I watched the old Sherpa women, their white hair neatly braided, wrinkles as large as the waves of an ocean, missing teeth and all, as they smile and greet one another, raising one hand in a half namaste gesture, pumped quite animatedly up and down, their mala beads gently swinging and jangling around, their feet quick to negotiate the evening rush hour traffic in their famous “momo shoes from America”. You can tell who has a relative in America from observing whose feet wear those shoes, and whose don’t.
The “momo shoes” are called so because the front of the shoe resembles a momo (a kind of dumpling) loved by Sherpas and quickly becoming a Nepali national snack. They come in shades of black, deep blue and white (but white is hardly worn in Nepal due to the dust and dirt on the streets) and they cost twice the monthly minimum wage in Nepal so they are quite a prized possession but ofcourse not as prized as the “gau” amulet box nor the large coral beads Himalayan women adorn their bosoms with, which are not nearly as precious as the different eyed dzi beads which can cost crores of rupees or hundreds of thousands of dollars for a single bead.
When someone living in America visits a Sherpa home and brings them momo shoes, he or she is treated to hours and hours of gossip, tea, potato and buckwheat pancakes. A full working day in America, the full cost of the momo shoes for those who work as nannies or in construction or at nail salons, spent idling away.
Those momo shoes transport not only feet of old Sherpa women on their daily koras around the stupa but they are also the carrier of transnational stories. Whose son or daughter got married and to whom and who came to the wedding, who wore what and what was served. Who died and how and who came to the funeral, who wore what and what was put in the tsok and what was served. Who is doing what.
Did u hear falana falana (so and so) owns not one but three gas stations in America. Did u hear falana falana in America works over 80 hours a week and earns over 3 crores a year. Did u hear so and so built not one but three seven storeyed buildings in Kathmandu. Falana falanas house is only 2 and half storeys.
Do u know they say that in the time the Khumjung Sherpa has taken to even think about an idea, the Namche Sherpa has already built three lodges. Did u hear so and so has gotten just too arrogant and proud.
Oh and did u hear of this thing called facebook. People post photos and their whole life on this thing in the computer or phone. Did you hear there is one Sherpa girl, falana falanas daughter, who writes all kinds of things on this thing called facebook. She is a bit crazy, I heard. Educated in some big name university in America. Talks and acts all crazy too.
That’s why it is better not to educate daughters too much. They get ideas of their own. We can’t mold them. That girl’s father should never have sent her to school. So much money wasted for nothing. It would have been better to build a lodge or house or buy some jewelry or gold. And I heard she cant cook or even make a cup of tea.
I heard she is saying that Mt. Everest should not be climbed at all for spiritual and ethical reasons and Sherpas should give up mountaineering. But not everyone has relatives in America to pay for them to wear momo shoes and idle away the time around the stupa or in the Khumbu, you know.
Now she is writing about those “momo shoes”. I don’t get it. What is the point in writing about our “momo shoes”? Someone must have put an evil hex on her. She should go to a dhami (faith healer) to get the crazy out of her.
“Yamzen!” “Thig ih no”. “Lassey” “lassey”. “Thujiche”. “Galey phey”. Unbelievable! Isnt it so. Yea. Yea. Thank you for the “momo shoes.” Proceed slowly.