February 28, 2006

Jack of all trades...

Jack of all trades? and master of None! I was trying to be this Jack last week and made some big mess. I am was working on a publication, I got some really cool results, which we will send for publication tomorrow, as I was working for this paper, I got bored of the computers and got interested in other colleagues work, and started to do some 'biology lab' work with the white coat and with some colored solutions etc.. Hmm! after 6 years, I was holding pipette and DNA in my hands. Then one of my friend who does photography asked me if I can work with him in making some portraits, hearing the word 'photos' and 'portraits', I got excited again and started posing for the photos (that was quite a interesting experience, will write about it in a separate post, when that project comes to a completion).End of a my successful first year, my boss selected me to go with him to USA next month for my Diatom genome annotation jamboree, so, started with one more paper work for my visa, I came out of the successful messy week by working for 35 hours non-stop, even without a small nap. That’s one of photo taken as a part of this ‘Portrait Project’,thas me with the real mess I made will all my ‘Paper works’ last week.

February 23, 2006

Stopping by Paris...

Exactly a year ago, on this same day I landed in Paris, It was a beautiful snowy evening. I just knew two people in Paris then, my boss Chris and Anton, just through mails and today I was just recalling the new people I have met in last one year, there are atleast 30 new phone numbers added to my mobile phone book….just 30???..Seems to be too less for talkative Uma…may be because of the language difference? And many many new people added to my life, who will be ever very close to my heart. It was a very emotional and adventurous year. That’s few photos taken within few hours after landed in Paris, which I took with Anton, who came to receive me in the airport .Paris is really a wonderful city to live, but don’t know how long?
“The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.”
From Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening by Robert Frost

February 21, 2006

Sophisticated Diatom Language..

Advancement in technology have improved, fastened and made our ways of communication more sophisticated. Do we, the humans sitting in the top of the food chain, use these communication methods to spread good will? What about the tiny little organisms like my diatoms sitting in the bottom of the food chain do? Do they communicate? My lab’s latest research work was published in today’s PLoS Biology issue.It is about how Assaf and other scientist of my lab decoded the sophisticated Diatom Language. These unicellular organisms communicate using chemicals signals to alert the neighboring cell, when they are attacked by the predators. The wounded cells produce chemicals, which is harmful to the enemies, but alerts (triggers the immunity in) the neighboring ‘healthy’ cells. Yeah! This language is spoken by the Diatoms in death bed and it is nothing but the blessings and good wishes for the well being of its fellow diatoms. Wow! What a wonderful way of ‘chemical’ communication.

Zooming into the bloom: cell-to-cell signaling in the sea. (Illustration: Nivi Alroy)

February 19, 2006

Window of the Soul?

Window of the Soul? No!..May be just Heart... I guess the most amazing part of us, the humans is the camera, which does the live telecast of the heart, the eyes. Eyes are the only organ which undergoes least amount of changes(growth) after we are born, may be that's why it didn't pick up the fake cultural things, and speaks out the heart as it is and remain as naive as a child. But why did our brain and mouth lose this naivety, may as Einstein says "Few are those who see with their own eyes and feel with their own hearts". But what stops us from following our heart? The mass around us, in the name of friends, family, country and culture? Is this majority won over our cute, naive, lonely heart? But when we want our life to be more greener and adventurous,yes.. ofcourse...sometimes more thorny too, we should have the courage to travel in the road which travelled by less and just keep following our heart!
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference
- From The Road Not Taken By Robert Frost

Now this is the story I tell myself when I feel extremely lonely and left alone...so this post is dedicated to all those lonely hearts ;-) But if you don't believe what I was talking about the eyes.. check these portraits of a great photographer Steve Mc Curry, Each eyes will tell you the story of their heart. Can you read it? Also, there is one young photographer in Paris, started taking my portraits, so, soon in this blog, you can also read the story of my heart ;-)

February 15, 2006

Story of Us!

Long long ago, very long ago, few millions of years ago, the earth was inhabited only by cute little microscopic, single cell organisms (even before the formation of my diatoms). And one day one cell was swallowed up by another cell, Sad!!! But wait this story has a really happy ending. This event lead to the formation of 'higher' cells, my diatoms and later many other plants animals etc. yeah! True we are all formed because of the ‘monster’ cell, which mercilessly swallowed another cute little cell. And this cute little cell sacrificed itself but now lives eternally in millions n' millions of other organisms. Sacrifices are always painful, but No Pain No Gain! Next time when we are forced to sacrifice some thing, may be we can try to do it with a smile, remembering this cute little our ancestor. Now, if you want to know about how these newly formed species were saved, check out the romantic evolutionary story from Magix ‘n’ Curse! I enjoyed reading that cute blog today!

PS: Image Source

February 14, 2006

Love...Philosophy with Fur!

I like the cartoons of Dharma the Cat (Philosophy with Fur), there are three main characters, a Buddhist intelligent cat trying for nirvana, a novice monk and a mouse, crazy about cheese. I peeped into this site today after a very long time and found this cute cartoon on Love, thought it may be appropriate to put this in my blog on Valentine’s Day. Most of the time, we(atleast I do) express love like this monk, right? Unsolicited Announcements of the love, and being insensitive to the beloved emotions. More of our Bolly/Holly/KollyWood style, dramatized love.Check out more Philosophy with Fur in dharma the cat site!

February 11, 2006

My Portrait...

