Some speakers, confronted with questions they don't know how to answer, stand behind the podium in a long silent pause of processing and confusion; their speech when it comes is halting.
We sit around a low rectangular table with a delicious makeshift meal spread out - wine, olives, chicken inside of pitas, nuts and honeydew for dessert - and the evening is full of talk, and we're together, cheerful and warm on a cold night.
Red flowers spread open against gray stone and sky.
Here they come to look and ask: earnest and nervous or sphinx-like or easy-going with a warm smile or keyed up with caffeine or politely patient or good-natured and tired or world-weary and amusing (and amused).
The sign language interpreters at each lecture are fascinating to watch. It's amazing how they rapidly translate in real time, for all kinds of speakers (mumblers, rapid-fire talkers among them), for all different kinds of words and phrases (variable, parameter, ANOVA), their hands and expressions fluid.
Past the window the world streams by: light spindly yellow birch groves, mist off an ocean, chain link fences rusted, dubious store fronts, wood plank houses, shells of factories with broken windows, a graveyard bathed in red and yellow leaves.
I agree with him. It can drive you mad.