Sunday, June 14, 2009

Travel to India

I traveled to India for a week.
  • India is in a strange relationship with electric power. In an otherwise quiet room, the electrical connections make crackling noise; you turn on the electric fan and it is noisy as a light helicopter. The 2nd grade textbook on how to use a computer says, first turn on the Uninterruptible Power Source (UPS), and second, turn on the computer!
  • I visited IIT, Mumbai. Like other college campuses in India, the IIT Mumbai campus has many old trees, bordering on being a forest. I gave a talk on Internet Ad Auctions. Since it was the summer, I expected very few, but the audience was fairly large and remained behind an extra 30 min with questions and discussions. The faculty at IIT Mumbai, Sundar Viswanathan in particular, has been a terrific conduit, mentoring and releasing a great set of theory CS researchers into the world (Subhash K., Moses C., ...).

On returning, I find NY a "quiet" city and eat Weiner Schnitzel to make up for the meatless week. Then I walked over to check out Youssou N'Dour's film at the IFC. I heard Youssou first in a fateful summer in the desert of NM in 94 and was blown away by the mbalax. I never knew or understood the lyrics. The movie reveals him to be first a social activist and later, an Islamic activist for his Sufi nation of Senegal, in the tradition of the griots.
ps: In a beautiful moment, as he walks down the sidewalk on his way to The Carnegie Hall to perform, and a NY taxi driver rolls down the window and calls out, "Youssou! I will be there for the evening performance".


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