Nepal has always been exoticized as a country of brave Gurkha soldiers and adventurous Sherpa mountaineers. Both of these myths are under deconstruction now.
Tenzing Norgay, the famous Nepali son was later snatched away by India and now another relentless mountaineer Appa Sherpa is in the process of becoming American citizen.
Allow me to begin the tale of two Sherpas with Tenzing. He was given Indian citizenship after he scaled Mt Everest with New Zealander Edmund Hillary in 1953.
According to Vijay Jung Thapa, former roving reporter of India Today, Nehru personally befriended him and set him up as director of field training in the country's first mountainering institute in Darjeeling with the message: "Now you will make a thousand Tenzings."
Appa Sherpa is another case in point. This prolific mountaineer who has scaled the highest peak for 16th times, has migrated to US. Report has it that he was offered an O-One visa that is given to foreigners with extraordinary talents in the field of Science, Sports, Education, Business and Commerce.
I guess Appa was awarded that honor for Sports category. But, is mountaineering a sport? It obviously is more than sports. It's an adventure and there is clear distinction between sports and adventure. Mountaineering, climbing the Mt Everest to be specific, is a struggle between Man and Nature. There are incidents of both winning the battle.
But, today Everest is no longer a forte of Sherpas. People with esoteric and eccentric purpose have scaled this summit.
Having settled at Salt Lake City of the US, Appa has returned to his first home recently. He has repeatedly cited growing financial burden upon him (to educate his two grown up sons and a daughter) as a reason for his departure. Apparently, Appa has been lecturing in US about mountaineering and is earning quick bucks.
But, the issue here is different. I have met Appa a couple of times few years back when one of my journo friends was working on his biography. It's another story that the biography never saw the light of the day and my friend also quit mainstream journalism. He nevertheless showed me few chapters of the manuscript and I went along with him to meet this legendary mountaineer. Then, Appa was living in a modest apartment in Thamel while one of his sons was enrolled for free in Nobel Academy.
Now I'm shocked to learn that he has given up all this only to settle in foreign soil. He used to spend six months in a year in Thame, Solukhumbu. Thame is the village that has produced some of world's best mountaineers including Tenzing. Now Tenzing's son Jamling Tenzing Norgay is an Australian citizen. He followed his father's footstep and climbed Everest few years back.
If we continue to lose our best boys to foreign soil, we will soon be the nation of underdogs. Most of our youths are toiling in Gulf countries and Malaysia. Wise men have made USA their second home. Now, the best mountaineers in the world are in the process of glorifying foreign countries like Tenzing did half a century ago. Appa is in Kathmandu for Super Sherpa expedition.