19 November, 2014

Chinese, VI

at least you still know
the way to Tsinghua, old friend -
my faded shadow

1 comment:

Hobbes said...

This haiku refers to a previous: Morning Lecture, in which only my shadow seemed to know the way to Tsinghua.

This visit, my shadow seemed a little faded - from time, from travelling the length of China. I was determined to keep my commitment of giving a lecture in the Department of Computer Science, which turned out to be followed by a lunch of such magnitude that my shadow was soon looking much stronger.

The image that makes the haiga is from another academic visit; it is a cheeky mix of image and haiku, because, as the academics among you may know, the photograph is not of Tsinghua, but of The Other Place.

I grew up in The Other Place, and so the traditional rivalry doesn't really work on me. That said, whenever I go to Cambridge on academic business, it does feel entirely alien. I no longer associate it with being "home".

This particular trip reminded me of my Tsinghua faded-shadow-trying-to-find-lecture experience. One of the oddities of being appointed a faculty member last year is that I now get e-mails from absolute gurus in my field (even though I am but a hopeless stripling) asking me to (i) read a student's 250-page thesis, and (ii) travel to their university to give them a three-hour verbal ("viva voce") examination. The English system is very odd that way, in that three or four years of doctoral research suddenly ends in a three-hour grilling with an academic who looks tired from travelling from elsewhere - for the express purpose of grilling you.

It is nice to be on the other side of the grilling, these days.