I travelled for two years in Tibet, therefore, and amused myself by visiting Lhassa and spending some days with the head Lama. You may have read of the remarkable explorations of a Norwegian named Sigerson, but I am sure that it never occurred to you that you were receiving news of your friend.
The Empty House
Is not all life pathetic and futile? ... We reach. We grasp. And what is left in our hands at the end? A shadow. Or worse than a shadow -- misery.
The Retired Colourman
The Mandala (Tib.: dLyil-'khor) is a sacred circle surrounded by light rays or the place purified of all transitory or dualist ideas. It is experienced as the infinitely wide and pure sphere of consciousness in which deities spontaneously manifest themselves ...Mandalas have to be seen as inward pictures of a whole (integral) world; they are creative primal symbols of cosmic evolution and involution, emerging and passing in accordance with the same laws. From this perspective, it is but a short step to conceiving of the Mandala as a creative principle in relation to the external world, the macrocosmos-thus making it flue centre of all existence.
--Detlef Ingo Lauf Tibetar,
From time to time, God causes men to be born-and thou art one of them-who have a lust to go abroad at the risk of their lives and discover news-today of far-off things, tomorrow of some hidden mountain, and the next day of some near-by men who have done a foolishness against the State. These souls are very few and of these few, no more than ten are of the best. Among these ten I count the Babu.
When everybody is dead the Great game is finished. Not before. Listen to me till the end.
Too many of Dr John Watson's unpublished manuscripts (usually discovered in 'e travel-worn and battered tin dispatch box' somewhere in the vaults of the bank of Cox & Company, at Charing Cross) have come to light in recent years, for a longsuffering reading public not to greet the discovery of yet another Sherlock Holmes story with suspicion, if not outright incredulity. I must, therefore, beg the reader's indulgence and request him to defer judgement till he has gone through this brief explanation of how, mainly due to the peculiar circumstance of my birth, I came into the possession of this strange but true account of the two most important but unrecorded years of Sherlock Holmes's life.
I was born in the city of Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, in 1944, the year of the Wood-Monkey, into a well-to-do merchant family. My father was an astute man, and having travelled far and wide -to Mongolia, Turkestan, Nepal and China-on business matters, was more aware than most other Tibetans of the fragility of our happy yet backward country. Realising the advantages of a modern education, he had me admitted to a Jesuit school at the hill station of Darjeeling in British India.
My life at St Joseph's College was, at first, a lonely one, but on learning the English language I soon made many friends, and best of all, discovered books. Like generations of other schoolboys I read the works of G. A. Henty, John Buchan, Rider- Haggard and W. E. Johns, and thoroughly enjoyed them. Yet nothing could quite equal the tremendous thrill of reading Kipling or Conan Doyle-especially the latter's Sherlock Holmes's adventures. For a boy from Tibet there were details in those stories that did at first cause some bewilderment on occasions. I went around for some time thinking that a'gasogene' was a kind of primus stove and that a 'Penang lawyer' was, well, a lawyer from Penang -- but these were trifling obstacles and never really got in the way of my fundamental appreciation of the stories.
Of all the Sherlock Holmes stories the one that fascinated me most was the adventure of The Empty House. In this remarkable tale Sherlock Holmes reveals to Dr Watson that for two years, while the world thought that the great detective had perished in the Reichenbach Falls, he had actually been travelling in my country, Tibet! Holmes is vexingly terse, and two sentences are all we have had till now of his historic journey:
I travelled for two years in Tibet, therefore, and amused myself by visiting Lhassa, and spending some days with the head Lama. You may have read of the remarkable exploration of a Norwegian named Sigerson, but I am sure that it never occurred to you that you were receiving news of your friend.
When I returned to Lhasa on my three-month winter vacation, I did try and enquire about the Norwegian explorer who had entered our country fifty years ago. A maternal granduncle thought he remembered seeing such a foreigner at Shigatse, but was confusing him with Sven Hedin, the famous Swedish geographer and explorer. Anyway the grown-ups had far more serious problems to consider than a schoolboy's enquiries about a European traveller from yesteryear.
At the time, our country was occupied by Communist troops. They had invaded Tibet in 1950, and after defeating the small Tibetan army, had marched into Lhasa. Initially the Chinese had not been openly repressive and had only gradually implemented their brutal and extreme programmes to eradicate traditional society. The warlike Khampa and Amdowa tribesmen of Eastern Tibet staged violent uprisings that quickly spread throughout the country. The Chinese occupation army retaliated with savage reprisals in which tens of thousands of people were massacred, and many more thousands imprisoned or forced to flee their homes.
In March 1959, the people of Lhasa, fearing for the life of their ruler, the young Dalai Lama, rose up against the Chinese. Fierce fighting broke out in the city but superior Chinese forces overwhelmed the Tibetans, inflicting heavy casualties and damaging many buildings. I was in my final year at school in Darjeeling when the great revolt broke out in Lhasa. The news made me sick with worry about the fate of my parents and relatives. There was little information from Lhasa, and what little there was was vague and none too reassuring. But an anxious month later, All India Radio broadcast the happy news that the Dalai Lama and his entourage, along with many other refugees, had managed to escape from war-torn Tibet and arrived safely at the Indian border. Two days later I received a letter with a Gangtok postmark. It was from my father. He and the other members of my family were safe at the capital of the small Himalayan kingdom of Sikkim.
From the beginning my father had not been taken in by Chinese assurances and display of goodwill, and had quietly gone about making preparations to escape. He managed to secretly transfer most of his assets to Darjeeling and Sikkim, so that we were now in a very fortunate situation compared to most other Tibetan refugees, who were virtually paupers.
After graduating I decided to offer my services to help my unfortunate countrymen. I travelledto the small hill station of Dharamsala where the Dalai Lama had set up his government- inexile, and was soon working at the task of educating refugee children. The director of our office was an old scholar who had previously been the head of the Tibetan Government Archives in Lhasa, and a historian of note. He had a wide knowledge of everything concerning Tibet and loved nothing better than to share it. He would hold forth late into the night in a ramshackle little teashop before a rapt audience of young Tibetans like myself, and imbue in us the knowledge and wonder of our beautiful country.
One day I asked him if he had ever heard of a Norwegian traveller named Sigerson having entered Lhasa. At first he also thought that I was asking about Sven Hedin, quite an understandable error, as Tibetan geographical accounts, rather inaccurate and fabulous when dealing with far away land, were inclined to treat the Scandinavian and Baltic nations as homogeneous feudal dependencies of the Czar of Russia. But on explaining that the Norwegian had travelled to Tibet in 1892 and not 1903 as the Swede had done, I managed to ring a bell somewhere in the old man's labyrinthine memory.
