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Final Edit
November 2003

The image we rescued from the cutting room floor.

Final Edit Editor Illustrations editor Elizabeth Krist explains why a goddess was banished…then redeemed.



Cut It?
"Initially, we saw the story as an adventure depicting what life is like along the Burma Road," says illustrations editor Elizabeth Krist. "But as photographer Maria Stenzel spent more time there, she found herself drawn to situations that directly related to the war. Along the same lines, the Editor felt that a stronger focus on World War II would help structure the story visually. Once the focus shifted, the historical pictures we added to the layout displaced many of the contemporary photographs, including this one of the goddess Kali."


Or Keep It?
"This photograph conveys a strong sense of place to people who know the region," Elizabeth continues. "For those who don't, it gives a lively feel for being on the road there. The Ambassador cars and the statue of Kali—with her fearsome tongue and jewelry of dismembered humans—are both in their own ways icons of Indian culture. And the angle from which the picture was shot creates a sensation of discovery, as if we've just stumbled upon a scene that could have come from an India of 50 years ago."

—Amanda Bowling



November Final Edit
Photograph by Maria Stenzel Send this image as a postcard

BURMA ROAD
In Gods They Trust

She's unmistakably a Hindu goddess—multi-armed Kali, creator and destroyer, flaunting a necklace of severed heads—and she caught the eye of photographer Maria Stenzel. "Everything about the scene, from Kali to the Ambassador cars, just said India."

This shop, in Ledo, has been making statues of Hindu deities for festivals since 1942, when the Burma Road was being built. "I was trying to link what I was shooting with what soldiers in World War II might have seen," says Stenzel. But soldiers could also have seen men loading a coal train by hand (NGM pages 90-91), an image chosen for its stronger emotional impact. "When you look at that train photo," says illustrations editor Elizabeth Krist, "you feel how overwhelming it must be to shift that mountain of coal."

—Margaret G. Zackowitz


Check out Burma Road, the feature story for which this photo was originally taken.
Final Edit Photographer Zoom In on more images by Maria Stenzel.




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