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Rivendell Remedies

Today we had a minor setback and had to remove Maggie’s left ear. Well, “remove” is a strong word, but it was causing significant pain and more altitude wasn’t going to help. So we sought help from a local nun / nurse.  It was legit. She had a sign out front and everything. We found her at the low end of a rhododendron forest, just past the Rivendell Lodge. Unfortunately no Elven medic was to be found, but desperate times, desperate measures.

Help came slowly. We entered the cluttered home of the nurse nun while she prayed/chanted/mumbled for about 20 minutes (photo above). In the meantime we waited. I set out my digital voice recorder and wandered softly around the room as if I were invisible. Which is a weird thing to do when you’re not invisible. People give you this look as if to say, “Dude, you know you’re not invisible, right?”

On one wall was a collection of lama pictures laid out like a history of presidents, a series of incarnations over centuries. Family photos were scattered in crooked frames along the walls, including one of a Nepalese woman in tight shorts and sleeveless shirt. Yowza.

Oil lamps lit the room and a wood fire heated it and a pot of water for tea. Chanting can wear out one’s throat. Her assistant, who we assume was a family member and was at least a few monks short of a monastery, fed the flames. There was a third dude. He gave some money to Mrs. Nun. I don’t know what his deal was. An incense vessel was swung about as at Catholic Mass, prayers chanted, and a few rupees exchanged.

On one wall was an award of merit for “Electrical Wiring and Powerhouse Generation,” for Ms. Tsering, granted from Ang Kanchi Sherpa, for showing exceptional ability and achieving outstanding recognition in May 1988. Way to go.

The walls hosted more incongruous images than the bedroom of a desperately unhip teenager who someone needs to take the scotch tape away from. Hindu and Buddhist posters and photos splattered together as if the slap-dash work of a crime investigator. At least the kind on the telly.

Beside the pink-quilt-ensconced nun were several jars of lotions and balms, as well as (and I perhaps rudely snuck up too close but I had to be 100% certain) a small bottle of CVS-brand acetaminophen.

Maggie requested that whatever this woman did to her, I should photograph it. As it turns out, after the intense incense-rich chanting amid oil lamp atmosphere, we moved to another building next door, where Mrs. Nun broke out one of those modern ear inspection scope thingies and went all Western and modern on us. She then gave Maggie a few medicinal ear drops.  It was all too professional and Western for my tastes. I wanted to see crazy Tibetan magic. A mortar and pestle. Maybe fire and wax would be incorporated somehow. Chicken beaks.

Maggie and Mrs. Nurse Nun size each other up

And that was that. An hour-ish, worthwhile cultural (oh, and medical) detour. We’ll see if it does the trick, but it was a trippy morning. Especially as just a witness who doesn’t have to worry prejudicially that this woman was going to cure any of my pain with a 14th Century knitting needle.

Flickr photos of today’s hike from Tengboche to Dingboche (14,500 feet)

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