Someone brings her deep into the tangled woods outside her small town in southeastern Nepal and leaves her there, alone.
My partner and I moved to Nepal in Maytwo years after the devastating magnitude 7. He was an engineer, helping reconstruct the crumbled temples.
One such laborer was Subash Tamang, who was mistakenly declared dead after a traffic accident in Saudi Arabia. A showcase for compelling storytelling from the Los Angeles Times. It followed me to a few different magazines.
The story, which revealed disturbing truths about the lives of migrant workers in Saudi Arabia, was made possible by people who sometimes took risks — physical as well as political — to talk to me. The smog choking Katmandu Valley had kept me from my first glimpse of the Himalayas. Now peaks punched through the clouds out the plane window.
The snow-covered crags made a sharp contrast with the impossible green of the rice paddies below. I interviewed Subash as he sat on his front porch, holding his death certificate from Saudi Arabia, laughing and crying at the same time.
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The death certificate should have carried the name of another young Nepali man, Tejendra Bhandari. Several drivers said the drive to the village, 12 hours by car from the closest airport during good weather, was impossible during the rainy season. At the end of the brain-jiggling journey, the bridge out of the last town was washed out, he informed us. When we emerged from a sheet of rain at a small rest stop along the mountain road, the owner was stunned. But not too long after, she appeared from the downpour.
We followed her swift, silent walk along muddy trails that sucked your shoes off your feet. A roaring came from the distant black, somewhere below. Over the fire, she told us that she raised Tejendra, her only sibling. They fed us lentils cooked in onion and garlic and thin milk from the water buffalo that lowed outside.
She wanted to guide us the four hours down to the next town, but we eventually persuaded her to turn back. Getting a visa to report in Saudi Arabia was a bigger challenge. One day, from a cafe in Morocco, I interviewed Jamal Khashoggi, a well-known Saudi expert who maintained ties to the royal family despite having recently gone into exile in Virginia. Those millions of young Saudis who want jobs, eventually they might go on the streets.
Shortly after, I was told my visa had been approved. A year later in Istanbul, Turkey, I was shocked, like much of the world, to learn Khashoggi had been killed in the Saudi Consulate there.
I was in Spain when I finally booked my ticket for Saudi Arabia. At the recommendation of women journalist colleagues, I scoured Madrid for an abaya, the customary all-black dress for women in Saudi Arabia. Failing to find one, I bought the most conservative items I could. The next day at the hotel, an abaya was waiting for me.
It was too long; I kept tripping.
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Amid a collapse in oil prices at the time, thousands of migrant workers had been stranded, unpaid and unable to go home. They staged rare protests, and we spoke to some outside a labor camp for Saudi Binladen Group, the construction giant whose owning family had disowned their son, Osama. The company had laid off thousands of foreign laborers. Feeling awkward sitting in the back of an SUV for hours in endless traffic, I moved up front.
On one trip, as we approached a security checkpoint, I realized belatedly how vulnerable the driver was as a foreign worker in Saudi Arabia — and the danger I had put him in.
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After a week and several attempts to visit the power plant where Subash had worked, the government handler said Hyundai and Saudi officials declined to meet me or let me see the plant, in part because I was a single woman. Officials also evaded interviews back in Nepal. Now, some 25, Nepalese workers are again stranded abroad, and even more are struggling back home amid the coronavirus and global economic collapse.
She was also a finalist for the Livingston Awards. More Column One Storytelling. Tokyo Summer Olympics. Column One: When in Tokyo, forget everything you know about 7-Elevens and convenience stores. After getting his DNAhe messaged a stranger: I think you might be my father.
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All Sections. About Us. B2B Publishing. Business Visionaries. Hot Property. Times Events. Times Store. Facebook Twitter Show more sharing options Share Close extra sharing options. Monsoon mist hangs over the foothills outside Adhikarichaur, Nepal. More stories.
Subash Tamang holds his own death certificate from Saudi Arabia, sitting on his porch in Laxmimarga, Nepal, on June 27, Subitra Bhandari, now 74, le the way outside of Adhikarichaur, Nepal, on July 15, Subash Tamang was a Hyundai employee at the plant and held there on effective house arrest for some 18 months after the company misidentified a deceased Nepali. Follow Us twitter instagram facebook. Business A new thing rich people are into: absolutely enormous crystals.