LfE 13: The last day and the Bicycle story



It’s nearly noon on this bright sunshiny Sunday. The temperature is 8 Degrees Celsius. Last night it hit an unusual 9 degrees! I had planned to pull out my gloves only after December started but I remember November days being colder than this! It lowered to -4 one day. My face froze! 🙂 Nowadays I take so much warm clothing everywhere, that I almost sweat, especially when I’m walking. Will find a balance when we can predict weather I suppose!

Friday was the last working day. It was a happy, relieving, long and fun day! The previous day I had finished all my modules. I met two potential project supervisors and both were positive and keen on working with me. I went for an optional lecture at 12:30 and for class at 2 to 4. Hung out at a friend’s place till 5 and came back to help the disabled guests of the Christmas lecture with the lifts. I made friends with the Security men. They thought I was sweet to help and I thought they were sweet to show me how. One thing I miss about India is having simple conversations with simple people. Most of the people I meet here are intellectuals; students or teachers, hardly ever other people. So this felt refreshing. The first car arrived. A young man with a pleasant smile sat in the front seat. I smiled back at him. His parents helped him out of the car and set him onto the wheelchair. I operated the lift, talking and smiling at them in turn as I operated it down the steps, and called the ordinary lift for them to go upstairs for the lecture. There is a pleasure of some sort in making people smile and connecting with them. That’s why I think it’s a very selfish thing to do to help people. More selfish than obvious acts of selfishness because it gives you pleasure and it gets people thinking good things about you. What do we do that isn’t selfish?

As a side note, before the second car arrived, the organiser leaned closer to me and said secretively, “Well done! They were our million dollar donors. The young man was Euan McDonald after which a huge centre for Motor Neuron Disease is named.” Of course! I had heard of him in class. His parents had donated a million to found that centre because their son suffered from MND. It is unfortunate that these diseases occur at all, let alone to such young people.

The lecture itself was good. Since it was a public lecture I could see the obvious effort of the scientists to talk in simpler language and not lose the audience. It really presented a positive picture of where stem cells could take us in terms of treatment of neurodegenrative diseases. Especially the part about making adult cells dedifferentiate into toti or pleuripotent cells!

The organisers invited me to join them for ‘Wine and Nibbles’ at the Informatics forum (clean, new, shiny beautiful building next to the Neuroscience building). I went with some hesitation because everyone there was old and either a great scientist or very rich. I was the only young student! (Not to mention the only non-white! You tend to notice these things only when everyone is a stranger) I was rescued when the organiser talked to me and asked me to try ‘Mulled wine’. It is heated wine with herbs and fruit essences (I think). It smelt like cough medicine. My friends by then were trying to reach me. Eight missed calls! When I mentioned to the two ladies that I was to go Karaoke-ing tonight, the other lady’s name popped up. She was the music cognition lady who I had wanted to work with!! I had been talking to her for nearly 10 minutes without realising who she was. What a coincidence. When I told her, she started brewing ideas enthusiastically and suggested we meet this week to brainstorm about the project. This was the highlight of my day!

I soon rushed off to Karaoke with eight friends. Three hours of passionate, loud singing; passing mics around, selecting songs. It was a lot of fun! Later we went and sat in on a live performance of a really good band. After roaming around for some more time, I decided to go home. It was 3 am. Yesterday in contrast was restful and I skyped for a long time with my family from India and worldwide 🙂 I was reminded that I hadn’t told a lot of you the Bicycle story.

It was the 26th of October and I was tired of walking half an hour to and from the main campus. An hour of walking per day sounds very healthy, I know, but the distance was frustrating me because we happened to have long gaps between classes back then that I didn’t know how to kill and would’ve appreciated a place to catch up on sleep in the meantime.

So getting a bicycle was on my mind. I thought about it very intensely on my walk back and as I passed my friend’s house (who had a bike standing in front of her flat). Then out of the blue, five minutes from my flat, I saw a bike in the corner. It was dark so i couldn’t see the colour properly and there was no lock on it. Nor was it standing in front of anyone’s house. I believe in making things happen. Could it be, I wondered, that I just made it appear for me? I was so convinced that it was placed there for me that I couldn’t walk on. But it wasn’t mine so I couldn’t touch it either. What a dilemma! I Skype called my cousin’s wife in Canada and asked what she would do. She told me that it’s normal for people to leave their things around when they don’t want it anymore. And that I should be able to take it home without wondering too much. I decided to confirm that this was normal with some passers-by before I took it. The two people who I asked admitted it was strange that it was left like that but said they wouldn’t take it anyway. Finally a passer-by told me to take it to the police lost and found. If no one claims it in two months, it will be given to me to keep! This sounded like a reasonable and legal thing to do so I called them and took it in to the nearest station the next morning on my way to Uni. I rode it some of the distance and I liked the feel of it. It was old and I didn’t know how to work the gears but I liked it in general.

The two months will be over in time for my birthday 🙂 Imagine being called shortly before my birthday by the police for this. Well, that would be a pleasant surprise anyway.

That’s a long mail from me.

Hope all of you are happy and healthy!

See also