As fate would have it, I am in the same subfield of electrical engineering as my father, namely Information Theory, but even within this subfield we are not in the same sub-subfield. This leads to endless frustation for me nowadays; having been used to babbling to him various technical points and tidbits until this point, I am abruptly cut off now that I have my own agenda that doesn’t fit neatly into the undergraduate and beginning graduate curriculum. I’ve been on a crutch for the last 24 years. It’s not that I ask him lots of questions or he demystifies for me things that I wouldn’t otherwise have figured out, but the comfort of being able to explain technical things to someone who understands is gone. Talking to my advisor about my little points of misunderstanding is a waste of his time. Talking to my father about them is somehow less guilt-inducing.
Now, when I explain my research to him in an attempt to figure out what I’m doing wrong, I have to start from the basics. Which is good in its own way, but that little “wasting other people’s time” guilt kicks in now. It’s kind of sad to me, but that’s a part of moving on I guess. I still hope to someday co-author a paper with him, it for no other reason than for the fun of seeing it as “Sarwate and Sarwate.” As Lucky from Waiting for Godot says “only time will tell.”