Wednesday, April 30, 2003

The Explosion

In an effort to clear out the excesses of life, Ben and Bess will need to eat a lot of goodies that have been in their cupboards. Rare and exotic foodstuffs like hot chocolate, Cranberry Sauce, canned vegetarian products, etc., are too heavy to carry away, and too wonderful to leave. So, gourmet meals must be endured during their final days in China. Last night it was to be mashed potatoes, Vegetarian steaks, some Macaroni Salad with real cheese, cranberry sauce, and a vegetable. I would have to go to the market and buy a vegetable. While at the market I also bought 4 pounds of fresh beautiful strawberries for 75 cents to make some Jam to take back to Hong Kong. The strawberries were too cheap to leave in the market. On the way back to the hospital, I walked down the street with my heavy load. I of course had to buy something to put the jam in to take it home, sugar to make the jam healthy and delicious, and even saw a little ceramic jam pot that Jeri would like. (If the Airlines only knew!)

A group of men gathered around a cell phone. They looked as if this were a new object to them. I wanted to take a picture. Even though I never got it, I did manage to take several shots of people passing by or stopping to pose and then look at their likeness in the viewer on the back of the camera. Suddenly there was a shout and loud explosion. No one seemed to notice. I looked across the street towards the source of the bang. A man was frantically working with a piece of his equipment that had obviously malfunctioned and exploded. I couldn't tell exactly what his work was, but he had set up a little business at the side of the road, and judging from his blackened face, hands and clothing, he worked with dirt, or he had suffered terribly during the explosion. I wondered why no one was willing to go to his aid. One woman stood nearby the catastrophic scene casually watching as he struggled with charred piece of equipment.

I finally went over. A fire still smoldered and he was sitting in front of it now, having recovered from his mechanical set-back. He worked with two hands. One pumped bellows that sent jets of air into the hot coals beneath a round cylinder which he turned with the other hand. This blackened cylindrical canister appeared to me to be the very object which had previously exploded. Maybe he had fixed it and could resume his business. What his business was, I could not imagine. I asked if I could take his picture. Absolutely Not! A man stopped and asked if I spoke English. He then began to translate between myself the the sooty camera-shy laborer. My translator had lived in Boston for 20 years, and spoke both languages flawlessly. He said that the picture could be taken for a high price. I declined., but since watching is not only allowed but a favorite pastime in China, I watched. When he removed the rotating canister from the flame the crowd scattered. Some hid behind trees, others took cover beyond parked vehicles. Our little, blackened, and shrewd business man put the canister into a type of cage. The end where he placed the canister was open. Opposite the opening, the cage narrowed down into a long piece of fabric that looked similar to a windsock at rural small-craft airport. The end of this filthy fabric which was about 6 feet long, was tied in a dirty knot. When all was in place, little man gave a shout of warning. Then worked at the lid of the canister. It was obviously pressurized from its time over the flame, and when the clamps which held it in place had been jarred loose, a great report was heard. A couple of ladies came from behind a parked van and strolled casually towards Mr. Grime. He had taken the hot pressure cooker out of the cage and now held up the cage with attached windsock, shaking the spent ammunition which had shot out of the little sealed canon into the windsock, down towards the dirty knot. One of the ladies opened her purse and took out some small change. He now opened a plastic bag with his black hands and then untying the knot, emptied the contents of windsock into plastic bag.

The microwave stuff is pretty blah, really. I wonder if the guy has ever made strawberry jam.


Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Beautiful Day

When Jeri and I flew to Hangzhou last Thursday afternoon, maybe 10 persons on a completely filled aircraft wore face masks. Today, on the return flight, every passenger and flight attendant wears a mask. The attendants wear plastic gloves as well.
It is a beautiful day. I woke up this morning and saw a cloudless sky. About 8 am I went for a walk to the grocery store and bought some bread for sandwiches on the flight back to Shenzhen and then by Ferry back to Hong Kong. Beautiful Beautiful Day! Yesterday saw Hangzhou transformed from one city to another. On Sunday it was found that 3 persons, then 4 had SARS in Hangzhou. Previous to this time, the province had been SARS-free. Within an hour people (just a few) were wearing masks. Then on this beautiful morning I saw vendors along the street selling masks. People stopped to bargain for a cheap price.
But what about 4 men I met yesterday?

