Sunday, July 6, 2008

On a bus through permafrost

At 5:30 PM (EDT) on July 5, I left my girlfriend Rachel and her sister Rebecca on a train platform in the southwest suburbs of Boston. Maybe 10 hours later, my clocks had been reset to 7:30 AM (GMT) and I was sitting next to a researcher from TTI Chicago, Prahladh Harsha on a bus to Reykjavik for ICALP 2008.

He mentioned that Iceland's population was smaller than Pittsburgh's - but it tuns out that Pittsburgh is a tiny, tiny bit smaller - essentially they are the same size, a bit over 310,000 people. His hometown of Hyderabad, on the other hand, has almost 10 million people. I had to prod just a little bit to get him to tell me where he was from - most American researchers on a bus in Iceland don't know where Hyderabad is. Most of them haven't worked in Bangalore for three months either. We talked about Hampi and air pollution in Bangalore as the bus drove past raw, cracked volcanic earth. And that's when it occurred to me to maybe write a thing or two in this while I'm in Iceland.

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