A big day of research travels in Lodz, Poland.
LODZ, Poland- Today consisted of a meeting with the marshal of Lodzkie region (the guy who runs the province), a lecture at the University of Lodz, a visit to one of the main dry ports of Europe, and then a dinner interview with a very well connected university professor who runs a prominent China-focused think tank. This day directly contrasts against those in Brussels where I did little more than walk from cafe to cafe, sidewalk bar to sidewalk bar hanging out and blogging on my BlackBerry.
As I lay here in bed, looking up at the ceiling my head spins with segments of conversations that I had, things that I’d seen, and connections — or lack thereof — that I was able to make between what I was told today and what I’ve been told throughout the past year of doing research on this topic in China, Central, Southeast, and South Asia. Sometimes I feel like I’m on the verge of understanding a new way of economic and political engagement that will change the paradigm of how we view our world and our place in it. Sometimes I feel as if I’m digging deep in a chest full of clutter for something that isn’t really there. The area between these two extremes is where the New Silk Road runs through.
Today was all made possible by the aforementioned university professor who is very highly regarded advisor to the government on issues relating to China. He was an interesting character — extremely ambitious, extremely intelligent, and understands the connection economy and how to utilize it — and is ultimately one of the individuals laying the building blocks of the Silk Road.
The meeting with the marshal will provide fodder for some articles and will be featured in the book, so I won’t get into details now. It was a fascinating talk with a guy who’s directly involved with the political side of Poland-China relations. One interesting thing that he said was that he only found out about Chengdu in China’s Sichuan province from a Forbes forum that was held around five or so years ago. This discovery lead to the formation of the first regular and reliable China-Europe direct train. The rest is history…
I feel a little bad about the fact that the lecture I gave today wasn’t as good as it could have been. I couldn’t use my laptop and had to plug in my presentation into one of their laptops with flash drive. This would have been fine except for the fact that I couldn’t figure out how to make it show the “presenter view,” which had my notes in it. Rather than momentarily clogging up the works and fixing the problem I gave the entire hour long talk without notes. I got through it, of course, but it wasn’t nearly as engaging or fluid as it usually is.
Speaking in front of people means adapting fast to unforeseen circumstances. I misinterpreted this as an unforeseen circumstance that I should roll with rather than something that I should have slammed the breaks down on and fixed.
Doing an hour long presentation without notes? How cocky do you have to be to try that?
This is probably one of my biggest personality defects: I truly believe beyond all semblance of reason and intelligence that I can do anything. I will step up and try to arm wrestle a guy twice my size and really believe I’m going to win. Even when I lose I still believe that I will win the next time. Perhaps I’m like that chihuahua on the beach nipping at the ankles of all the real sized dogs — which could swallow him with one chomp if they wanted.
I like ports of all types. I did a little series on Vagabond Journey a while back about the ports of the world. There is just something about this insane global network of moving physical goods that I find infinitely fascinating. Ports are the conveyor belts that move the world. I like looking at the names on the containers and thinking of where they’re from, where they’ve been, what’s in them, and where they’re going. Travel for 16 years you start to feel like a shipping container — always being filled with stuff from all over the world, kept in perpetual motion from city to city, country to country, port to port.