Thursday, May 04, 2006

Storms are Abrewing

Beijing has lost a dimension today in a strange half light which occasionally crackles with thunder and lightning. Somehow in the dim fog everything looks like painted cardboard if any more than 20 yards away.

I popped into the office this morning on my way to the canteen to get some lunch. It turns out that the holiday is a sham. At least three quarters of my colleagues are still in work making me look like even more of a slacker than I really am. It genuinely makes me feel bad and that somehow I'm not serious about my work (I don't blame them for this, it's just the situation of working in an alien environment and I have to deal with it). The fact is that I try and have a balance in my life. I attempt to work hard during the days (with the occasional chat on msn to friends and family when they come online) and then evenings and weekends I try to lap up as much of I can of life out here. A national one week holiday seems the perfect time to see friends, sit in cafes and let the mind do some more free thinking. However it appears that for the more serious scientists out here, this is not the case. I can understand that many of them are overburdened with admin work and they clearly fall into my sympathy pile.

I think this is genuinely a cultural difference that I'm still to understand fully. The fact is that the PhD students here work a whole lot harder than we did back in the UK (not all PhD students, but many that I know of). I don't believe however that sitting in an office all year is conducive to producing the best work, but that's just my take on it having been raised in the educational system of my homeland. I did find that the chatting casually in the office back in Southampton about physics and maths was often the best way to really learn the subjects, or at least to explore them in new and interesting directions.

Anyway, enough of that. I will take my break, reading the odd chapter of a paper or physics book here and there and sit back with only mild pangs of conscience.

Having posted a link of my Mother's paintings, today I post a photo of one of my Father's latest bowls. Details of his turning history can be found on his website in the links to the right.


Wrapped up in books said...

I can understand why you feel guilty, but I really do think that everyone deserves a holiday now and again. Enjoy it while you can! P x

Unknown said...

Hi P, yes I quite agree. The feelings of guilt were only temporary and gave way quickly to those of smugness.

J x