Kathmandu: Chhairo

Dear Sugata

The Chhairo day breaks with a coffee with Fr Greg, who I have grown to love for his candid responses to my emails from Norway, cutting to the quick with his understanding of you and affirming and acknowledging my role, which I needed to hear at the time of shifting ice flows.

Fr Greg represented all that you were prejudiced against: the catholic church (he is a Jesuit) and America. I was surprised from the time of introducing you that your relationship was cordial  – which I put down to both your softening with age and the grace of Fr Greg. He had done much to support and advise for the exhibition of your photographs, finally housing the exhibition in the GAA and executing further sales for Chhairo fundraising.

Over coffee in chogged up, tooting, Thamel he said: ’There is no harm in deconstructing the mythology around a person, it does not diminish them.’ With your hundreds of black and white photogaphs and colour slides he advocated a complete set be digitised in Nepal, and the Jesuit Archive can do this under his guidance.  Here they will be available to benefit Chhairo. A strategy would be necessary for this to materialise. As for your Hytte, he said stick to your original idea of a Foundation, and do not to be disturbed by latter movements. We both enjoyed a healthy laugh at the possibility of your hut becoming a Mahayana or Jesuit Foundation.

We met Sashi and his baseball cap wearing brother, and unexpectedly Subha, all first time encounters for Gunilla, in the shade of the Kathmandu Guest House. With funding from the CRTP, restoration work has commenced on Chhairo: the main and Padmasambva gompa roofs and walls are secured. Of course they look for more funding, and I gather from Bharat, had expected something in you will. It is not mentioned. They ask no questions of Gunilla, but greet her with their gracious politeness. I discover Shashi is a sheep and his brother a dog, like Gunilla,  in the Chinese callender. The dog is the most faithful of friends, but its trust is difficult to win.

After they left Gunnila said:

‘I see what rich life Sugata brought to you, Rachel, with this story and his life. This was not given to me.’ Then she added ‘And I do not say this in jealousy’. And she didn’t.



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