Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

12 Aug 2001, 8:56 a.m.

Wodehouse, Eco, party, transport, language, shopping

Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2001 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.

Congratulations, Windows 98, for crashing and erasing my eloquence. Funny, isn't it, that this almost never happened in Russia, and yet as soon as I have to use my father's machine....but never mind.

My father was instigating a jolly good row with my mother, or trying to. He was accusing her -- stay with me, here -- of not defending him and telling me that he was "kidding" when he "joked" at me that he had stopped reading my diary, yes, this very diary, about halfway through my trip to Russia. I do believe that he did, as he claimed, all sorts of photocopying and file-fiddling to preserve my words for posterity. Whether he actually took the time and effort to try and READ those words of mine, I don't know. It would be quite like him to give up. Andyway, this eventually (how could it not?) grew into some accusation that my mother had failed to bring me up properly. And my father just watched nervously as I dealt with the aftermath of the crash, and pleaded with me, "Do not do any innovation on my computer." I didn't make the sort of jokes I'd like. I'm here for a week, you see.

In any case, I'm returning from an extremely enjoyable social period in the Bay Area. Rather a shock to the old system to come back to Tara from Berkeley.

Thursday during the day, I dragged holeburning about Berkeley as I did various errands. He was good enough to sit with me as I waited for something like an hour to speak with The counselor at Financial Aid. (It'll be quite a shock to get out in the Real World where you're not supposed to prove that you're destitute at every opportunity.) His quip in re: the Extreme Joyce Reading that was held around here a few weeks back: Portrait of the Artist as an Extremely Young Man!

As well, I comparison shopped (and saved!) for textbooks for this semester. It's been so long since I registered for classes that I had to derive/remember the topics from the lists of required readings. Evidently I'm taking fourth-semester Russian, a history of tsarist Russia, and some political science course about authority or something. Oh, and handball. No texts for that.

In any case, my comparison shopping, plus the generosity of Ned's Books, enabled me to shave enough off the prices such that the entire total came in to about $146, which just fit on the $150 in travelers' cheques left over from my Russia trip. Hooray! Or, in Russian, Oorah!

Oh, and I gave Steve a graduate degree in getting whupped at air hockey. I even shut him out once. I love feeling powerful. (Once, in Gostiny Dvor back in St. Petersburg, John absolutely schooled me at some nonstandard Russian air hockey. By the way, he has some new pictures and such up.)

Those were really the highlights of my errand excursion.

Thursday night, stretching into Friday morning, I hung out with Seth and met his flatmate, Zack. Aside from the fact that it's disorienting trying to think of Zack as a peer, since he's frickin' ten years older than me, it was quite pleasant. ("It's just hard to believe that someone whose favorite poem is "As I Heard the Learned Astronomer" writes techical documentation for a living.") Seth and I exchanged souvenirs (he got Mini Choco Leibniz, a two-disk Mandrake distro bought at a kiosk in Piter, and a Yuri Gagarin poster, and I got Free Dmitry-type and DefCon paraphernalia), Zack and Seth and I ate at a good Thai place, and the three of us engaged in a neck-and-shoulder massage free-for-all while Dar Williams and DDT played on the sound system and Seth translated Corinthians from Latin and Greek.

As for Friday and Saturday, it was a Leonard weekend. (Imitation Seth: "After I come home from a long, hard day of freeing Dmitry, I like to relax with a cold, refreshing brew.") The highlight of the weekend may have been the CollabNet company picnic. There were almost no mosquitoes! Oh, but you may not bring "modern recreational equipment" on the grounds of Ardenwood Historical Farms. ("How about a Frisbee made of stone?" "Discus, shotput, all the Olympian recreations are A-okay." "The ancient sport of lawn darts.") We played bad badminton (borrowing the institutional equipment, of course), we ate surprisingly good picnic food, social banter occurred, I got "Free Dmitry" painted on my face and evangelized to the staff of the grounds, I met a number of CollabNet employees for the first time, and I re-met Brian Behlendorf (he gave us a ride, since BART was down for the count on Saturday morning. That would never happen in Russia!).

The only other time I met Mr. Behlendorf was also the first time I met Leonard. It was back in January, when I ventured over to the CollabNet offices with a prof of mine to interview some people for a research project. It must have been a Wednesday -- Leonard only met me after his yoga class.

On the BART, after a PA announcement: "It's a good thing I know this is Ashby, because otherwise I'd think this was Aaaihywah Station." "Oh, that's cruel."

On the train on the way from Emeryville to Stockton, a man sat next to me who didn't speak much English, and I speak hardly any Spanish, which he spoke. One reason I couldn't remember the word for "Where," as in "Where are you going?" was that I was trying to remember a directional "where" (akin to kuda in Russian), as opposed to a locational "where" (like gde in Russian). I didn't know/remember that donde in Spanish, like "where" in English, covers both.

I finished A Wodehouse Bestiary and have begun The Name of the Rose. Rather slow going, what? Well, I did start it just before napping. And calming Russian choral music was on the boombox.

When my mom woke me up, not only did she startle me such that she felt the need to remind me, "It's okay, I'm your mom," but I also didn't know in which language to speak.

Oh, and recently I've had a dream or few dealing with Russia, and fellow students on the program, and partly in Russian. Just digestion, I guess.

Originally published by Sumana Harihareswara at