of Longevity.My dad was diagnosed with cancer the week before my wedding (about 7 months ago) and it took me many months to accept that he was sick.Only recently,I cried the whole night,body-wracking sobs and wailing that forced me to accept it...and to question it...

The first of many questions..Why my dad? Why my 'daddy'?

I have been a daddy's girl most of my life.(Except when it was convenient to switch because Dad was being strict for some unfathomable reason..I mean come on,staying out past 4 am and walking home alone is so mundane!) To think that he was ill...with a disease that we could never really win a battle against made me angry.I felt like being in the field was a cruel joke I would not survive.

Once a tentative acceptance had been question melted into Will he get better?

Doctors confirmed with official shakes of the head that he would indeed be fine..soon.I entertained visions of him visiting me in Lusaka,staying in my( first ever married girls) house,watching with swollen chest my PhD graduation as tears streamed down his stubbled face.I am not sure anymore...I want to hope but am scared.

Watching him these past few months in the hospital..dwarfed by the bed and attached to an eyes well up each time I enter his room, and each time I leave.I see his eyes search for a sign that he is free to join me journey home.I remember the time ,as a 5 year old I came down with a bout of pneumonia.He couldn't stand the sight of my arm being pierced in search of a vein..and was asked to leave the room,tears streaming down his face.Daddy...why are you leaving me?, I shrieked.Always I asked him questions...only the words changing with time.

He knew the answers....he knows them all....

I was a week to go till the wedding and no smiles in place.My daddy gave me that strength.He wore his biggest smile...he shrugged on his strongest self...and gave me a wedding,memories and a life that dreams are made of.All of daddy did for me.
All through the wedding....I took my dad aside...How are you feeling dad?

He smiled for the camera..he smiled for me...

My brother got married the month after me.The year that was to be the highlight in Iyer history..was quickly turning into a dramatic nightmare.Dad was 2 sessions of chemotherapy down..and showing the effect.Tired, sad and angry....he struggled to be a dashing Father of the Groom...From the strongest man I have ever known to a dependent patient he made a that broke me to watch.

What can I get you daddy?

With time....the words morphed into newer questions.They say time changes brings acceptance...and peace.For me, time brought newer challenges...newer questions..

Can I deal with this? Can I grow up quick enough?

I was daddy's princess...I still am! We are cut of the same bolt,he and I.We shared a passion...for fun,laughter and gardening.Sunday mornings were often spent pottering around outside with a frisky mutt for company.Daddy is my hero.He understood my need to 'be myself'.To spread my fly.He said he understood if I never found someone I wanted to marry....
He understood when I did, he hugs Mosi like a son...although he never accepts how emotional that day was for him....

Did I hurt you daddy?

A few days ago...Dad suffered an electrolyte imbalance.His immunity is shot from the chemo..and the drugs are fogging his mind.He isn't coherent today...doesn't remember things clearly...

Do you remember me Daddy?

I get on a plane to go home tomorrow.....a question that I had hoped would not cross my mind..atleast not this soon passes foreboding...

How much time do we have Daddy?

Tears roll down my face....

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Everything I do...

This is getting to be quite the addiction.Every morning...with the reassuring hum of a million machines behind me,I can barely wait to dump my newest concoction into xyz instrument,shut it lovingly...offer a few minutes in prayer that Zesco ( Local power suppliers) will be kind, that the machine will not be moved to a new home mid-experiment,that the rats continue to think its Sunday...and that it doesn't rain...( well I just don't like the rain..!)..Once done..blogspot beckons ..and here I am..again!

So I'm continuing..a tirade I launched here with a new spoof.This one is (sniff) a song by Bryan Adams ( gasp! dare I !!!)...This is just my lonely rebellion..against all things pink,decorated with hearts and requiring a dedicated 24 hours so one can drown in their diabetic slush...Not that anything will change...only perhaps with every passing year,I may seem more and more like a bitter old lady with no one to love her ..raving and ranting at all those lucky (?) girls with dramtically gushing and effusively coiffed partners..Perhaps I should get a snake...that would complete my look...While I set off in search of a slithering is my offering ..

