Saturday, August 05, 2006

I Shouldn't Be Alive: Chris Moon [Discovery Channel]

Today, I was watching a program on Discovery called “I shouldn’t be alive”. This is actually a series.. every week they show a different story. The one I saw today has kind of impressed me deeply.

Today’s episode was about a guy named Chris Moon. Since I dint watch the programme from start, I don’t even know Chris’s nationality. Nor do I know the year when these events occurred. Regardless, I felt extremely humbled. Read on to know more…

Apparently, Chris was in Cambodia for some reason. He was leading a couple of mini-trucks through the remote roads when he was captured by soldiers of the Khmer Rouge. For those who don’t know, Khmer Rouge is “credited” with the second-highest mass-murder in human history, second only to Hitler. Their practice of taking innocent farmers out of their huts and into the fields and executing them in hundreds, is said to be the origin of the phrase “killing fields”.

So Chris was with a couple of native Cambodians, among them Mr. Houn. They were all kidnapped by the Khmer Rouge and taken deep into the jungle. The program goes on to show how they survived 3 days and 3 nights of ordeal in captivity, before their patience and calmness prevailed and they survived. First of all, Chris never lost hope. Secondly, he showed extra ordinary presence of mind. He reasoned with his captors, even tried tactics such as praising them and saying he’l spread the word about their “goodness” blah blah. I don’t want to get into all these details.

Point is, on the third night, they walked from 7 pm to 5 am and crossed rivers and land-mine ridden jungles in the darkness to exit the Khmer-Rouge territory and reach the safety of the Government-controlled territory. This itself is mighty impressive.

But there’s more to it. 2 years after his brush with death in Cambodia, Chris was in Mozambique, working for the UN (I think). His work was to detect land mines and remove them safely. Years of civil war in Mozambique have resulted in the entire country being severely riddled with land mines. I remember watching a program which shows that a large percentage of Mozambique’s population is adversely affected by these landmines – directly or indirectly. For instance a double-digit percentage of them are handicapped or maimed for life because of accidentally stepping on one.

That’s exactly what happened to Chris too. He accidentally stepped on a landmine and was badly injured. He had to be airlifted, but that dint do him much good. Chris said in an interview that "There are times when the pain is so intense that at that point in time, dying seems a better option". One of his legs was blown off below the knee and one of his hands had to be amputated too. Now comes the real motivating part. In spite of all the physical and emotional dents, Chris recovered and a couple of years later, participated in a Heptathlon somewhere in the deserts of Africa. He completed the event with only 2 natural limbs – the other 2 were artificial! Hows that for “Never-Say-Die” spirit??

But this keep-going attitude is not the only lesson I learned from Chris. He was working selflessly deep in Cambodian jungles and mine-infested areas of Mozambique. That’s what caught my attention. There are thousands of volunteers from organizations like International Red Cross Society and the United Nations Organization; who have given up comfortable lifestyles and are working for the betterment of the poorer sections of society.

It is this display of selfless genuine, International Humanity that makes me feel insignificant. For, here I am sitting at home or in my A/C office and commenting on lots of issues. But will I ever actually leave my comfort zone and venture out to help where it matters? I do hope so.

I conclude this post by bowing in salute to all those countless unsung heroes who are doing what matters to bring the standard of living of our fellow human beings to humane levels.


Anonymous said...


Great review...but when u write a review about a TV series, mention the time at which it is aired, for people who would be interested....


Kiran said...

Hey Suchitra.. thanks for that advice.. makes much more sense than just writing the name of the program.

now, i dont remember exactly, but i think it was on Friday 11:00 pm

Anonymous said...

I just got done watching it. Incredible story, wasn't it? I'm trying to find a way on contacting Chris Moon. You were right in all of the detail of this episode.

You asked a good question about "comfort zones". I was just thinking the same thing of myself after watching this.

The way he described of that chance of the first escape from the river. The sanest choice in the most insane situation.

The other decision he made, is finding the reason to live while in so much pain.

feel free to contact me if you wish to chat about this more.

TV. series are based on different time zones. For me, that episode came on at 1:00pm, on the Discovery :)

arun said...

this is one of the best inspirational episode i ever seen ,after seen whole episode only word come in my mind that :never say die attitude ;
how in such odd condition a man save its and his co-workers life and on the other hand thousand of people suicide just of some stupid reasone