He did remember coming across a reference to a European in government records for the Water-Dragon Year (1892). He remarked that it had happened when he was collating state documents in the central archives in Lhasa for the preparation of the Thirteenth Dalai Lama's official biography. He had noticed a brief memo regarding the issuing of road pass for two foreigners. He was sure that one of the foreigners referred to was a European though he could not recollect his name. The other person mentioned was an Indian. He remembered that very well, for in later years the Indian had come under strong suspicion of being a British spy. His name was 'Hari Chanda'.
I was staggered by the significance of this revelation for I too had heard, or rather read, of Hurree Chunder Mookerjee (to give the full name and its more anglicised spelling) in Rudyard Kipling's novel Kim. Few people outside India are aware that Kipling actually based his fictional Bengali spy, the fat, ingratiating, loquacious, but ever resourceful Hurree Babu, on a real person-a great Bengali scholar, who had on occasion spied for the British, but who is now more remembered for his contributions to the field of Tibetology. He lived most of his adult life in Darjeeling and was somewhat of a celebrity in that small hill town, what with his C.I.E., F.R.S. and the great respect that the leading British notables at that time had for him. He died in 1928 at his home, Lhassa Villa.
The next time I went to Darjeeling to visit my family who were settled there, I took a walk on the Hill Cart Road to Lhassa Villa. It was occupied by a retired tea planter, Siddarth Mukherjee (or 'Sid' as he insisted I call him), a great-grandson of our famous scholar-spy. He listened patiently to the rather long and involved story I had to tell him. Hurree Chunder Mookerjee had published a book on his trip to Tibet, Journey to Lhassa through Western Tibet, but had made no mention in it of any European accompanying him. He had probably done so on the insistence of Sherlock Holmes who was, at that time, trying to keep the knowledge of his existence a secret from the world. I hoped that if I could gain access to Hurree's notes, letters, diaries, and other private papers I might find some reference to Sherlock Holmes, or at least to a Norwegian explorer1. Sid was thrilled to learn that his great-grandfather could possibly have known the world's greatest detective, and was more than willing to help me in my quest. Most of Hurree's papers had been stored in some large tin trunks up in the attic of Lhassa Villa after his death. It took me about a week to go through all the musty old documents, but aside from a bad cold, had nothing to show for it-not a single reference to anyone who could remotely have been Sherlock Holmes. My disappointment could not but have shown. Sid was very kind and tried to cheer me up by promising to get in touch with me if he would come across anything that could contribute to my research.
So the years went by. My work took up all my time and energy and I had almost forgotten my abortive search when, just five months ago, I received a telegram from Darjeeling. It was short, but exultant:
I packed my toothbrush.
Sid had greyed a bit, and Lhassa Villa hadn't weathered too well either. I noticed that a part of the back wall of the bungalow had collapsed. Sid was tremendously excited. He sat me down hurriedly, stuck a large whisky pant in my hand and let me have it.
Just a week before, Darjeeling had experienced a fairly severe earthquake-geologically speaking, the Himalayas being a rather new range, and still growing. By itself the quake was not strong enough to do any serious damage, but an unusually long monsoon had softened the mountain sides and undermined a number of houses. Lhassa Villa had not been severely damaged, only a part of the back wall had collapsed. When checking the damage Sid had discovered a rusty tin dispatch box embedded in a section of the broken wall.
Extricating it from the debris, he found that it contained a flat package carefully wrapped in wax paper and neatly tied with stout twine. He had opened the package to find a manuscript of about two hundred-odd pages in his great-grandfather's unmistakably ornate running script, and had excitedly commenced to read it, not pausing till he had finished the story, sometime in the early hours of the morning. And it was all there. Hurree had met Sherlock Holmes. He had travelled with him to Tibet- besides getting himself into some unbelievably strange and dangerous situations.
So the Babu had not been able to resist the urge to commit a true account of his experiences to paper, but had taken the precaution of sealing it within the back wall of his house; maybe with the hope that it would come to light in a distant future when 'The Great Game' would be over, and when people would read of his adventure in company of the world's greatest detective, with only wonder and admiration. ~
Sid took out the manuscript from a chest of drawers and put it in my trembling hands.
Knowing that I was a writer of sorts, Sid insisted that I handle the editing and the publication of the manuscript. But aside from providing some explanatory footnotes, I have had to do very little. The Babu was an experienced and competent writer, with a vigorous and original style that would have suffered under too heavy an editorial hand.
Sid and I are going halves on the proceeds of the book, though both of us have agreed that the original manuscript and the copy of the Tibetan road pass that was with it, should, because of its historical importance, be entrusted to some kind of institution of learning where scholars and others could have free access to it.
Tibet may lie crushed beneath the dead weight of Chinese tyranny, but the truth about Tibet cannot be so easily buried; and even such a strange fragment of history as this, may contribute to nailing at least a few lies of the tyrants.
1. I thought I had finally managed to run our elusive Norwegian to earth when I came across this title at the Oxford Book Store, Darjeeling: A Norwegian Traveller in Tibet, Per Kvaerne, (Bibliotheca Himalayica series 1 Vol 13), Manjusri,
The Great Game...' Good Heavens! Could anyone think of a more infelicitous and beastly awful expression to describe the vital diplomatic activities of the Ethnological Survey-that important but little-known department of the Government of India, which in my very humble capacity, I have had the honour to serve for the past thirty-five years. This excretions appellation was the creation of one Mr Rudyard Kipling, late of the Allahabad Pioneer, who with deplorable journalistic flippancy, managed,.in one fell stroke, to debase the very important activities of our Department to the level of one of those cricket matches so eloquently described in the poems of Sir Henry Newbolt.
I am not fully cognisant of how it all came about, but very unfortunately Mr Kipling managed to acquire details of the affair concerning 'The Pedigree of the White Stallion,"1 which he coolly published in the Sunday edition of the Pioneer, 15th June 1891, entitled, 'The Great Game: The Lion's Reply to the Bear's Intrigues.' Essentially it concerned five confederated kings on the North-West frontier of India (who had no business to confederate) commencing earnest but secret negotiations with a firm of gun-makers in Belgium, a Hindu banker in Peshawar, an important semi-independent Mohammedan ruler to the south,' and-the greatest cheek of all-a Northern power whose interest could, in no way, be said to coincide with that of the Empire's.