Everything hour I spend .....

Look into my lens-you will see
How well you grow on LB
Search your plate- search for growth
And if I find you there, I'll search no more.

Don't tell me it's not worth cloning for
You can't tell me it's not worth hoping for,
You know its true
Everyday I spend,I spend it with you.

( Sung to the contamination)

Look into my eyes-you will find ,
Theres nowhere left to hide
I'll take you to de-contam,Take your life,
Its all for science,worth the sacrifice.

( Back to my valentine!)

Don't tell me it's not worth growing for,
I can't help it,there's no colony I want more
You know its true
Every curse from me,Its all coz of you.

Theres no sight,Like blue and white
And no other love -like GFP's light
Theres no first author,unless you're there
I'll grow you up..all the way

Oh -you can't tell me its not worth starving for
I can't help it,I'm hungry no more
I would sing to you, buy a new loop for you,
Buy a new flask for you - ya I'd move in with you.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Harry Potter and the Beaker of Fire.

Harry opened his eyes and yawned...."Wow is it 5 already!"...he rolled over and went back to sleep...Fours hours later,his cellphone beeped, Ron had sent him a text,'Where are you? We're at the Column..see you soon!'..Falling out of bed Harry raced to his closet ,threw some clothes on and tore down the road to the Leaky Column.

A bunch of his friends were already there that night.Loud music and obnoxious t-shirts greeted him too!The hole virology group was having a bar crawl that night.A few hours later..and many,many drinks down,the structure bunch got a little out of hand.They began to bully the new molecular biologists.They made them dance on the tables...turn was an awful sight.Harry,Ron and Hermione hid behind the bar....while the drunken bullies let off steam.Eventually , Hermione peered around the bar,"This is ridiculous.I have a growth curve to do..I need to get going" she stormed.

Back at school...everything seemed normal..or as normal as Grad School can be!They quickly settled back into a gel melted into another as the days passed on.They had a new Defense against the Dark Bugs teacher,Hep E Moody.During their very first class,he said in a gravelly tone,"Put away your books...there ain't nothing in there that can help you here.Can anyone name the three Uncurable bugs?"..."Please sir ", began Hermione,"It wasn't on the reading for this week".Ron however raised his hand uncertainly..."My dad mentioned someone he knew who had one...uhh.. HPV?..""Correct Weasley..thats a nasty one", so saying he showed them an electron micrograph of it.Every so often Moody,would duck behind his deck to take a large bite of something..this shocked everyone..though no one dared mention it.To everyone's surprise,and his own,Neville raised his hand"Hmmm Professor, Hepatitis B ?".."Correct Longbottom!"He clicked on his new Macbook,and the screen lit up with its life cycle."And the last one..can anyone name this deadly killer? No one...why HIV of course!",his eyes gleaming like a mad-man,Moody zoomed in on a picture of gp120.The bell rang..and the students peeled themselves from their the halls as they walked to their next class they nodded to each other"He knows...he really knows!".

One morning , Albus Dumbledore,the Head of Departmen,t announced that Hogwarts was soon to be home to two other schools of Virology .The Magical Virology Conference was to be held at Hogwarts this year.and everyone was rather excited.Germstrang,a Russian school of Virology was to arrive first, followed shortly by Bornabatons Academy of Microbiology .All the Hogwart-ians whispered excitedly amongst themselves waiting for their guests.Germstrang arrived amid much drumming and clapping.The Head,Ebor Karkaroff was a famous Russian scientest.Off late though he was more often in the news for his lapses of delusion.He had worked with Voldemort,the retrovirus and had once been one of the brightest Retroviral minds.Somewhere along the way however,his mind unhinged...Today, he could be heard telling anyone who would care to listen that he was responsible for the discovery of Voldemort...that his Nobel was snatched from him!

