Many years ago, after finishing my residency, I decided to become a researcher. Around the same time, I went home to India for a visit. In those days, one of the standard accoutrements found in the living room of a Tamil Brahmin home was a wooden swing. My grandfather was still alive then and would occupy the swing each night. I remember once sitting by his side during this postprandial ritual. We sat swinging peaceably, no doubt immersed in our own thoughts, when he turned and asked, in his typically bellicose manner, "So what are you doing in America?" "Research on the molecular biology of the mouse major histocompatibility antigens," I replied. "Research!" he bellowed. "Research? How old are you now?" I was about 24 then and told him so. "Nonsense," he said. "You are too old to be doing the research."

As I get closer to the age he...

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