Tom’s time in the gulag has been as kind and gentle as could possibly be. They’ve been bringing him flowers and fruit and food every three hours, and he has Skype so we’ve been able to talk. I gather he’s keeping up on Facebook, too, and Twitter. He described himself as a Mr Magoo, wandering around Beijing and to the train station and on the 17-hour trip to Lanzhou without any idea that people were trying to find him, after there were two confirmed cases of H1N1 from his plane. His phone had stopped working and he didn’t check e-mail, so they missed him in Beijing and only found him when he got to Lanzhou. But no fever or other symptoms, and he’ll be released tomorrow for a first fieldtrip with his work group on Lanzhou University. Here’s a Skype exchange between mother in East Hampton and son confined to hotel room in western China:
[8:29:57 AM] Karen Christensen: hey tom
[8:30:33 AM] Karen Christensen: how many people have actually seen you? the others are probably wondering what you look like!
[8:30:53 AM] Tom @ Berkshire: just dr niu
[8:30:58 AM] Tom @ Berkshire: and two of his students
[8:31:06 AM] Tom @ Berkshire: I am a true mystery!
[8:31:21 AM] Karen Christensen: hilarious! you have shaving equipment i hope!
[8:31:38 AM] Karen Christensen: hey, did you like the photo from the beach?
[8:32:15 AM] Tom @ Berkshire: yeah
[8:32:25 AM] Tom @ Berkshire: looks nice…
[8:32:28 AM] Tom @ Berkshire: so much open space
[8:32:32 AM] Tom @ Berkshire: not just walls
[8:32:42 AM] Tom @ Berkshire: WALLSCLOSINGIN EVERYWHERe