from washington to boston (and back)

E's already given yous a picture of how things were at the SmallRegionalConference. Let me now contribute my bit:

I've become a transportation snob to the extent that I don't want to ride around on Greyhound anymore. I remember a time when I spent 14 days, off and on the bus, making my way around the American South. Not any more. I took the train up and back.

At least the train inspectors don't make me move aside and stand around, in bare feet, while they go root through my bags. That always happens to me when I'm taking the plane. I wonder why? It's not like I look dodgy, is it?

Being able to stay in a marvellous apartment with books and CDs lining the walls. Even the loo had a huge bookshelf (and a glass roof). I was tempted to linger in the loo. And, there were comics! Tintin comics! And plants everywhere! I have a crush on an apartment.

The conference itself was not much different to other conferences--people grouped up, schmoozed (a new term I picked up) and hung out with their mates. I didn't hang around there too much--I didn't network, though I did hang out with different groups of TUWSNBN people; I worried about life back in DC (and didn't get into the Conference-ing mode); I wandered about in jeans and t-shirt (seriously, I think the whole "wear clothes to impress" doesn't really work. I have already decided that, since I suck at networking, the likelihood of my getting a job by impressing people with my clothes is about as likely as Liverpool winning the League this year); I did notice (and, really, it was rather obvious) that there weren't many Asian people about, especially not Asian women. I doubt that's much of a comparative advantage though. It's just a bit odd as this was apparently the biggest SmallRegionalConference and, yet, it seemed to have many of the same people it had last year. And the year before.

I also decided that potentially scary senior academics become lot more fun when they are debating intricate issues in Doctor Who. And the Dalek and the cats was a fantastic picture.

The rest of the time? Well, Boston is a proper nice city--easily walked around in and with loads of fun things to do. I participated (and interviewed, mainly because I find that calling something "research" helps me get out and talk to people) in a demonstration calling for rights to civil marriage for everyone and in the Veterans' day march. The latter was even more entertaining because the leader for "Veterans for Peace" asked me if I could speak at their next meeting.*

I bought 13 books, which I then had to lug home from the Metro station at 2am on Sunday morning (the train, as usual, was late). I bought a brilliant poster, of an obscure 1950s movie called "Hell Squad" which, despite its name, has got nothing to do with the Devil's minions in the religious sense but seems to be about fighting in the desert (there are men in uniform, big guns and sun and sand, all on one poster!). I bought a new button for my rucksack and loads of cheap CDs (and was lectured about something called "Bitrot" by my host, who was taking me about town, when I mentioned that, perhaps, I could get most of my music off the Web).

The best bit: the (extra) towel left for me at the flat when I first walked in. Really, I can't believe I left home without a towel. After all, everyone knows it's the most useful thing to have about during a crisis. It's a good thing no interstellar highways were being built right then.

* Of course, I said no and pointed out that it's rather daft to ask someone, just because they are from a certain country, to speak about pretty serious matters like non-violence and war. This whole thing goes back to my ongoing observation that people here, in general, seem to reckon that just because you are from a certain geographical area, you should automatically be an authority on what is going on there. Perhaps it's time to start saying I am from the Maldives. Or Vanuatu. Or, the land far far away. Or, just talk about the obscure Nepali methods of peace-making. I'm sure there are some. Otherwise, I could always invent a few.


At 11/15/2006 2:21 PM, Anonymous serena said...

i think you should feel honored that they asked rather than simply brushed you aside as a non-entity...and besides I think you are smart enough to invent things that are relevant! LOL

Sounds like you had a better time of it than your counterpart.

At 11/15/2006 11:32 PM, Blogger Priya said...

I think my counterpart enjoyed herself--we didn't see much of each other since I was swanking about in the lovely apartment and wandering around the city more than hanging out in the Conference hotel (where Ho Chih Minh apparently used to work and made what were surely "revolutionary" cupcakes).

At 11/20/2006 2:31 PM, Anonymous serena said...

LOL you went to conference to skip it...shame on you!

At 11/21/2006 12:22 PM, Blogger Elizabeth said...

I didn't hang out at the conference the whole time--but there were people I wanted to catch up with, and I was more likely to find them at the hotel than wandering around Boston.


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