Hava Nagila!

Everything does pass, and we can endure and we can survive!! – Rahul Dravid

Introduction

Celebrating 6 years of blogging – a contributed post to my friend

My school friend, Meenakshi has been blogging for six years now. I have been following her blogs in the past year and we got an opportunity to discuss some of her posts last year when I was in Chennai. I like reading her posts, and some of them are quite informative. I wish her all the best in her writing and wish that she keeps up her stories! Here is a link to her blog. I am tempted to follow her up on some of the topics discussed in her blogs, but that is for later.

Recently (I have to admit that the word ‘recent’ here means few months ago) she requested me to write a guest article to celebrate her milestone. I readily accepted, as I was looking for an opportunity to write something, but have been somewhat busy to get down to it. Now that I have an opportunity, I needed a topic. I asked her for suggestions. She said, ‘Why not write something on Padmini mam?’ (Padmini mam is our high school chemistry teacher), or ‘Compare college experiences of US and India?’, or my experience on visiting India after being in US, or what kind of things a Ph.D. student goes through (since in her opinion, not many people really understand what Ph.D. is, and they think that we while away the time reading their favourite books, or they think that people do Ph.D.s because they don’t get jobs!). All were interesting suggestions, but from my experiences, I thought it best to touch on aspects concerning the first and last on her list, namely involving our school teacher, and also my life as a Ph.D. student. That way I will have a bone to pick with people who claim that we do Ph.D. just because we don’t get jobs. So here goes.

I would like to divide this article into three parts not only from a chronological point of view, but also to organize my thoughts to convey what I would like to the reader. The first part will follow the thoughts of a school kid in a typical city school – compete, compete, compete for the first rank, get an IIT rank, and then get admission to a university in US. Is this ‘following the American dream’? I don’t know. But that is the attitude in the majority of households in a city like Chennai, where every family wants to have their sons and daughters ‘abroad’. The second part will shadow my experiences as a Ph.D. student in the U.S. of A, now that I have crossed the seven seas in par with my peers. What then? Has life come to an end? What next? What does a Ph.D. mean? I don’t have answers, but I will try to collect my thoughts on some of these questions based on the examples set forth by the greats in science in the third part.

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Introduction | Madras to Madison | Madisonite years – ‘Piled Higher and Deeper’ | What comes after Ph.D.?

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