Friday, November 19, 2004

First impressions

Getting from Heathrow to my hotel with aroung 150 lbs of luggage was a challange, but I survived. (If I'd just managed to dig out my map from inside the luggage I would've spent less time wandering, but I was too proud to manage that.) The Comfort Inn King's Cross gets a big, big endorsement from me, both because it was a nice hotel with wireless internet, but also because they didn't charge me for an extra night, which (for complicated reasons) they had every right to do.

Oh, and upon searching for a wireless network to connect to in the hotel, I saw two: the hotel's, and another one called "ageconcern." Compulsive listeners to NPR will recognize "Age Concern" as the name of the charity that David Sedaris volunteers for in London, as he explained in the recent Terry Gross interview. (Yeah, I know... I'm sorry.) So after seeing Al Pacino, I imagined myself to be, like, *this close* to David Sedaris.

Thursday morning was drizzly and bleak. I walked to the University to go to this reception for all the Institue of Historical Research fellows. The five-minute presentations went well, and the reception was very nice. It turns out that both of the fellows from Canadian Universities are actually Americans. It was interesting whom I was able to talk to, and whom I wasn't: The woman studying regional autonomy in northwest Pakistan? I could've chatted to her for hours. The guy looking at British newspapers during WWI? I couldn't think of anything to say... All in all, a good event, though. It was more than a little disconcerting that several people, upon leaving, said, "well, I guess I'll see you at the next reception in February!" I need to hook up with the musicologists here soon, or else it will be a lonely ten months, intellectually...

Thursday evening I took the train to Cambridge; Harsh met me at station. He is looking good and seems happy. He just bought an apartment, which is a big deal. Since he just moved in, however, he has absolutely no furniture at all. This sort of puts us on an equal footing, in a way, since we're both living out of suitcases and sleeping in sleeping bags on the floor.

So here's where I start the work in earnest -- first getting a phone, then calling non-stop about apartments, all the while continuing to work and do the job applications. There is a temptation, as in France, of just hiding in my room rather than face the feeling of total incompetance all the time. But at least they sort of speak English, sort of.


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