Sunday, October 31


so I'm at this conference, supposedly to give me fresh ideas for research, mix and mingle with peers and bigwigs in academia and generally become known in the academic community.

Yeah right.

The stark reality for this and most other conferences is that sitting in on the presentations is an exercise in self-restraint. I'm hanging out with various people and one guy from Freiburg actually reminded me of an ill-fated Physics class from nearly a decade ago. Not to put too fine a point to it, he fell asleep and started snoring during a presentation. Ethical dilemma. Evil thoughts warring with sympathy. The sleeping Teuton attracted glances that were pure comedy. Somewhere between horror, distaste, amusement and disbelief. Sometimes more than one emotion on the same face. I wanted some comic relief right ? Then again, I know this guy, albeit only for a few days. Surely he didn't want to be forever branded as the chap who fell asleep at the conference ? (I'm sure he wouldn't be the first, though).

In the middle of all this, there is the inevitable socializing and pressing of flesh. Ugh. I get the distinct impression that professorial types do a lot of this because I watched several work the crowd with the practiced ease of politicians kissing babies. Ugh again.

Fortunately, the sightseeing excuse can be used to either wander around Kathmandu (which is like Kandy; but slightly colder... and people use a different language; if that makes sense) or channel-surf satellite TV from the hotel room. Take it too far though, and the supervisor asks if you've been at various talks and you have to creatively fluff your way through. I suppose I've been cutting a few talks, eh ? Never mind. I had more fun wandering around and ducking into places and trying local foodstuff.

Kathmandu has been fun. No Maoists in sight so far. The military types (who look even younger than the troops garrisoned in Colombo) are just armed with shotguns. Not even one of the ubiquitious Chinese T model assault rifles to be seen. Nothing much to buy here either (forget about Kathmandu tshirts, bah). Everyone seems to think the word Everest in the name will be a big draw. Maybe they're right at that. But I don't want an Everest tshirt, goddammit, I want a Kathmandu tshirt. Is that so fricking hard ? No, I don't want a knockoff Tommy Hilfiger either, thank you very much for asking.


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