The relationship-research similarity

by Ravi Tandon

Okay, so this is some set of observations that I have made over all these “lonely years” yearning for either of the two paths to lead to me to some kind of “success“. The rules of the game are similar.

In a relationship you start off by finding a soulmate, research is initiated by finding a research problemWhile the former involves meeting around a lot of girls, the former requires you to read up a lot of research articles (and I am pretty sure both are awfully complex). Once, you’ve met enough number of girls you figure out that they’ve already been hit upon by a large bunch of unloved dudes much better than you and you start giving up the fruitless venture. Oh, and then you read up papers and find yeah, a lot of those nasty researchers have been scarred by the same ideas.


The pickup line is kind of the whole birth-idea of the project, the idea that sells it and comes to bite you back later on. Neither any pickup line is ever a new one, and very rarely any successful idea is. You just need to find the right (sufficiently naive) audience (girl) to sell your idea to. That is what most of the smart dudes (researchers) are doing.

As you “progress” along comes the horrible struggle of surviving with the research problem and a girl (I imagine) is no less than that. There are peaks of happiness and continuous troughs of adjustments (read “utter-sorrows“). Eventually, you find the hidden issues with the problem and the relationship kind of goes haywire.

You then start talking to your friends (peers in the research community) and figure out, oh yes, even their relationships (ideas) are kind of screwed up as they swam into the sea. Then there are the parents, in-laws (the advising committee) to pacify, the girl to satisfy with her whims and fancies. Well the advisor would always believe either your problem or the path you took was wrong and parents (in India) are no different.

Eventually, you start running out of time for yourself. And start asking yourself is that what you really wanted. The dropout conundrum (breakup syndrome) is so common in the grad school that if you haven’t considered you have not faced the real music. There are thoughts of abandoning the research project since those other problems make you feel more simpler, up and until you try them. You start considering should I drop out (take a break) and then there are your married cousins, friends (all the graduated lot – I call them the rescuers) that advise you against it, not because that is going to make your life any happier, but because you have already screwed up big time and now there is no turning back. Getting a job at 30 is what it would be like getting a girl (in India) – and you realize the 22 year olds have already been there done that. So, a synthesized sense of satisfaction (or the perception of happiness) is what you start believing in and sail along the sea.

The social networking is parallel to your conferences/journal, where after a successful endeavor you “selectively” put forth what you managed to make a bunch of other losers even more unhappier and the likes/shares well those are more like the citations, no one really reads these papers yet one likes them so you read theirs too.

Eventually, the thesis is the marriage. Even if all your attempts fail your parents(read your advisor) pushes you off with the thesis and you are left wondering did I or didn’t I (of course, succeed)  ?

I would not really want to get into what a best paper would be similar to !!

(I guess I should get back hitting on ideas now :P)