Woke the next day, around 7:00 AM or so, thinking that should be early enough to reach M.I.T before 9:00 AM. Had an exceptionally long and soothing bath. Hours later, checked email and decided to go down to breakfast. Now this turned out to be quite good fun as there was a lot of choice. Picked some fancy cakes and breads and teas and cereal and juices… and hogged like a pig. Why? Generally shameless, that’s why. All these ordinary activities taking a lot longer than they should, I set off towards M.I.T, a lot later than I had anticipated. This time, I used the train to take me part of the way. But I then realized, the walk to the station, taking the train to another, and the walk from there to the hall is just as bad as the whole walk. Again, crowded and noisy. Good.
Everyday, there are two “main” lectures in the morning, called the plenary lectures in BIG halls, seating few hundred people. The other lectures are held in smaller halls or class rooms. These can seat from 30 – 100 people. It was very chaotic actually, since there were so many sessions running in parallel. This meant, to see one you would have to end up missing more than 10 or so other talks. It also meant that the crowd which was a few hundred strong now couldn’t show up, in average, more than 30-50 per talk. The first two days, I ended up missing the plenary lectures, due to the length of the morning activities. It felt so worth it.
Found a session I wanted to attend and found the building and the room I had to be in. Again, general chaos and mismanagement, it started a little late as the chair of the session, a guy from B.M.W was assigned more than one room to chair at the same time. After the initial confusion, things got started. The talks were mostly interesting. The students had their teachers alongside to help them with complicated questions and so on, a luxury I couldn’t afford. The only thing was, since there were people from all over the world – Tokyo, Serbia, U.S.A to name a few countries, everybody spoke differently, and coupled with the complexity of the things they were talking about, not all were easy to follow.
In the first two days, I actually carefully planned what I wanted to see, finding different rooms and buildings trying to catch different talks. Later realising that was too much work, would just go to a session and stay the entire time there listening to different talks on a similar theme. Now, I can’t go into any more detail, all that needs to be said is I attended different sessions. The first one is from 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM, which starts after a half an hour break after the plenary lectures from 9:00 A.M – 10:30 A.M. After my first session, I left M.I.T to find lunch. Found a very nice Italian restaurant called Cinderella’s, which served a lot of good stuff, vegetarian too. My first day, I started off with a basic pizza. It was pretty good.
Then on the way back, I ran into the M.I.T museum, a place where some of their work and achievements are on display. It was catalogue of some absolutely brilliant stuff, and a lot of technology that’s changed the world in a lot of ways. Again, no details, but it was fun to see some of the stuff I’ve only read about or seen on Discovery. Took a lot of pictures, including my personal favourite in this trip.
The next session started at 2:00 P.M. But the fun I was having at the museum, I made it to the room only around 2:20 P.M. Suffice to say it’s quite a “hands-on” place. Then attended that till 4:00 P.M which is it’s scheduled end time. There was another one scheduled at 4:30 P.M – 6:00 P.M and a plenary discussion from 7:00 P.M to 9:00 P.M or so. This was the same schedule everyday, but on most days, except on the day of my talk, I would get saturated by 5:00 P.M – 5:30 P.M and left. After leaving the first day, walked around taking pictures of M.I.T from the outside, and then made my way to Harvard and repeated the procedure. This was a bit dissapointing as I messed up and lost that set of pictures. Ah well.
Back to the room, and worked on my presentation some more, in my head. Spoke to the professor that evening and sorted out some more details with what has to be said and how I plan to put it across. They were helpful in that regard, I think I needed that. I was a bit tense. But not as much as I was before leaving home, as I realized, it is a formal deal, but it’s still a “academic” atmosphere, something I am comfortable with. After talking to him, I ran out to my friendly pizza shop, the “Mass House of Pizza” and grabbed a couple of slices to eat. I like that store, the owner is friendly, and actually talks to each customer as if they were important.
Also, by now got into the habit of walking around with a Sprite or something in my hand at ALL TIMES. Partly, obsession to hold something, partly addiction. Got back to the hotel and slept.