Friday Afternoon, Home at Last!

Self has had quite an eventful day, dear blog readers.

First, the breakfast meeting she was supposed to have last Wednesday with Alka the film-maker got postponed to this morning, so at 8:45 AM, self hurried out of the house, giving hubby a brief wave (He was in his car, warming up his engine, but was too busy looking at his odometer or something to notice self hurtling by in her pink tweed coat), and met Alka at Chocolate Mousse. Self was 20 minutes late. Alka had already finished her coffee and her croissant and was sitting wanly (Self glanced in the window before making her presence known), reading Zadie Smith’s White Teeth. So, without further ado, self launched into her “pitch,” (which was really just a wild idea that had occurred to self, a few weeks ago) about why her story “Silence” would just make such a perfect vehicle for Alka to adapt to film. And in the course of very hurried conversation, self learned this:

    Alka is preparing a film to be shown at Rotterdam Film Festival.
    Alka has a producer friend in India who is ready to finance any of her film projects.

Super, Alka! self couldn’t help blurting out. One day I’ll be watching the Oscars at home and I’ll see you walking down the red carpet and I’ll say, There’s my friend Alka, I knew her when — !!

Self hurriedly downed her Danish and rushed to her next appointment, which was to attend the 7th Annual Shorenstein Journalism Award Panel Discussion at Stanford, which niece had promised to attend as well. Okey dokey, first of all self was rather surprised to see huge red banner floating across the entrance to Palm Drive, and the banner said:

WELCOME TO STANFORD

After driving down a mile or so, self saw signs announcing that this was Parents’ Weekend. Uh-oh. Place was absolutely crawling with cars and parents. Drat! She had to circle and circle just to find parking. But eventually, she did find something in a little alley just between Littlefield and Mem Aud. And then self hot-footed it to Encina Hall.

There, she found vast lunch buffet arrayed just outside the conference room, and looking around she saw no sign of niece. Instead, there was her old History professor Peter Duus (and, true to form, he didn’t look a day older. Truly, possessing tenure at Stanford must be akin to possessing secret to the fountain of youth). He looked right at her (since self and he were face to face across a tray of pad thai) but did not recognize her, to self’s utter chagrin (Had she really aged so much?). Next, she turned and saw another professor she knew, Prof. Al Dien. But this time, she was recognized, and Prof. Dien bent down and asked, “How many books do you have now?” Which was — so — so — sweet! Self couldn’t get past it!

“I’ll send you a copy of my latest, Prof. Dien,” she promised. “What have you been up to?”

“Last year,” he said, “I went to Mongolia on an archaeological dig. I lived in a yurt.”

Oh, fantastic! You see, self was right about Stanford professors having key to fountain of youth, for Prof. Dien (calculating quickly now) must be at least 80. But his cheeks are still ruddy and his eyes are still full of mischief.

Anyhoo, niece never showed, and self had to turn off her cell phone, and then she sat enthralled for two hours while Ian Buruma, Orville Schell (old China hand and former Dean of Journalism School at UC Berkeley) and Susan Chira (Head of Foreign Affairs Department, New York Times) discoursed on the increasing irrelevance of the foreign correspondent, in an age when blogs and the internet seemed to exercise such pre-emptive authority regarding the news. (Not always, self wanted to say, for she relies very much on The Economist. But perhaps the panelists wouldn’t have taken too kindly to that remark, so she kept her mouth shut)

Self thought Susan Chira was wonderful because she kept saying how exciting it was to work in her field, but her voice remained absolutely flat, and her face betrayed no emotion whatsoever. If that’s a trick, it’s a very clever one. Self must practice that one at home.

Ian Buruma had an accent. Vaguely British. But is now the Henry Luce something or other at Bard College. And he talked about being in Manila on the eve of the People Power movement, and about being asked by his bosses to fly to India to interview a famous film director. And he asked advice from a foreign correspondent who was considered an “old Manila hand,” and the correspondent pooh-poohed the whole People Power thing and said it was just a lot of dramatics: “You know the Filipino people,” said old hand, “10 months from now it’ll be the same-old, same-old.” (Naturally, dear Ian couldn’t have been aware that there was even one Filipino in the audience, as self looks vaguely Chinese and everyone else looked, well, Chinese, Japanese, or white).

So Ian upped and left for India, and the next day, to his utter chagrin, he woke up in his Indian hotel room to the news that Marcos had been overthrown and fled the country.

Ha ha ha ha ha!

That was a good one!

And now self has to watch the umpteenth replay of the Westminster Dog Show, because it is now getting close to the part where judge intones: “You are absolutely superb, a beautiful line-up. May I have (pause) THE BEAGLE!!!!!” And the announcer intones breathlessly, “THE BEAGLE!!!” And there is a standing ovation.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

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