Today I was cleaning my files, in the lab and I found my portrait, done by a cute little artist. In the summer on either side of the river in Paris, we find many artists doing portrait of people, I always liked it, but never had patience to sit and do one for myself. But few months back once, when me and my boss, Chris was in a meeting and Martha, his daughter was sitting with us, did this portrait of me and Chris. So, that’s the portrait of me and Chris, and that’s Martha with her brother, taken during a lab picnic. Aren’t we (she & me) cute?

February 09, 2006

Sit Back and Relax!

Guess, which is the best country to work? Obviously it’s France! Its just 35hrs per week and 5 weeks of paid holiday per year! It’s really wonderful to see people being so relaxed, with nice outings in the weekend, and long summer and winter holidays. I feel this type of system really improve the efficiency in work too. Work hard and then sit back and relax. Great food, and beautiful towns to visit. Wow! It’s just a beautiful, poetic life style.I am slowly getting into this life style; I use to be really workaholic like any other IT guy in India. Going for a Roman holiday, very soon.Also waiting a free trip around the world. A friend of mine, Arjun is going around the world, mostly on road, except for few hops over the oceans. The best part is that he is a good photographer, so let’s wait for free world trip through his artistic eyes...Here is just preview, from his recent trip to china (that’s not part of his world trip)I have posted here few photos stolen from his web site. Check out for more in his online album and blog.

February 08, 2006

Meet Micha...

Sometime in our life we meet some people, and just know for a short term, but feel as if ‘Janam Janam ka Bhandan ho!’ (A Hindi Slang used to say that you know a person from previous birth)! The one in the photo, Micha is one like that for me. Well! If you think that he look like an intellectual in the photo, then you are very correct! After a long time, got a friend who treats me like a kid with tender care and affection, I feel so cozy in his presence, and makes me revisit my childhood. As I was discussing about the incompleteness and a bit of arrogance in Invictus with him, he quoted me this nice Poem ‘IF’ by Rudyard Kipling. The following is my favorite lines from the poem.

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;

My friend Ahamar gave a beautiful definition for poetry!
“Poetry is a manifestation of personal thought and mood put forward by profound and powerful words that is often an outcome of the poet’s emotions and feelings transformed through words. Good poetry is not weaved or made up, it’s like love, it is not made to please or impress anyone, the moment it is it becomes synthetic and commercial”.

I love the comparison of ‘Poetry’ and ‘Love', two beautiful manifestation of emotion,which can stand the tough test of time. If you have taken a road, not traveled by many and often feel lost in a foreign land, then all you need is lucky enough to have good friends around! Touch wood. I am lucky!

February 07, 2006

Rendez-vous with Technology…

25 years back, I use to spend my summer holidays in my dad’s village Aruppukottai, (Humm! Difficult to point it in a map of Tamil Nadu) in my grandma’s house, place which is close to my heart, I remember getting up early in the morning at 5, with my aunty to go to temples, that’s how she starts her day, From morning 5 to mid night, until my uncle returns back from his rice mill, the doors of the house are never closed, friends of my aunt, uncle and my cousins just walk in anytime into the kitchen, to taste some delicious food cooked by my aunty (she is one of the best cook, still make me drool, just by thinking about it) , and discuss their day, work and problems with my aunty, who is also a very patient listener. Even in the afternoons, when people in the house have a small nap, I have seen the milk vendor walking into the kitchen to put milk for evening tea. (That’s my aunty in the picture, with my little niece)

25 years later, now I live in a Paris apartment, with a digital door code, and an intercom, my friends have to buzz me, before entering the building, People are just isolating themselves, within three doors, with complicated locks. Is closing of house door is the reason behind psychiatrist opening their doors in the west? Well! I still crash land in my friend’s house through Google talk, skype and through my blog. We are getting closer in virtual space more, than in reality. Are we really a social Animal?

February 06, 2006


My current project for my thesis is to study the Diatoms under different stresses, like the nutrient limitation etc. It’s amazing to see how these single celled organisms handle stress so beautifully, by switching on and off different genes. Most of the single cell organisms make a thick wall around itself to escape from extreme stressed conditions, thus they conquer the unfavorable conditions, but once they see the ‘happy’ environment, they break over the wall around them and go back to the tender, ‘happy’ state. Part of the story is true with us, humans too. Right? Various stresses we face, make us strong and tough, but do we return back to the tender, happy state? Most of the time we get stuck with this victories condition, declaring ourselves as ‘Invictus’ (Unconquered).
  Out of the night that covers me,
       Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
  I thank whatever gods may be
       For my unconquerable soul.

  In the fell clutch of circumstance
       I have not winced nor cried aloud.
  Under the bludgeonings of chance
       My head is bloody, but unbowed.

  Beyond this place of wrath and tears
       Looms but the Horror of the shade,
  And yet the menace of the years
       Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

  It matters not how strait the gate,
       How charged with punishments the scroll,
  I am the master of my fate:
       I am the captain of my soul. 
Yeah! This Poem Invictus by William Henley (1875) was quoted by Timothy, just before his execution. Invictus, a beautiful poem, the first two lines of each stanza talks about the ‘unfavorable’ condition which we come across, and the following two lines says how tough the poet was, to overcome to these ‘unfavorable’ conditions. But do we ever go back to the tender, innocent childhood in the happy stress free ‘environment’? Unlike the diatoms, we start hiding inside the dormant, thick walled tough state of a 'hardened person', calling ourselves, the Invictus , yet prejudiced and insensitive to the ‘happy’ environment… Lets these diatoms redefine the term ‘Invictus’!