Now we have two witnesses who will swear to the indisputable fact that I am not pompous or arrogant! In fact, I am the nicest person you’ve (n)ever met, as was proved beyond all reasonable doubt in the DC bloggers’ meet on 11th March 2006 on my 0x1Fth birthday.
I’m sure you’ve all read accounts from others. Nice guy Arzan drove me all the way to DC (and he also drove me back!). On the way I learnt that he was an architect and he is involved in a really interesting project which I do not want to presume I have the liberty of disclosing. I bounced off a few ideas from a theory of mine as to why we Indians suck so badly at Urban design. I learnt about Jaipur, which was in fact a good example of a planned city in India, developed in 1728. I also asked him another thing that usually bugs me – how successful is urban planning? Not very, it turns out. Even the best laid plans last only 15-20 years before the city outgrows them, and subsequent planning is always a problem.
This was only a few of the things we talked of on the scenic drive on I95, and we reached Union station, DC in good time, prompting Michael to ask Arzan if he had oversped. I reminded Michael of the 5th Amendment to his country’s constitution.
Michael turned out to be an extremely thoughtful guy. It turns out that he somehow (wink wink!) knew that March 11th was my birthday and he’d got a large cake for me and he’d decorated them with chocolate gold coins. Neat no? He’d also got a present for me… and though from my expression you’d think that I’d been presented with sanitary napkins, it is in fact joy, (suppressed with great difficulty) at the fact that my bums need not be unwashed anymore…
Scintillating conversation ensued. Michael talked of his idea of developing software to teach economics. I told him that it would have to be a game, and conversation on games happened. I complained that most current games implicitly assume that the gamer is a central authority, Eswaran (who has commented often on this blog before) pointed out that it is not necessarily so. Nice guy Arzan had to repeat the details of his project to a rapt audience, and when he mentioned “waterless toilets”, I raised my hand to ask a question, but I was denied an opportunity to indulge in my obsession.
Seema consistently refused to get photographed, perhaps because she has a fanatical religious following which will riot if it sees her depicted pictorially (or something like that.. I forget.)
I have to disagree with Michael when he says that Greatbong looks like his picture. In fact, I asked him whose picture he’d put up on the blog. But he does sound like his blog. He held forth on the subject of Mithunda and Ganguly, with great wit and humour. We also discussed the subject of trolls, how to get rid of common household trolls, and great rivalries in blogging. The Cartel too came up for discussion and I gave a suitably mysterious answer.
Chetan turned up really late – in a kurta-pyjama, as befits an aspiring journalist… He handed out cards to a lot of people – a birthday card to me and appreciation cards to some others… The subject of the Longest Comment came up of course, as did the question of how much one has to drink before making such long comments… He also asked me when I started to think of policy issues – I naturally answered that I was a child prodigy on that subject (and he still thinks that I did not come out as a pompous and arrogant guy, which makes me wonder how pompous and arrogant I come off as on my blog, and how I can keep up the image.)
The subject naturally turned to corruption in India, and what could be done about it. Piyush Gupta, a great believer in due process, lamented the fact that India did not have a primary system, unlike the US, which made it very difficult for an outsider to get a break in a party. I argued with him without really understanding his point, I’m afraid. I understood his point a couple of hours after I was back in NJ – and it turns out that I still disagree, but on different grounds.
The afternoon passed too fast for our liking, and I did not get much chance to talk much to others – Ujval, Sunil and Vinay. We broke up at around 4 and nice guy Arzan took me around the various Washington DC monuments – the city is apparently laid out in the form of a rhombus with the Capitol at the centre, which accounts for the strange angle of the streets. DC, incidentally, is the only capital city of any country that I’ve visited (since I’ve visited only two countries so far, it is another way of saying that I’ve never been to Delhi) A wholly satisfying way to spend a birthday, I must say.