The Department had not been wholly unexpectant of such a development, and I had been assigned north for more than a year to keep a sharp eye on the doings of our five rajah sahibs. It is not necessary for me to elucidate the modus operandi of the following; suffice it to say that by establishing amicable relations with an underpaid secretary and transferring a large amount of rupees, I managed to arrange the betrayal of some vital mursala, 'King's letters,' or state correspondence which let all the cats out of the bag, so to speak. I had forwarded the revelations via E.23, C.25, and eventually K.21 to Colonel Creighton, the head of our Department.
The government acted with unusual promptitude and despatch. An army of eight thousand men besides guns were sent north, and it fell upon the five kings ere they were ready. But the war was not pushed. The troops were recalled because the government believed the five kings were cowed; and it is not cheap to feed men on the high passes. It was not the best of solutions; in fact, I thought it the most reprehensible laxity on the part of the government to allow the five kings-who were as treacherous as scorpion-suckled cobras-to even live. But officially I am debarred from criticising any action of my superiors, and I am only stating this unofficially merely to elucidate the political situation.
When that issue of the Pioneer came out with Mr Kipling's indiscreet (to say the least) story, it caused a tremendous hullabaloo in the Department. The Colonel Sahib realised that the inspiration for Mr Kipling's tale had come from within, ab intro, so to speak, and was beside himself with rage at this most base act of treason. Normally a most unemotional and reserved man, he stormed through the corridor of the departmental bungalow at Umballa with the 'righteous fury of a Juvenal.' Grim interviews were conducted in his office with al! and sundry connected with the case, even I having to spend an uncomfortable hour under the Colonel's piercing eyes. Of course, I managed to acquit myself well enough, though to be scrupulously correct I must admit to shedding a little perspiration before the interview was finally terminated, sine die, and I was allowed to leave the room.
The resultant conclusion of the investigation revealed a less critical flaw in the integrity of our Department than we had initially feared. Two babus from the archives were sacked, posthaste, and a young English captain with literary ambitions (he had contributed poetry, among other things, to the Pioneer) was transferred to an army transport division in Mewar, to breed camels and bullocks for the rest of his career. Mr Kipling was informed, through the editor of the Pioneer, that his conduct in this affair had not been entirely gentlemanly, but that the government would take no action if Mr Kipling would refrain from the furtherance of his journalistic career in India, and return home to England-which he did.
To our relief all of us fieldmen were cleared, though C.25 felt that his izzat had been impugned by the Colonel's suspicions. But a Pathan is always touchy about matters of honour and horseflesh.
Then one day, the thin black body of E.23 was found in a dark gully behind the gilt umbrellas of the Chatter Munzil in Lucknow. A dozen knife wounds, besides other fearful mutilations, had precipitated the untimely demise of the poor chap.
I am a good enough Herbert Spencerian,2 I trust, to meet a little thing like death, which is all in my fate, you know. But the long arms of the five kings beyond the passes, and also the nabob of that certain Mohammedan principality to the south, beyond the Queen's laws, (who had all been embarrassingly compromised in the aforementioned affair of 'The Pedigree of the White Stallion') did not only stop at death. Barbaric tortures, painful even to contemplate, generally preceded the vile act of murder.
Propelled by such uncomfortable ruminations, I hastened to petition the Colonel to grant indefinite leave, on full pay, to those of us who had been compromised by Mr Kipling's indiscretions, so that we could become fully incognito till matters had quietened down somewhat. The Colonel agreed to my proposal except on one point where he made a frugal amendment. Accordingly, K.21 was sent with his Lama to retire temporarily to a monastery on the Thibetan frontier, and C.25 to Peshawar to be under the protection of his blood-kin. And I, on halfpay, departed jolly quick from my normal stamping grounds in the hills, to the great port city of Bombay, to bury myself inconspicuously in that teeming multitude of Gujuratis, Mahharatis, Sikhs, Bengalis, Goanese, British, Chinese, Jews, Persians, Armenians, Gulf Arabs and many others that composed the multifarious population of the 'Gateway of India'.
Yet, in spite of everything, I must be grateful to Mr Kipling; for it was my secret exile to Bombay that directly resulted in my providential meeting with a certain English gentleman, in whose company I embarked on the greatest adventure of my life, resulting (due to the subsequent publication of select ethnological aspects of the journey) in the fulfilment of my life-long dream to become a Fellow of the Royal Society in London.
But, far more than this great honour, I shall always cherish the true friendship and affection bestowed upon me be by this gentleman, a man whom I shall always regard as the best and wisest I have ever known.3
1. Kipling expanded and incorporated this account in his novel Kim, published in 1901.
2. Herbert Spencer, 1820-1903. Once immensely influential and internationally popular Victorian thinker, formulator of the 'Synthetic Philosophy' that sought to apply scientific, especially evolutionary theory not only to biology but to psychology, sociology, anthropology, education and politics.
3. By a happy coincidence Watson ends his account of Holmes's death at Reichenbach ( The Final Problem), with a similar sentence. Probably Watson and Mookerjee were both unconsciously recalling the lines of another, more ancient, biographer on the death of his celebrated friend and mentor. Plato in the Phaedo wrote: 'Such was the end, Echecrates, of my friend, concerning whom I can truly say that of all the men whom I have ever known, he was the wisest and justest and the best.' 3
The Mysterious Norwegian
(Chapter 1 from The Mandala of Sherlock Holmes)
The post-monsoon sky over the Arabian sea is hazeless and clear blue as a piece of Persian turquoise. The air, washed by the recent rains, is so fresh and clear that astride Malabar Point at Bombay one fancies that one can make out the coast line of Arabia, and even faintly smell in the breeze some of those '... Sabean odours from the spicy shore of Araby the blest.'1.
Of course it is all pure romantic fancy on my part; the whole bally thing is too far away to smell or see, but from my vantage point I managed to spot what I had come all this way to look for. Through a scattering of dhows with their graceful lantine sails arching in the wind, the S.S. Kohinoor of the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company cleaved the blue waters, the twin black funnels of the liner trailing a wispy ribbon of smoke. The ship was late, it should have arrived this morning. Through a pair of sub-efficient binoculars I had purchased at Bhindi Bazaar, I could just make out the name on the port bow. I quickly walked over to the road to a waiting ticca-ghari. Hauling myself up onto the seat, I signalled to the coachman to proceed.
