Biochem Blogs

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The traveling biochemist: A trip to Mumbai, India, Vol. 10

Traveling to the joint Indo-US X-ray crystallography conference in Mumbai

Clay Clark

Clay Clark – @biochemprof

I traveled to Mumbai, India, for the first time to attend the joint Indo-US X-ray crystallography conference. This is the tenth and final blog in a series about the trip.

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In this installment: Final thoughts about Mumbai

Here are some odds-n-ends topics that I jotted down during the week:

People living in poverty seem similar to me regardless of where I travel. In India, the poor areas reminded me of the rural areas of Mexico, where small run-down houses or tents were built beside piles of rubble. In India, the kids seem to know who has money based on their clothing. At one point in the trip (the Ellora caves) a teenager looked at me and I could see him sizing me up and down looking at my clothes. Even though my shirt and pants were not expensive, they were clean and not threadbare, like many of the clothes in India. I also wonder for whom these kids are hawking. At several stop lights in the city, people will walk by the cars selling toys or begging for money while showing a small, sad-looking baby. But then when the light turns green their face and demeanor changes, like they can turn off the act until the next red light. Maybe I’m cynical, but it looked to me liked they were trained.

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The traveling biochemist: A trip to Mumbai, India, Vol. 9

Traveling to the joint Indo-US X-ray crystallography conference in Mumbai

Clay Clark

Clay Clark – @biochemprof

I traveled to Mumbai, India, for the first time to attend the joint Indo-US X-ray crystallography conference. This is the ninth blog in a series about the trip.

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In this installment: Research at ACTREC; Lunch with Kakoli and her students, the trip home

Showering was a bit cold this morning. There is a small hot water heater on the wall, and I think that I had the plug turned on because the water was tepid and not freezing. I showered with just the hot water faucet turned on, and I’ll describe the experience as “refreshing.” My suitcase is with Kakoli. I had hoped that she or her students would have put it in my room before I arrived, but they didn’t. You have to imagine now what I’m thinking for the trip home. I took enough clothing to Aurangabad for the two-day trip, but I planned on having my suitcase to wear clean clothes today. So now after showering I’m wearing clothes for a second day after my admittedly novice attempt as using a bidet after a long day of hiking in the sun, and my clothes still have a faint odor of mothballs. My white socks are stained brown on the bottom because we had to remove our shoes when walking through several of the caves (which are considered temples here). Overall I think it is quite funny, but whoever sits next to me on the sixteen-hour flight later tonight may be very annoyed by the time we reach the US. It’s funny how one quickly loses a sense of decorum when having to make due with what’s available.

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The traveling biochemist: A trip to Mumbai, India, Vol. 8

Traveling to the joint Indo-US X-ray crystallography conference in Mumbai

Clay Clark

Clay Clark – @biochemprof

I traveled to Mumbai, India, for the first time to attend the joint Indo-US X-ray crystallography conference. This is the eighth blog in a series about the trip. This is the longest blog of the series, but it was a very full day.

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In this installment: A trip to Daulatabad Fort and the Ellora Caves; the Guesthouse at ACTREC; Whose underwear?; A discussion about toilet paper

Daulatabad Fort

Daulatabad Fort

After breakfast we drove toward Ellora caves and stopped at an old fort called Daulatabad. I have to say that this was probably my favorite tour this week. We paid 100 Rs to get in, and we hired a guide for another few hundred rupees. The fort is unlike the British forts where there is a wall surrounding a castle, sometimes with a moat. This place was built for defense, with lots of fake turns, spikes on the doors to kill elephants, and a moat. Apparently, opposing armies would use elephants to break the doors, so the occupants used spikes to kill the elephants. In response, the attacking army would put a layer of camels in front of the doors for the elephants to run into, as a cushion from the spikes.

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The traveling biochemist: A trip to Mumbai, India, Vol. 7

Traveling to the joint Indo-US X-ray crystallography conference in Mumbai

Clay Clark

Clay Clark - @biochemprof

I traveled to Mumbai, India, for the first time to attend the joint Indo-US X-ray crystallography conference. This is the seventh blog in a series about the trip.

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In this installment: Driving in India and a trip to the Ajanta Caves

So, I’m running on adrenaline and caffeine this week, mostly caffeine. I woke at 3 am this morning because I was afraid I would oversleep and miss the flight. Ruchi called about 11 last night and said the plans had changed. We were going to leave at 5:45 instead of 4:45 am. I thought that was cutting it close for a 6:50 flight, but since she lives here, I guessed she knew what she was talking about. Anyway, I had some coffee and read a while, then went downstairs to check out of the guesthouse at 5:30 am. Everyone else was there because Ruchi told them to be ready at 5:30. The guy behind the desk wasn’t too happy with us because I think that he was sleeping. There was a large cloth tied up behind the desk, making a tent. I think he was sleeping under the cloth. Very strange, but perhaps efficient.

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The traveling biochemist: A trip to Mumbai, India, Vol. 6

Traveling to the joint Indo-US X-ray crystallography conference in Mumbai

Clay Clark

Clay Clark

I traveled to Mumbai, India, for the first time to attend the joint Indo-US X-ray crystallography conference. This is the sixth blog in a series about the trip.

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In this installment: a trip to Elephanta Island and shopping in Mumbai

Ah. Seven hours of sleep. It’s a good way to start the day, plus I was up in time for “bed tea.” Now I have a couple of hours of reading time before sightseeing. Overall it’s been nice having hosts to help me navigate Mumbai. I think tourists would have to book a tour company with a guide or stay in the financial district where there are the typical highrises. From what I’ve seen so far, Mumbai is not a walk-able city, like London, for example.

