Friday, August 21, 2009

An Evening in Bucharest

5:30pm. I am at the "Brewers' Court," meeting with an old friend from computer olympiads, now faculty at Bucharest Polytechnic. We order 1-liter beers and I describe an algorithm answering the main open problem from a recent paper. The first question I get is quite polite (I tend to get a lot of respect in Romania), but can roughly be translated as "Dude, does this make any sense?" As is often the case, I show that I cannot focus without coauthors. My algorithm is obviously non-sense, except that it contains enough original ideas that a correct algorithm can be reconstructed in 10 minutes.

7:00pm. I take a few more steps on a path that I have been pursuing for a long time: I try to communicate some of the energy, passion, and standards of US research (sorely lacking in the parts of Europe that I have had contact with). We both have 1-liter beers.

8:00pm. My godfather arrives. We all have 1-liter beers, and talk about work in networking (he is working in software at a major corporation in this field; I am at ATT, of course).

9:00pm. Another friend from high school (CN Carol I, class of 2001) arrives. We have 1-liter beers with some food, and gossip about another high-school friend (now CEO of a software company).

11:00pm. Two Romanian re-pats (old friends from MIT) arrive. We have 1-liter beers, and talk about their start-up, the child that one has, etc.

12:30am. Another re-pat (Harvard) arrives. We have 1-liter beers, and talk about the cars that they drive at 150mph, the good old times at Physics Olympiads, and life.

1:30am. Yet another re-pat (MIT) arrives. We have 1-liter beers, and talk about the hedge fund where he works, the likely inflation for the dollar in the next 10 years, and life in Romania vs the US.

3:30am. I make it to my sister's apartment and write blog posts (at the end of my European trip, I am still jet-lagged).

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