Bornabatons Academy was headed by Madame Marburg.She was publishing Giant, well known for her work on large genomed viruses.She expected a great deal of hard work from her students..and her lab was famous as one where first years often slept at their bench.

Participants for the Conference were to be decided by the Beaker of Fire.Dumbledore announced the rules one morning,"Only students who have one first author paper can apply.A student who wishes to participate must submit his/her name on a piece of litmus paper into a beaker on a burner.We call this the 'litmus test'.However I must warn you, if you do not meet the condition , the consequences will be severe...."A loud uproar broke out in the hall,"That's not fair! The editors don't like us.Its not our fault! I am working on a resubmission!Someone scooped me!"..and on it went.

Fred and George,riding a wave of fresh disappointment,their last commitee meeting having crucified them,decided rashly to enter.They added their names to the beaker, and walked away!..The effect was immediate.The slip with their names burst into flames and turned into a Howler.It raced off to their Major Professor to say that the student had ' data' they wanted to discuss with them.Oh no!!

The following day,Dumbledore took the beaker off the burner and gingerly read the names that the beaker had selected.Fibro Delacoux,Corona Krum ,Chlamydic Diggory...and Harry Potter!!!!! "Harry, how did you enter your name into the beaker? Do you know what this means? You must now present at the Conference!..This is binding!".Harry stumbled forward in a daze,"But but sir..I don't know how my name got in.I didn't enter..I don't have enough data to present!".The other teachers gathered around bewildered...all agreed however, that Harry would have to participate.

"This is so unfair..I don't know enough ", said Harry..desperately trying to finish his poster."Pictio"he howled,summoning the suitable gel pictures to complete the poster.The Conference had three arms - A poster presentation,An abstract presentation and a quiz.It started off badly for Harry, for during the poster presentation while trying to put up his,managed to knock someone elses off.Grumbling he bent over to pick it up, when a girl hissed at him,"Take your own only,leave the other one!"...What ever happened to being helpful! The quiz went off without a hitch...the abstract however was another story.Every person in the crowd,Moody included ,went straight for the jugular.Fending off their questions the best he could,Harry hoped that he could disappear..."Why did you use that enzyme?Why didn't use use a nested PCR? What temperatures were these done at?"..and on it went.At the end of it..everyone agreed that Harry had managed credibly..and that his research had direction! He was even awarded 'Most promising research 09'.."Yipee...guaranteed funding! No more TA-ing!"...celebrated Harry!! Harry's competitor Chlamydic Diggory,disillusioned by the comments he got and the holes in his theory ,however,quit grad school.( Note from the author: Diggory is doing well.He found employment in a Software firm,just bought his third Lexus and was most recently spotted holidaying on the Galapagos Islands)

Harry meandered over to a quiet section of the hall.Moody,looking rather grim ,cornered him.He began,"Well congratulations Harry! Well done...But let me be honest with you.No point shielding you eh? Hmm..I don't this project will go much further.You've done well...but the parameters just don't add show me your future plans.Lets sit there shall we?" saying he led him into the deserted library.Dumbledore,watching the whole thing out of the corner of his eye raced over to them.Snatched up Harry's book, and grabbed Moody.

"Who are you ?The real Moody wouldn't discourage a 4th year!", so saying he waved his wand and forced Moody to respond.In front of their eyes..Moody turned into someone else..shorter,thinner and with a crooked nose."Bacterial Crouch! How is this possible ?",so saying Dumbledore tipped a few drops of Veritas Complete Serum into his mouth." Well...years ago",began Crouch,"I discovered Prions.I found a way to make a prion potion that could change me into someone else as long as I kept eating rare cooked burgers every hour.I enetered Harry's name into the Beaker of Fire , I wanted to discourage Harry from this project , and then steal his data and publish it!"......Dumbledore raged silently..with a reassuring pat on Harry's back he led the fake Moody away.

