There is time for a quick dispatch from Champaign (that's in Illinois, Francesco, though I would love to be in Campania--can you believe that none of the members of Almamegretta live here?). Yesterday was a fine lecture, if I do say so myself, and socializing with people from the excellent Russian, East European and Eurasian Center at the University of Illinois. I never believed that a Friday afternoon talk on the Balkans would fill a room! Today will be a brunch with the graduate students in the program, then back to Boston.
The actual transport portion of travelling remains one of my least favorite activities, hard on the arms and knees. But the pleasure is in arriving. They have a large and tremendously active program (I keep imagining the suspense film in which one of the characters squints at the camera and says, "I've got a Title VI library and I know how to use it."), and the center is located just steps away from an entirely good enough coffee place and a truly outstanding tapas bar. Although the institution itself gives every impression that space aliens came and ported a huge university to the middle of a cornfield, the fine culinary resources seem to assure that interest is high, questions and comments are sharp, and that the importance of the sounds of Jarboli to any discussion of the region is perfectly obvious. The award for toughest question certainly goes to the formidable and beguiling Maria Todorova, but neither faculty nor students lagged behind. It was a pleasure afterward to relax over dinner and good conversation with Donna Buchanan, Zsuzsa Gille, and Judith Pintar. Without my beloved family here, I had the opportunity to get to sleep early and stay asleep late, and now I've got an hour or so before the next encounter to relax with a new manuscript by the Nishville sociologist Nikola Božilović.
This may be the last moment I get to compute in peace before Monday, so I can join the readers of this blog in the joy that accompanies the return of the mysterious Mr Teekay.