09 September 2010

Perfidious Albania

I've been very lucky in my travels. I've visited many of the obvious places, and quite a few of the less obvious ones, including exotica like Fiji, Samarkand and the Kashmir Valley. But one place I've never made it to is Albania.

Partly as a result of this failure - and partly for reasons to do with hearing about the country's wonderfully-named King Zog back in my schooldays - Albania has always fascinated me. So when the chance came up to combine two of the things I love doing - travelling and talking about free software - I was naturally delighted. Of course, there was no money involved, but travelling and accommodation expenses were covered, so I just needed to put together a presentation to "pay" for the trip.

This I duly did, leading with what I thought was a rather clever segue. For despite my impressions of Albania as a mysterious and exotic land, it turns out that not only does its population speak an Indo-European language - which is thus related to English (I knew that) - but that the very name "Albania" may have the same roots as my local "Albion" (which was news to me). This sharing of a common heritage let me lead very naturally into my main topic of sharing in the context of free software and beyond.

And thus it was, yesterday, just a few days before the conference this weekend, with my presentation - complete with witty segue - all ready to go, that I heard from the organisers that despite several emails assuring me to the contrary, they didn't have any money for my travel, and so wouldn't be paying for my flight tomorrow evening.

Which was a real pity, since I'd already bought the non-refundable ticket, after being assured - in writing - that I would be re-imbursed when I got there. The person who I had been dealing with kindly offered to pay for this out of his own pocket, but that obviously wouldn't have been fair on him: it was for the conference to find the money, not individuals.

Moreover, since the conference still seemed to have plenty of money to pay for other speakers at the conference (some of whom were coming from very far-flung - and hence expensive - parts), I could only assume that my talk wasn't really that crucial to the proceedings, and wouldn't really be missed if I didn't turn up.

I'd still love to visit Albania, which sounds a fascinating and fast-evolving place, but I don't think I'll be giving any talks while I'm there...

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10 comments:

PV said...

That's a shame. It looks like everyone lost out on this one - you lost out on a great travel opportunity (for no fault of your own), and they lost out on the opportunity to hear (what I can only assume would have been) a thoroughly enlightening and persuasive talk on free software. Maybe next time...? (I hate it when people tell me that too.)
--
a Linux Mint user since 2009 May 1

glyn moody said...

@PV: yes, frustrating...

Anonymous said...

So why didn't you just go to Albania using the non-refundable ticket?

glyn moody said...

Because there would have been *additional* costs on top of the money I'd already spent on the ticket.

As a freelance writer, I just don't have the spare money to do this kind of thing for fun - which is why I only speak at conferences if they pay all my expenses.

Heroid Shehu said...

Hi, Glyn, its a shame you didn't come to Albania and we thought that you didn't just simply want to come and speak at the conference, the University (that financed the conference) didn't have enough money thats why mike offered you to pay from his own pocket its also true that at many people from farther places on earth attended the conference but thats how the university spent money, you should have had accepted Mikes offer, the conference was a bit dull without you...

Heroid from Kosovo.

glyn moody said...

@Heroid: why on earth should Mike pay? That doesn't seem fair on him.

Why, for example, wasn't the shortfall averaged across *everyone's* expenses? If money was short, surely it was short for everyone, not just me....? Wouldn't that have been fairer? Just askin'...

ardom said...

Albania is fascinating we spent 18 days there , half by car and half by public transport. They are the most welcoming people we have ever met. My better half took thousands of pictures and has made 12 Presentations covering the country from end to end. If you are interested in receiving them write me at nimrodjoh@yahoo.com
Allow me one correction , their language is NOT Indo-european. It belongs to a totally separate family . You can verify this with a simple google search . I hope you do find a way to visit. Yours Nimrod

glyn moody said...

@ardom: - thanks for making me regret not going even more...(what's it like driving there?)

And here's Ethnologue, pretty much the bible when it comes to language families:

http://www.ethnologue.com/show_family.asp?subid=2-16

Alket Rexhepi said...

Im sorry that you didn't make to come in Albania, I hope that you will come in Kosovo 25-26 Sep this year. Its same like in Albania.

glyn moody said...

@Alket: unfortunately, I can't, because I am going to another conference just afterwards.