The first was the driver of one of the little motorcycle-powered get-alongs. I don't know what they are called, or to what they can be compared. It is a little taxi that is built around a motorcycle. The driver sits in the front and two (or if you are small three) passengers can sit on a seat behind. Built on the same principle as a tricycle, it is a great mode of transportation. I rode one back from the cloth market. Jeri had a suit made, and I didn't have enough money to pick it up, so had to return to Ben and Bess's to get more money. I rode in such a little contraption as I have described. The driver was a happy and very pleasant fellow probably in his late 20's. I wanted him to wait for me at the apartment and take me back. I invited him to wait in the lobby. He smiled and said he couldn't, then pointing to his legs indicated that he was crippled. It seemed from the withered appearance of his that he had been a victim of polio. I don't know what his expenses for rent/upkeep or gasoline of his taxi are, but I am guessing that on a really good day he maybe can make 100 Yuan (around $12.50) before expenses. I am just guessing, I don't know. But he gets 5 Yuan per fare taken, as they don't do long hauls.

The second was Wei Bing, a guy who takes occasional Bible studies and will now and then teach some Chinese to Ben or Bess. He works at a health spa, and likes to come and just hang out at the kids apartment. He lives in a single room with 4 sets of bunk beds. However, he is fortunate in that only the bottom bunks are occupied by persons. The upper bunks can be used for personal belongings. Wei Bing has told me that he earns 20 Yuan a day, or about $2.50.
The third was the man who gave me a ride home last night in his pedal cab. He wore shabby clothes and was old and tired. I don't know how much he earns in a day, but it can't be much.
And then the 4th. He carried a little saw horse on his shoulder with a hand powered grinding wheel on it. He walked down the street calling out that he would sharpen scissors or knives. I didn't note anyone eager to use his services. How much could he earn in a day?

Last night Wei Bing called me. Did I have any hand sanitizer. Yes, of course. Could he and a friend please each have one bottle. One bottle costs about 40 Yuan. Two days wages for Wei Bing.
A new hospital, not yet finished, had the 10th floor rushed to completion. This floor will be used to care for any foreigners who get SARS in Hangzhou. Some friends went to tour the facility and see if it was suitable. The report was glowing. All private rooms and private baths. TV's and phones for each patient. And if 5 people contract SARS and one is a foreigner, where will the other four go?


Sunday, April 20, 2003

Road Block

I am not certain yet as to what he did wrong. I don't even know his name. But he drove a little pedal taxi that I was in. It's like a surrey, but rather than a horse pulling it, it is powered by a man on a bicycle. I had been riding with Ben and Bess in one such vehicle. We'd come from the cloth market to the wet market. Picked up some soy beans at the wet market and went to the bank, changed money and then to the grocery store. Stopped after the grocery store at the travel agent and then to the hospital. All of this was done in a cold rain.

The driver looked like a young man who could have been a physician or a banker if things had happened differently in his life. But for whatever reason, he was our transportation. I watched him from the back as he took us around. He had a few holes in the legs of his trousers. He wore the Chinese black cloth shoes, and he just looked cold. This was especially true after the chain came off the bike and he worked on it in the rain while we shopped in the grocery store. We had bought charcoal and lighter fluid, since we wanted to barbecue some things for our lunch. When we came out of the store he had just finished putting the chain right, and he washed his hands in a mud puddle and took us to our next stop. We paid him well and asked him to come again at 4 o'clock. He came to take me for a hair cut.

As we crossed a main intersection, he did whatever it was. A policeman came from nowhere and told him to stop. The officer was anything but polite. The driver on the other hand, was groveling. He was bowing and scraping. All but kowtowing. Then I was seen. The police (reinforcements had been beckoned) told me to get out. It was obvious that whatever they had in mind to do to the driver, couldn't be done with me right there watching. I knew what they wanted, but must admit that I did not understand 100% of their sentence. The meaning was obvious, but so were the consequences. So I smiled and told them that I did not understand. Now the first officer told me in English to get out. I thanked him but pointed down a side street and said that I wished to go there, and if I got out here, I wouldn't be at my destination. They argued with me, but I, remembering that it takes two to tango, said nothing, but just smiled at them. The driver, knowing that this was his chance, tried to excuse himself as he began a U-turn. The second officer grabbed the handle bars and tried to keep him from turning. The driver now became very afraid, but his fear was not of disobeying the officer, but of obeying. It looked as if we were going to loose whatever the battle was.
I sat there thinking about the day as these two were wrestling over control of the direction we should take.. Twelve persons had died in Hong Kong of SARS today. Highest number in one day yet. And today SARS had officially entered Hangzhou. Three persons returned from Beijing, bringing it with them. And now here I was with this poor driver who was the victim of a couple of officers who didn't have justice in mind. Why not get involved. I could do more than just sit. So, I shouted at the officer. "Let Him GO!" For some reason, this was not only unexpected, but also unwanted. Lots of bikes stopped and everyone was now watching the policeman. I shouted once again. And then the first officer shouted in Chinese and the second officer let him go and we took off (in the wrong direction).
It took longer to get to the barber than expected, since we had to go the long way, but I think the driver is a friend for life.


