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Tsan-Boo

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Tsan-Boo was my Sherpa when Mark Harrison and I trekked in Nepal

Upon entering the thickness of the air, Tsan-boo staggered and his teeth shown in hazy recognition. I sat, charmed by the incantations and chiming music, transfixed by the framed hindu icons that covered the walls with their animal heads and emblazoned dress, and dizzy under the heavy smoke from innumerable sticks of incense. The men circled around me in prayer sat cross-legged like statues, agitating their various instruments with a minimum of movement. It appeared less prayer than habit; only one sang from a prayerbook, his voice like a stone skipping on water.

The music stopped as Tsan-boo lost his balance and hit the door-sill, glancing off the wood in dazed bewilderment. His ill-fitting white suit sat badly and his tie laid loose around a thin neck. He tilted upon his heels and smiled vaguely as he caught our eyes. Mark moved from his supple lotus and I followed, rushing to the doorway to remove this disheveled drunkard from the crowded confines of the temple.

"Tsan-boo! Hey pal, thanks for standing us up," my friend Mark cajoled, slapping him on his narrow back, "been drinking without us?" We were to meet him, our guide to Kathmandu Valley only a week before, at our hotel for drinks.

Still smiling but now shaking his head slowly, Tsan-boo said, "No, noŠ I was in fight. I was walking down road and men took my Rupee."

I noticed that his loosened shirt was speckled with dark blood and his youthful Tibetan face looked puffy and haggard. A single tear on his left knee cut across the clear fabric and the grey dirt of the streets streaked his shoulder blades like brush strokes.

"You okay? we gotta get you to a doctor!" I said to the Shirpah, changing my attention to Mark, "how many rupees do you have on you?"

We knew we both had none, but I had some travellers checks...

Oct 15, 1993 12:00 AM