Around the World in 50 Years

Around the World in 50 Years by Albert Podell

Book: Around the World in 50 Years by Albert Podell Read Free Book Online
Authors: Albert Podell
were boarding up the windows. We learned that the university students were on their way to protest America’s aid to India and might attempt to sack the library. We weren’t in East Pakistan to cover the war, but we could at least get photographs. I dashed across the street and into a four-story office building whose balconies offered a perfect vantage point for taking pictures. I raced up the concrete stairs and knelt down on the third-floor balcony, concealed from the street, while Steve hid himself in a parked bus. I soon heard the shouts of the marchers coming down Topkhana Road and screwed a telephoto lens on my camera.

    The day after the 1965 war began between India and Pakistan, the irate citizens of Dacca, capital of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), staged an angry march on the United States Information Agency, claiming America was providing arms to the Indians. I came within seconds of being lynched.
    Suddenly, two soldiers came up behind me and dragged me inside, into a large room whose door read: CIVIL DEFENSE HEADQUARTERS AND OFFICE OF THE COMMISSIONER OF DACCA.
    They held me down in a chair as four officers fired questions at me. A mob of agitated civil defense employees surrounded me. One pulled the film out of my camera. He snarled “Indian spy!” as he spat at me.
    â€œKill the Indian spy,” another worker shouted.
    â€œDeath to the enemy,” screamed another.
    â€œHang him! Hang him! Hang him!” the angry crowd chanted.
    A porter came in with a thick rope, threw it over a rafter, and started fashioning a noose.
    â€œHang him! Hang Him! Hang him!” the room rocked with the chant.
    â€œSTOP!” I cried out. “I’m not an Indian spy; I’m an American magazine editor.”
    â€œThen why are you prowling around our Civil Defense Headquarters?”
    â€œI have a very bad case of diarrhea. I caught some bad bug in filthy India. I just arrived in Dacca and was looking for a toilet. It’s an emergency.”
    â€œHang the spy! He’s lying. Hang the liar! Hang him!”
    With nothing to lose, I wrestled free, pulled down my pants with one swift motion, and explosively shat a greasy bright-yellow barrage all over the floor, making it graphically clear, even to the most vehement of the lynch mob, that I was not faking a stomach disorder. (I’d been afflicted with increasingly loose bowels and painful cramps for more than a week, but hadn’t gone to a doctor, hoping the problem would cease. Instead, it had grown steadily worse.)
    Still, all I had proven was that I could crap on cue. Thus, I was not only a spy, but a spy with the world’s most disgusting party trick.
    Just then Steve, who’d seen me being dragged off the balcony, pushed his way into the room and shouted, “What are you doing to my friend?”
    They all turned to Steve.
    â€œThis Indian spy is your friend?”
    â€œHe’s no spy. He’s the editor of a big American magazine. And I write articles for it.”
    â€œIt’s forbidden to take pictures here,” the ranking officer replied. “Show me your identification.”
    â€œWe are reporting on the unity and impressive morale of the people of East Pakistan in the face of the Indian aggression,” Steve told him, handing over his passport. “We are not spies.”
    The arbiter studied it carefully, then walked across the room and made a phone call. When he hung up, he turned to us: “We shall see.”
    Half an hour later, in walked the American Vice Consul, who’d been summoned to vouch for our identity. “I thought the consul general told you two to stay out of trouble,” he said, as I removed the rope from my neck.
    Although no noose was good news, Dacca was succumbing to hysteria. Hindus and Moslems, even old friends, were beginning to fight, raising fears that communal riots, like those of 1947 that claimed nearly a million lives, might reoccur. An emergency

Similar Books

Faithful

Louise Bay

Madonna of the Apes

Nicholas Kilmer

Trusting Again

Peggy Bird

First Date

Krista McGee