'The harbour, jaldi!'
He lashed the thin pony with a length of springy bamboo and the carriage trundled down Ridge Road. I popped a piece of betelnut into my mouth and chewed it contemplatively while I once again reviewed my plan of action.
Four months had passed since I had arrived at Bombay. I had peacefully passed the time making ethnological notes on the cult of the local goddess Mumba from whom the city had taken its name. But the Colonel must have felt that whatever potential dangers there had been had receded by now (and that I had received enough salubrious divertissement on departmental half-pay), for just a week ago our neighbourhood postman, a bony old Tamil from Tuticorin, delivered a tear (which is the native term for a telegram) to my temporary quarters behind the Zakariya mosque.
The missive, addressed to 'Hakim Mohendro Lall Dutt'-- one of my more usual aliases -- was couched in the characteristic innocent circumlocutions prescribed by the Department for ensuring the safety of our correspondence, sub rosa. The gist of the message was that a Northern traveller named Sigerson, probably an agent of an unfriendly Northern Power, was arriving at Bombay on the S.S. Kohinoor; that I was to ingratiate myself to him, possibly as a guide or some such, and learn the reason for his coming to India.
In preparation for this, I affiliated myself, in purely supernumerary capacity, to a shipping agency belonging to an old Parsee acquaintance of mine.
'Hai, rukho,' shouted the driver to his nag, pulling up the ticca-ghari before the gates of Ballard Pier. I got off, and despite the rascally Automedon's demand for two anna, paid him the correct fare of one anna, and hurried over to the pier. The harbour was crowded with merchant vessels and British warships, but I spotted the Kohinoor being slowly towed in by some smoky little tug boats.
The dark and dusty office of the harbour master was nearly empty except for a Gujurati clerk, sitting back in idle reverie at his desk, picking paan-stained teeth. A bounteous baksheesh of a rupee procured for me a quick peek at the passenger manifest of the Kohinoor. The Norwegian had Cabin 33, in first class.
When I got out of the office, docking procedures were already commencing and coolies and dockhands were rushing about the vast grey stretch of the pier hauling away on great thick ropes. The white liner towered above everyone and everything like a giant iceberg. Once the gangplanks had gone up, I in my capacity as shipping agent, got aboard the ship, and elbowing my way through the surge of harbour officials, coolies, lascars and what-not wended my way through crowded corridors, dining rooms, a card room, a billiard room and a stately ball-room, to the upper port-side deck and Cabin 33.
The Norwegian was in front of his cabin door, leaning over the railing and sucking on a pipe meditatively as he gazed down at the human maelstrom on the pier below. His person and appearance were such as to strike the attention of the most casual observer. In height he was well over six feet and excessively lean. When I addressed him, he straightened up from the railing and seemed to grow taller still.
'Mr Sigerson, Sir?'
He turned to me. His thin hawk-like nose gave his expression an air of alertness and decision, and his chin, too, had the prominence which marks the man of determination. He definitely did not seem like someone to trifle with. I prepared myself to be humble and ingratiating.
'I am Satyanarayan Satai, Failed Entrance, Allahabad University,' I said, making a low formal bow and salaam. 'It is my immense privilege and esteemed honour, as representative of Messrs Allibhoy Vallijee and Sons, shipping agency, to welcome Your Honour to the shores of Indian Empire, and do supervision of all conveniences and comforts during visitations and excursions in the great metropolis of Bombay.' (It is always an advantage for a babu to try and live up to a sahib's preconception of the semi-educated native.)
'Thank you.' He turned and looked at me with a pair of remarkable eyes that were uncomfortably sharp and piercing. 'You have been in Afghanistan, I perceive.'
Of course I was not expecting this, but I trust I managed to recover my somewhat shaken wits fast enough to make an adequate, if not totally convincing, answer.
'Wha...! Oh no, no sahib. I am most humble Hindu from Oudh, presently in remunerative and gainful employment in demiofficial position of agent, pro tem, to respectable shipping firm Afghanistan? Ha! Ha! Why sahib, land is wretched cold, devoid of essential facilities and civilised amenities, and natives all murdering savages -- Mussalmans of worst sort -- beyond redemption and majesty of British law. Why for I go to Afghanistan?'
'Why indeed?' said he, with a low chuckle that sounded rather sinister.'But to return to the matter at hand, I am afraid that it is quite possible for me to do without your services, useful and necessary though I am sure they may be. I have little in the way of luggage and can manage on my own. Thank you.'
In front of his cabin door was a Gladstone bag and a narrow oval case, much the worse for wear. It looked like a case for a violin, like the kind that Da Silva, the young Goanese musician who lived next door to me, used to carry his instrument in when he went off in the evenings to play dinner music at Government House.
This was, of course, suspicious in itself. No self-respecting sahib who travelled to India was without at least three steamer trunks, not to mention other sundry items of baggage like hat boxes, gun cases, bedding-rolls and a despatch box. Also, no English sahib, at least if he was pukka, played a violin. Music was the preserve of Frenchmen, Eurasians, and missionaries (though in the latter-most case He harmonium was a more favoured instrument).
And no sahib carried his own luggage. But that was just what he proceeded to do. With the Gladstone in his left hand, his violin case in his right, and his pipe in his mouth, he walked across the deck and down the gangplank, unperturbed by the bustling pierside crowd and the demands of the milling coolies to carry his luggage.
Of course this temporary setback to my plans was purely a matter of bad luck, or kismet as we would say in the vernacular. But I could not help but feel -- a slight unease at the perspicacity of the Norwegian. How in the name of all the gods of Hindustan had he known that I had been to Afghanistan? I will not deny that I was up in that benighted country not so very long ago. The first time, in my guise as hakim, or native doctor, I was discreetly pursuing some enquiries into possible nefarious connections between the five confederated kings and the Amir of Afghanistan, which unfortunately did not meet with any success. Much later, after the chastisement of the aforementioned kings, I was once again up in the snow-swept passes beyond the Khyber, this time posing as a payroll clerk to the coolies constructing a new British road; and one night, during an exploratory excursion in a horrible snowstorm, I was deliberately deserted by my Afridi guide and left to die. Whereof my feet froze and a toe dropped off ... but that is neither here nor there.
There was, sine dubio, something more to our Norwegian friend than met the eye. My curiosity was aroused. We Bengalis are -- I say this in all humility -- unlike most other apathetic natives, a race with burning thirst for knowledge. In short, we are inquisitive.
