August 28, 2007

what makes us happy at work?

I was comparing my feelings about coming back to Paris after a month long vacation. First year, back from Canada - very new to work, started having some friends , i was more than excited.I almost had a similar feeling last also at the end of my vacation in Switzerland. This year only my friends in Paris were greatly motivating my return. I was reading a related article in BBC today.
They say that the following factors can make us happy at work. Top 10, in rank order
  1. Friendly supportive colleagues - all my colleagues are friendly (except one sneaky rat), but moving from the junior most of the lab to one of the senior member can make a big difference.
  2. Enjoyable work - I enjoy my work (except writing my manuscript)
  3. Good boss or manager - after working in a very strict environment, i enjoy working with a boss like Chris who gives lots of space and independence at work. well! i guess he strongly believes in the "survival of the fittest" theory!
  4. Good work/life balance - I hang out with friends and take vacations more than any normal researcher does. (Well! I took Praveen to Eiffel tower yesterday, more than the tower, I like the very colourful backgrounds it have every time, this is how it looked yesterday)
  5. Varied work - definitely, I am more than sure that I have varied work! Hmmm! sometimes tooo varied too.
  6. Doing something worthwhile - my thesis committee have to decide that!
  7. Making a difference - I think, I do! even if I am a day late from vacation or when I oversleep in some mornings, i do get an SMS from colleagues or boss to make sure I am alive. so I guess my presence at work do make some difference.
  8. Part of a successful team - Not sure, my team is just me and my boss...its difficult to define the success, may be my thesis committee will decide that in an year.
  9. Achievements recognized - In an small scale yes! I was selected for various conferences to present my work. In bigger scale, need to wait and see.
  10. Competitive salary - As a PhD student, I can't complain about the salary I am getting(in spite of it being too tight!)
Well!according to BBC with all these criteria, I am suppose to be happy, atleast have enough motivation to work and not writing my blog like this. let me get back to my work, anyways secret of happiness is to count our blessings I suppose!

Image buildup continues…

I guess most of us agree that building image, creates conflicts by why still we do it? JK answers it too.

If I had no concept about myself, what would happen to me?
Why have I, who have lived forty, fifty, sixty—or whatever number of years it is that one has lived—why have I gathered this store-houseful of what I think, what I feel, what I am, what I should be, this accumulation of experience, knowledge? And if I had not done that, what would happen? Do you understand? If I had no concept about myself, what would happen to me? I would be lost, wouldn’t I? I would be uncertain, terribly frightened of life. So I build an image, a myth, a concept, a conclusion about myself, because without this framework life would become for me utterly meaningless, uncertain, fearful: there would be no security. I may be secure outwardly; I may have a job, a house, and all the rest of it, but inwardly also I want to be completely secure. And it is the desire to be secure that compels me to build this image of myself, which is verbal. Do you understand? It has no reality at all; it is merely a concept, a memory, an idea, a conclusion.

August 27, 2007

Why does one create an image about oneself?

After writing the previous blog, I was thinking about why we want to create our own identity by affiliating ourselves to a country or a culture. I feel this type of affiliation creates a prejudiced view about other culture which we are not affiliated to. Moreover, when we create an image of ourselves of what we want/have to be, without acknowledging what we are, we end up having conflicts with ourselves and with our surrounding.

I read this thought provoking quote of JK, which came as an answer for few questions I had in mind, after writing my previous blog.

Why does one create an image about oneself? One has an idea, a symbol of oneself, an image of oneself, what one should be, what one is, or what one should not be. Why does one create an image about oneself? Because one has never studied what one is, actually. We think we should be this or that: the ideal, the hero, the example. What awakens anger is that our ideal, the idea we have of ourselves, is attacked. And our idea about ourselves is our escape from the fact of what we are. But when you are observing the actual fact of what you are, no one can hurt you. Then, if one is a liar and is told that one is a liar, it does not mean that one is hurt: it is a fact. But when you are pretending you are not a liar and are told that you are, then you get angry, violent. So we are always living in an ideational world, a world of myth, and never in the world of actuality. To observe what is, to see it, actually be familiar with it, there must be no judgment, no evaluation, no opinion, no fear.

- J. Krishnamurty

August 24, 2007

West as we see it!

In my previous entry I wrote that I am very lucky with friends. But the ‘oldest’ friendship I have now is just 7 years old. I lost my ‘old’ friends in the same speed as I get new friends. Especially after coming to Paris, some because of physical distance and some because of the psychological distance. In my process of adapting to new place, I have changed, not the changes forced on me by the society, but the changes I enjoy and the changes which made me mingle with the new environment, but my ‘old’ friends living with a bundle of prejudiced view about western society, is not able to see me mingling in that. It created lots of friction and arguments with friends. Sometimes, I feel that we don’t speak the same language anymore. Yesterday, I rediscovered one of more friend from my university days. Preethi, after the masters she moved to USA for Phd and got married to an American. Finally I got an 'old friend' in my boat, who can understand my language. As we were talking about our process of adaptation, I found that we have fought against similar myths

The common western society myth, that we fought.

