Village-born though I was, and potato farmers and yak herders though my grandparents may have been, despite the yearly trips to the Khumbu homeland I am a Kathmandu city girl. Like post-arts degree twentysomethings the world over, I was adrift. With equal parts defeat, hope, terror, self-congratulation and wildly under-informed plans and good intentions, I arrived ‘home’ to live in Thamo, elevation: 3550 metres, population: maybe fifty people on a good day.
Village life. This should be amusing.
That was Spring 2012, on the first of the Nepali year. It seemed a fitting day for a new chapter.
Two weeks later, a first cousin died on Everest.
Family circumstances were such that I hadn’t seen him since we were both infants. My father and another cousin walked to Tengboche to attend the funeral. Grimfaced, they returned. He had a wife and a three-month old baby, and the then-standard five lakh (roughly US$5000) payout for fatalities would not extend far past the death rites.