Saturday, April 19, 2003

Quarentine thought for the day

When a patient is suspected of having SARS in Hong Kong, they are put in a large ward where it will be determined if they actually have SARS or not. The ward is shaped like the letter H. The center cross beam of the H is where the nurses station is located. The two upright sections of the H are where the patients are located. These 4 branches each hold 12 patients (this is what I observed in the Ruttongee Hospital, Hong Kong). That is up to 48 patients. All of this area is enclosed. The nurses do not go in and out of the infected area, but rather are trapped with the patients for their 8 or 12 hour shift, whatever the case may be. Some of the patients have SARS, some did not. But by the time it is over, all have been exposed. A man came in with a broken leg, and died of SARS before his hospital stay was over.

This is the reason that 1/3 of all SARS cases are in Hong Kong, and 1/3 of all of those are medical personel.


The Ward

As I write this, there have not yet been any deaths in the United States, while in Hong Kong, there have been scores. On the elevator leaving our apartment building this morning I met one of the men who work in Maintainence. He was not his usual happy self. "SARS is getting serious", he murmured. Then he said that in his apartment building, seven have come down with the plague.

Several months ago, when only odors made one reluctant to take a breath while walking down the streets of Hong Kong, I woke up in the middle of the night with chest pains. I got out of bed and went down to the entrance to the apartment building and caught a taxi to the Ruttongee Hospital. Being a Hong Kong resident, I "enjoy" the benefits of the government health system. It costs me less than USD$8.00 per day to be admitted to and receive treatment in any government hospital. This can include any treatment necessary, be it open-heart surgery, physical therapy, MRI, you name it. Same low price.

In the ER, they examined me, gave me a EKG, and immediately gave me nitro glycerin and started an IV. I was admitted. It all seemed pretty decent. Into the elevator I was taken and up to the 7th floor. I am still not certain what ailment my captors had decided was mine, but I was taken to a ward (24 beds) of aged men, all suffering from lung maladies and sleeplessness. It was 3:30 AM. The nurse turned on all the lights and around my bed in this giant ward, men were coughing up great productions. It was not difficult to tell when the results had reached an opening. There was a pause followed by the efforts of the throat rather than the entire upper torso. Then.... I slept as a condemned man.
In the morning my breakfast was brought. It was a bowl of rice gruel. Nothing more, nothing less. No fruit, no real nourishment, just a bowl of starch. Then it was time to take my blood pressure. The nurse, walking like one who has finished the Boston Marathon just moments before and now told to do rounds in the TB ward at Ruttongee hospital, Hong Kong, dragged not only herself through the ward, but also dragged the blood pressure cuff along the floor. I watched in disbelief as it caught the lint and grime from a seldom-mopped floor in this large public. The nurse was able to snap back to consciousness when she approached my bed and I told her not to touch me with her filthy cuff. "What You Say?" She demanded. I, through a series of sign language and facial disapproval, mingled with terms of disgust, explained to her that her methods were not hygenically sound.

When I asked if I could bathe, I was regarded with astonishment. This unheard-of request was not to be granted. The communal toilets were a great revelation of the depths to which humanity can plunge when mankind is not aware of cleansers or cleaning tools. There was not only nothing around with which to clean the toilets, there was nothing with which to clean the poor soul who had used the toilet.

