Cognitive Dissonance

Recently, I was posed with a huge mental dilemma. A supposed friend induced a kind of cognitive dissonance in my mind. I’ll call him Instigator. In essence, he questioned the entire existence of my relationship with my boyfriend, a thought that just wouldn’t have come to my mind on its own, a thought I argued relentlessly upon. In addition he so stubbornly and righteously wanted to imprint the idea in my mind, it put me in a situation I would never want to get back into, ever again. Why did I even pay heed to his actions?

This was the very person who wanted to be friends with me. Apparently I have a likable personality. He on the other hand, does not. From an act of kindness, I though he deserved my friendship and that I should help him come out of his social anxiety. Altruistic tendencies. The Ben Franklin effect further suggested, that because I decided to help him in the first place, I would keep helping him, and keep being friendly, solely based on the thought that I would only have helped him if I had liked him in the first place. Kind of a way to resolve cognitive dissonance.

This Instigator tried to nudge me towards another guy who had developed affectionate feelings for me. I’ll call him the Other Guy. Oh, he also nudged Other Guy towards me. The whole situation turned into a complicated mess, which could have been avoided, had the Instigator not tried to interfere.

So here I was, in a situation, where I was made to question my relationship, even though I was happy with the sweet equilibrium that it was at. I would have continued to, if external agents hadn’t caused me to think otherwise. It caused immense emotional disturbance to me, and I admit I did not resolve the situation in the best way possible. Nevertheless, I’m trying to make amends. Apparently there were 4 ways in which I could have resolved this conflict:

  1. Change behavior or cognition (Avoiding the Instigator and Other Guy)
  2. Justify behavior or cognition by changing the conflicting cognition (Assuming it’s possible and okay to like two guys at once)
  3. Justify behavior or cognition by adding new cognitions (Maintaining interest in Other Guy, and compensating by putting extra effort into my relationship with my boyfriend)
  4. Ignore or deny any information that conflicts with existing beliefs (Simply ignoring the whole conflict)

I think unknowingly, I tried 4,3,2 in various stages of my confusion.  However, ultimately, I went with 1. Pretty sure it’s the right decision to stick with.

I stopped talking to Instigator and Other Guy, which makes sense theoretically, as humans tend to avoid situations that cause or increase dissonance. However, Instigator, I’m sure, assumes I’m doing him wrong, when he was only trying to ‘help’ (read: control) my life for my better. He does not yet understand why I am ignoring him.

The very fact that he doesn’t realize it, makes it simple enough for me to make the decision.

Fortunately, I’m out of the Forbidden Forest now, happily making Harry Potter references, thanks to my boyfriend who saved and picked me up in a flying Ford Anglia. He works with the Aurors, by the way, so he is the coolest. I hope he’ll take Ben Franklin’s advice and continue being cool to me.

That’s perhaps all the thought that I can devote to something so absurd and inexplicable.

The Cohabitation Principle

Today I was in a dilemma. My roommate (roommate #1) who is overweight (okay, borderline obese) was snoring extremely loudly. Tired from focusing extra hard on convex optimization today, I need(ed) a good night’s sleep.  Since a girl from the other room in my apartment is out of town, I came to this room to try my luck at achieving peaceful sleep. What I didn’t realize was that I’d be entrusted with a real life unbounded optimization problem.

Roommate #2 from this room prefers to talk to her fiance 12 hours out of 24.  Which also includes unearthly hours such as three quarters past 12 at night.

Which puts me in a conundrum. Periodic loud snoring or aperiodic loud ramblings. I chose the later, but mostly because I really didn’t want to bother moving my bedding back.

However from the perspective of humanity, roommate #1 seems to be better. At least she wasn’t snoring on purpose.

Of course, the moral of the story and what Darwin would suggest is, survival of the fittest. I should somehow be able to adapt to late night disturbances. The catch however is that I don’t see how I’m going to stay fit if I don’t get enough sleep.

The solution? I’m currently blasting my ears with music. It sure helps drown your surroundings, but currently I hope that more literally than figuratively.


