Map of Czech Republic

Thomas Washburn wrote 43 letters home during the 17 months that he worked for ABB Lummus Global in Brno, the largest city in the western part of the Czech Republic. He called them his Brno Chronicle. At first, it was not meant to be published, but was intended to keep Thom in touch with his wife, friends and family as he explored this fascinating country, made new friends and learned to function a new culture.

Nowhere in the Chronicle does Thom give any details on the work he was doing in Brno. We understand that the Czech office of ABB was designing a portion of a petro-chemical project that was being managed from Thom's home office in Houston, Texas and that Thom was coordinating and facilitating the interchange between the two offices which were eight time zones apart. He worked closely with the men and women in the Czech office and admired their considerable contribution to the project. He communicated daily with Houston. Most of the people from the American office stayed for shorter periods than Thom, so when they arrived he helped them settle in and was pleased to include them on his rambles. You will meet them all.

Thom lived in the Czech Republic during seven periods, each of less than three month's duration. In the Table of Contents to the far left the E-mails will be grouped by period and listed by the date sent. Thom excluded any communications sent in the brief intervening times he was home.

The Chronicle shows Thom with all of his flaws and foibles, as he changed from a bemused spectator to an ardent admirer of the Czech Republic. Genuine friendships developed and, always a history buff, Thom fell under the spell of the cultural heritage of the region. It is this discovery that he has tried to share with us. As we read, we can also chuckle at his self-deprecating humour and watch his growing optimism and his personal development.

Thom's earlier letters reflect his loneliness and some of the minutiae will be deleted, hopefully without losing Thom's voice. Rather than upload them in chronological order, we will display representative letters from each period first and gradually fill in the missing ones. This gives us a chance to showcase his great photos from his later journal entries a little sooner. The time required to incorporate those photos within the appropriate text is the reason that this site will develop gradually.

His experiences in the Czech Republic enriched Thom's life. It was a turning point for him. He became again the upbeat, exuberant person that he had been as a youth and his career advancement reflected this change. While he made many new friends there, he was especially fond of Pavel Novak and Fadi Al Mhaini. Two years later Thom requested that Fadi join him in Saudi Arabia. When Thom was shot, Fadi risked his life to comfort and help him. During the week he was in hospital in Yanbu Thom expressed a determination to return to Brno to thank Fadi and to see Pavel and Hana and his other friends, even though he knew he would not likely walk again. He was scheming about how he might accomplish this unaware of the other bullet deep in his brain.

There was such hope for Thom's survival that he was transferred to a hospital in Houston to start rehabilitation. Many of the people in the ABB Lummus Global office in Brno sent E-mails to Thom there but by then he had slipped into a coma. We read them all to him and maybe on some level he did hear their message. His family were very touched by this show of affection. May this Brno Chronicle help all his friends remember Thom.

© Copyright 2005 Sheila Washburn