Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Pre-penultimate grouse: Oops, I did it again

A twelve-hour train journey. Three hours late. Damn I'm good.

Well, so that wasn't particularly surprising. Of course, this time round I'd
planned for the contingency that the train would reach Buffalo too late for me to stop over and get my Canadian visa today (the consulate closes at 1100 hours). So with incredible foresight I booked multiple train tickets (covering three different timing scenarios). I also ordered a taxi to pick me up from the train station, in case the train got there just in time (it did - under an hour to consulate-closing time).

The unashamedly stereotypical Sikh cab-driver made small talk with me ("My Punjabi is actually better here in Buffalo than it ever was in Chandigarh... damn US government - blood-sucking leeches... want to listen to the local Punjabi radio station?") while I nervously checked my watch. I prodded him, and tires screeching (theme of this vacation, it seems), we reached with a few minutes to spare.

And then, of course, Miss Congealed-Anality at the embassy refused to give me a visa 'cos she wanted a "real" piece of paper attesting to my impending MIT employment, as opposed to the email which had everything.

Oh well. The one major advantage of every aspect of this trip being thrown together at the last moment as it has, has been that if one thing doesn't work, that's an opportunity to do something else instead. I hopped onto the next train to Rochester to spend some time with Weiji Ma, the most interesting Chinese-Dutch string-theorist-turned-neuroscientist guy with a passion for Chinese rural development that I know. We just spent a couple hours face-time expounding to each other our latest pet projects, and it feels good to be with someone not shy of unabashed enthusiasm again.

Other trip trivia.

This second round to Chicago was all about family - family feuds and fond remembrances. The most fun part, though, was playing anti-gravity device to my cousin's two and four year olds. I (literally) drove them up the wall, a la Spiderman. I suspect I'll be getting large painting and reupholstering bills from my cousin, though. About these kids - normally I'm not one to go goo-goo ga-ga over cutesy-pie pictures, but this one of my adorably vivacious... nephew..., I guess (damn, I'm old) Rohan...

Wokay, since I finally have a net connection on my own laptop, here goes with earlier rants written on the trip from Seattle to Chicago.


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