As the day wore on, I felt more and more grime building up on my usually twice-daily-bathed body. Finally I strolled to the bathroom as if I were going to just have a casual look around. On the way I found a cart full of pajamas. I nabbed a pair (adequate for a dwarf) as I passed and sauntered into the washroom. I locked myself in a slimy shower stall and washed my poor greasy body. There was no bath soap, but I had managed to put some handsoap from the dispenser into a paper cup I had brought with me for the purpose and scrubbed myself from head to foot with soap and lots of water.

When I emerged in my shortie pj's and wet hair, having dried with my other pj's, I was met by the angry nurse with the groddy blood pressure cuff. She had only been more angry when she saw Jeri and I looking at my chart that hung on the foot of my bed. There was no giving of information to me as to my condition. But when the Doctors and nurses gathered around my bed, the spoke at length in Chinese to the other patients giving great explanations to their many questions.

I was seen as unfit to be a proper patient, and discharged early the following morning.
One of the reasons I think that there have been so many deaths from SARS in the hospitals in Hong Kong, as opposed to the US, is the dirt!


The Marmite Bomb

Jeri and I are on a boat this morning. It actually is a fast boat this time, rather unlike the promised 4-hour ride from Siem Reap to Battambang in Cambodia 3 weeks ago. That ended ride, advertised here and there with attractive posters and zippy write-ups in "Lonely Planet" was endured by our group for 11 hours. This ride is to be a short 60 minutes. There is airconditioning, and other speeding vessels pass us returning to Hongkong. This Turbojet will whisk us to Shenzhen.

We wear surgical masks, we passengers. The numbers are few. A general cloud of apprehension has settled over Hong Kong. There were bright days with optomistic reports and encouraging numbers. "Today only 42 persons contracted SARS". And then came yesterday's headlines. The highest number of deaths in a single day since the discovery of the disease.


We arrived in Shenzhen and then flew on to Hangzhou where we will spend the easter vacation with Ben and Bess. But the security in Shenzhen at the airport was a new chapter in airport security.

When we checked in at the counter, our first problem encountered was that our tickets did not give our full names. No middle names were included. There were 5 of us traveling together. We had 3 different last names between us, and the girl at the counter, seeing longer names in the passports than on the tickets, was convinced that we could easily be imposters. She asked us to stand aside and let the other passengers check in. I refused and asked for her supervisor. The stand off lasted a few minutes, but finally the supervisor appeared. He took the passports and wrote our full names on the tickets.

When the luggage was x-rayed, new problems arrose. Mrs. Faull's suitcase was selected. Now in all of the luggage there were food stuffs. Cans of food, frozen foods for the kids, corn chips, flour, etc. etc. etc. But Mrs. Faull had a bottle of Marmite. If you have never experienced Marmite, your life and sense of taste have been spared. It is a thick paste made from a yeast extract. It looks like chocolate spread and tastes like concentrated soy sauce.
The security guard pointed to this black mass in the suitcase and called Mrs. Faull to explain its presence. The suitcase was opened and the Marmite was examined. Then, in the midst of SARS panic, this unmasked stranger began to open everything in her suitcase and stick his nose in for a sniff. When he was convinced that nothing had escaped his nasal examination, he told her to close the suitcase and we were free to go to Security.
The woman at security was certain that we schemed to smuggle danger on board through the medium of drinking water in sealed evian bottles. She broke the seals and demanded of us, after placing her unmasked nasal openings directly over the now vunerable water bottles, sniffing, yet not smelling anything (since it didn't smell like the sea or a dirty river) that we must drink from our water bottles to prove to her that it was actually water. She then opened my carry-on and was about to poke her hands inside when I stopped her. Her rubber gloves looked as if she had worn them for about 3 weeks. These filthy gloves had been in every piece of luggage available. This woman who represented security made me very insecure as she was about to spread whatever it was on her gloves throughout my carry-on. After I made a demand in sign language that no one could mistake, she changed gloves and put on a new pair. The search ended and we have flown to Hangzhou.

Upon arrival, the State Department sent us an email (since we are registered with the US cousulate in Hong Kong) that we should not go to Hong Kong.

We will most likely return as planned on Monday.


Saturday, April 12, 2003

Carpet Salesman

One of our Sabbath School teacher answered the phone when I called his house. It was my mistake not to identify myself immediately. I simply assumed that he knew my strange and singular voice in this city with so many accents different from my own. I asked instead, how he was. He would not answer. Finally he asked WHO I was. When I told him, he said he was fine. His confession was then that he had thought I was a carpet salesman.

