There are things in life you expect to happen. And then there are things you should expect, but never really do. Like turning thirty. Birthdays are generally meant to be happy occasions. One day to celebrate and remind people of your existence. Not for me though. Not anymore, certainly. Growing old is such a scary idea, and thirty seems like somewhat of psychological barrier beyond that I can not just ignore age as just a number. In all these years, I could think of myself as the naive young one, all the carefree mistakes, casual omissions, the general attitude of being irresponsible had that grand excuse. At thirty, I am not sure if one can still claim that(but I am going to try nevertheless). Human lifetime is incredibly short and insignificant when one looks at the grand scheme of things, the and by that benchmark, thirty possibly means I have used up a significant fraction of that. I am mortally terrified of being old, and there are so many things I have not done or experienced. However, rather than start getting upset about those now, let me try to get some transient satisfaction by listing some of things I am proud to have done. This is of course, an incredibly random, and entirely biased list, with no logical order and I am sure I am forgetting more equally memorable events, after all, as some study said, memory starts to decline from around this age.
I have lived in three different countries in three different continents.
I visited so many places. Although I am tempted to, I would not name them all here. But very briefly, major city/cities in 7 different European countries (Switzerland, Italy, France, Germany, England, Belgium, Czech Republic, with Portugal coming up), and major attractions in 34 mainland American states (plus Washington DC). I have driven along along the pacific coast highway in California, seven mile bridge over the seas connecting Miami to Keys in Florida, and from Florida to Chicago crossing the country. I have taken the incredibly scenic golden pass express across Switzerland, saw the pope in Vatican, got my portrait sketched at Montmartre, stood across the prime meridian in Greenwich, saw Mont Blanc right in front me standing at an altitude of 3842m, stayed inside the fort in Jaisalmeer, gambled and won (albeit a small amount) in Las Vegas, just to name a few of the incredible travel experiences.
I have a Ph.D in Physics. Some random estimates suggest that only about 1% of world's population holds a Ph.D. So that indeed puts me into an elite fraction of the population. (And while on that, I consider myself privileged to have Rick Field as my thesis advisor. I could not have had a better supervisor.)
I have been associated with the world's current (Tevatron in Fermilab) and future (LHC in CERN) highest energy particle collider experiments. To non physicists, it may not appear that big a deal, but the LHC turn on is truly an once in a generation opportunity.
I participated and gave talk which was reasonably appreciated in one of the premiere conferences in our field, Moriond at La Thuile.
I was awarded as the best graduate student while in Florida for distinction in teaching and research.
I have experienced the perhaps most incredible and significant political event of modern US history, the election of Barack Obama as the president, up, close and personal. I have also voted in India, so that makes me a participant in two of the world's largest democracies.
I have accumulated enough frequent flier mile to move in to "silver elite" status in delta skymiles, and also had a free India roundtrip ticket.
I have heard Joan Baez sing live. Twice.
I participated in the inaugural "University Challenge India" quiz show on BBC, hosted by the amazing Siddhartha Basu.
I have tried rock climbing and skiing. It is another matter that I faired miserably in either.
By last count, I have collected close to two hundred refrigerator magnets from all the places I visited.
I have seen the space shuttle discovery blasting into space, once at daytime, once at night.
I have eaten alligator, horse, frog, rabbit, ostrich meat (with kangaroo coming up, hopefully soon) among the more unusual ones.
While at Florida, I have lived through two basketball and two football national championship runs. The basketball team was perhaps the best college basketball team, ever. Again to all not acquainted with American college sports, this is unprecedented. (and I was once on the same flight with Al Horford.)
I have won an award for my photography, and one of photos was featured on CNN ireport. While by itself, neither is that big a deal, it is not everyday I get appreciated for being creative.
And, despite being a bitter loner most of the times, I had been amazingly lucky to know and come close to some wonderful people. And wonder of all wonders, someone agreed to marry me too. I have to compliment Saswati for her incredibly courageous decision!