A week passed.The real Moody was back,coughing wildly, from a forced imprisonment in Crouch's cold room.Harry,Hermione and Ron huddled around the lab computer,putting their mental faculties together for a game of TextTwist.Harry looked around the lab...he felt at home!

Saccharine side stepping!

Whew..I survived another one!...Valentine's day came and went without a peep...Being rather newly wed did nothing to upset my plans..or the lack thereof!

Valentine's eve saw me and Mosi standing in a line at a local gift store.A riot of explosion greeted my tired eyes.( Important to note at this point might be that the oh-so-pleasant flu had come to visit that weekend.And I was at my best...sniffling,coughing and bleary eyed..ah romance!)I picked up an innocuous looking stuffed Husky dog, 'This doesn't look to revoltin--..."..The word caught in my itching throat,Gasp! A heart was attached to its white furry mouth.In no mood to appreciate a heart-wrenching ( literally) beast, we moved on!I fought through an amor'-inspired gaggle of girls..all excited,all gushing,all surreptiously grabbing the closest furry,red,heart-shaped thingamajig! No bother that a) it was three times the price b) it was useless c) it was red..and oh did I mention useless? I mean how many furry hearts can hang from a sane person's ceiling?Anyway beating through this crowd, I made it to the card section...Seriously're going to buy a diabetic card for the husband? With his money? such thought should cross you mind,We of social networks,had a birthday party to go to.I picked the dryest,blandest card yellow and blue ( Aha! My revolution against white and red!) .all it proclaimed was Happy Birthday...and thats it!Perfect, I proceeded to the check -out.Stood myself at the tail of a line from here to Timbuktu, Mosi in tow.As we crawled upto the cash register..our (my bleary) and Mosi's well trained eye fell on a tin that screamed- Valentine's Kamasutra gift S&M....hmm ! It was black and had required picture of Dominatrix looking woman in black! My helpful hubby offered..'The tin looks too small for a whip!...handcuffs perhap?'..Since the shop hadn't noticed us enough for the lack of Love-day cheer...this sure got their attention!

One battle down! We mowed our way through Friday evening traffic to get to the Birthday do!! We were met with large smiles,alcohol and cake...ahhh I can celebrate this! Too good to be true..'So what are you newly weds doing for Valentines ? '..a smile, an embarressed downward glance..."Oops meant to switch shoes!'Luckily my throat chose that moment to errupt in a fitful cough.Alarmed, our host smiled and waved to an imaginary guest....We extricated oursleves from that one..only barely!

The day dawned...rainy,gloomy and dark!We woke rather early...I was a mess.Sneezing continuously,coughing like the life was leaving me,eyes watering,nose dripping..I was a vision of romantic allure.No wonder that Mosi stood back..and gingerly helped me out of bed! I padded down the hall to the kitchen, popped my customary cough drop,and proceded to whip up a that the mushy side we are about to expose? Fat chance, I was signed up to bake a cake for a get-together that night.A group of people here ,had organised Talent Night on Valentines.Perhaps to keep an eye on us ..the Mushy Mosis..Cake done,oven switched off and I sunk back into a codiene inspired slumber....mouth open...wheezing slightly..And that didn't encourage Valentines day plans?? Shocker that!

Later that evening, we hopped into our favourite grocery store.I bought 4 bars of chocolate...thats all.The girl behind the counter gave me a knowing smile,"Chocolate for Valentines day......!!! "...I put an end to trauma inducing images of me lolling in melted chocolate saying,"This is for a cake...for my girls night..!"....Tcchh..she looked at me appalled..
Then sashaying out the door..we ran into a good friend.He and some friends had some paintings up , all different visualisations of HIV-a world problem...So we spent the next half hour in a world of disease,sexual practices and death.All very romance inspiring for sure!