I followed the Norwegian off the ship through the bustling crowd at the pier side. His height made him quite conspicuous and I could easily spot his angular head towering well above the bobbing sea of humanity. I was careful not to reveal myself to him and took full advantage of the cover provided by the random piles of luggage and freight that covered the pier.
Peering over a pile of crate-boxes, I saw him enter the customs shed, which was a long kacha, or temporary structure covered with a PWD type corrugated tin roof. I quickly walked to the shed and, sidling up to the open door, looked inside. The Norwegian had put his Gladstone and violin case on one of the long zinc-covered counters, and was drumming his thin elongated fingers impatiently on the top as he waited. Evening shadows were already long, and in the gloom of the dark building I did not immediately notice the young police officer in khaki drill who approached the Norwegian. He was a tallish, sallowish, DSP, or District Superintendent of Police --Sam Browne, helmet, polished spurs and all -- strutting, and twirling his dark moustache.
I gave a little start. It was Strickland! By Jove. Events were definitely taking unexpected turns this evening. A word of explanation to the reader: Captain E. Strickland Esq., though nominally a solid and respected officer of the Indian Police was, in another sphere of his life, one of those shadowy players of the 'Game' (to use Mr. Kipling's foul epithet) -- and one of the best.2 They told me that he was at Bikaner, that mysterious city in the Great Indian Desert (where the wells are four hundred feet deep and lined throughout with camel-bone) but I might have known. He was like the crocodile -- always at the other ford.
He shook hands with the Norwegian and started to talk. It was impossible for me to overhear what they were saying because of the overpowering clamour of the pier. After a moment, Strickland spoke a few words to the half-caste customs officer and, picking up the Gladstone bag, proceeded with the Norwegian to leave the shed. I followed, a safe distance behind. Outside the gates Strickland hailed a ticca-ghari. Both of them got on the carriage, which then rattled out of the port area down Frere Road.
A fortunate instinct made me continue to keep behind the large Corinthian pillars of the main harbour buildings, for just then a small ferret-like man in dirty white tropical 'ducks' and an oversized topee emerged surreptitiously out of the darkness of the adjacent godowns and into the glare of the sizzling gas lamps that lit up the cab stand and the entrance of the Great harbour. His furtive manner betrayed the fact that he was secrectly following either Strickland or the Norwegian, and as if in confirmation of my speculation he quickly made for one of the carriages in the line.Giving some inaudible instructions to the driver, he pointed distinctly in the direction of the fast disappearing carriage that his quarries had just taken. The driver whipped his beast and they rattled off in pursuit.
This was getting to be quite a lively evening, full of 'alarums and excursions' as the Bard would put it.
I, in my turn, hailed a carriage and followed in consecutive pursuit, posthaste.
The evening life of the city had begun and the municipal lamp-lighters were nearly finishing their rounds. Dark sweating coolies hauling overloaded barrows mingled with white-robed clerks and subordinates from the government offices returning to their homes. Sweetmeat vendors and low-caste kunjris (vegetable and fruit sellers) plied their noisy trade on the pavements, their stalls lit by smoky flares, the acrid fumes of which mingled with the pot-pourri of other odours: spices, jasmine, marigold, sandalwood and the ever present dust.Yelling, near-naked urchins, darted about the street, clinging to the passing carriages and sometimes jumping on and off the clanging trams to the fury of the harried conductors.
At Horniman Circle a large wedding procession brought traffic to near standstill. Coolies carrying lanterns and flares lit up this colourful chaotic scene while a discordant native band, playing kettle-drums and shawms, provided a deafening but lively musical accompaniment to a group of wild dancers that preceded the groom. This splendid personage, dressed in the martial attire of a Rajput prince sat nervously astride an ancient charger. A veil of marigolds concealed his visage as he rode to his bride's home, clinging precariously to the pommel of his saddle.
I spotted the two stationary carriages about twenty feet ahead of me. The ferret-like man affected great interest in the procession though he often darted surreptitious glances at the other carriage to check on its progress in the congested traffic. He had a thin pinched face with an equally pinched sharp nose, and sported, quite unsuitable for his starved physiognomy, a set of rather flamboyant whiskers which I think are called 'mutton chops, and which were en vogue about a decade ago. He was a white man, of sorts, though definitely not a gentleman.
Finally, thanks to the firm supervision and energetic whistle blowing of a 'Bombay Buttercup' -- the name by which traffic policemen in this city are known because of their distinctive circular yellow caps -- the marriage procession turned towards Churchgate Station and traffic was permitted to proceed. A few minutes later the first carriage carrying Strickland and the Norwegian turned left towards Apollo Bunder and then into a side-street and up the driveway of the Taj Mahal Hotel. This magnificent structure, with its five arcaded and ornate balconied stories topped by a large central dome (with lesser ones at the corners), gives an appearance more of a maharajah's palace than a mere hostelry.
Ferret-face's ticca-ghari was nowhere to be seen. I looked carefully all around but it had disappeared. I paid off my driver outside the gates and walked up the driveway.
Despite the suspicious glare of the giant Sikh commissionaire, I entered the portals of this latter-day Arabian nights palace just in time to catch sight of Strickland having a few words with a European in full evening dress, whom I correctly surmised to be the manager of the establishment. The manager then politely ushered Strickland and the Norwegian down a corridor away from the lounge and then returned a short moment later, alone. I quickly crossed the lounge, trying my best to be inconspicuous. A severe looking burra mem, most probably a Collector's lady, attired in a flawless white evening dress' glared at me through her lorgnette. A flicker of her eyelids, half closed in perpetual hauteur, gave me to understand that she thought my presence irregular. I smiled ingratiatingly at her, but with a disdainful sniff she went back to her reading. Nobody else paid any attention to me.
Along the corridor were the rest rooms, and at the end, the manager's office. I tiptoed over to the door and managed to hear, somewhat indistinctly, the voice of the Norwegian. There was a large keyhole in the door. I surmised that from where I was I could not be seen from the lounge, and that if anyone did come down the corridor I could discreetly retire into one of the rest rooms. So, offering up a quick prayer to all the variegated gods of my acquaintance, I bent over and deftly applied my right ear to the keyhole. I admit that it was a caddish thing to do, but natives in my profession are not expected to be gentlemen.
'I do apologise for any inconvenience you may have had to undergo,' Strickland's voice sounded as clear as if he was speaking right beside me.'But Colonel Creighton only received the telegram from London two days ago, and he rushed me off here as quickly as possible to receive you.'
