20 October, 2008

Oh, the frustration

 I usually don't post personal... so take this as pseudo-personal. In other words, a story. It's fictionality may be disputed, but anyway...


Imagine a typical classroom at school. It is filled with all kinds of kids: some naughty, some prudish, some studious, some jocks, some nerds. Now pick up the nerdiest children. They will typically be average scorers, introverted, won't know much about sex, and will usually be picked upon by the others. Now collect these guys together after their Bachelors, give them free housing (which, although a bit far, is probably ok), give them more than any decent graduate earns, and make them study stuff they love. That is, approximately, the Institute.  

I say approximately because I dont know about Biology. Maybe the bio guys were just nerds like us wannabe physicists, maybe they weren't. One thing is for sure though: they came onto the earth with girls written into their fate. Girls who won't talk to boys of any other disci... oh, more on that later.

Neglecting bio for a moment (won't do much good neglecting them altogether, because then, nothing would happen in our lives, and, by extension, in this story), life at the Institute is pretty ok. You get to study what you want, and maybe dream of researching it further, in return for submitting to the whims of the crazy profs, their assignments, and their (gulp) exams. Ok, maybe life sucks. But, well, we're neglecting biology.

Why the obsession with biology, you might ask. It's a fair question. But the answer is obvious to the statistician. You're not one, I know, but I'll phrase this as lightly as I can: there are more girls per guy in bio than there are per ten guys in physics. And it's not like physics guys are not guys. Do you think we like such a skewed ratio? That we snicker at all the girls we see, behind their backs, because they're not smart enough to get into physics? No. We have been snickered at in school. We do not snicker at girls. We drool.

I think this... essay... story... whatever, is getting a bit sexist, or, if I may invent a new word for once, objectificationist objectifist. But it's a real problem we are facing here. Even physicists need girlfriends. It'd be fine if bio girls weren't so prudi... more on that later.

I hear ya. When is this 'later' that I speak so highly of, going to come? Is it like this essay, story, whatever, will suddenly be elevated to a new level of creativity? (Heh, you think this essay will become better? Snicker ).

Ok, let me cut to the chase, literally, but not too literally. You see, it's natural for a physics guy like me, to like a biology girl. Not a generic biology girl. But there's this particular girl, you see. Hmm, I need a name for her. (Fake name of course. You think I wouldn't have known her name by now?) We'll call her Crush.

Now, these bio girls, sometimes with bio guys, sit together at a single table at lunch and dinner and everything in between, so that it's virtually impossible to sit on the same table as Crush and try to talk to her. And then, one day.... 

(The writer apologises for the last ten minutes in which he did nothing but daydreamed about that day.)

Oh yeah, one day, at night... Ok. I get it. Restart.

Oh yeah, one night (purists... sigh), I stood in the usual queue, put my usual food on the plate, and as usual, looked around for an... well, there exists something, which I call a table scanning algorithm, for everyone. What you do is, you scan the canteen looking for tables which satisfy some criteria you've prioritised. My priorities are: biology girls, good friends, empty tables. Coming back to the 'story', I looked around. I saw Gaurab sitting alone on a table. I joined him, and chatted with him about the crappy coursework (this was before the midsems. Now we don't even talk about it.).

Then inexplicably, two bio girls (Crush one of them!) put their dishes on the table! I thought it was temporary, that they didn't want to hold their dishes while they searched for another table. But, nope. They sat down, and began to talk. I admit I do not know what they were talking about. I was even afraid to attempt eavesdropping, you see. I did not look in their direction, but continues chatting with Gaurab about (this is true) Himesh songs.  

Then Ravi joined us at the table. At that stage in my crushed crush-on-Crush life (you knew I was going make this pun, right?) only Ravi and Achal really knew that I liked Crush. Gaurab, having finished his dinner, soon left. (I am not implying that Gaurab left because Ravi came. They are the best of friends.) A third friend of Crush, whom I shall call Fair (it's only fair to give her a name, because she's kinda important here), soon joined. (I am not implying that Gaurab came back disguised as Fair. I have seen them at the same place at the same time. I think.)

In the meantime, I'd started talking to Ravi about... something. I don't remember now, because I was all hazy. I knew Ravi would think I'm gutless if I failed to talk to Crush the one time we shared a dinner table. I remember just one thing: I said “I am useless, seriously”, in part as a pun, and in part because I really wasn't able to talk to her.  

“Initiate, dude, initiate!”, I said to myself. I tried thinking about topics to say on. I decided the safest bet was to ask them...

“Which department are you from?”

This deserves an explanation, I know. Well, as you correctly point out, I KNEW which department they were from. But, I couldn't start by asking them an obsure question about biology, right? Maybe I could, but that would require me to KNOW biology. The safest thing to start a conversation, I thought, and still think, is to place each other in the Institute heierarchy.  

  I looked at the three of them for an answer, and out came (an almost reluctant) “Bio.” And this was from Fair. The other two didn't even look up, I think.  

