Grumpy Old Man

And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.
- Abraham Lincoln

"Dear Professor Poudyal, We are pleased to inform you that we have received your manuscript and that it has been sent out for review", those were the opening words of an email that I received recently from a secretary of the editor of a reputed journal, where I had submitted a paper co-authored with my profs. (the real ones!). This was not the first time I had been mistaken for a professor or a senior research fellow. A couple of months ago, I had submitted an earlier version of the same paper for a conference and the acknowledgement email also started with "Dear Professor Poudyal". A month or so before that, I had a mail in my pigeon-hole that was addressed to some "Dr. Poudyal", which was ME apparently! In all these cases, I replied with an email explaining I was not a Prof. nor a Dr., but merely a PhD candidate, and that just in my first year!

If I meet somebody for the first time after some extended period of correspondence via email or other means, their first reaction would generally be "Are you really Mr Poudyal? I thought you would be a bit older". Its not just the foreigners who have such perceptions about my age, I have been treated with exactly the same reaction from my Nepali colleagues as well. I am glad to say, however, that I have not had to prove my identity (that I am really a young researcher) on such occasions! And this case of mistaken identity, or rather mistaken age, is not anymore new to me. Nonetheless, I often ponder why. And the only reason that I could think of is the way I write/correspond with those people, with my "proper English" that we were taught in high school and colleges in Nepal - grammatically correct, immaculate sentence construction, and those gentlemanly addressings and closings, with "dear sir/madam"s and "yours sincerely"s, and with lots of "thankful"s, "grateful"s and "could you please"s in between! But those are the norms in formal correspondence anyway, is it not? So why am I sounding that old? OR may be the youths of my generation do not correspond the way I do! But I cannot imagine them writing an email or a letter to the editor of a journal that goes like - "Hello there, I am sending 'this paper' to your journal and expect to hear from you by 'this time'". Sounds a bit dodgy and disrespectful to me!

Anyway, I actually started thinking (again) about this today when I saw Zade's comment on my blog, where she says I seem to be a "Bhadrapurush" (actually, she has been calling me "intellectual" and what not for a bit but "Bhadrapurush" really made me think about these things again 🙂 !).... Well, I should first thank Zade for being such a kind soul, but that also rang a bell within, which said "mp, you are again being mistaken for someone old...really old!", which obviously makes you wonder if nothing else.... Well, oldness is a relative thing, so compared to Zade and her generation, I'm a bit old at 27 but I find it hard to visualise myself as an old (gentle)man, which is what "Bhadrapurush" sounds like or is it really that?! Anyway, I really have no problem with people perceiving me as an old-wise-man, quite the contrary. I actually quite enjoy surprising them turning up a young short fellow with so much expectations (from those people) on my shoulders. Then again, when you are mistaken so often for some old person with lots of experience of life, work and this world, it really makes you feel uncomfortable, for you do really try hard to fill that perceived old-wise-man's shoes - quite often unsuccessfully.

Nevertheless, life has been immensely kind to me so far, and although I haven't achieved even a tiny bit of what many of my own age have achieved, I don't have much complaints, regrets or dissatisfactions. I have been a student (I mean school-student) all my life, and even when I complete all my degrees, that's what I will continue to be - just a student. As for being old, we all grow older and hopefully, a bit wiser too. But, as they say, when you reach the top, there is nowhere to go but come back down. So, I personally think it would be wise to be a very lousy climber (which I really am!), learning at every steps and every mistakes all my life than be an old-wise-man, an expert climber standing on a pedestal, some mountain top, from where there is only one way to go - fall down. Well, I don't want to end this sounding like a pessimist....being wise-old-men must be cool, but lot of them turn out to be grumpy-old-men instead, which I wouldn't want to be either....or am I already being grumpy here?! 🙂

Lets leave that grumpy-old business now. I must thank Zade again for stirring me to write today's post, and for taking time reading my "mindless musings" and even leaving comments! I quite liked her last line, which said - "Je hos aba aja lai yeti, baki arko patra ma!". Should I be waiting for a "patra"? 😉