'I hope that information of my arrival here has been I absolutely confidential.'
'Certainly. Only the Colonel and I are in the know.' Strickland paused slightly.'Well, to be scrupulously honest, someone else has also been informed, but right now that doesn't really matter.'
'Nevertheless, I would appreciate your telling me about it.
'You see, about three weeks ago we received a message from one of our agents, an Egyptian chap at Port Said.He reported that a man claiming to be a Norwegian traveller, but with no gear or kit of any sort, had landed at Port Said off a bum boat, and had booked a passage to India on the PRO liner, Kohinoor. We have issued standing instructions to all our chaps at those stations report on all Europeans, who could in any way, be travelling India for purposes other than the usual. You see, for the past few years we have been having a deuced lot of trouble with the agents of... let us say, an unfriendly Northern Power -- stirring up trouble with discontented native rulers and that sort of thing. So before the telegram from London got to us, the Colonel sent one of our fellows here to check up on you. But it's all right. Seems I got to you before he did.'
'Well, I wouldn't know....'
There was a brief moment of silence and, suddenly the solid door I had been leaning against was whisked away and a very strong hand dragged me into the room by the scruff of my neck It was a very ignominious entrance on my part, and I was truly mortified.
'What the Devil....!' exclaimed Strickland, but then he saw my face and held his peace. The Norwegian released his forceful hold on me and turned back to close the door. He then walked over to the old baize-covered mahogany desk and, seating himself behind it, proceeded to light his pipe.
'I have been listening to him for the last five minutes but did not wish to interrupt your most interesting narrative' He turned and once again subjected me to his penetrating gaze. 'Just a little wheezy, Sir, are you not? You breathe too heavily for that kind of work.'
'I am afraid it's all a....' Strickland tried to intervene.
'No need for any explanations, my dear Strickland,' said the Norwegian with a dismissive wave of his hand. Of course, everything is perfectly clear. This large but rather contrite native gentleman is without doubt the agent that Colonel Creighton sent to keep an eye on the sinister Norwegian. At least his appearance and abilities do credit to the Colonel's judgement. A man of intelligence, undoubtedly, and a scholar -- or at least with interest in certain abstruse scholarly matters. Also a surveyor of long standing and an explorer who has spent a great deal of time tramping about the Himalayas. And, as I had occasion to inform him at an earlier meeting, someone who has been to Afghanistan. Furthermore, I am afraid he is connected with you, Strickland, in a manner not directly involving your Department; would it be correct of me to say, through a secret society?'
'By Jove!' exclaimed Strickland. 'How on earth did you guess all that?'
'I never guess,' said the Norwegian with some asperity.'It is an appalling habit, destructive to the logical faculty.'
'This is most wonderful,' I blurted out unwitting, somewhat confused by the shock of such unexpected revelations.
'Commonplace,' was his reply. 'Merely a matter of training oneself to see what others overlook.' He leaned back on his chair, his long legs stretched out and his fingertips pressed together.
'You see, my dear Strickland,' he began, in a tone reminiscent of a professor lecturing his class, 'despite the deceptively sedentary appearance of the gentleman's upper body, his calves, so prominently displayed under his native draperies, show a marked vascular and muscular development that can only be explained in terms of prolonged and strenuous walking, most probably in , mountainous areas.His right foot, in those open-work sandals, has the middle toe missing. It could not have been cut off in an accident or a violent encounter as the close adjoining digits do not seem to be affected in any way; and we must bear in mind that the toes of the foot cannot be splayed like the fingers of the hand for any convenient amputation. Since the generally healthy appearance of the gentleman would point against any diseases, like leprosy, I could safely conclude that his loss must have occurred through frostbite -- and the only mountains in this country which receive heavy snowfalls are the Himalayas.
'I also noticed that he had a nervous tic in his right eye, oftentimes an occupational disorder afflicting astronomers, laboratory technicians and surveyors, who constantly favour a certain eye when peering through their telescopes, microscopes or theodolites. Taken along with the fact of his strenuous jaunts in the Himalayas, surveying would be the most acceptable profession in this instance. Of course, surveying is an innocent occupation, not normally associated with people pretending to be what they are not. So in this case I concluded that he had practiced his skills in areas where the true nature of his work and his identity had to be concealed, that is in hostile and hitherto unexplored. areas. Hence our Himalayan explorer. Voila tout.'
'And my intelligence and scholasticism?' I asked amazed.
'That was simple,' he laughed. 'The degree of intelligence could easily be deduced by the larger than normal size of your head. It is a question of cubic capacity. So large a brain must have something in it. The scholarly drift of your interests was easily discernible from the top of the blue journal I noticed peeping coyly from your coat pocket. The colour and binding of the Asiatic Quarterly Review is a distinctive one.'
'But Afghanistan?' I managed to squeak.
'Is it not obvious? I will not insult the intelligence that I just lauded by describing how easily I came about it.'
There was a distinct twinkle in his eyes as he turned to Strickland. 'And when the shirt of an English police officer reveals the distinct outline of a peculiar native amulet, which is strangely also worn, this time more openly, around the neck of our native gentleman here, surely some kind of connection can be postulated. On the balance of probabilities the chance of both of you belonging to some kind of society, possibly a secret one, is therefore high. Moreover, in my readings on the subject, I have been informed that next to China, this country is the most infested with such organizations. Ryder, in his History of Secret Cults, is very informative on the subject.'
'By Thunder!' exclaimed Strickland, shaking his head in wonder. 'It's a good thing we aren't living in the Middle Ages, Mr Holmes, you'd have surely been burnt at the stake.' He leaned back on his chair and sighed, 'The Saat Bhai or Seven Brothers was an old Tantric organization that had long been extinct, but which Mr Hurree Chunder Mookerjee here, revived for the benefit of some of us in the Department. This amulet, the hawa-dilli (heart lifter), was given to me by the blind witch Huneefa, after the initiation dawat or ceremony. She makes them only for us. The old hag actually believes she's making them for a real secret society and she inserts a scrap of paper in each bearing the names of saints, gods and what not. The amulet helps us to recognise one another if we've never met before or are in disguise. Of course the whole thing is unofficial.'
Strickland's tone gave me to understand that the so-called 'Norwegian' was not an outsider but someone definitely connected to the Department, probably in an important and influential way.
