Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Three days after the LHC's first beam, I started teaching

I started teaching on Monday, and I love it. Love it! Love it! Love it! Academic presentations are like theater. They are clockwork assemblages of tightly wound sentences, each one carefully chosen for maximum information delivery. Then the talk is rehearsed until sunset on Venus (58 days), and delivered as a spectacle. Teaching, on the other hand, is like improvisation. You start with an outline of the main points, then you play it off the audience and, if you manage to raise some interaction, you play along with them. I never had so much fun on the job since 1999 -- wait, since 2000 -- wait... well, since a long time.

I am settling into a routine, and it is quite a pleasant one. I train with a 15-year-old roller-skate athlete after work, where I make a big show off my graphing lap-timer in DrScheme. I meet with Kitty in the evening and we pun each other to death over chocolate cake. Then I share traditional South-Indian dinner with Shailaja, Venkatesh, and their daughters Kini and Mandriva, which usually ends with Venkatesh and I debating on the best way to verify the soundness of the firewall with Alloy while Kini dances Bollywood around everyone.

This routine is about to get extended. I visited Kovallam this weekend. There, I played beach-soccer with six refugees from Tibet who are also members of Kerala's team at the nationals. That was a remarkable event on its own. But the high of the day was the discovery of a honest-to-goodness espresso. Which, of course, means I will go back. I don't remember how I passed my Advanced Complexity Theory course anymore. I seem to have left my proof-making-ability somewhere. So, with the help of Venkatesh, I am trying to get better at mathematics. Finding a source of good coffee was my first step towards better math. (cf. Paul Erdos).
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