At a traffic signal on our way to Talent Night,I poked my head out the window at a guy selling roses on the road.What a day...wilting red roses cost three times the price , and they come wrapped in ghastly paper driping with hearts! Ahhh my blood sugar! Ill take a bunch..I muttered softly,lest anyone heard.Sinking lower in my seat, I ripped all the petals out into a bag right in front of his horrified eyes.He handed me my 1000 Kwacha note..and ran for his life.Once at the venue...I dumped the petals into a bowl..added a candle or two...Voila..Atmosphere!

The last of my rebellion came next."Why are you not wearing Red and White?"...piped up a friendly voice...I glanced down at my Khaki-green shirt...Hmm Jungle seduction perhaps?
Talent Night saw me take part in a dance too.A hip swinging,alluring Hawaiin dance , you ask hopefully ?..Little luck there..this was a folk tune..made only more entertaining by my valiant efforts to not sneeze on stage!

So now as I look back..I walked into nearly evert landmine Valentines day is known to bring...Chocolate,cake,
Did I succumb?? No way!!!

This troop is still fighting.....and going strong!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Harry Potter and the Plagarizer of Azkaban

"Where is that dratted boy? Each time the laundry is done...Poof he vanishes!", muttered Aunt Petunia viciously."Harryyyyy" , she cried...glaring out of the window.."Oh wait, they bought a new car?"...Hmm.and Harry was soon were the freshly washed clothes.

Harry,our favourite wizard kid was safely ensconced in the basement.He had had a close shave on his prelims and was desperately trying to work on some data to present at Lab meeting."Ahhh colonies", he remarked rather pleased,"Now if only the digests work too...""Harrryyyyyy", a second shout broke his gleeful spell.Flustered , he snapped off his small sized gloves and raced into the kitchen.Oops double gloves!! Peeling back the second layer he presented himself to his angry aunt..Dudley , in the meanwhile had discovered the 'secret ' Virology lab in the basement.Aha..he thought..he is going to be in duck soup!! "Mom....dadddd"....... Soon..muttering under his breath, desperately forcing his pipettes into a trunk and his glove box, Harry burst from the house.Under the street lamp he stood,adjusting his micropipette."Bang!"..a loud noise made his drop the pipette..Oh No!..Salmonella Shunpike peered out of a big purple bus, "Did you call for the bus?', he asked Harry.."Bus..??" asked Harry rather unsure.."Yes the Norwalk bus..for those who don't want to walk!"..and Harry was off.....

He got off on slightly shaky legs..Looking up he smiled..The Leaky Column...! He would be safe here for a little while.He was shown to a room,soon after all comfy on the bed he lazily flipped through the newest edition of Science."Harryy.." a scream startled him" Aunt Petunia? here?...Wait she sounds younger..".. Hermione flung herself on Harry, closely followed by Ron.."Heyyy you're here", Harry beamed at them...the rest of the summer was going to be perfect.

The two weeks sped by and soon it was time to leave for School.Mr.Weasley pulled Harry aside, "Harry despite what you hear don't go looking for Filius Black".Black was a prisoner at the Wizard prison Azkaban."Why would I go looking for a criminal Sir?" offered Harry hesitantly....."Do you know why he was in prison lad?Black was jailed bacause he was guilty of plagarizing your parents' papers and when he was done with them , he infected them with Voldemort.Now the rumours have it that Lily and James left their last , unpublished manuscript with you .Thats what he's after!..That and any data you may have..Have you even begun working yet?".....Mind caught up in knots ,Harry stepped onto the train...and soon left the station and Mr.Weasley behind.....

Harry,Hermione and Ron squeezed into an empty compartment.Harry ,couldn't take it any more..he burst out ,telling them the story.Suddenly , a noise stopped him mid sentence..What is that? Who is that? There was a man, wrapped tightly in his cloak,fast asleep,his trunk at his feet."Well thats Rhino Lupin , of course", said Hermione,indicating the protocol book sticking out of his trunk..The journey continued..and Harry and Ron were arguing ..Wii vs Xbox..while Hermione indulged in'light'reading...Suddenly, the compartment went dark..the air went damp and smelt foul...Lupin was up in a flash...Looking around the compartment wildly he said." kids stay down!"Lupin cautiously slid the door open and waving his wand at the dark shape shouted,"Performo Decontamum!"....Slowly the compartment returned to normal...All except Harry, who had passed out.He had an extremely strong sense of smell....

