Dear Alan, you might not remember it, but one of my earliest memories about you turns out to be about playing. It was at Brandeis, when I was your teaching assistant, which incidentally taught me a great deal about good teaching. We were feeling tired of correcting students’ assignments and somehow we ended up having a sort of slow-moving tai-chi duel with some long wood poles. For someone like me, from a country where academics left you in no doubts about their higher status, this was totally new and surprising, but also liberating, and, after a few instants of cultural conflagration in my head, good fun.
The duels did not continue, but the fun did, and of a more lasting type. I learnt an amazing lot from you, but what is most precious to me is the intellectual fun I had during our later research together, when we would surprise each other with discoveries – mostly you me – and shared the pleasure of slowly uncovering the geometry of harmonic bounding. That will always stay with me, together with all the other precious qualities I acquired, or at least tried to acquire, from you. A very heartfelt Grazie Alan.