Deadline, deadlines and more deadlines, with a splash of stress and reality check.


Don’t evaluate me on the actions of my past, instead judge me on the principles of my present and the intentions of my future.

It has been a hectic few weeks, dashing around to complete my poster for the ISHR-ES meeting in Hamburg, Germany and the uncertainty of whether I could submit within my deadline. But all of a sudden I’m a lot calmer than I have been for a number of weeks (a little help from Nature of course…no, not the journal…although that is helpful too). My DoS is convinced that I can submit on time and regardless of whether those PCR plates show up or not, to be honest…it’s not that big of an issue, I could still use some of my pilot data and mention what I see, but I’d really love to have some complete data. I’ve been enquiring along a new line of thought, something which I just happened to come across a few days ago, something which shows promise and excitement; but I have to remind myself that now is not the time to start new studies, I need to wrap things up.

So let’s focus on the trip to Hamburg, and in true Nazra fashion, here comes the pictures. But before a complete visual overload, I just want to say that I really enjoyed Hamburg as a city, and whilst we (my sister and I) hadn’t quite planned the cultural side of our visit as perhaps Dublin, there was a nice vibe to the city; and if we were slightly more interested in pigging out on chocolate and harbour history…it may have been paradise.

 

 

I have to say the Miniatur Wunderland was definitely an incredible site, The Vatican was one of the most impressive models I saw. And the day to night transition was amazing! And of course the Hachez Chocoversum chocolate museum was definitely a sweet treat, perfect with the opportunity to create our own chocolate bar…lots of chocolatey fun! The botanical garden was also an amazing experience, the humidity and heat were truly replicable of a brilliantly tropical environment, just look at the moisture on that leaf! And the floor to ceiling aquarium at the zoo was definitely breathtaking. Other than being a little expensive in some aspects, the city was great fun when the weather permitted!

 

PS. Title: nope, it’s not a typographical error. I do indeed mean Deadline, deadlines and more deadlines. The ‘Deadline’ refers to the vastly looming thesis completion date, and the others refer to the myriad of deadlines, either self-imposed or doled out. I’m drowning in these deadlines…I’m only a small person!

Edit: The PCR plates arrived!

Have you lost your Dhokla?


Do you ever get the feeling that some things are just Now or Never? Well…this post is one of those. I started writing (by which I mean the title) this particular one, over two weeks ago, and finally I’ve had to get to grips with the fact that I have been procrastinating from actually procrastinating (a vicious cycle for the seasoned procrastinator). I should probably add that it’s taken a good 14 hours from start to finish with this post. Procrastination is not always your friend.

So what has been keeping me away, you ask? Deadline, deadlines and more deadlines, with a splash of stress and reality check (will also be the title for my next post…can’t let such a title go to waste!). August is crowning and with that, the countdown to the end of my PhD is only days away. In theory. I need to finish, I want to finish…but…(there’s always a but). There is still some way to go before I can actually submit and dust my hands of the laborious work that is a PhD (see what I did there!). So those PCR plates, you ask? From Bio-Rad? Still non-existent I’m afraid, to an extent where I think that after around 4-5 months, I’m throwing in the towel. Instead I’m now thinking of an alternative which…actually doesn’t even existent, but let’s see if the companies I’ve contacted can be more satisfactory with regards to customer service.

Right, let’s deviate from PhD related drama, and let’s talk about what is always on everyone’s mind. Food. As I mentioned earlier in a previous post…or two, I’ve found that cooking and baking are perfect to distract me from the chaotic levels of stress that spike high on a daily basis. One thing that I have a slight obsession with is experimentation, which of course as a “scientist” is no surprise. And of these experiments, avocado brownies has definitely stood out; my normal brownies (regardless of Oreos, marshmallow fluff or other ingredients) go down very well, in fact they go down too well, so I thought why not try an avocado or two. And of course, in true scientist-style, I did my research and found that the drawback to the nutritionally superior version of a brownie is a somewhat swampy taste. So how do I get rid of that taste? Simple, add strawberry jam to the concoction…except there certainly is such a thing as too much jam! I didn’t actually follow a specific recipe, I just substituted avocado straight for butter, and although the taste was actually quite nice…I don’t think I’d leave my full fat version, probably because I’m very odd in the sense that I can’t stand stodgy brownies…and avocado will give you a very dense and stodgy brownie. I suppose if I really had to bake them again, I’d definitely only add about half the amount the flour I normally use.

