I was born in Kolkata , a large city in eastern India. Experiences of my childhood years are shrouded in the deep recesses of my memory (amenable to retrieval only when the "search engine'' is upgraded to version 9.52). Snippets which are easily retrievable are from my high-school days when I developed a taste for road cricket, stars and other heavenly bodies (of the celestial kind) and during the last two years of high school (after initial hiccups) for solving integrals. Alas, such hard-earned skills have become rusty, for these days, whenever I need to solve even simple integrals, I blithely turn to Mathematica.
The college years were spent within the hallowed portals of Presidency College (now Presidency University), Calcutta where I spent some of my most enjoyable moments with a great group of friends. Fond memories include discussing Quantum Mechanics and social/cultural aspects of Science with Prof. Shyamal Sengupta, chatting and fooling around with friends at the back of the Chemistry lab and the occasional trip to the canteen to refresh our minds with cups of tea and soothe our eyes with sights of beauty. Those were the days when both enthusiasm and naivete seemed unbounded.
Graduation was followed by
a move to the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur. The two years spent there was in many ways a strange mish-mash
of experience; where I had to learn to cope with "despo
mugga'' before "endsems'', "nightouts'',
the terrible stuff dished out as "mess grub'' as well as some terrible teachers.
Life as an IIT'ian was often enlivened by all-night "bhat sessions'' (with
the aim of changing the world), trips to Hari's for "chai'' and samosa's and the inspiring Physics
taught by two brilliant teachers.
I then went on to do my Ph.D. from the Institute of Physics and during the course of my stay there, I got interested in diverse areas of physics (thanks to the influence of my thesis advisor). The drawbacks of being in a small institute in a small city with nothing much to do was somewhat offset by the camaraderie between grad students, post-docs and younger faculty members. The occasional special feasts, picnics as well as the daily evening tea breaks in the small tea stall just outside the campus main gates, provided a welcome break from research and the associated frustrations that are often a part and parcel of life in grad school. Life revolved around physics. The rare but delectable thrill of discovery and the joy of understanding a difficult concept or mathematical derivation were highlights of life as a grad student in theoretical Physics. I also developed a deep appreciation of the inter-connectedness of many apparently distinct phenomenon, often woven together with the unifying thread of a mathematical description.
After completing my
PhD I moved to
as a post-doc at the
University of Alberta. There I had to learn to cope with the
cold and the snow, get used to cars stopping in order to enable me to
cross the roads, learn to say 'eh' (a uniquely Canadian expression),
eat sushi and other delicious cuisine; and made some wonderful
friends from all over the world. I was also fortunate enough to experience
the vast and rugged splendour of the
one of the most beautiful places on this planet. During the three years I
spent there, I managed to do a bit of work on non-equilibrium field theory
and stochastic dynamics as well.
Thereafter, my career underwent a phase transition from
studying the life of the early universe to life itself following a move to
McMaster University in
Hamilton, a short distance
Niagara Falls. As a Hamiltonian, however, I enjoyed the charms of the city
where the lake (Lake Ontario) and the mountain (an euphemism coined
by the local residents for the Niagara escarpment
which cuts across the city) coexisted harmoniously producing a
refreshing environment for living. The quaint cobblestone streets of
with its numerous attractions provided ample opportunities
for taking a break with friends after a gruelling week of
hard work. Academically, the
time I spent at McMaster was the most fulfilling and exciting period of my
post-doctoral research career. It was there that I learnt quite a bit
about the Origin of Life and the Genetic Code, the incredible diversity of species,
as well as the unpronounceable Latin names used to classify them. Among a list consisting of such exotic species like
Drosophila melanogaster (fruit-fly), Caenorhabditis
elegans (round worm), Mus musculus (mouse), Plasmodium
(malaria parasite), my favourite so far is Porphyra
purpurea (red sea-weed).
From McMaster, I moved further eastward, to Halifax, a city by the sea (Atlantic
Ocean, actually) to start work on modeling cell division in E.coli at
Dalhousie University. Halifax turned out to be a
favourite of the rain gods. Once in a while, their exuberance
would result in the uprooting of a few
trees, breaking of a few umbrellas and the rare power failure for brief
periods. People who call Chicago the windy city, probably never visited
Halifax. When it wasn't
raining (or snowing) as in the month of August, it was a pleasure to visit
the beautiful waterfront, harbor and the serene public gardens all of which were fortunately within walking distance of my
Quinpool road. But my favourite retreat was a strech of the northwest arm of the Atlantic, a short walk from the university. In fall (around October-November),
the trees put on their annual sparkling display of vibrant colours before shedding their
leaves for the long winter. When life got monotonous, the ocassional potluck
and dinner parties hosted by generous friends provided the much needed
After about one and a half years in Halifax, my eastward progression continued with my return to India, when I was pleasantly surprised to be offered a faculty position in the CCBB, JNU. How pleasant that surprise turned out to be will be revealed in due course. Recently, I moved further eastward, back to my roots, when I joined IISER,Kolkata.
Along the way, I developed a liking for the nonsensical verse of Sukumar Ray (in Bengali); the poetry of William Wordsworth; the lazy, relaxed satire of Woodehouse novels; the concise yet lyrical prose of Jorge Luis Borges and the detective stories of Sherlock Holmes
Moreover, the exploits of a 6 year old kid and his endearing alter ego never fails to make me smile.
A subject which particularly fascinates me is the role of science in society; not just in terms of the tangible benefits like technology (about which there is plenty of discussion) but more in terms of its role in changing attitudes and thinking habbits of society as a whole. I hope to pen some of my thoughts on this issue someday.
'' To see a world in a grain of sand
And a Heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour. ''
Last Updated on 1.1.2012