On virgins and water purifiers.

The Millipore is an important instrument in any biology laboratory. It does one thing- takes tap water, stuffs it through half a dozen expensive filters, zaps it with electricity and other shit I don’t know about to spit out super-duper clean water. Millipore water has nothing in it except water. If you thought mineral water is pure, you have to see this. It is so pure that it’s unhealthy.

The water scientists have classified water into three types based on purity, imaginatively called type one, two and three. The Millipore machine can make type two and three. Type-three water is used in experiments where even a few stray ions can screw up your experiment, subsequently screwing the poor guy doing the experiment. Type two is used to make media and normal reagents. Type one is plain municipal-corporation purified tap water.

So as you can see the Millipore is extremely important.

My research department has a Millipore. It is very expensive (Considering the budget of the department) and costs half a million rupees (so I am told). It also needs a UPS because our department does not have continuous power. This costs another fifty thousand rupees.  The department has not brought this. There is a plan though for getting one but by the time this plan works out the Millipore may be out of service and the UPS will be of no use. And since the UPS was sanctioned for the Millipore it would not be used for anything else and it will be left to rot. The computer lab which needs a UPS will have to wait for its own too come and by that time the computers grow old and thus the vicious circle continues.

If you investigate this occurrence you will find that the delay is no one’s fault. The head would have approved the order that some poor student who actually needs water for his/her experiment is begging for, the office has passed on the approval, the quotes are being sent and everything is going according to “procedure”. But somewhere everything gets held up and nothing happens fast enough. Actually you cannot blame anyone for the matter of the Millipore; the system itself is the problem. Hell, even I the great AntibioTick am part of the system.

This is what happens when research is the bastard child of academics and bureaucracy.

Indian bureaucracy is not a kill-or-be-killed kind of environment. It is more of a live-and-let-live-but-I’ll-be-dammed–if-you-will-get-anything-done kind of environment. Whether it is better than a kill-or-be- killed environment is a matter of opinion.

A result of these shenanigans between bureaucracy and academia is that there is no UPS to keep the Millipore on when there is a power cut. The Millipore shuts down often because of that the pressure gauge does not work. The AntibioTick needs to make sure the overhead tank is full all the time to keep the pressure right. The Millipore does not start up in a flash because it is only meant to start up once when it was installed. It actually gives a really hard time while starting up, you have to go at it time and again to turn it on, and the manual does not help. What was the secret to turning it on?

It took a long time to figure out the secret. But once I did I immediately understood why the fact was not in the manual. After all in science we at least have to pretend to be scientific, at least on paper.

Here is the secret. The table that the Millipore is standing on has to be kicked (gently) with the bare heel of a virgin. I found that out because my friend sparrow-girl had come to pay me a visit and give me some radioisotopes to eat which she had stolen from the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre. While I was trying to get the damn machine started, she was leaning on the table, since she wears flip flops her heel touched the leg and bingo, the machine started.

The same thing happened with my friend the crow. So it only matters is that whether you are a virgin or not, gender is not an issue.

My friend the penguin had to kick it many times before it started, but that is because he had fooled around with his girlfriend but not gone all the way and the machine was working out the technicalities of the issue.

I invited the duck to give it a try but she refused, maybe she did not want anyone to know she is not a virgin.

I was going give the data with the stats and everything here, but I am withholding it because I want to publish and I do not want all you plagiarising bastards out there to pinch my potential Nature publication. (Hey, I can hope. They haven’t turned it down yet)

But the good thing is that now all ye frustrated juniors who are in charge of Millipore’s, you know how to get them started. All you need is a virgin with a heel. (Of course there may be some places where virgins may be hard to find like the red light area in Bangkok so hard luck in that case (pun not intended but then, why the hell would there be a Millipore in the red light area of Bangkok? And if there was who would be paying attention to it?)

One thing remains is about the service guy that goes around installing the Millipores, he was not a virgin (I know for a fact that he is married and has kids) and he had no virgin assistants around so what did he do? I found out just recently, I was visiting the botany department on a seminar (actually to check out the girls) and I met the service guy. Since I was in my tick form hidden in the rafters he could not see me. But he told everyone to go for lunch and when they did (He did the exact same thing at the department) he looked around furtively, took a bleeding foot out of his bag and touched the table with it. The Millipore started and he stuffed the foot back into the bag. He could barely hide the evil grin on his face before everyone else came back in for the demo.

I crawled away shuddering at the evil that resides within science.

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About Chandrakant Redican

A researcher and teacher based in Pune, India,
This entry was posted in Fiction, Life in general, Opinion, Satire and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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