Once back at school..the trio were too busy to think! Classes ..tests....homework..and a new addition this year.Lab rotations !! The third years raced around talking to their seniors..gleaning any information they could."He lets his students graduate in 5 years..with papers!...This one is a terror.He expects you to work weekends and on the 29th of Feb too...But this one supports the Chudley Cannons...and on it went..

A new class they were all taking this year was - Public health and Intervention taught by Variable Trelawney."Argh this is awful..all we do is observe something and then describe experimentation..nothing"said Harry, shaking his head angrily." we have all this terri ble regression models..and predictions..god!"...Ron piped in..Hermione turned to Variable ,"Professor, how are we to learn anything , if all we do is predict and observe and describe?"..."Ahh dear...I'm not sure if you have the gift ( or patience)...This is wondeful science!".."Science..???" shrieked Hermione,"This is less scientific than a crystal ball.." And off she stormed..

On the contrary they thoroughly enjoyed their classes with Lupin.He was doing Boggarts with them this week.These shape shifters went through multiple stages before a spell would finally finish them off...Much like a retrovirus..The worst thing about the Boggart though, was its ability to sense a person's fear .During exams ,therefore, Boggarts were a favourite of all teachers..telling them exactly what to trouble their pupil with.. Lupn enjoyed immense favour as a teacher...however Snape put an end to his popularity..he let slip ( oh-so-accidently) that Lupin had been infected with the Wizovirus, one that infects a wizard , rendering him unwell at the time of Lab meetings.The only cure was a tall glass of Tequila and to retire for the day.( Naturally this made Lupin even more popular with his Grad students..but thats another story! )

After a bout of sickness...Lupin was hungry to start work again.Needing ,new literature he set off to PubMed, the treasury of all things scientific.He stared intently at the shelf...trying to find what he wanted...Suddenly his eye caught on a paper,..Second author,Peter Pettigrew..But that's impossible..Didn't Black kill him? ..hmm but PubMed never lies...

He hurried back to Hogwarts find Black sitting (oh-so-calmy) on his couch."Filius...what are you doing here?..." "Oh come don't believe that I stole their work do you? It was Peter..surely you know that!,.replied Black;.fixing him with an unblinking stare...Before he could say anything else,Harry burst into Lupin's office.."Professor ", he began,"I wanted to talk to you about doing a Lab rotation with that Filius Black..?"..."Now Harry, it's not like you think...I thought too, till very recently that Black here had stolen your parents work and then killed them when he got what he wanted.But then, I happened to see a new paper in JBC by Peter Pettigrew..then it all made sense to me.Peter was not dead..he was alive and still publishing!It was Peter who stole your parents work Harry, it was he who had them killed too.All this while he has been playing host to Voldemort.Voldemort was his secret keeper..and hence no one knows that he has been staying at PubMed all this time...!"....

Harry looked over at Black..still a little disbelieving.Lupin raced out of the door to try and capture Pettigrew..."Hmm...Harry before Lily and James died, they asked me to be your I understand if under the circumstances...",he trailed off a uncertainly." Yes...of course, I'd love to have you guide me!" ,so saying Harry jumped up and hugged Black.

Dampening this happy scence however, Lupin returned to report that Pettigrew had managed to escape."We'll find him"..said Harry determinedly...Hermione and Ron,having arrived a few minutes earlier shook their heads in agreement.They looked around the room contentedly..smiling at each other.The reverie was broken.."Oh no! I have lab meeting!"...and Hermione was off in a flash....

Hmmm so we are getting to halfway through Grad School here...Hopefully!

Eyes tuned for more...

PS...acknowledgements at this point include patient Mosi who serves as an excellent bouncing board for my ideas!