From the Diplomatic Bag: An Autobiography by William McDowell

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William McDowell's life makes the kind of colourful story that simply doesn't happen in the modern world. Packed with adventure, excitement, thrills, spills, and incongruous humour, it tells of his life in India, the country of his birth, from the motor industry to the Diplomatic Service by way of police and army service. McDowell's brushes with death began early in life. The son of a soldier, while still in his teens he was kidnapped by a group of tribesmen and kept prisoner for several days in a case of mistaken identity. Twice he was nearly killed when his vehicle plunged over an embankment, once because he had passed out with the heat, the second time when his lorry's brakes failed. On a canoe voyage down a swollen river he was flung from his canoe and dragged out of the water more dead than alive. He also narrowly survived a plane crash. The sectarian turmoil during the partition of India McDowell witnessed involved many harrowing experiences. He saw a close friend decapitated by an angry mob of Muslim fanatics and had to deal with the aftermath of slaughters by extremist Muslims which left scores of innocent people dead or horribly mutilated.He also witnessed the death of a beater on a shoot from a cobra bite and found the body of a man who had been hanged from his own ceiling in retribution for a debt. On a less tragic note, there was the time McDowell unwittingly threw the president of the Punjabi National Congress out of a train after a dispute about the occupancy of a compartment, an event which nearly cost him his career. He was also once offered the freedom of the harem by his friend the Maharaja of Patiala. Life did start to calm down a little after McDowell managed to shoot his own foot off on a pigeon-shooting trip, but the adventures were not over. When he was sent to the high passes of the Himalayas to find out where Russian refugees from the revolution were getting through, he was snowed in for three months. He survived only by killing and eating a hibernating black bear which was sharing his cave. Somehow, McDowell found time in between all this to serve more peacefully in Ceylon and Cyprus and raise a family.