Friday, March 07, 2008

Refluxing life--Sunday Scribblings

In any field, experiments play a major role, more so in the science subjects. For someone who did post graduation in Chemistry, those stinky experiments became the norm of student life. A moment comes when you don't feel the stink. You just get used to it. In my graduation and post graduation studies, our friends from other departments shunned us soon after our practical periods. We were desensitized but they were not. Can anyone forget the pippetes, burettes, many shaped flasks? Burners? Test-tubes?

And the 3-4 hours refluxes, which gave us plenty of time to play hooky. We used to set our apparatus for refluxing whatever was needed to be done and go out for three to four hours. We had such fun visiting canteens, or just walking around the campus, even movies, secure in the knowledge that we have plenty of time to get back to the laboratory. The best part of studying Chemistry, I think!

In Delhi University, the Chemistry faculty is adjacent to the Physics faculty. Everyone knows by the stink where one ends and the other starts. One can always find Hydrogen Sulfide gas being prepared outside the lab. This gas stinks of rotten eggs. Mention H2S, I can still smell it. Our hands were variedly hued by handling all the chemicals. Most of us shunned gloves unless it was something very dangerous. Even now I like doing Chemistry lab work. I prefer it to Physics and Biology ones. You see, along with Maths, I teach sciences too.

31 comments:

keith hillman said...

I can smell it from here! Great little piece as always

Robin said...

Your post reminds me of the fun I had playing around in the basement with my childhood chemistry set. I loved turning things different colors.

Devil Mood said...

Oh school..my post is about school too. :)
Disappearing during classes was one of my favourite things hehe
The Chemistry seems too far away now, I didn't follow that scientific branch of studies.

LittleWing said...

a whole different world... so refluxing is some sorta "baking time" for results... and the scents that's interesting... shows how we truly are affected by scents...

UL said...

i hated chemistry with a vengence...loved math and physics, i majored in one. But chem, boy was I glad when I could give it up. Though my best friend majored in Chemistry and I often wonder how we hit it off :) your post brought back so many memories

Donn said...

I always thought that You and I had a little chemistry goin'?
*wink wink

Remiman said...

gautami,
Ah, chemistry, I must confess, was my least favorite subject. It had nothing to do with the smells though, I actually enjoyed the labs on occassion but the class room memorization bored me to death. Physics on the other hand could occupy my interest for hours.
I also consider every piece of writing I do to be an experiment .
rel

myrtle beached whale said...

great minds think alike again. Chemistry and odors this time.

Within Without said...

Gautami:

I can't tell you how much I enjoyed visiting your blog and seeing a post like this!

As much as I love and admire your poetry, I loved hearing you actually tell a story like this, in real conversational English.

I was a chemistry, physiology and math imbecile, but I loved biology and the nature of things.

I just didn't have the mathematical understanding to go into the sciences.

I wish I had.

I'd love to hear more about your teaching experiences on a day-to-day basis, if that's something you'd like to do.

You're a multi-tasking communicator, writing poetry and now this, which I really enjoyed.

I'd love to hear more. Teachers are among the people in any life, in any culture, who are most to be admired, in my book.

tumblewords said...

Experimenting in chemistry is a wild time. I remember a couple of my dumber attempts to find the elixir of life when the only happening was a big burn hole in my fave skirt. Experiments. Phooey. Nice post, Gautami!

Tammy said...

I really admire scientific study and you really seem to enjoy it. I hope you teach many future scientists. ;)

Sherry ~ Cherie ~ ms. herbes de provence said...

Never having been much of a science student I can definitely say it was "stinky"!! LOL!! Though I understand your use of the word stinky -- and I can still smell my science classrooms all these years later!! It takes a special person and a special stomach to become involved in and love science!

anthonynorth said...

I must admit, I prefer the chemistry of words.
Nay! Alchemy :-)

DJPare said...

I like the smell of this piece!

Becca said...

Although I was a horrible chemistry student, I still recall that distinctive smell from the lab in my high school. At least it isn't quite as bad as the formaldehyde from biology! Yech!

Great post :)

paisley said...

wow gautami... is there nothing you can't do.. this was a lovely piece.... very personal....

Linda Jacobs said...

I loved this peek at your personal life! Great word choices, too!

polona said...

unlike you, i never liked school in any form. but your fluent writing makes it sound like great fun.

j.c. montgomery said...

After reading this I am beginning to think that recalling memories is almost as good, if not better, than making them.

I just love visiting here.You give me so much to think about, thank you.

sister AE said...

This reminded me of the smells from the Chemistry II class in my high school. I didn't take it, but several of my friends did and it was a small school. One particular week the whole 1st floor reeked!

My own chemistry work now is largely limited to stain removal and cooking.

Greyscale Territory said...

I was a horrible chemsitry student at school too. But I still remember the huge "stink cupboard" that never seemed to be able to deal with rotten egg case. The smell even seemed to linger in clothes, hair andeven the skin!

Great post bringing back old old memories!

Gemma

Lilibeth said...

Chemistry labs. They are the only thing that saved my chemistry grade. I never understood the math part, so my tests were shaky, but in the labs I shone. I did all the dirty work while my lab partner did the math. she couldn't handle the smells and the "risks". It worked for both of us. There is a picture of me in the high school annual pouring some stuff in a bowl and producing masses of purple smoke. They wanted her in the picture (the top student and all) but she wouldn't do it. Sometimes the "top student" isn't the best one.

Lucy said...

thanks to you and Myrtle beach, I may never eat eggs again!

Amarettogirl said...

This was a really different piece than much of the writing (poetry) I've read of yours before! Nice Job and thanks for reminding me of that sulphuric smell!

JanePoe (aka Deborah) said...

Great story ... thanks for the peak into your academic life! JP/deb

amy said...

I love getting this little window into a whole different kind of life - and love thinking of those very serious chemistry students out there playing hooky!

sarala said...

Chemistry. I remember those days. Something nasty smelling cooking in a flask. The time I got a whiff of too much ether.
Did you ever hear this silly poem? Somehow it popped into my head.

Little Timmy took a drink,
But he will drink no more,
For what he thought was H2O,
Was H2SO4.

smtwngrl said...

Thanks for stopping by, and thanks for sharing a bit of your life's experiments with us!

Heather said...

Great post! Really fun getting this little peek into your life. Almost makes me wish I'd tried a little harder in chemistry... almost. lol

I'm running behind on visits this week, so really appreciate you stopping by. Thanks!

CHEFDRUCK said...

Takes you back to those university days. Amazing how smell brings you right back. nicely done.

freesherry said...

I studied chem in school.. and I don't know why.. but it was my favourite lab.. the smells and the colours just always made me feel so dreamy..