Becoming an Introvert

I always assumed I was an extrovert.  I’m quite good at talking to people, even those I don’t know. I can host a party, flitting from group to group like the proverbial butterfly.  I was once even described as ‘bubbly’.  Of course I was an extrovert.  So what if I didn’t particularly like talking to strangers; that was merely a personality quirk born out of switching high-schools.  And that tight feeling high in my stomach before social events was probably indigestion.  It didn’t mean anything.  I knew I was an extrovert.

I was wrong. I am an introvert; I just didn’t realize it until I was well into my twenties. That probably seems like something I should have figured out earlier, but it truly caught me by surprise. I was always sociable and able to talk to anyone, but then when you change high-schools twice, you learn to be friendly real fast. And I guess I just got used to acting like an extrovert.  It wasn’t until a few years ago that I read something about introverts and had my own little epiphany.  All those small things added up. And then the real discovery began.


My own preoccupation with the poshak happened only recently. I had grown up seeing women dressed in the poshak whenever I visited my home state, Rajasthan; yet, it was if I was seeing through them, almost as if viewing them upon a mannequin. I only suddenly desired to wear it when I attended a distant cousin's wedding in the summer of 2010 in Jodhpur. During the musical celebrations, I observed that six of his girl cousins had worn the poshak in multiple marriages of color, texture, and shades: turquoise and rose-pink, lime-green and orange, satin and net, and tie and dye and gold-lurex embroidery. When they moved about the wedding grounds, they appeared like sartorial swans, gracefully separate from the rest of us. Later, as they shimmered and shimmied about on the stage amid the faux and real flowers, traditional Rajasthani musical notes seeping into the hot, monsoon-pregnant air, I felt transported into an alternate, genteel reality.

I decided to get a set made for myself.


If You Apply Powder the Wrong Way

 Marion Erpelding

“If you apply powder the wrong way”, one of the girls said, “it will make you look older”.

Once a month, as female employees of the department of physics, we are invited to have breakfast together, and get to know each other. The department provides food and beverage. We remember to bring our own mugs.

So here we sat, female physicists, at breakfast, talking about make-up. The conversation, actually, was about scientific conferences. What is – someone asked – the best strategy to avoid unsettling questions and acerbic criticism when presenting your research in a lecture hall full of experienced, smart, self-confident colleagues, eighty percent of them also happening to be men?