I want you to look closely at this picture. These children are aged between eight years old and 12. They are Maoist gorillas. They carry weapons they make babies. They are people. At the time I visited this area of Nepal there was a war going on between the Maoist Gorillaz and the Nepalese government these children had no choice but to be terrorists. The picture you are seeing is a very rare one because we were tracking in this area on the way to Tibet with a group of people I was leading and we were captured by the Maoist Gorillaz.

These children were sent to spy on us in our camp the day before. The tourists pulled guns on us and stopped us on our journey. I had one person in the group from Canada who had dysentery and couldn’t stop shitting her pants even when she tried. I had eight staff with donkeys and luggage I even had money in a secret compartment in my wallet to pay for our passage through this part of the Himalayas but we were denied. The terrorists intended to stop us and charge a ransom for our escape. I was responsible for five people who had visited from foreign countries. They had paid me to lead them into danger. This is not an easy story to tell because I must confess I had never been in the situation before but what I did was quite extraordinary. I would say it saved lives.

When we were confronted by the terrorists I stepped forward and blocked the trail for the terrorists to continue. They had guns and were very hungry so we provided food for them. But what they wanted was our money and they wanted to capture us to get ransom for our escape. The first thing I did was to protect the poorest of the group, the porters and those who were with us to look after the animals carrying our baggage and so I sent a message in English which the terrace could not understand well back through our group that the last person in the group should turn around and run away. One by one our group reduced in numbers until I had only the tourists to negotiate for. At this point, I brought the lady with diss entry to the front who stunk like 200 toilets that had never been flushed. The terrorist asked me to take a photo of them which would’ve been the end of everything because now they would’ve had justification to attack us physically. I kept a sense of humour throughout the whole process but one by one I sent my team of tourists back down the trail and isolated the terrorists.

Eventually, there were just two of us left and we were big physical guys who were capable of putting up some form of resistance. Although they had guns and knives they didn’t want to harm us but rather charge ransom for our safe return. At this point, it was a sense of humour that released us back. I kept joking as if they weren’t serious I don’t know if this fits with all the theory of negotiating. I’ve watched the masterclass and I know there are theories of negotiation. But I treated these people with respect these kids and the terrorists who governed them were poor, they believed in their leadership and they were acting under instructions. I just had to give them a good reason why the instructions weren’t followed. With the ill person front and centre smelling like old toilet paper that had been left outside in the sun for weeks, they intend to keep us reduced to some sort of empathy to release us and get help for my client.

It’s interesting how this fascinating little photo, is a rare snap but if you look into the eyes of the people in the photo they are extremely poor, vulnerable and abused. And yet one or two of them have a smile on their face. It’s a testament to the resilience of the human condition. That’s why I love this photo so much.

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