I moved back to my room. The ramblings had become periodic and the snoring has subsided. I had always suspected that Roommate #1 was more considerate.

Pre-Menstrual Synchrony

Apparently women staying in close proximity, have synchronized menstrual cycles. Practically, that just means problematic toilet functionality. However, the real problem arises when their PMS synchronizes. That just means screaming, wailing, sweet craving and incessant fights with boyfriends, in which the boyfriends simply must be blamed for everything wrong in life. ALL AT THE SAME TIME!

As my roommate wails about her relationship issues to her boyfriend on her phone, while another having recently got her marriage fixed with a guy that her parents like, in spite of her having a boyfriend, my woes seem simply incomparable. Which is good, cause the only way I feel happy about my life is when I see that I have it better than others. Seemingly the only way I can stay happy is if I’m above everyone else. Or at least a majority.

So, my roommate wants to get married to her boyfriend. The problem is, his mom doesn’t like her. Why? She is fat and short. Meanwhile, her parents are completely on board with the idea of them getting married. Touchy subject normally, but currently, she’s PMSing, so basically her entire world seems perturbed. (Side note, not to be judgmental, but do guys find fat girls attractive? I have never personally been obese per say. Overweight at max, and I am close to achieving a slimmer frame.)

And because PMS makes everything feel so heightened, she must ask her boyfriend about where their relationship is going. She also came up with a gem of a dialogue straight out of a Bolly movie: “You want to keep your parents happy and I want to keep mine happy, which means we can’t keep each other happy.”. Classic. Of course, the quintessential, “where is the relationship going?” and “I’m not happy with the way things are but I’ll have to accept them anyway” keep cropping up, which makes me believe that every god damn relationship sounds way too similar. Relationships are so generic.

Everyone’s also worried about their careers going nowhere. For the first time, I am getting to know people from a non-science or non-engineering background, and it’s amazing. In my new apartment, there are girls from hotel management, architecture and fashion backgrounds. Even though they all come from a non-academics oriented background, they all still seem to have very similar lives. Same kind of problems. Puts mine in perspective.

P.S. I just overheard her screaming “I don’t hate her”. Her boyfriend’s mom of course. Pretty sure his mom says the same thing about my roommate. Also, girls can act so extremely needy sometimes. Also, chocolate companies should bank on this.

What Nerds Do

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything nerdy. I guess I’m losing touch with that side of me. So here’s a nerdy post about what different nerds do.

I work in a research lab focusing on signal processing. That’s the most applied yet theoretical field out there. Nerds swarm towards this field. So it’s obvious that I notice specific types of nerds in my lab.

Recently it was made clear to me that the power of observation goes a long way and can prevent me from getting into icky situations. So….

1. The observer: he notices the things around him. He’s hard working and dedicated. He keeps to himself and yet knows more about everyone than you can imagine. One fine day, he will come to you and reveal something so obvious, you would think it was a John Green rehash of a John Green book (nerdfighters get it. His books have a very obvious prose that keeps repeating in all of his books).

2. The annoyingly secretive person who makes sly remarks and thinks he/she is above all the madness: The aloof bitch. Most generally a girl. Passes snooty comments and has an attitude problem.

3. The spontaneously random ones: Geeks whose thought processes are so random, they are often synchronized. They also talk in annoying Morse code that only they understand.

4. The overworked pro: Will stay overnight if needs to, to finish his project. Every project is a dream to work on, for him. Learning is fun. The want to prove himself persistent.

5. The confused soul: who wants to be all of these and can be too.

6. The one who is just there for the recommendation: I would have said money, but research has none.

7. The insightful: give him any problem and he’ll figure out a way around it.

8. The chilled out one: probably stressed out with life, he smokes up a joint and leaves his problems behind. Research statement included.

9. The perfectionist: All work and no play make Jack a dull boy with PhD offers from top universities.

Friendly or Plain Annoying?

