When we returned to Lukla (back down to 10,000 feet from the top), we had a couple days to rest. One evening in the common room at dinner, I talked to an Irish gal who was staying in the same lodge as we were. About my age or a little younger, she had been traveling solo through India, and now Nepal. Before that she had spent time traveling in Pakistan and working there in an office to make money so she could travel some more.

We were discussing the different cultural tripping points, things we found interesting and most different from our own cultures. She helped me draw parallels between what I knew of Pakistan culture, and this one I have come to know in Nepal. But the differences are vast, too. I asked her about conducting business there and she replied, “Very little work ever appeared to get done the way we Westerners think of ‘done’. I’d ask if a document had been completed, or a product shipped and the answer was invariably, ‘insallah’, which means ‘God willing’ or ‘If Allah wills it’ which isn’t a very cut-and-dried way to do business, if you ask me. They would answer ‘insallah’ to your every query….’Are you going to lunch? Is there a meeting now? Have you heard an answer from the director?’ and the answer is always ‘insallah.'”

When I looked at her with a vague glimmer of understanding, specifically from the things I had just been through along my trek, she continued and went into specifics. She gave me a good idea of what they consider an agreement, a contract and a method for working. But the interesting part is that they get business done, they just get it done differently. Very differently than we do, in fact. I have had to embrace this set of thoughts in working through the end of this book.

In looking back, it helped me so much to hear her words. They must have fallen at just the right time. I had forgotten all about her until I was wrestling through the cultural stopping blocks that I am at this point in the book. It’s intriguing that part of the story which seemed unrelated as it happened, is becoming part of the answer. Is the book done? Insallah.

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