On a bus in Xi'anby John Koenig on 05/03/13
Five years ago, while visiting Xi’an, China, I board a tour bus bound for the Tomb of the Terracotta Soldiers. The only open seat places me next to a fellow American, a friendly looking gentleman with gray hair and mustache. Jim Taylor, he says as we shake hands.
Over the course of the day, I learn that while Jim calls Seattle home, he lives most of the time in Micronesia, where he works as a legal adviser to Pacific island nations. He’s been vacationing in China for three weeks, spending part of the time with a farm family in the north. Before parting, we discover that we will both be in Shanghai the following week. Jim plans to have dinner there with a friend, another American who had established a marketing firm in China. He invites me to join them and I do. It’s a fascinating evening, learning about the life of an American ex-pat in the wild east of Chinese capitalism.
Facebook enables Jim and me to stay intermittently in touch. I follow his latest island-hopping adventures. He learns that I recently published a novel about a young Polish girl who escapes from a Siberian labor camp and makes her way to Iran. Once or twice, we exchange emails.
This morning, I check Amazon to make sure my book Danuta is still being offered there and discover a new reader review. It’s from a James W. Taylor and begins, “When I read Danuta, I didn't read anything – I saw it as I would a movie, each word developing the story line.”
Yes, the reviewer is the same gentleman I met on the bus in Xi’an. He has downloaded the novel to his Kindle and read it in Saipan.
Someday, Jim and I will meet again. I’ll buy him a drink in thanks for his thoughtfulness. Question is, where in the world will that be?