Sunday, November 15, 2009

New Friends

(PICTURE: Having a beer with Tom and Tom. Actually, technically that is me having Tom's beer which he insisted I drink.)

Paula and I met two men at the top of Bondai. After a few words we realized that we all worked at the same university. The two men, who introduced themselves as Tom and Tom, are professors at the university. Tom #1 teaches Chemistry and Tom #2 teaches Electrical Engineering.

Since meeting Tom and Tom I have become friends with them. Tom #1 and I often eat lunch together in the cafeteria and Tom #2 recently brought over photos for me from the day we hiked Bondai. The men are extremely nice and not only gave Paula and I candy, but also insisted that I drink their beer that they had brought and lugged up the mountain in a little cooler.

Tom #1 worked in the United States for a number of years and speaks English extremely well. There is something extremely grandfatherly about him that reminds me of my Grandpa Leo. Tom, like my grandpa Leo, gets really excited about talking about little things. With my Grandpa Leo it was plants, with Tom it is chemistry. It is Tom's grandpa-esque qualities that make the following story so hilarious to me:

As you can see in the picture below, Tom #1 is carring two large plastic containers:

Tom #1 hiked all the way to the top of Bondai with these containers to take air samples that he could analyze back at the university (he told me that the air quality has been going downhill recently because of pollution from China).

Apparently Tom #1 likes to take air samples so much that the last time he went to the states he took two jugs with him. Tom flew to America with them and when he was in Washington, D.C. attempted to get an air sample in front of some government building. Well, that didn't last long. Tom #1 said he was quickly scooped up by the FBI and detained in a hotel for twelve hours of questioning. Apparently Tom #1 didn't get the memo not to carry mysterious jugs into the heart of America's capital. In the end, with the help of the Japanese embassy, Tom was let go. The FBI kept his equipment though.

Tom has told me this story twice and each time laughs at the experience. Frankly, if the same thing happened to me in a foreign country I'm pretty sure I would have pissed myself. Oh, wait it did sort of happen to me in Vietnam: