Thursday, November 18, 2004

Too tired to try and be wise or profound

I am trying to leave my office by nine or so and tonight I will nearly make it. Playing tennis in Arlington at 6 AM requires a 5 AM wake up which, as the days get shorter, seems pretty early.

Lunch with Professor Abdul Aziz Said was a high spot. He is AUs most senior faculty member - he completed his doctorate at AU before becoming a faculty member. We used to hire more of our own graduates then. Many faculty in their seventies become rigid and resistant to change, but he is a perpetual font of new ideas and empowering, loving support to students. He is a remarkable human being. We used to have lunch once a semester, but we have both been so busy it has been more than two years. It was good to catch up, personally and professionally.

I received a copy of the foreward to my book today, written by the director of the research center that is publishing it. I won't reproduce the entire document, but do want to share one passage that I found particularly gratifuying:

There are foreign scholars who write books on developing countries with nothing more than a casual acquaintance of the country concerned and then declare themselves “experts” on that country. What the reader will find between the covers of this book is a work of a very different nature and calibre. Professor Richardson’s first visit to Sri Lanka was in 1987. On that occasion he also participated in an international conference of the ICES where I met him for the first time. Over the next seventeen years he frequently visited the island that he has virtually come to consider as his second home. In those numerous visits he has spent varying periods of time including lengthy sabbaticals teaching and researching. Over the years I saw Professor Richardson painstakingly gather data on Sri Lanka—talking to people, reading primary and secondary sources, collecting statistics, and observing events.

Reactions like this make the seventeen year process the reviewer describs seem worthwhile.

I wonder if I have another book in me. It is too soon to decide. I need to get this one properly launched first.


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