Where In The World Is Ian Michael Hamet?

Ian Hamet of Banana Oil hasn’t responded to any of my e-mail since the end of June; his blog has been displaying a WordPress database error since the 22nd of July. I am worried about him.

Usually if a blogger falls silent, it’s cause for disappointment but not for alarm. People get tired of blogging; people get a life apart from the ‘Net; there are all kinds of good reasons for the silence. In Ian’s case, though, he’s an American expatriate living in Shanghai. He doesn’t speak the language well, and he’s there on his own, without much of a support system–unless he’s made some close friends among the Shanghainese. Ian doesn’t blog much about his private life, so I don’t know. In any event, I can think of all kinds of horrible things that might prevent Ian from blogging. Adding to this his lack of response to e-mail, and as I say, I grow worried.

Last week I sent a note off to the American consulate in Shanghai, asking if they could do anything. They tried to contact him, but were unsuccessful. I don’t know how hard they tried, but it appears to me that they took my request seriously.

So, I think it’s time to unleash the power of the blogosphere. There must be blog readers in Shanghai; one of them might have a clue as to where Ian is and whether he’s OK. Let’s spread the word, shall we?

With any luck, this is much ado about nothing–Ian’s just taking an extended sabbatical from the ‘Net, or perhaps the Great Firewall of China is blocking him from his e-mail and webhost. But I keep picturing him being ill or injured in Shanghai, a foreigner with no one to help him.

  • By Beth, August 7, 2006 @ 5:46 am

    Hi Will,

    My husband grew up with Ian. They were very close friends until about 6 years ago, when Ian fell off the face of the earth. He refused to even contact his family, who by the way, LOVES him very much. His mother is especially upset. I was the one who found Ian on the internet a few years ago when he started Banana Oil. This was at least a small relief to his family who was worried sick about him. Apparently, Ian hates them for reasons no one understands. (He once tried to explain it to me, and I still don’t get it.) At any rate, any sort of contact attempted through his website or Banana Oil was never responded to. I once even tried to leave a comment about something his had written that I happened to agree with and he deleted it. My husband was a terrific friend to Ian. I would also like to think I was as well. We cared very much about him and his well-being. Apparently, he did not feel the same. There was never any explanation from him as to why he felt he needed to disconnect from everyone. In fact, he was working with my husband on a sketch comedy show at the time of his disappearance and was fine one and day, and just didn’t show up the next.

    At any rate, I feel like I’m rambling here….the point of my response is that there are many people back where Ian is from that are worried about him, and this recent information on your blog is very concerning.

    My husband and I do not approve of how he has treated his family, but we still do care about his well-being. Thanks for your concern as well.

    Thanks again.

  • By Will Duquette, August 7, 2006 @ 4:08 pm

    I first met Ian after Banana Oil came along–in fact, he was the first person (so far as I know) to add my blog to his blog roll. So I can’t comment on why’s or wherefore’s. I’d gotten some notion that he was on the outs with his family, which is one reason I’m concerned about him now.

    Anyway, if I find out anything that I can post, you’ll see it right here.

  • By Beth, August 7, 2006 @ 5:04 pm

    Thanks a lot Will.

    I just hope he’s okay.


  • By R, August 9, 2006 @ 5:13 am

    I’m nobody significant, but I’m very worried about him, too…

  • By Andrea Hamet, August 10, 2006 @ 3:11 pm

    I am Ian’s mother and want you to know how much his father and I appreciate your concern. I have been in contact the the State Department and the US Embassy in Beijing regarding Ian’s well being and safety. There is no result yet.

  • By Jessica, August 23, 2006 @ 4:27 pm

    Hi Will —

    Ian and I were far-apart friends for a while, and then lost touch. I went looking for his blog today and found this entry. Thank you SO much for raising the alarm.

    I just sent him an email, but we haven’t been in touch since June ’05, so I doubt I’ll be the first to hear back from him.

    Might the folks at Shanghaiist be able to help in spreading the word?

  • By Will Duquette, August 23, 2006 @ 5:45 pm


    Thanks for the suggestion! I’ll take a look at Shanghaiist. I confess, I’m not very sanguine at this point. Ian’s parents have been in touch with the consulate in Shanghai; the consulate has verified that Ian hasn’t left the country, been hospitalized, or been arrested. Consequently, it would appear that either something awful has happened to him in such a way that the authorities haven’t noticed (or have chosen not to notice) or he’s consciously chosen to drop out of sight (which apparently is quite easy to do). It seems unlikely to me that anything could have kept him away from his e-mail and weblog otherwise.

    I’ve not given up hope, mind you…but at this point my main hope is that Ian will choose to get back in touch some day.

  • By Jessica, August 24, 2006 @ 4:11 am

    Thanks for the update. I posted last night my time (East Coast) and thought I wouldn’t hear back for a while.

    The last time I heard from him he was worried that difficulties finding a decent-paying job would force him to leave China, so if he’s still in the country, either he’s moved, he’s working in Shanghai, or something very very awful happened. (Yeah, that narrows it down.)

    I for one would not be adverse to a campaign All Over Teh Internets so that he could rise up and blast us for our interference. But if he’s just pulling a disappearing act — which, from the first comment, is not unprecedented — than no amount of trans-Internet hooting and hollering will smoke him out.

    Ah, well. Again, thanks for your concern.

  • By Matt, August 27, 2006 @ 7:22 am

    I lived in China for three years. Shanghai isn’t some backwater town. It’s a big city with lots of foreigners. The Chinese are friendly and a foreigner in trouble is a very big deal. Obviously, it’s very easy to choose to disappear to people using phone or email to communicate, since it only requires not answering said email or phone. That said, a tall white guy in China sticks out. Someone on the ground who knows a little Chinese only needs to ask, “Is there a foreigner around here?” Everyone in the neighborhood will know.

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