That was a few weeks ago, today however, I’ve made what I was craving since last week…Halwa Poori and Chana Masala (although I’ve haven’t made the pooris yet, it’s for dinner so I’ve got a bit of time). I’d been craving halwa poori, like the one we have when we go to a Pakistani restaurant in Makkah or Madinah, but the fact that I was in Hamburg all week meant today was the only chance I’ve had to make it happen (more on Hamburg in the next post). Halwa poori is traditionally a breakfast dish, pooris are eaten with chana masala and then with sweet halwa; but to be honest you could eat it at any time because it’s so good!

 

Can just about see the very dense, stodgy texture of the brownies.

Chana Masala…one word…Yum! Even without the coriander!

Semolina halwa…mango flavoured with pineapple chunks, raisins and nuts!

 

PS. I love khaman dhokla! You’ve got to mad not to like it! Gujarati food rocks!

I need a paper towel and a Valium.


Nos somos humanos, e nos não somos perfeitos. Mas, tentamos.

Isn’t it a relief to have your car insurance sorted? It feels like a bit of a load off…though sadly not a huge amount. I was supposed to have finished everything by now…but here we are, almost mid-July and I am yet to complete my PhD lab work. It’s not entirely my fault or ineptitude either, something I’ve ordered and subsequently re-ordered over a period of 5 months has yet to arrive. Bio-Rad. Why the incompetence? My PCR studies should’ve all been completed by now, but I’m still waiting to hear from you, it’s unacceptable!!! I’m now hoping that the one contact I have at the company can speed through their incredibly useless processing and get me what I need ASAP. Apart from that…everything else seems to be dependent very much on luck. I seemed to be unable to yield any results from something which worked at a 100% success rate…and now that (with a great deal of help) I’ve got it up and running again, I’ve now run out of antibodies…so despite spending 10 hrs in the lab yesterday…I’ve nothing to show for it.

On a slightly better note…my DoS has just sent back corrections for me to do with my chapter…and although that’s a good thing, having a flick through, I don’t feel so great about it. There are a lot of tedious things that need changing and some data which is apparently not needed. But of course…I spent weeks if not months collecting the data and then of course the painful analysis, so it feels a bit painful to remove. I feel quite deflated to be perfectly honest, the sort of feeling where you’re trying to pump air into a balloon with a hole in it. Absolutely futile. I won’t lie. I’m exasperated. I want to finish everything and move on with my life. This PhD has been draining and not because it’s too difficult, but because this environment is corrosive. This is where hopes and dreams come to die, Little One.

But let’s end on a slightly positive note…I tried baking peanut butter and M&M cookies on Sunday. The verdict was positive, though being self-critical (as always) they weren’t what I had wanted. Recipe was from Tanya Burr, although she also adds pretzels and I didn’t have nearly enough M&Ms (little brother ate them!). Enjoy! I’m going to try and find as many things to bake as possible…my only real form of stress relief!

Cookies!

 

PS. Titular reference is Lorelai’s reaction to Emily wanting to date.

It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.


There are plenty of ‘fill in the blank’ moments, but I can’t possibly recall absolutely everything nor can I begin to summarise everything, other than the fact that the work period is now over, and I’ve still yet to find myself a job to settle in to. It’s been an incredibly busy few weeks and I’ve been a little all over the place to be perfectly honest. Still no luck with cell isolations, still no arrival of my orders and I’ve still got to complete all of my chapters and again…need to find a permanent job. There are many things that need attention, and they all need financial consideration. I’ve yet to complete the poster I intend on presenting in less than four weeks…and I still need to write an abstract for another conference…and I have a week before the deadline. But let’s not dive into depressive uncertainty, let’s ask ourselves another question.

I wonder what happens when a scientist swaps her lab coat for an apron for Eid? And of course a little help from my dear Timmy, and a recipe from Fauzia’s Kitchen Fun.

 

I guess that answers that…food is a great distraction from real world problems. With all the chaos happening all over the world, a little unity is definitely due. And in my opinion, nothing works better than food to unite people 🙂

And when it falls…it falls like rain.


I feel as though I’ve been a little MIA lately, and to be perfectly fair, it’s understandable. It’s Ramadhan. My most precious time of year, the time when self-reflection is overwhelmingly needed and apparent and inner peace is almost a given…as long as I try not to think too hard about the realities I face.

