| I never attended
journalism school, but even if I had I doubt there
would have been a course for editors on: Effective
Means for Coaxing Your Journalist Out of a Mine
Such a lesson might have come in handy two days
ago at a roadside stop near Askeran while an ArmeniaNow
team traveled in Nagorno Karabakh.
We were traveling back to Shoushi from Mardakert.
On the outskirts of what used to be the sprawling,
but is now the crushed city of Aghdam, Arthur
asked if Id stop the car so that he could
take a photo of an Azeri cemetery.
This was Arthurs first time to shoot in
Karabakh. Well, with a camera anyway. Hed
been sent to a border town near Fizuhli during
his army conscription. But soldiers exist to create
cemeteries, not to document them, so this was
new ground. And the ground Arthur stepped out
onto most likely was not safe.
Over a few years of traveling in the regions
of Karabakh Ive come to know that any step
off a proven path could be a dangerous one here.
It didnt occur to me that Arthur didnt
know that too, until I saw him off the side of
the road, where I expected to see him, and instead
in the middle of the cemetery where I knew his
steps were a gamble.
I once found myself in his place on an excursion
near the contact line in Talish. But Id
never been on the safe side of the situation.
My plan for extraction was simply, firmly, but
calmly, to tell him that he needed to come back,
because it was time for us to go. You know, places
to go, people to meet. And, by the way, coming
out could you step exactly where you stepped on
your way in?
We were traveling, though, with our new friend
Rouben. Rouben was at a roadside picnic once when
a man landed in the middle of Roubens lunch
table, after being blown off a tractor that crossed
a land mine. Rouben had a different let
us say, more direct approach to the situation.
Arthur! You cant be out there, this
place is full of mines!
Well, this is not anywhere near what a person
wants to hear when his main concern has been shutter
speed and light exposure. Welcome to a more serious
definition of exposure, my young friend.
We watched as Arthur whats the word
here? negotiated, I guess,
his way out of a graveyard willing to accept one
more occupant. What advice do you give someone
in this predicament? Watch your step, buddy,
hardly seemed right.
Again, our crusty travel companion had answers.
Rouben allowed that one should, first of all,
take very loooong steps. If he felt anything unusual
on his leg or under his foot he could: Freeze
in his place and wait until an expert could be
summoned; or he could throw himself as far forward
as possible and hope to only lose a leg.
Of course this would be a very different story
if our colleague hadnt made it out of that
field ashen faced and laughing from nerves,
but otherwise okay and certainly wiser.
We joked about it on the ride back. And it will
make a good tale in the newsroom. For too many,
though, the stories have no amusing end.
According to Rouben -- who lived through the
war, and now lives with its lingering damage,
including land mines about once a month
somebody here isnt as lucky as our haphazard
Im eager to see the photo Arthur shot out
there. It better be damn good.