'You see, Sir,' I explained helpfully, 'it is also a kind of insurance. There is an established belief among natives that the Saat Bhai is not only extant but that it is a powerful society with many members. And most natives, if they are not too excited, always stop to think before they kill a man who says he belongs to any specific organization. So in a tight spot -- if someone is attempting to cut your throat or something -- you could say, "I am Son of the Charm," which means that you may be-a member of the Saat Bhai -- and you get -- perhaps-- ah, your second wind.'
'I used to belong to a lot of cults and things,' sighed Strickland wistfully. 'But the powers that be felt that I was letting down the side by traipsing about the country in various native guises, and I was told to drop it.3. All I've got now is the Saat Bhai, so I hope you won't peach on me.'
'My dear fellow,' said the Norwegian, laughing in a peculiar noiseless fashion, 'so long as your Society's soirees are not enlivened by human sacrifices and ritual murder, I will carry your secret to my grave.'
'Well then, that's that,' said Strickland brightly.'I'd better get along and send a telegram to the Colonel of your safe arrival. The manager ought to have your suite ready for you by now.'
'Well, there is one little matter that needs to be taken care of.' The Norwegian looked at me. 'Mr Mookerjee has, through his own exertions, discovered quite a bit about my affairs, and I feel that it is pointless, maybe even unwise, not to take him fully into our confidences.'
'Of course,' Strickland replied. 'Huree here is the soul of discretion, and you can trust him to keep a secret.' He turned to me with a superior smile.'Well Huree, this gentleman on whom you unwisely inflicted your irrepressible curiosity is none other than the world's greatest detective, Mr Sherlock Holmes.'
'By blushes, Strickland,' he said in a deprecatory voice.
At that moment a blood-curdling scream burst through the corridors of the Taj Mahal Hotel.
1. Milton, Paradise Lost.
2. Kipling's indiscretions regarding the Indian Secret Service do not seem to have been confined to just the affair concerning 'The Pedigree of the White Stallion'. Kipling readers will know that Strickland and his undercover activities are mentioned not only in Kim but in a number of short stories as well. Strickland is depicted as a proficient investigator, though certainly less cerebral than Holmes. He is a master of disguise and possesses a wide knowledge of native Indian customs and folklore, especi ally the more arcane and shady kind.
3. For a fuller account of Strickland's problem, see Kipling's short story 'Miss Yougal's Sais' in Plain Tales from the Hills.
The Thirteenth Dalai Lama, the Grand Lama of Hurree's story, died on the thirteenth day of the tenth month of the WaterBird year (17 December 1933). A year before his death he proclaimed to his subjects his last political testament and warning.
'It may happen,' he prophesied,'that here, in Tibet, religion and government will be attacked from without and within. Unless we can guard our country, it will happen that the Dalai and Panchen Lamas, the Father and the Son, and all the revered holders of the Faith, will disappear and become nameless. Monks and their monasteries will be destroyed. The rule of law will be weakened. The land and property of government officials will be seized. They themselves will be forced to serve their enemies or wander the country like beggars. All beings will be sunk in great hardship and overpowering fear; and the nights and days will drag on slowly in suffering.'
But the Great Thirteenth's warnings were forgotten by a blinkered clergy and a weak aristocracy, who allowed his monumental works and reforms to deckine and fall into disuse; so much so that the Chinese Communist Army marched into Tibet in October 1950 encountering only disorganised resistance. Then, the long endless nights began. After crushing all resistance the Chinese launched systematic campaigns to destroy the Tibetan people and their way of life. This movement reached its crescendo during the Cultural Revolution, but continues to this day, in varying degrees of violence and severity. Right now, in a deliberate policy to eradicate whatever vestige of Tibetan identity that survived previous genocidal campaigns, Beijing is flooding Tibet with Chinese immigrants; so much so that Tibetans are fast becoming a minority in their own country. In Lhasa Tibetans are an insignificant anomaly in a sea of Chinese. Even the Chinese police and military personnel, in and around the city, outnumber the Tibetan population. They are there to control and repress.
By latest estimates over six thousand monasteries, temples and historical monuments have been destroyed, along with incalculably vest quantities of priceless artistic and religious objects -and countless books and manuscripts of Tibet's unique and ancient learning. Over a million Tibetans have been killed by execution, torture and starvation, while hundreds of thousands of others have been forced to slave in a remote and desolate gulag in North-eastern Tibet, easily the largest of its kind in the world.
The refugees who escaped this nightmare tried to re-create in exile a part of their former lives. Monasteries, schools and institutions of music, theatre, medicine, painting, metal-work, and other arts and crafts began to grow in and around Dharamsala, the Tibetan capital-in-exile, and other places in India and countries around the world where Tibetan refugees found new homes.
It was in Dharamsala, where I worked for the Education Department of the government-in-exile, that I heard, one day, of some monks from the monastery of the White Garuda (in the Valley of the Full Moon) who had escaped to India. They had even managed to set up a small community of their own in a broken-
down British bungalow, just outside Dharamsala town. An hour's hard walk up the rocky mountain path brought me to the dilapidated bungalow. A few old monks were reading their scriptures, sitting cross-legged on a scraggly patch of lawn before dhe house. I enquired of one of them if I could talk to the person in charge.
Very soon a large but cheerful monk, who looked startlingly like the French comedian, Fernandel, came out of the house and enquired politely as to my business. I offered him the sack of fruits and vegetables that I had brought along as a gift, which was, I was happy to note, welcome to them. I was offered a rather rickety chair in their prayer-room, now empty as most of the younger monks had gone to collect firewood from the forest nearby. There was a small butter lamp burning in a make-shift altar on the mantelpiece over the old English fireplace. A calendar reproduction of the Dalai Lama's portrait in a cheap gilded frame, was the centre-piece of this altar. Beside it stood two gimcrack plastic vases stuffed with bright scarlet rhododendron blooms that covered the mountainsides at this time of the year.
I made the customary small-talk with the stout monk, who was seated across me on a packing crate. Tea was served, made, inevitably, with CARE milk powder that tasted overpoweringly of nameless chemical preservatives. After taking a couple of mandatory sips from my cup, I got down to business.
I asked him if any of the monks remembered having a whiteman, an English sahib, as the incarnate Lama of their monastery. I was really not expecting anyone to remember much, especially as it was now over ninety years since Holmes's presence in the monastery in Tibet, and also as only very few of the older monks had managed to survive the exodus from their burning monastery to this bungalow in northern India. So it was a pleasant surprise when the big fellow replied in the affirmative.
