REFERENCE: The title has been borrowed from one of Monty Python’s sketches. I do not want to be sued by any of the living pythons.
Man, have I been watching way too much flying circus lately! All to get in level with a lab mate of mine. It’s a trend, at least in our institute, to estimate a PhD student’s intelligence based on the television (show)/ movie viewing patterns. Music and “Literary” (usually comics) preferences are the other important factors that decide your stature. If you know Stephen Fry, Douglas Adams,John Cleese, David Attenborough, Michael Palin etc. etc., you’re considered intellectual. You come in talking about Tom Cruise or what’s his name… you know the vampire dude. Well, you’ll be branded an idiot for eternity!
Hmmm…what on earth did I want to write about in the first place? A moral dilemma is fogging my brains. Should I continue writing or just watch an episode of lonely planet with Ian Wright in it? I write , nobody reads. I watch Ian Wright, I fell pathetic about all the globe trotting dreams that never came true. It’s a lose-lose situation. Oh well, all I wanted to do was post some pictures of my recent trip to France to attend a conference. Might as well just get that done. I can always sit and sulk about my unfulfilled dreams of being a traveler, during incubation times in the lab tomorrow.
Ah-Ha! There you go… I just wanted to write about a trip down to what was supposed to be a meeting place of the greatest scientific minds working with the most horrendous bacteria. So they tell me! 5 years back an opportunity to visit an international conference would have got me going crazy like a kid high on sugar. Oh, the talks, the big names, the science…. Ah, I would have killed for some conference time! Times have changed now.
I am sure you must be fed up of reading about the negative aspects of everything, all the time on this blog! Me bad mouthing about everything PhD would only get you wondering if I am capable of expressing any other emotion besides despair. I am sorry but really…. I did not enjoy the scientific aspect of the conference at all. I am going through what has been appropriately titled ‘ the valley of shit’ phase (to find out more about this valley, kindly click http://thesiswhisperer.com/2012/05/08/the-valley-of-shit/). I have been questioning my choice of research area for long. Being in the presence of a bunch of over confident and arrogant scientists who pride themselves for working in this field did not help me much. It only made me feel even more depressed. On the bright side, the key note speaker himself truthfully admitted that our area of research was utterly useless considering the fact that there has been no significant contribution to the healthcare sector.
So is PhD all about let downs? Well, actually no. Once in a blue moon, for all the slaving you do, you get a chance to get out of the lab and experience the life you are actually missing out on. Well, not all conference- goers feel the same way! Though I did not feel inspired by the scientific aspect of my trip, certain other other things did really lift my spirits up. I had some memorable apres conference time with a couple of my lab-mates. Wandering high and low to find cheap food and always landing up in an american fast food chain, we managed to have some very interesting talks (often way too loud, even loud for the french norms) on topics ranging from our future to the world’s future. Religion, politics, world peace…nothing was left untouched. I also did fulfill a tiny part of my wanderlust. I visited Lyon, Nimes and Marseilles.
Giving up my grumpiness for a minute, I am uploading some interesting pictures from Frankreich avec Liebe…
I learnt to ride the segway!! Attention some unknown conference attendee, SORRY to have photographed you without permission and also for posting it here. Apologies!
We played some mini golf, yes! The photo is in the wrong orientation for fun. We even tried our luck at archery. This was not the county fair in Lyon. It was actually the registration day at the conference and these were the activities that welcomed the participants. Not bad at all,right. Plus the food, especially the dessert for lunchtime, was amazing. As a bona fide free food and recreation critic I must admit the conference was a hit.
I just love this photo for so many reasons. The kitchenette in the apartment (rented for the conference time )was put to some good use.
Roman encounter at Nimes and relishing solitude in Marseilles!!!
IMPORTANT TRAVEL ADVICE:
If ever you go to Lyon as a PhD student, I am afraid you will have to cut down on your caffeine intake. The following picture will give you an idea about the luxuries you can actually afford! A desperate PhD student spent 2 euros for a cup of coffee while a wealthy post doc 3 euros…. The PhD student was forced to look for alternative caffeine sources after his first cup of coffee in Lyon!