Solu Khumbu, Nepal
June 20th, 2000
I had trekked to the Everest base camp from Jiri and was now on my way back down. Along the way, I passed the same villages that I had passed on the way up to the base camp. It was at Tengpoche that a curious thing happened.
In the morning I settled up at Tashi Delek Lodge, said goodbye to Passang Thongdu and Nishir and started out on the trail back to Namche Bazaar. The black dog who lives outside the Tengpoche Gompa started following me. We did not know each other well, though we had exchanged a few words over the last couple of days. She was old and haggard and I could see her ribs under the long fur. I thought she was simply seeing me off and would soon turn back. But further on down the trail when I stopped to peel off my jacket, she stopped too and waited. I stopped to put on sunscreen and she waited again. I stopped to get a drink of water, and she stopped too. But she wanted neither water nor food. Several times I tried to talk her into going back, but in vain.
Sometime later we met two monks headed to Tengpoche and between the three of us we failed to make her change her mind. As soon as I started walking again, there she was. On the steep descent from Tengpoche to the river, at one point I slipped and fell on the rain-slick trail. ‘She’ stopped, waited till I got up again and cocking her head walked on ahead a little ways for the next couple of switchbacks. Was She showing me the less steep path? I don’t know. Perhaps. Perhaps she decided to befriend me. Every so often She would stop and look back – making sure I was following.
Once I deliberately waited longer than usual. I was sitting on a rock along the trail looking out at the waterfall tumbling down the other side of the canyon. She had gone past the curve on the trail ahead of me. A few minutes later I saw her coming back. She looked at me and then curled herself up in the middle of the trail. ‘I’m ready when you are’ the look said. The next time I stopped to talk to a couple of villagers going to Pangboche and they asked me the usual question “Shathi chhoi na”? Instead of the usual no, this time I said yes, and pointed to She. They laughed, commented “ramro chha” and went on their way.
She and I walked together for two days. We would walk, stop sometimes and admire the views. Sometimes we’d talk. I did most of the talking; she would listen with ears cocked. When I stopped to buy food, I’d buy some for her too. A little past Namche Bazaar She and I parted ways. She left as mysteriously as she had joined me.
When I met people on the trails, we would speak in Nepali.
Shathi Chhoi na? : Have you no friend?
Ramro Chha : That is good.
Gompa : Monastery