Yes, he remembered being told of the English sahib who had been their abbot. One or two of the older monks would remember this story too, though the younger ones, the novices, would not know. I questioned him a bit more, especially about the date of Sherlock Holmes's arrival at the monastery and the duration of his first stay there. The monk's answers rang true each time.
'Sir,' said he kindly,'if you are so curious about our truly, I can show you something that may interest you.' He summoned a monk and sent him off to fetch something. The fellow soon returned from an interior room, bringing with him a rectangular package wrapped in old silk, which he handed over to the big monk.
My host carefully undid the silk cover to reveal a rather decrepit tin dispatch box, the sight of which caused my heart to skip a beat. He opened the case. Within it, among a few objects of religious nature, was a chipped magnifying glass, and a battered old cherry-wood pipe.
For sometime I was unable to utter a word, and when I did I am ashamed to say that in my excitement I unwittingly made a very ill-mannered and ill-considered request.'Could you sell me these two articles?' I said, pointing to the lens and the pipe.
'I'm afraid that it would not be possible,' replied the big fellow, smiling, thankfully not offended at my gaucherie.'You see, these things are of great importance to our monastery. They also have some sentimental value to me.'
'What do you mean, Sir?' I asked puzzled.
'Well, these are the very articles I selected as a child when they came to look for me.'
'What!' I exclaimed,'You mean ...'
'Yes,' he replied, a mischievous twinkle in his eyes.'You need not look so surprised.'
'But that's impossible!'
'Is it really, Sir? Consider the fact carefully,' he said in a rather didactic manner,'then apply this old maxim of mine: "that when you have excluded the impossible, whatever remains, however impossible, must be the truth."'
As I sat across from him in that dark room, lit only by a single butter lamp, he commenced to laugh softly in a peculiar noiseless fashion.
5 June 1989
All journeys end in the settling of accounts: paying off porters, \muleteers or camel-drivers, and rewarding the staff, especially the unfailing khansamah and, of course, the sirdar, the invaluable guide and caravan organiser. It is also the moment when one must seek adequate words of gratitude and recompense for the contributions of loyal companions, and least of all for the numerous acts of kindness and consideration one has received on the way.
First and foremost, I must acknowledge my overwhelming debt to the two greatest popular writers of Victorian England, Arthur Conan Doyle and Rudyard Kipling, from whose great bodies of work this small pastiche of mine has drawn life and sustenance-in much the same way as did a species of fauna mentioned in the story.
The sixty adventures of Sherlock Holmes recorded by John H. Watson are known to the followers of the 'Master' as the 'Sacred Writings'. This canon of Sherlockiana, which finds parallel in the Kangyur' of Tibetan Buddhism, was the all-important source of inspiration and reference; not just for facts, but for style and even the atmosphere of my work.
The general public is pretty much unaware of the tremendous bibliography of Holmesian criticism, which is referred to generally as the 'secondary writing, and which finds an equivalence in the Lamaist'Tengyur', or commentaries. Many such secondary sources have been consulted for this project, chief among them are Vincent Starrett's classic, The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, and of course, William S. Baring-Gould, Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street, and also his stupendous two-volume annotated collection of the complete Sherlock Holmes stories. I should also mention two earlier attempts to reconstruct Holmes's Tibetan period, namely Richard Wincor's Sherlock Holmes in Tibet, and Hapi's The Adamantine Sherlock Holmes.
The first germ of an idea for the Mandala of Sherlock Holmes was planted in my head by the late John Ball ('the Oxford Flyer'), the famous author (In the Heat of the Night, etc.), president of the Los Angeles Scion Society (of Sherlock Holmes) and a Master Copper-Beech-Smith of the sons of the Copper Beeches, of Philadelphia, who on a cold winter night at Dharamsala in 1970 examined me carefully on my knowledge of the 'Sacred Writings', at the conclusion of which he formally welcomed me to the ranks of the Baker Street Irregulars. (John Ball,'The Path of the Master', The Baker Street journal, March 1971, Vol. 21 No. 1, New York.)
Kim, Rudyard Kipling's great novel of British India, which Nirad Choudhari considers the finest story about British India, provided a large chunk of the geographical background of the story, the 'Great Game' milieu, and some of its characters-the most indispensable being our Bengali Boswell to the Master. Kipling's short stories, especially these collections: The Phantom Rickshaw and Other Eerie Tales> Plain Tales from the Hills, and Under the Deodars provided other details. I must, without fail, acknowledge the writings of Sarat Chandra Das, the great Bengali scholar/spy who is the real life inspiration for Kipling's Hurree Chunder Mookerjee. Chief among Das' works that animates this story is his Journey to Lhasa and Central Tibet. I must also mention Sven Hedin's Trans Himalaya which provided material for the preparation of Holmes's kafila to Lhasa.
For background on India and the Raj: Sood's Guide to Simla and its Environs, Charles Allen's Plain Tales from the Raj, and also his Raj, A Scrapbook of British India, Geoffrey Moorhouse's India Britannica, also Evelyn Battye's Costumes and Characters of the British Raj, for whom I am indebted to the description of the Bombay traffic police. For esoterica: Kazi Dawa Samdup and Evans Wentz for their writings concerning'Phowa and Trongjug,Andrew Tomas's Shambala: Oasis of Light, and Carl Jung for the relationship of UFOs and Mandalas in the tenth volume of his collected works, Civilisation in Transition. Other scholars and writers whose works have either informed or inspired are acknowledged in the footnotes and quotations. Thanks to Gyamtso for the two maps and Pierre Stilli and Lindsey for their contribution to the cover illustration. My thanks also to Esther for inputting the entire text on computer.
I am indebted to Shell and Roger Larsen for their warm and unstinted hospitality when I started writing the book and Tamsin for support. I am much indebted to my friends Tashi Tsering and Lhasang Tsering for corrections, suggestions and relentless nagging to get 'Mandela' published; and also to Patrick French for sound advice and generous baksheesh endorsement. I must thank my former editor Aradhana Bisht for helpful observations on Hurree's character. I am particularly grateful to Ian Smith, Anthony Sheil, Elenora Tevis, Susan Schulman, Jenny Manriquez, former American ambassador to India Frank Wisner, Tenzin Sonam, Ritu Sarin, Professor Sondhi and Mrs Madhuri Santanam Sondhi for their encouragement and help to get this book published. To Amala, Regzin, and most of all Tenzing and Namkha for love and unfailing support.