Porters, Rebellion and Regicide

Reprinted from The Globe and Mail (June 2001), where it appeared as Red Flag Rising over Nepal.

Six centuries of smoldering antagonism exploded into flames Saturday nigh, says Canadian writer Alexander Boldizar in Bali.

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Dinosaurs on the Roof

gmdino150“Ice.” Shiatie Taget’s voice came in faintly, stretched and delayed by its trip from Pond Inlet to the Iridium satellite high above the North Pole, then back to our frostbitten group of polar paleontologists. “From Greenland,” he added.

We were trapped on Nunavut’s Bylot Island by 100 km/h winds, August snow and ever-shifting ice floes. The voice delay made Shiatie, our boatman and eventual rescuer, sound as though he were speaking through jaws stiff from cold. In reality, he was probably only lifting his cheekbones gently in the Inuit version of a shrug, and speaking without moving his lips. A minimum of wasted movement, like lifting eyebrows to say ‘yes,’ smiling ‘hello,’ or crinkling the nose instead of ‘no.’ Shiatie had spent the day locked within the grinding, popping, gurgling ice-cakes in a failed attempt to pick us up. He had floated for hours through Eclipse Sound before managing to break free. But not through.

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