  • Platonic friendship doesn’t exist here. Indian girls should not discuss their problems with western men, in process of consoling you; men may take ‘advantage’ of you.(sex is very easily available in west they don’t have to make such big diplomatic efforts to get that, I feel they see a opposite sex relationship more objectively than we do.)
  • The bar is a place for drunkards and for one night stand (you know in the bar they server fruit juices, coffee and tea too)
  • Being gay is not a natural thing, it’s a ‘new’ disease of the west, keep away from them.(my gay friends have cried in my shoulders during their break up, their tears were more than real and natural. suppressed in the east doesn’t mean that its absent there).
  • Vegetarians have to starve to death in west. (All the places I have traveled so far I was able to get vegetarian food. Some places its bit difficult but its not completely impossible.
  • Westerners don’t have family values and bondage (after living with Micha’s and Anton’s families in the past two summers, I didn’t see any difference between an eastern family, in fact they are more frank to their parents than we are)

We are all human, there are some superficial differences, but still we are the same species. Thanks to orkut, I am very happy I found Preethi!

August 23, 2007

chinna chinna asai (little wishes!)

Today I had two hours of discussion about who is happier in life, a married lady (her) whose children are not obeying her or a single girl (me).I was telling her about my vacation and I realized that in the last 7 years, this last one month was an unique uninterrupted happy days. I did many things which I dreamt about and many which I didn’t dare to dream of too. There were many things which I did for the first time in life.

  • Snorkeling and swimming in the sea, seeing the underwater fish.
  • Attended a calm and quite ‘French’ wedding, and a crazy, fun-filled Spanish wedding
  • Spent nights sleeping in tents and in open pasture counting starts.
  • Crossed three countries in three hours (France, Spain and Andorra)
  • Went in a motor bike for almost 200 kms at 120 km/hr speed
  • Went into the sea in a sail boat.
  • Did archery(I showed a better performance against my close rival Anton)
  • Experienced near death experience, experienced free fall from 180 mts height, in standing position. (In port aventura theme park)
  • went upside down eight times in a rollercoaster
  • Tried fishing.(saw fish happily eating from my fishing rod, may be they knew that I am allergic to them)
  • Met many new people across 11 different countries (Spanish, French, British, Australian, Italian, Argentinean, Brazilian, German, Israeli, Dutch, Danish) That too this 12 different nationalities (including me) got together to cook for 70 mediators.
  • Cooked for 70 mediators for 7 days.
  • Went to a holy place, and offered prayers (may be after 2 years)
  • I ate a special type of Spanish cured (Iberian ham) Well, it’s a cultural thing of Spain to offer it to their guests it seems. They convinced me saying that the pig is vegetarian (special type made from pigs which are grown up on a vegetarian diet)
  • Made some extra piercing in my ears (believe me it was my long term dream)
  • Got some hands on experience in Spanish kitchen (thanks to Anton’s Mom)

Well! My mom believes that Saturn moved away from my moon sign, so right now Saturn will do all good in my life it seems, so she thanked Saturn for my exciting vacation But I believe that I am lucky to have wonderful friends around me, I thank Anton, his family and friends, who made this vacation very memorable.

August 22, 2007

Gray weather but pleasant memories...

How does it feel to meet a friend after 6 years? Sometimes it can be a pleasant surprise, but sometimes we might have evolved apart, so it may be a pleasant shock. Today I had a pleasant surprise meeting, Praveen a friend from my collage days in Madurai Kamaraj University, now he just joined a lab in my institute. After six years we are neighbors once again. Inspite of the gray weather, it was nice to show him around my lab neighborhood, the Latin quarter of Paris. (Since there are many old educational/research institutes, once upon a time it was very common to hear Latin in this neighborhood it seems) It was nice to talk about the nice old collage days and it was a nice coincidence that I got my old photo scanned from my mom today, Hmmm! All the girls with me in that picture is mother of one or more kids now and that’s Praveen in the entrance of our institute, ENS.