Our son Richard was admitted to a hospital in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, on Wednesday of this week with SARS. He was immediately quaranteened, and his clothes whisked away in a red bag. His girlfriend was also isolated, eventhough as of yet she showed no symptoms of this atypical pneumonia. When Geoff went to visit (the hospital had already called the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia) he was also immediately sequestered in a room by himself.

Richard called us that night from his room. He was, naturally, distressed with worry for a now uncertain future. I tried to calm him by telling him that he left Hong Kong from his brief visit here in mid-February, nearly 1 month before SARS arrived in Hong Kong. I assured him that he could not have SARS unless he had invented it.

On Thursday, Richard was released. Apologies came in great abundance. I am not sure if his clothing was returned or if is being tested in Atlanta. When I asked what the diagnosis was, he said it sounded to him something like RSVP.

Blessings are wished to each of you from the carpet salesman in Hong Kong.


Thursday, April 10, 2003

The American

Date: Wednesday, April 09, 2003 11:25 AM

When Jeri and I were in Thailand for 3 weeks, we had a weekend off from our classes. We decided that we would go to Cambodia for the weekend. It was fantastic. We visited Ankor Wat, that ancient Buddhist Temple. We visited the Jungle Temple, and then we decided to take the 4-hour trip from Siem Reap to Battambang. We got up early in the morning and had a taxi take us to the boat landing for this cruise. Jungle Cruise, the brochure had called it. There were 35 of us on the cruise ship. It was about 6 feet wide and maybe 40 feet long. It was described as Air-conditioned and non-smoking. It turned out to be non-air-conditioned and smoking.

The 35 were tourists, and the 4-hour trip took 11. That was because the propeller had fallen off and took some searching for. Plus, the "captain" explained, it was the dry season, and it takes longer when there is less water. I must admit that does make sense if one is talking of a boat trip, doesn't it?

But I want to tell you about the French family. There were 3 of them. They had a very well behaved son. He spent these 11 hours on the boat, this 3-year old boy. He didn't fuss, and he couldn't run around. He just slept or talked to his parents. They told me that they lived in Shenzhen. Shenzhen is a city of 6 million or so (it depends on who is asked), right across the border from Hong Kong in China. This French couple teaches English and French in Shenzhen.
When the boat trip finally ended, they vanished into dry relief, just happy to be off the boat and on terra firma again. But I have thought about them this week. I thought about them when they said on the news that Shenzhen is also suffering from SARS.What does one do to protect oneself from these germs? I honestly do not know. I see some people with masks, and others without. I see those who do not understand the function of the mask. Rather, they see only some kind of magic. They were Europeans. He had just gotten off the tram, and she stood at the entrance to the apartment building waiting for him. She kissed him on the mask. Right where his mouth would be underneath the mask. I thought of the mask. It is a filter. All of the invisible germs that he has hoped would not enter his lungs are stopped on the outside of the mask. And I watched as she kissed the spot.

There is so little information given. They say that so many have been admitted each day. Then they say how many have died. Then they say how many more they think will be admitted and how many more will die. But they never tell us on the news what those who were admitted or died did wrong. They never tell if they wore masks or seat belts or stayed home or rode the subways. They tell us nothing, and 7.5 million Hong Kong residents face another day just guessing what to do, and who to do it with.

It is pretty frightening. I am thankful for my great big nose. It is kind of an anchor to hang the mask on. I drape the mask over the nose and put the elastic behind the ears, and out I go. But then I see so many different kinds of faces in Hong Kong. There are the children who wear little masks. Little masks that look too little, and so useless. There are the people who wear their masks just over their mouths as if the virus is something that they might be tempted to eat, and so they have covered their lips and teeth so as to deny themselves the lethal taste. There are others who walk down the street with the mask hanging from one ear, beside their neck. And others who do not have the nose that I have. Their faces are quite broad and flat, and I am reminded of a dinner napkin lying casually on a dinner plate. I don't know what good such masks will do. Women sell designer masks from pushcarts that they roam the streets with. I saw one such mask today that had snoopy on the top of his doghouse. I didn't like it. He lay on his back, and looked too lifeless for my mood. Persons, who a month ago knew nothing of surgical masks, are today experts and sell a great variety of these bits of defense against an unknown enemy. They tell of all the benefits of each style that they display.

