I bumped into a friend of mine yesterday. Well not bumped, he stopped his car next to my bike at the traffic light. Fast forward 10 minutes, were sipping some tea, talking about life. All went good, when the question came. He took 30 minutes to actually asking me what I’m doing now. Ok so he’s different from the other guys whose first question would be "hey, so where are you working now?'. Ill leave out the next depressing hour.
So...what am I doing in life now? I’m a research student, a research scientist. I have a degree in physics so I’m a 'qualified' physicist. And now I’m finishing my MSc. Somehow, doing physics or being a scientist isn’t cool anymore. People just don’t care, because it simply doesn’t pay. So 'the' buddy, he drives a 2.0 v6 sedan, I ride a 14 year old 100cc Honda. 'The' buddy's getting married in a year, I talk to females once or twice a week. In 3 years nearly all my ex-school mates will be married. He lives in his own 4 bedroom apartment, I’m renting. And my parents pay my rent. And it gets worst...
How bad is it being a research student? See the picture on top. That’s my meal 5 days a week. The other days I average between bread and rice. My hair is thinning of all the MSG in the noodles. I’m 2five and my monthly income is negative 100 USD (none, but I have to pay 50 USD in rent, and 50 more for food and fuel. I still owe the university my semester fees and the thesis examiner fees, not to mention my study loan. And when I finally get my MSc, it would probably take me months or years to get a job. This is the general life view of a research student anywhere.
So is it all worth it? What the difference of being a scientist and a 9 to 5 office hotshot? Well, for starters, about USD 6,000 per year (the average per annum pay for fresh graduates in Malaysia). I make about USD 150 every 3 months or so (Im a freelance translator-English to Malay and vice-versa). My life stinks. I have more friends online than in real life. I stay away from public places as much as I can. And in 10 years,Ill probably have a PHd and be a scientist, eating the same noodles, staying awake when everyone’s asleep, manning some telescope on a mountain or in a jungle somewhere hoping to get my name on some new star, exo-planet or even a galaxy if I’m lucky. So now, is it still worth it. For me its 100% yes. I love what I’m doing. I hate not making money, but that’s life on the road less traveled.
So buddy, if you read this (I gave him my Blog url, I'm turning into a freakin geek, when I meet people I talk internet and computers). This is me. I would have said it yesterday, but I’m more comfortable online. This is my life. I hate you. Ok that’s a joke. But in a few years, Ill really hate you. But be nice to me. When I win the Noble prize in a few decades I hope well have this talk again. Ill be more prepared.
(Disclaimer: no offence to any noodle maker, any student or any scientist. No animals or noodle maker were harmed (eaten) during the writeup. No offence to readers whoselife sucks more than mine. Everyone dies the same.)
- 05/05/05- 11.00pm
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Noodle History Part II
Ok, this is getting bad. Its like I dont belong doing science. Met my lecturer this morning. So I guess I wont get paid for my research after all. The rules it seems, says that I cant claim any backdues either. Ive been on my own for the past 2 years. Hoping to get the money, to atleast settle some debt with the faculty, but the powers that be decided its a NO! The last resort...reapply...for the 3rd time! Learned some tricks this time, so hopefully Ill get a part-time research position. Its a tough life. I hope anyone who wants to do research in locals universities in Malaysia will think hard before accepting it. Or atleast have secured a grant before commencing the research project and/or have a lecturer who has a healthy grant.
And then, we had some talks of how things are bad for everyone and all... And my supervisor gave me some Dr.Phil talk. He came out with quotes a few times. "Do ask what the country can do for you, ask what you can do for the country...JFK', 'The grass is not greener on the other site either', 'Why must we reinvent the wheel everytime we do something...". Man I really pity him. If hes in US or Europe, he would have been a proffesor by now. But this country, dont know where to put its priorities. We are already a 2nd hand country today. Tommorow, well be dead without some homegrown research!
And lastly, we went to meet the Space Science Institute director. Got some clarification on the grant, got the permission to apply again, talked about the future of Space Science in Malaysia. And its the same thing year after year. While the world is fast way ahead of us! India just launched another 2 satelites yesterday. We have one dead Mircosatelite-TiungSat-1 (pic above) circling the LEO for the past 5 years. Plus 2 comm sats (of MEASAT-ASTRO, our satelite pay tv). We dont have a reliable space programme. The government managed to buy a seat from Russia for an astronaut in 2007. But its humiliating, when you have to buy a seat rather than qualifying an astronaut to space. So what happens to all those real scientist and aspiring students who want to go to space? Just ask the government. Theyll buy you a place anytime...
-06/05/05 - 4 pm
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Noodle History Part III
Century Man Finds Love
Once the century man hoped,
of a beautiful future love,
with passion he set forth,
his boundaries the sky blue
century man knows no fear,
he came to find love here,
time fuses amongst centuries,
his great hope remains true
near this ancient shore he sat,
watching from afar, lights shine
as the sun sets brilliantly,
he feels her touch ghostly alive
mesmerizing footsteps crept near,
like leaves in the jungle of space,
sensuously embracing the dust of stars,
she finally appeared, his love
this century man waited long,
until this day for his eminence,
as love came it brought the end,
of all immortals forgetting time.
-Gp 2005- 2/5/05
* Century man is a theme portraying all the people waiting for someone or something. The century itself holds the keys to many aspects of our lives. Birth, death, evolution, love and time govern the daily cycle of life. Love in this sense is the bond of all the aspects into building the universe. In the verses, the love refers to what the century man waited, hoped for. She who brought the love brought the answer. She is the secrets of existence.
* The existence is a state of mind. As we question then explore and answer, we gradually change the universe. When finally we managed to answer the question of why, we fulfill the destiny, complete the circle. Then as the century man finds out, there is no reason to exist, so we finally cease to exist. Then its true that we dont need money or power, we dont need immortality. When it ends, nothing matters, material or spiritual. We die the same.* Some late night philosophical pondering came of this conclusion; ‘God created Man, Man then created God’. A paradox. There is no end to this circle then. Just wait for either God or Man to be real.
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* this is my longest post yet. Sometimes I have so much to tell, to write, I start talking crap. But well, if its important to share, then its worth sharing. Have fun guys.