August 21, 2007

a warm start and a cold end…

Yesterday morning as I was finishing my summer vacation, Anton’s parents took us to a very beautiful restaurant in the country side, in the middle of olive tree orchard, wow! I have never seen so many old olive trees together at the same place. It looked like a tall bonsai, thick trucks like an old tree but not so tall, it was cute. Started the day like this in the sunny Spain with warm people, but sun didn’t stay with me for long as I took the flight (not the crappy one this time) the weather in north of France was so bad that there was a big time turbulence and also delay in because of the bad weather. Gray, rainy and cold and the add to all these nice aspects the train which I was suppose to take from the airport was down, finally will all the changes it took me 4 hours to reach home from the airport (instead of 40 min) I don’t know if it happens only to me, take a flight for an hour but spend up to 6 hours just commuting to the airport. Paris didn’t have summer this year it seems. So, thus I finished my summer and summer vacation, but I have more stories about Spain to share, anyways the weather is bad here and some of my friends are not yet back from the vacation, I can spend time in recalling my sunny days and keep updating my blog. I have put on 4 kgs in a month, well! I should atleast write one more entry about the Spanish food.

August 20, 2007

In a tiny country called…

Just three years back, I didn’t even dare to day dream about traveling in different countries even though I had the strong quest inside me. During my vacation, on our way to the camping site in the Pyrenees, we had a lunch break in a tiny country called Andorra. Just few months back I got to know about the existence of a country between Spain and France. It’s a country with low tax (a pack of cigarettes which costs 45 euros in Paris, costs 17 euros here). So the whole country is like a big shopping mall and ski resort embedded in a beautiful mountain range, No wonder people here have the highest human life expectancies on earth. There was a long queue of people driving in and out of this country from Spain and France, just to do their weekend shopping. For me, apart from offering a very nice lunch, this country also increased the count of countries visited in last two years to 10.

In a little sail boat...

As a kid, I saw the movie Jaws by Steven Spielberg, since then I have a terrible ‘sea’ phobia, I feel that sharks are just waiting in shore for me, never had courage to enter the sea beyond my knee depth water. Now that I am spending my vacation, in the Mediterranean coast, that too with the marine biologist, who does sea diving as a hobby, I got little courage to snorkel up to two feet depth. This weekend, we went in Anton friend’s sail boat to go into the sea beyond my usual 2 feet. The sea was rough and I was completely ignorant of the risks we had while unfolding and folding the sail on a windy day. It was more fun and exciting like my roller coaster experience, specially since the men on wheel and sail kept me ignorant about the tough time they had controlling the sail, till we reached the shore.

August 17, 2007

Wonders of Catalonia - Montserrat

Discovering the wonders of Catalonia, yesterday we went up to Montserrat. Thanks to Anton’s parents who took us there. It was breath taking experience of spiritual and geographical wonder of Catalonia. This whole mountain range with very unique structures was formed of sedimentation of pebbles, with many evidences that this region was under the ocean, millions of years ago. When you have a closer look at the rocks, it seems to be just a pile of pebbles.
Adding beauty to the range is the few centuries old monastery and the temple of black virgin, which beautifully survived the civil wars, worst forest fires, land slides and floods. The black virgin of Montserrat is believed to be doing miracles in peoples life , even when your rational mind refuse to believe this, the calm and a very unique spiritual experience I had in this place, made me take a candle and pray for the good and naïve hearts who worry about me. Let the black virgin take them out of their ignorance and show them the path of bliss. More photos of Montserrat!

August 15, 2007

I did this!

After the very calm experience in the meditation center, I did this!

Just enjoying last few days of my vacation, I am keeping myself as far as possible from my computer and the internet! Will write more about my vacation once I am back in Paris!

August 05, 2007

Days in Pyrenees!

After spending few days in Pyrenees camping, now I am on my way to silence in my meditation camp, lots of stories to share from Pyrenees, but I can break my silence only after a week when I am back from my meditation. Till then some photos from the Pyrenees

August 01, 2007

I am fig tree?

Today I read about Celtic Horoscope in the blog, “my alter ego speaks “and I was recalling the influence of astrologers in my life. Almost 28 years of my life were lived by various astrologers of India. The first big step that I took against astrology was my decision to leave India for France. Believe me, it’s lots of fun to decide things on my own and to patiently wait and see the surprises future is holding for you. It’s also fun to read what astrology has got to say about you, without letting them influence your life.

Guess what the Celtic Horoscope had to say for me.. More or less, it’s a bit close to me, but I can never sell the last line to any of the people who know me A great sense of humor, artistic talent” ….No way! Maybe I am not a Fig Tree, perhaps just a branch of it!Also in away I feel that theWeeping Willow Tree suits me completely!
You Are A Fig Tree
You are very independent and strong minded.A hard worker when you want to be, you play hard too.You are honest and loyal. You hate contradiction or arguments.You love life, and you live for your friends, children, and animals.A great sense of humor, artistic talent, and intelligence are all gifts you possess.
What's Your Celtic Horoscope?