I'm now in London, at the Royal Geographical Society, waiting for The World in 2050 conference to begin. I got into London a couple hours ago, and even though I'm laden down with my bag, I spent a little time just wandering around.
I'm really relieved to be here. Not being able to communicate with people in completely casual ways was getting a little oppressive: there's a weird, almost psychologically disquieting contrast between the vividness and brilliance of the conversations I have with people when I'm in conferences and workshops in places like Budapest on one hand, and my almost complete inability to talk to anybody outside those venues. Either I'm frantically trying to keep up with ideas and contribute my own, or I'm mute, and nothing in between. So being in London, and being surrounded by a constant buzz of English (with a little Russian, Italian, French, etc.), is... reassuring at a kind of cognitive level that's a bit unexpected.
I needed to do some work refining pitches I'm making over the next couple days-- even with very informal meetings it's good to know what you want to talk about-- so I went over to Kensington Garden, sat down on a park bench, and popped open my computer-- and immediately was able to get onto the RGS open wifi network. So as people jogged and biked home from work, I was sending thank-you notes and scheduling meetings. Strange. Strange to be here when just a few hours ago I was in Vienna. Strange to be in Europe. Strange to be sitting on a park bench with my laptop. But that's life these days.
After the conference I'll go up to London. I look forward to getting to my hotel room.