Nepali Times
The Sherpa in me


Even though I am a Sherpa I had never been to Khumbu, the land of my parents. I am 16 years old, but hadn't yet discovered the 'Sherpa' in me.

We flew Yeti Airlines, owned by Ang Tsering Sherpa, to Lukla. Ang Tsering and my father had dreamed together of their future from the high pastures here. I was surprised by Lukla, my father's village. I was expecting a medieval settlement, but Lukla turned out to be a bustling, modern town with a busy airport and the gleaming summit of Karyolung peering down on it.

The trek was for Jeffrey Kottler and his team, who were here on a project to empower Nepali girls. We began in Ghat, where the uncle who named me, Pasang Sherpa, came from. He and my father AD Sherpa accompanied me, as did my cousin Dawa Chiri, an artist lama.

OUR HOME: Me and my sister, Heyshe

My father, who loved the yaks he tended here when he was my age, was nervous that we didn't know what to do when we encountered yaks. He told me and my sister Heyshe that when you pass yaks, you have to be sure you are on the 'mountain' side of the the trail.

At Ghat, my father was to give six scholarships on behalf of his company, Friends In High Places, to help Jeffrey's program. I was stunned by the patience with which the students had waited for us all morning because of our delayed flight. They were all clad in Sherpa dress, and held khatas. There was confusion about whether I was a foreigner or a Sherpa. I felt as confused as they did about my identity.

Jeffrey surprised me by saying that I had to give a short speech. Stage fright. Trembling, thanking my education and being emotional, all at the same time, I said that my experiences so far had been great and that one day I would come back to help the land of my forebears. I got applause, and a thumbs up from my father. What touched me even more were the elder women saying 'ningjay' ('how affectionate' or 'what love'). Despite living in Kathmandu my whole life, I now felt hardwired into this community. We belonged to each other instantly.

Uncle Pasang had tried to make sure that our journey was comfortable. But all along the trail, I was sad to see children working. It was a feeling deeper than 'sad'. A combination of emotions, guilt for my own pampered life, my clothes and shoes, but also a surprise at seeing how happy and content the children were with whatever little they had.

12-year-old Lakpa in Thame who juggles going to school and running the family lodge.
But soon, it was the scenery that overwhelmed me: the familiar face of Ama Dablam and on leaving Namche, there rose before me Chomolungma, Nuptse and Lhotse, which my father had climbed. It was in Thame, with a 360-degree view of Khumbu peaks, that I met my new 'boyfriend', 12-year-old Lakpa. He taught me how to play UNO cards under the howling of a chilly wind. The roof of his house had been blown away, and his father was drunk all the time. So Lakpa ran the lodge.

He is in Grade 7, and will have to move down to Khumjung next year to continue high school. Looking at Lakpa and his radiant smile made me happy for him that despite having to juggle school and work he behaved as if he didn't have a care in the world. My life is a thousand times easier, I don't have to work at all, my school is right next to my house. We are both Sherpas and Nepalis, I have so much and he has so little. Yet, he has the gift of independence.

A tree's roots are in the earth, but its branches are all over. I love prayer flags, thankas, khatas, chortens, Lhosar, and Sherpa stew. The visit strengthened my roots a little, and told me that I must move on if only to come back again.

A Sherpa blessing:
"May you always walk gently
With your head amongst the stars and your feet firmly on the ground
And may the gods guide the steps you take."

1. tshring
worth well to read. Well I am also from the same place and I was born here. I still belong to his place and we own couples of hotels over there today too. Despite having very low illiteracy rate, we must proudly say that most of the people here are employed either one or the other way. Some run hotels and lodges while some go to mountains. Now I live in United States pursuing my higher education, though i frequent nepal and khumbu at least a year. You may or may not believe but from my analysis this place has a tremendous economic capacity in terms of tourism. It has got a magnificent beauty, people are charming and welcoming, weather is pleasant during the season. Moreover if only we could invest in building our infrastructure, educate people and make places more accessible through communication, then I bet there will be a career in khumbu for every students in rest of the country. And infrastructure doesn't necessarily has to be a road. Our urgent need right now is energy and communicating infrastructures. This place belong to us and we need to keep the legacy of its beauty, culture and further grow it.

2. chong from sweden
Thank you for your very heart touching and empatetic article.

3. N Pradhan
D Sherpa. I read your piece and thoroughly enjoyed it. The read encouraged me to visit the area and see the land for myself. Although I was raised in Kathmandu and am now settled abroad, the thought of not haven taken advantage of the beauty and tradition that surrounded me while there will surely bring me back! I have to say, I was impressed with your writing, vivid descriptions, and natural style. Keep writing!

4. Jeffrey Kottler
It was such a pleasure to have you join us on our mission to help Nepali girls who would not otherwise have the opportunity to attend school. It is brilliant and motivated young women like you who will help lead Nepal in the future.

5. May
A tree's roots are in the earth, but its branches are all over. Well said, Duksangh Sherpa. I hope you keep writing. M.

6. Haudish
it is worth of reading! Well, i found it very pleasing to read the whole article. I am from the same place and i know khumbu has potential in tourism. The culture, scenic beauty, hospitable people, proper accomodations, gradual globalisation, etc in khumbu can inevitably increase tourists in Khumbu. Thus, "multiplier effect" ;)... "Together we build the nation".

7. Kendall Newcombe
Fantastic article Duksangh, I feel priviledged that I was able to share this experience with you. Like you, I hope that one day we may return to your home community.

8. Janet Povero
Beautiful, Duksangh. Simply beautiful. Perhaps upon reflection, you now would say it was worth all the walking? :)

9. pasang temba sherpa

Proudful,Duksangh.keep it up we are always there for help you.

Uncle Pasang

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)