I have been sharing a room with 2 other girls, after I moved into a new city (I should be able to move into a 2 sharing facility today/tomorrow). While one of them talks incessantly with her boyfriend, the other tries to be friendly, but comes out plain annoying. Here’s listing #AnnoyingThingsMyRoommateDoes

1. Every morning, after I come out from the bathroom after a bath, she asks me if the water is hot. Ummm. It’s cold here in the mornings. It has been 15 days since I’ve moved here. Not once have I bathed in cold water. Common sense suggests that the water is indeed hot. Asking me won’t make it hotter.

2. Every time I come back late, either due to work or because I was out with friends, I have to face a multitude of questions… “How many of you were there?” “Where does the other girl stay?” “You had work?” And the most frequent of them all … “Did you get the bus?” (Which I blatantly lie about, because I walk back home… I need to shed a few kilos).

3. Initial days were the toughest, when my food practices were questioned. I do not come from a place where rice is eaten for every meal. So no, I do not have an appetite for 3 full cups of rice, nor should I develop one, unless I want a high risk of diabetes. Stop questioning my intake.

4. Stop looking at me when you have nothing to do… It’s creepy and there’s only so much I can stare at on my phone screen.

5. I don’t speak the local language. Both of my roommates do. But I can positively figure out, if you’re talking about me in front of me. It doesn’t help your cause, that you speak an anglicised version of it.

6. Geez, you have lemon water with “saaalt” every morning and yet you don’t know that refined rice is not good if you’re trying to diet?

7. You hate your job. Okay. Try for a better one? Maybe don’t miss so many interviews and do good with life. Medical leaves exist for a reason.

8. You walk slower than a turtle.

P.S: apologize for the change in third person view to second person view. I just went with the flow.


I’m finally out of my house, and in a new city, pursuing what will hopefully take me a step closer to my goals. I stay in a Paying Guest accommodation and make just enough to survive decently while saving up money for college applications for MS-PhD. I have been thrust a good research problem statement (that quite frankly, I’m struggling to understand right now), which, if I work diligently for, would result in good future prospects. Of course, it is just the start of something new, and there are way too many things to get adjusted to before anything starts making sense. So here are a few things I started, after I came here.

1. Dieting. Yes. I put on a lot of weight last year, being depressed, confused and fed by a mother who thinks that the only way her efforts will be validated is if I enjoy her food in copious amounts. Also, I happen to be an emotional eater, so that simply does not help.

Anyhow, since times have changed, I’m looking forward to lead a healthier life. Hope to lose weight and the blubber around my waist, that is supposed to be called a belly. Plus, it’s easy to go on diet when you’re poor wannabe grad student.

2. Exercise: Well, exercise and diet go hand in hand. Also, I’m poor and I do not want to take the bus to my work place. So I walk about 5-6 km daily on an average. It’s not the best use of time and effort, but it sure tests my perseverance, considering that the route I take to walk back home practically consists of restaurants and stalls catered towards college going crowds.


I am planning to buy a bike though, cause it would be a lot more efficient.

3. Culture Adjustment: It’s a new place with a new language. Having stayed all my life in places where I understood the main language of communication, this is just something that’s difficult to adjust to. Also the food. These guys just eat a hell lot of rice.  News flash: there are other cereals.

4. Direction: I do sense a lot more defined direction to my life. Till now, I was never able to see past the horizon that is the final year of college. But now that I’m going to be graduating, I see my options far more clearly.

5. Money: I feel a great deal of independence, finally being paid for my work. Which also means, I’m not used to it. I do not know how to work towards deadlines, or working towards a research statement, knowing that I will be paid for my contributions towards the project. Which means I need to contribute in a real way, some way or the other. A responsibility, I have never been thrust with.

6. Relationship: I’m finally living in the same city as my boyfriend! Albeit 15 km away. But still! I get to visit him on the weekends! Thought it’s not all rainbows and bubbles, cause I end up spending a lot more money than I intend to. Being in a couple sure is expensive!

So far, it’s been just about 2 weeks, but I already like it here. Hopefully there are more positive changes to follow. More blog entries about this to follow!