I just wanted to post something very brief, and it’s almost as if the rainfall is compelling me to say, that blessings fall like the rain, they fall in abundance, some people think it is just a nuisance, but it’s often disguised in ways we can only appreciate when we truly need to.

NQ out.

Busy Bees Buzz


Tis a dangerous thing when two worlds collide.

I suppose I’m not entirely sure as to how I had planned on going about with this post, it’s almost as if I’ve been given a reason to justify the title. But I’m getting ahead of myself, I’ll pace myself and move on with the line I’ve written. Now, truthfully speaking I’m not entirely certain as to why I woke up at 3 am to say those words to myself…all I know is that I’ve been experiencing very vivid dreams, ones that clearly make no sense and have no obvious connection to my conscious life. I suppose the two worlds part is probably my watching two episodes of Gilmore Girls just before bed…in fact, I know that Lorelai and Rory paid me a visit in Dreamland, but to what effect, is lost on me as of now.

But there is far more to those words than a merger with the Gilmore realm. I suppose it can be a dangerous thing, when two hot-headed, relentless people try to form a union, but if neither is willing to compromise, I suppose only a collision course is set to happen. Likewise, when the world of work and the world of leisure collide…after terrible time management and inability to balance both worlds, certainly dangerous. And of course the most dangerous of all, when two people of different backgrounds, faith and understanding meet…if there’s ignorance, then there is nothing else but destruction. I suppose what I’m trying to say, is that in all this conflict, there is conflict only because everyone embarks on a collision course, no one thinks to plan a path which is mutually agreed on.

On a more shallow note, I’m back at the Exams office and of course, enjoying the havoc associated with it. I’m also eagerly anticipating the most important event of the year for me, Ramadhan! I can’t wait for that feeling again, and it’s only a few days away. I hope that this Ramadhan is just as good every Ramadhan that has passed before us, and even more bountiful and full of blessings and glad tidings.

NQ out.

 

PS. Titular reference is in response to being incredibly busy…but also oddly, in reference to the wasp which decide it wanted to harass a student during his exam. Ah the strangeness.

 

Why must you do this to me?


“It’s a matter of patience, perseverance and endurance.”

That’s what I’ve been telling myself these last few weeks. I feel as though I’ve been notably “absent” in every way possible…posting, writing, research and especially with my family and friends. I suppose the stresses I’ve been experiencing haven’t been very kind to the gentler side of me, and instead aggravate and demotivate me. I feel as if I have a million things to do, and no time for it, and as I try to remember one thing, I forget another.

It’s not unusual that everyday has started to merge into one very exhausting day on loop…it’s difficult to tell when one day starts and another day ends. I’ve been trying to balance my research priorities with working…but it’s not a very 50:50 arrangement right now. I suppose it’s because I feel like my attention can’t be divided very well right now, perhaps because I feel a little weakened? The damage usually comes from the source you least expect, and when you’re repeatedly suffering blows, it’s very difficult to find yourself being “everywhere”. Hence the absence. I know that things needs to change, but a lot of things aren’t in my control, and that means that I have to suffer at this cost. I’m struggling to make sense of my days, the only thing I have which is remotely soothing…is my time to reflect. Any form of prayer…I’ve always found that the busier I get, the more I find time to pray. I suppose with being busy, I can filter out all the unnecessary chaos and allocate due time to just reflect and gather myself…before I’m destroyed again. Perhaps this is a way to become stronger? As it’s said…what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger (much like antimicrobial resistance).

I must say, that despite how very strange I feel right now, how very chaotic and hectic things seem, I don’t feel anxious. And that’s saying something…anxiety for me, is much like a shadow, it’s always there, but it’s magnitude is dependent on light. Perhaps, I need the anxiety? Or perhaps I’m so desensitised right now, that I’m unable to place emotion where it is due? I suppose the take home message is that…there’s a lot going on in my life and I need a moment to just be able to filter through what needs attention and what doesn’t. I know that my PhD certainly needs attention, and that I can’t possibly afford to lack in this area, because I’m so close to the finish line. But I also need to realise that being close, isn’t the same as crossing the finish line, and I can’t afford to be complacent. I need to maintain the acceleration and I need to channel the excess energy into finding a permanent job at the end of all of this.

That being said, I can’t quite focus on much more, the Glorious month is on the horizon, and I know that my inner peace will find it’s nexus soon. I’m working towards building that up, and ensuring that I can find the strength in me, to do what is right for myself and my family. That’s my priority…everything else will either need to change or wait for me.

 

NQ out.