And so as I have thought of the Frenchman and his wife and child, I heard tonight that an American who lived in Shenzhen, the Chinese city just over the border from Hong Kong, died of SARS today. He had been trying to get into Hong Kong for treatment. He was 51 years old. His 6-year old son now has SARS.

Pray for us in Hong Kong. The city under siege by an invisible enemy. Pray for these people in Hong Kong who live in sky scraper apartment buildings and who ride elevators with strangers and who must touch elevator buttons and have no idea who else has touched them or coughed on them, and can't figure out how to touch those same buttons safely. Pray for us as we ride busses and taxies, subways and trams, all the while realizing that we ride where thousands of persons who we no neither them nor their conditions ride every day. Pray for those who have inhaled or touched or whatever they do with the virus so that they became infected. Pray for them as they lie down in the 24-bed wards of government hospitals and pretend that they are in Isolation, yet with 23 other infected persons. And pray for the Doctors and nurses who treat this contagious nightmare. Pray that they will not pay with their lives for their mercy.

And so, I know what happened to the American. I heard it on the news. I wonder about the French family, I wonder about their good little boy.


Friday, April 04, 2003

Physics Lab

Early this afternoon I sat through a physics lab. The flight landed on time and yet almost I decided to sit on the plane and deplane last. I was in the very front row and thought that I might as well relax. Jeri and told me that when she returned a day before I did from Hanggzhou to Shenzhen, the bus to the ferry (the ferry being at 2:15 to Hong Kong) didn't leave until almost 4 pm. So, why rush? But now I looked at all the people in the aisle and decided to merge and exit asap. After picking up my luggage I went to the booth that sells the ferry tickets. "Hooley", she told me, "felly reaving go Hong Kong armost now".

I ran out and caught the bus. Now I understood. Jeri had missed the bus to the 2:15 ferry. Two reasons. She probably wasn't sitting in the front of the airplane and second, she no doubt had to stop by the ladies room. This is an amazing thing. For 12.5 hours on the day that we took our 4-hour (turned 11 plus taxi to and from) jungle-cruise boat ride, she didn't need to use the ladies room for any reason once she had heard it described. But, on a sunny day with modern facilities she becomes a public facility inspector. How thouroughly she does her job. Not one resting icon can be left un-inspected. I know, without having asked her, that she got to wait an extra couple of hours and visit several more restrooms than I because she no doubt stopped by one between the airplane and the bus. I know she did.
The bus driver, knowing that he didn't want me around all afternoon, set the laboratory in motion the instant I had hurled my heavy luggage into place and placed my unprepared body in an insecure seat complete without seatbelt or protective padding.

He pressed a button that beeped 4 times like the timer on a bomb, and the door closed. THis gave the false impression that all was under control.

He looked over his shoulder to see if there were more victims than the three unwarry passengers who had boarded his bus and made the mistake of NOT hiding in a public restroom to avoid this ride that could be known as "Future Shock".

No others came towards the bus and he shot out of the parking place in keen competition with unseen rivals. My first sense of real, as opposed to imagined, danger was when he hit the speed bump. The bus was long enough that I, sitting on the very back seat so as to not be exposed unnecessarily to germs, saw the other two guinnea pigs sitting near the front of the laboratory, fly into the air demonstrating in their asscent and subsequent unhindered fall both thrust and gravity. Our driver seemed pleased with the results of his first expirament. He then, being a good scientist and wanting to see his study completed, looked in the rear-view mirror, stepping on the accelerator to watch me orbit around several seats in the rear.

This completed, he studied next what I believe is known as veolcity. He drove at an unprecidented speed towards a red light. Just short of the red light, he stopped in an instant. Luggage and bodies continued in the same direction they had been traveling and at somewhat the same speed until all came to sudden rest against "immovable objects".
Next came a thorough examination of the principles of centrifuge. This took place on a large traffic circle. The expirament would of course be flawed without the necessary speed. This having been achieved, I watched as the bus turned turned left and my stomach allowed me to know the direction my luggage was traveling by traveling also to the right while our capsule continued on around the circle to the left. Most insightful!

The above expiraments were all carried out by and on masked subjects. This had the effect of camaflouge. Each of us actually looked somewhat calm.

And so, battered and educated, I am aboard the sea craft on my way to Hong Kong.