The one where we talk about the weekend in longing hindsight

I noticed that a lot of blogs I read seem to have titles inspired by FRIENDS type ‘the one where…’ and so to keep up, here’s mine.
‘Twas ANU open day on saturday and with a knack for getting roped into these things that only I have, I was there bright at early at 8.30 on a cold morning, setting up optics type things for school type students. On the recent radio interview I was asked why I do outreach activities?
After taking more than a moment to think about it I had to say that because things that I did/read/saw as a youngster have influenced my choices and decisions to this day. I studied physics because I was influenced by my 7th Std physics teacher who loved me and taught us very enthusiastically about how a thermos kept hot things hot and cold things cold. I thought it was bloody brilliant! Simple and brilliant!
I studied optics because I was, and still am, fascinated by light (which is strange because electromagnetism is the only subject I failed).
So I wholeheartedly threw myself into outreach at university because I love talking to people, talking to strangers and telling them to care about things. See, I care about a lot of things. And I fail to understand/connect with people that don’t. Caring about things does not necessarily mean doing something to fix it (if it needs fixing). It means wondering about it, learning about it or even just talking about it. I cannot understand people that go about life like everything and everyone is beyond their control. But that rant for another day.
So, outreach… I like being able to tell people that even on a bad day, I care about my work. I like the candidness with which I can approach students and tell them that although research is difficult and not always fulfilling, it’s great because you have freedom. You get to rub shoulders with giants in your field and they talk to you as if you have potential.
But for the most part I love outreach because I remember the first time I actually understood something. That lesson about the thermos and how it worked – it is my first memory of actual understanding. Not just listening and filing away, or rote learning to reproduce during exams, but actual understanding. Like the pieces of a jigsaw fitting in my head. To be able to impart an understanding, no matter how minuscule, to another person and to get them excited about something is indeed really gratifying.
Of course the publicity, freebies, articles in journals and interviews that follow are also great, but they are few and far between.
So saturday I slaved all day (between meal breaks, tea breaks, mini meal breaks and pizza and drinks after) but managed to catch up with Mayu (who I last saw in Dec, and who is making a habit of these whirlwind trips that I’m not happy about one bit!). Sunday saw the three of us breaking our heads and aching fingers over Resident Evil.
Have any of you seen the FRIENDS episode where Joey is meant to host ‘Bamboozle’? and he gets Ross and Chandler to play and at the end when Chandler gets bamboozled he holds his head in exasperation and exclaims ‘this is the best game ever!’ – nothing could echo our sentiments better. Cracking RE is not just about who wins anymore, it is a team effort. It is aching hands and sore eyes, it is cups of tea to stay awake and yelling and screaming till we are hoarse about what to do and to look ‘behind you’. It is pondering endlessly over clues and what to do next, what weapons to by, whether to buy the map or not. It is hysterical screaming when the giant was killed to hopelessness at not being able to kill the chainsaw-wielding women. It is late night phone calls to say that ‘I’ve killed the chain saw woman’ and ‘Don’t play the next stage before I come!!’. Most of all it has been an exercise in obsession like I have never known, since I last saw my father and uncles come together to crack Top Gun some fifteen years ago!
Thus passed a blissful weekend and keep us in your prayers as we tackle Episode 2, Chapter 3 – tonight!

2 thoughts on “The one where we talk about the weekend in longing hindsight

  1. No no, it wasn’t Dayal, although I didn’t mind her. I think it was someone called Miss. Esther? Did we ever have a teacher called Esther?Quiet little woman. Plump ish.Hmm

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