The day dawned bright and clear, my last full day in China. I felt a little sad but there was no time to indulge in that feeling. I had a long meeting with the students scheduled and a talk to give. There was a little free time that morning and I used it productively to finalize my presentation and do a little packing. The car arrived and I headed off to Wenzhou University to join the others.
The presentation was in the afternoon so first, to fortify ourselves, we went for lunch. Dr. Jin San Zhang, our host, had wisely chosen a restaurant off the beaten track close to the University. It was next to a quiet stream at the base of the surrounding green hills. I saw a couple of men sitting on the bank fishing contently. It was an idyllic setting.
The weather being nice we decided to sit outside under an awning. The food was brought. It consisted mainly of several preparations of noodles and duck and a couple of large beer bottles. We helped ourselves. Conversation flowed. I took some pictures. We then took a small walk beside the water. Soon it was time to head over to the University.
The students were waiting in a large conference room. It was packed with a few standing at the back. The talk must have been well advertised and popular. I noted the presence of large posters with the famous ‘Hammer and Sickle’ motif in the room and took a picture. There were several of these throughout the campus. It was ubiquitous.
Dr. Zhang welcomed and introduced Dr. Richard Grose and me, the two speakers.
Before beginning my lecture, I presented a book of Bengali short stories translated into English titled “Treasures from Bengal”. I had done several of the translations myself. Jin San accepted it on behalf of the students and said it would be kept in the library for all to read.
I then launched into my talk on “How to write good scientific papers”, a subject of prime importance to science graduate students. I had made a set of slides with the salient points and used a published paper as an example to illustrate the points.
I concluded by stressing the need to (1) generate good data and (2) know good English. That way, one can use the data to write a paper in English suitable for publication in a top tier science journal. This was well received.
That was my last talk and a long one. I had been looking forward to this presentation but at the end felt a little drained as one feels at the end of a well-run marathon. I spent some time chatting with the students answering their many questions. Soon it was time for dinner.
We chose a quiet place and ordered. To celebrate the occasion, someone had brought two bottles of excellent Chinese liquor. I had been warned about drinking bouts in China. The liquor is really potent and if not careful, one can drink oneself under the table. So I carefully took small sips whenever anyone proposed a toast which was often. The toasts were ceremoniously performed by holding the small glasses with the tips of the fingers and clinking them. I enjoyed the drinks. They were sweet, strong and very satisfying. I closed my eyes and let the feeling and memory sink in.
Soon it was time to head for the hotel. I said good bye to everyone present and thanked them for their company and camaraderie. I especially thanked Jin San Zhang for his invitation, hospitality and masterful handling of the conference.
At the hotel I finished packing, set the alarm clock on my cell phone and fell asleep. I had an early flight the next morning heading home.
To be continued.