Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Not single, and yet ready to mingle (or talk at the least)

Being a doctoral student with busy advisors means that there are many glorious hours to be wasted in googling, reading meaningless and occasionally funny banter on e-forums and attending the erratically timed graduate party. Self-discipline has never really been my anchor, but a constant source of guilt due to its lack. I make fantastic, ambitious schedules that I proceed to slowly wash out of my memory over the next few days. It is only my dark Indian middle-class guilt at neglect of education (and childhood trauma of many tears spilt over textbooks) that keeps me going at this exercise in perpetuity. Hopefully, I'll emerge with a degree.

In the meanwhile, the graduate party. It was fun. And no I'm not trying to convince myself that my time away from books was well spent, it truly was a great evening. Suzy and Nerd Girl was with me and everyone else bailed out. Overall, women are the real winners in grad school by the grace of sheer demographics. I stress overall, because there is an imbalance between the engineering school (probably med school too, but doctors-in-training tend to be rather isolated) on the one hand and the social sciences and humanities on another. In most engineering schools, the testosterone in the air makes you dizzy (not exactly, but then it's mostly quantity over quality). In the social sciences though, grumpy female twentysomethings sit around sipping wine and complaining about how hard it is to get laid (if you are straight).

Now the European Students Association draws a majority of its members from the engineering school and we arrived to find out that men outnumbered women 30 to 1. Well, almost. But what this means is that as a woman all you have to do is make an appearance, and you would not lack company through the evening. Of course I met many old acquaintances, and they all asked about S, and the fact that he was luxuriating in his bum status and enjoying himself in Greece was cause for much heartburn all-around. Met some new persons, no one spectacularly interesting, but then probably my boredom threshold has really gone up (or down?), because I've spent time with and dated some crashing bores in the past.

Small mercy that they kept talking to me and didn't turn tail and run in the other direction at the mention of my boyfriend. I've found that for many, there is no greater conversation-destroyer. Cannot recall the numerous occasions that I've been having a wonderful conversation with a man who excuses himself and disappears when the boyfriend crops up in our talk. I whine to S about this, but then logically if a great part of being at a party for these men is about getting a date or getting laid, then I'm probably wasting their time better spent dazzling someone else. I'm a sucker for good conversation, but the buzz and goodwill of being among happy, chatty people from around the world (often conversing in different languages) is something I enjoy and appreciate on its own. I know I can always be the fly on the wall and soak in the headiness that is part alcohol and part freedom and promise.


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