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  Field Notes From
Nepal: Changed for Good, for Bad, Forever

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View Field Notes
From Writer

T. D. Allman

View Field Notes
From Photographer

Maggie Steber

In most cases these accounts are edited versions of a spoken interview. They have not been researched and may differ from the printed article.

Photographs by Maggie Steber (top) and Bandia National Park Staff

In Changing Nepal

Field Notes From Writer
T. D. Allman
The best thing about the Nepal assignment was seeing old friends from times past, some from more than 30 years ago. Many were boys back then; many are grandparents now. You get a sense of how a society changes that way. I was nearly killed when the balloon in which I was flying made a forced landing to avoid hitting a power line. One of the balloon’s steel cables wrapped around my neck and almost strangled me as we hit the ground. It struck me as strange that, after working in so many war zones around the world, I could have been killed in a balloon. I was nearly killed twice. A bull elephant charged our she-elephant in the Bardia jungle. If not for the foul mouth and arrow-straight aim of our mahout, Pardesi, my guide and I would not have escaped. Bhyali Chorre, the bull elephant, was stomping and plowing up the earth, set to attack, when Pardesi began shouting things about the elephant’s relationship with its mother. Then he fired a stick toward the elephant, landing it right between its eyes. The animal was stunned, but not long enough for us to get away. So it charged us again. And again, Pardesi hit it with a stick in what I realized was a test of wills. This happened three times before we escaped and, even then, the bull elephant pursued us through the jungle. We told Maggie Steber, the photographer, all about it when we returned to the lodge. ‘Wow, that mahout sure knows how to curse in Nepali,’ I said. ‘And if he ever moves to the States, he should pitch for the majors.’

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