4 thoughts on “Grumpy Old Man

  1. ZaDe

    LOL :)now, me inspiring a Bhadrapurush 😉 like you to write a post! That is something I count as an achievement. Hmm..27 I have a fren of the same age and I tell him " You are Toooooooo Old".Hahaha but I won't tell you that! I am already catching up 🙂 n morever too many people already seem to be mistaking doing that! But being Prof Poudyal must be kool!Btw the way you write poudyal is really different, a fren of my who writes it the similar way was like this guy must be someway related to me! Opps, sorry for my mindless chatter. You must be what was that! hehehe

    Aba patra leknu ta mero biseshta nai ho..moreover when I have a cute face winking for a patra LOL I can't help it!
    and this..
    although I haven't achieved even a tiny bit of what many of my own age have achieved
    is what I say a psycho dialogue! hmm not flattering but was going through all ur pics, ur cv and all and I told the same Toooooooooo Old Pal of mine! hahahaha this is exactly what I would like to be when 27..I mean look at you you've seen the world, ur qualifications ta..I have no words..You sure do inspire howde ketis like me n ketas too! I wish I could put it decently in a formal manner like "Dear Prof Poudyal" 😉 I went through ur cv, about yourself...sort but sorry I can't :(..but its the truth. Sacchi.
    I won't do more bakwash or u may be inspired to write more psycho statements..hehehe...Tehi pani faleko briksha kahile cha ra nahuhi raheko! 🙂 yeti ta howde keti harulai pani thaha huncha! Wish you all the best to be a Grumpy:wink: Kool Old Man that Rocks! LOL
    Baki Arko Patra Mahakavya ma!!
    This might already be working as Comment Overdose! Hope not 🙂
    Loved reading the post.
    Tata Soon to be Young and energetic Dr. Poudyal! 🙂

  2. mahesh

    Thanks a lot for the patra...and no worries about comment overdose, in fact I quite enjoyed reading it! And, you can write as informally as you please here. This is a space for straight-talk and you don't have to worry about misplaced phrases or misspelled words 🙂 As for my psycho dialogue, I had no idea that would be considered as such...but I'm also chuffed to bits to hear that I inspire "howde" people out there. However, I would be interested to know what constitutes being howde thesedays, as you have placed yourself as one!! 🙂

    Well, I think you have all the time in the world to do what I have managed AND MORE by the time you reach 27. So, best wishes with that!! Salut!

  3. Zade

    Hahahah 🙂 Well for starters "Howdes" don't "Salute" other lallus ( hope u get it) hahaha.. and aba pahile tapain jasto haun ani baki dekhka jayega!! 😉
    Btw the "Red Rose though not in your backyard" is babbal...seems like 27 yr old have the universal "hamara no. kab aayega woe"! 😉
    yo chahin choto mitho patra 🙂

  4. mr. witt

    well, a couple of things come to mind.

    1) its fun knowing someone who blogs about things i cannot begin to understand. to think that i used to think that i kept up with you in our conversations. i think you had to limp along to make me feel good. (some indicators should have set me off: you conversing well with my bro' who is in some ways far more worldly than i... plus, those wicked-ass beans you cook!)

    2) sometimes i DO read your posts and think "wow, who the heck wrote these - they sound so professional". which is a compliment (i hope) and makes me feel somewhat inadequate. my excuse is that prolonged sleep deprivation and stress associated with my (wonderful) brat probably can be blamed for much of it. at any rate, a blog by me would not be nearly so impressive. i am duly impressed. keep it up, i may just learn something or be spurred to action. (though not likely given my spare time lately...)

    3) one of my schmucky (see, this is why i will never sound as professional as you, words like this. plus no capitals and haphazard punctuation;.) jobs just before REM (and during the first semester - like i need the extra work) was Assistant to (an) Editor for Behavioural Ecology (a fair-decent journal in its field). i was the front man and did all the correspondence - much of it of my own creation, and the rest verbatim what i was told/given. the default i/we had was to assume that EVERYONE was a prof. because a) noone is offended at being elevated, though often perplexed, and b) some are VERY offended at not being given the proper honourific (is that a word?). and i did occasionally offend people, but usually liked to blame the boss.

    4) how long after a posting has gone up do you give up reading responses? i am terrible at visiting websites with any regularity, so am always behind the curve... well, unless its boing-boing!

    hey, that was fun, even if late, and rambling and probably off topic. but its fairly late here and i don't want to work on my contract right now because of my headache and im rambling so now i will go and wait for my email that you promised but really have every right not to send for weeks and weeks and weeks.

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