Befriending Som

Pokhara, Nepal – I woke up, packed my bag and rode down to lakeside where I had gotten a room at the Namastay Lodge the same complex Som lives in. Met Som and he told me Ram had left early that morning to go home. I guessed his family had run out of rice and he needed to take some up to them. Told Som I would meet him later and after getting my new room sorted out I made the ride up to old Pokhara again to get my trekking photos developed.

Dropped the film off, then went to some of the student book stores up there to see if I could get some basic reading books for Ram. He really wanted to learn to read and write English, I could see that whenever we would sit down for our reading lessons while trekking. I ended up getting him four English books for 125 rupees. Back to the photo place two hours later to get the pictures, then I coasted down the mountain to lakeside. Met Som, showed him the photos, then we played carrom board for a while. Som and I went shopping and I bought a whole bunch of the embroidered Nepalese eyes T-shirt. There are the nicest affordable gifts we found so far while traveling, so everyone gets one. They are averaging around 130 rupees each.

Som told me he was going to cook a dal bhat that evening in his room, so I did not need to go out to dinner. I rode my bike back to dam side and made the 25-minute walk back to the lake. Managed by some more T-shirts on the return trip, bringing the T-shirt total up to 13 by the time I had retired to bed that evening. Som cooked us a pretty good dinner that evening and a I sort of probed and got more information about Ram from him.

He said Ram really needed the money for his family because they were eating millet. Som said it was too gross for him to eat it himself. I gave Ram a total of 1500 rupees on top of the 2300 I paid him for being my guide. I also paid 1260 rupees for his plane ticket and gave him some books and stationery worth 150. Hopefully, it will help him out enough to get him back on his feet. We talked about a lot of things before I gave him the money. He is going to buy new shoes for trekking and we talked about buying two chickens, a hen and a cock, so his family would have eggs to eat when rice ran out. After spending 10 days with him, I could tell he was honest and would use the money in the ways we discussed.

We also talked about his joining a trekking agency, so he has steady work as a guide, but he said the agencies take too much of a cut and that is why most people are independent. Som said he was really pleased with the plane ride and the extra help I had given him. So, I am thinking that was the best thing to do.

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