  As you'd expect, here comes the part in the conversation where I wait for THEM to ask US something. Anything. They probably know we are physics guys, but they could ask a confirmatory question. They could ask how the canteen food was. They could ask us out to coffee the next morning. They could ask anything at all.

But, they did not. I sat there trying to resume the conversation with Ravi while they resumed theirs, but inside I was just frustrated at how uncommunicative girls could be. I was frustrated after the dinner too, when, while waiting for the bus to take us back, I vented out my frustration in long meaningful strings of words (I have Ravi and Nikhil as witnesses). They (the strings, not Ravi and Nikhil) went something like this:

“When I initiate a conversation, all you have to do is... you know, continue it! When I have broken the ice, can't you enjoy the icecream? (That came out a bit perv) When I have broken the ice, you must carry on the conversation!” (Gasp. And I fainted. When I came to, Crush and Fair were standing beside me and apologising for their snobbishness.)

Rrrrright. I did not faint. I fumed and fumed till I fumed no more. But the sentiments of the listeners generally ranged from “What a stupid way to break the ice!” to “You asked the three of them dude, when you wanted to talk to Crush! And she didn't even respond.” Did I say we don't snicker? I take that back.

The next day, I was impatient to tell Achal about the incident. Why? Because he was the only one person who would've agreed with me. I did doubt this somewhat, but if there was anyone who'd have felt that I was right and it was the girls' fault, I knew it was Achal. So, we were sitting in the DTP students room, and I told him what had happened. The important point in the conversation was this:

Me: “And, then they replied, 'Bio'. And now, they should...”
Achal: “They should respond, right?”
Me: “Exactly! No one agrees with me!”
Achal's further sentiments on the issue are also supportive :
“It was the fucking girls' fault.”
“It's not important how you break the ice! You break the ice, that's important!” 

(This is probably the point in “Brokeback Institute” where Achal and I find each other so lonely and make out. But, ehrm.)

Well, the finals words from us on the issue are:

Why should Bio guys have all the girls?
You see, I wanna crush them. The bio guys, not the crushes... I mean, girls. Ehrm.

But then you can say: Why should Physics guys have al the pun?


  1. Q: Why should Physics guys have al the pun?
    A: Because they don't have the girls. :)

  2. if you're THAT stressed about bio girls not talking to you you can always transfer :P

    But seriously, that story confused me a little (fried brain from study...) but i think i'd qualify as a "bio girl" as you put it (I do pharmaceutical science so I guess I'm a "chem/bio girl" but I digress...). You say "We do not snicker at girls. We drool." maybe the "drooling" is the problem. I mean if some weird, awkward ramdom started talking to me I'd get a bit weirded out... maybe you should work on your opening line. try something that doesn't have a monosyllabic answer so they get suckered into a conversation ;)

  3. I think it's because biology is easier to relate to. So biology nerds would be able to converse with non-nerds about their subject more easily-thus making them more sociable.

    Physics on the other hand isn't always like that. Many people who take biology shirk from physics and maths and anything to do with it.(Could be a reason why she didn't respond)

    And..umm.. besides biology is so very much more broad, interesting, exciting, happening, than physics. :P

    It's like I get terribly excited everyday about some new discovery in biology and want to go and discuss it with people. I don't know if the same happens with physics. The general idea one gets (which is wrong I know. Big exception is you.) is that physics and math nerds are at the top of the nerdiness ladder-antisocial, aloof, queer.

    Biology nerds are fun.

    Ok now you can kill me for writing such a biased comment.

  4. It was, hands down, the girl's fault! Forget everything else; mere etiquette demands you respond. It was not as if you were stalking her or something (or, were you!?)

  5. Raj,
    She's just a girl and you're just a guy. Break down the walls of bio and physics. Your lives are more than that...at least I hope so. I mean, if she's so shallow as to reject you because you're a physics guy, then do you really want that kind of girl? She's not worth it.

  6. @ Aquila: I'm still reeling from the below-the-belt stab. ;) :P

    @ Charmaine: Hmm, that's a good strategy. :)

    @ Anne: I guess you're right, your observation has been corroborated by Aquila too. But it's not a fully correct impression, is it? I know many cool physics guys... you should just give them a little more attention. ;)

    @ Jayanth: We knew you'd side with us!

    @ Jim: Yer right, Jim, but it's just a crush. :)

    @ Nothing: This little incident has generated so much debate, fights, below-belt-stabs, depression, and whatnot. I don't think the poor girls have any idea of the havoc the caused. ;)

  7. Hehe @ Nothing. In a nutshell, gossip is fun.

  8. Charmaine is right, you know, you need to ask questions that you can't answer with one word.
    The point is, you asked, they answered, then it's your bid again, you should have followed up on it. Keep your eye on the news and see if anything biology related blips, and ask them what they think about that, and be prepared to have a smart answer to it! Keep them engaged. YOU want to converse, so YOU keep it running until you have their attention.