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The traveling biochemist: A trip to Mumbai, India, Vol. 5

Traveling to the joint Indo-US X-ray crystallography conference in Mumbai

Clay Clark

Clay Clark

I traveled to Mumbai, India, for the first time to attend the joint Indo-US X-ray crystallography conference. This is the fifth blog in a series about the trip.

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In this installment: Jetlag, More about WiFi, Crowds in Mumbai, More Food

Something woke me at 3:30 or so, and I gave up going back to sleep around 4 am. I’ve noticed this before when I’ve traveled to Europe. After 4-5 hours of deep sleep, if something wakes me, then my body thinks that it’s afternoon in Raleigh, and why would I be asleep in the afternoon in Raleigh? Right now it’s about 6:15 pm in Raleigh, so I guess I’m up for the day. It’s going to be a long one.

I think the day will be similar to yesterday – “bed tea,” talks, coffee, talks, lunch, talks, coffee, talks, closing session, dinner. But I’ll fill in the details later. I have to say, though, that I’m starting to like this “bed tea” thing. If they delivered Starbucks coffee as “bed tea,” then I’d be very happy.

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The traveling biochemist: A trip to Mumbai, India, Vol. 4

Traveling to the joint Indo-US X-ray crystallography conference in Mumbai

Clay Clark

Clay Clark

I traveled to Mumbai, India, for the first time to attend the joint Indo-US X-ray crystallography conference. This is the fourth blog in a series about the trip.

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In this installment: Problems with WiFi, Science in India, A “Magical” Professor, and Great Food (of course)

I awoke at 5 am after about six hours of sleep. It was very comfortable temperature-wise. I spent a couple of hours writing the letter for yesterday, then I went to the conference center to send it.

The WiFi room at the center was locked. No problem. I thought that I could stand outside the room and get connected. But, apparently, someone has to turn on the modem for the WiFi. Frack. I just don’t understand the WiFi here. The hotspot has a radius of about 20 feet it seems, and the students are logging people into the network using their personal account passwords and usernames. Since I couldn’t get onto the WiFi right away I went to get some coffee and talk to folks. I’m starting to enjoy the coffee.

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The traveling biochemist: A trip to Mumbai, India, Vol. 3

Traveling to the joint Indo-US X-ray crystallography conference in Mumbai

Clay Clark

Clay Clark

I traveled to Mumbai, India, for the first time to attend the joint Indo-US X-ray crystallography conference. This is the third blog in a series about the trip.

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In this installment: Opening Ceremonies, Hang-ups with Presentations (Mine), the Guesthouse, and Great Food

I will describe the room in the guesthouse later, and I’ll post some pictures so that you know what I’m talking about. But, again, picture an old movie about British India. I was up early because of the time change, but someone rang the doorbell about 6:30 am for “bed tea.” I didn’t have any because I was already drinking the coffee that I brought, and I found out later that it was a good choice on my part. Now, I’ve been to England several times, and I love the tea there, so I thought the tea would be the same here. No. The tea here is a mixture of tea (some), milk (very hot / boiled) and lots of sugar. I found out last night that there are some regions of India where water is a problem (either getting it altogether, or getting it clean), but getting milk is not an issue. So, the milk is boiled, a little tea is added, and the mixture is sweetened with sugar.

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The traveling biochemist: A trip to Mumbai, India, Vol 2


Traveling to the joint Indo-US X-ray crystallography conference in Mumbai

Clay Clark

Clay Clark

I traveled to Mumbai, India, for the first time to attend the joint Indo-US X-ray crystallography conference. This is the second blog in a series about the trip.

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In this installment: The Cab, A Late Night of Wine, Cows on Campus

The cab ride from airport to guesthouse. The cab ride could have been the best selling Disney ride ever! Many times I wanted to put my hands up in the air and scream “Yippee”! There are no, or at least few, stop lights or stop signs. The experience reminded me of Harry Potter’s trip on the night bus, but it was a fascinating experience. At first, I noticed that the cab driver used the horn judiciously, as did every other driver. Later, I decided that using the horn is important to let the other driver know where you are rather than being a rude gesture. There is construction everywhere, and my impression was there they are building rubble on top of rubble. I now understand how archeologists can uncover an ancient city buried in the middle of a modern city. Water flow, sewage, electricity – everything is haphazard. The streets are also full of little cabs – mostly three-wheeled motorcycle-type vehicles that are covered. It seems the top speed for those is about 30 mph. Vehicles are supposed to drive on the left here, but it seems that whatever lane is open is fair game.

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The traveling biochemist: A trip to Mumbai, India, Vol 1

 

Traveling to the joint Indo-US X-ray crystallography conference in Mumbai: Vol 1

Clay Clark

Clay Clark

Although the conference occurred last year, this travelogue predates the blog site, so I thought it might be interesting to describe my travels to India, rather than the scientific sessions. The travelogue will be presented in several sessions.

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In this installment: Getting There

I traveled to Mumbai, India, for the first time to attend the joint Indo-US X-ray crystallography conference. I was able to call my family from half-way around the world (thanks T-Mobile!), but the internet connections, and especially email, were challenging, to say the least. Since I wasn’t able to get online consistently, I decided to blog about the trip and upload it when I could so that you could share in my experience.

When I was a kid, I would get letters in the mail (remember those?) from my dad, who was a naval officer stationed in Europe and the Middle East, and I was always fascinated by his trips. I thought that my own kids might read this and remember the trip when they are adults. In addition, one of the best parts of being a scientist, in my opinion, is getting to travel the world to interact with other scientists. I grew up in a small town in south Georgia (population 200), so traveling to a cIty of 21 million was a big change. I hope that you enjoy the description of my trip to India. The blog will be presented in several installments.

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