A Yak, A Yeti and A Russian Named Boris

Dear Hayley,

I’ve been thinking about you, and how difficult it must be to live with Alzheimer’s every minute. I have the “luxury” of thinking about it more metaphorically. While you help take care of your dad as the disease grows steadily in him,  I wax nostalgic on growing up with Beau. But I hope stories of my dad help  free your mind from time to time. They remind me of a time when my dad was free of his disease.

So here’s a new story, courtesy of my mother.

When we all lived in the Philippines, some time after my birth, my father decided that he wanted to take my mother to see India–and if they were gonna go all that way, they might as well pop into Kathmandu, Nepal, too. India, of course, had much to offer: The Taj Mahal, Jaipur, the Lake Palace and so on and so forth. But  what did Kathmandu have to offer in 1965? The only people going were hippies (of which my parents were not) and Everest climbers (also not my parents). That area of the world is expansive. Even though Nepal is north of India, traveling between the two places wasn’t easy or quick. So why Kathmandu?

My father wanted to go to Nepal for one reason and one reason only. He wanted to meet Boris Lisanevitch, the famed Russian ballet dancer turned club owner in Calcutta turned pal of the Nepalese King turned Tiger Hunter turned everything interesting in the world. Boris opened the Yak and Yeti Bar and Restaurant (it later became a famed hotel) and the Royal Hotel.

Beau wrote to Boris from the Philippines asking if he and my mother could come and stay at the Royal. Boris wrote back and said,” Yes, but bring a case of Scotch.” My father only managed to smuggle one bottle of Scotch into the still-very-unknown country and gave it to Boris. My father sat up late to listen to Boris tell stories at the Yak and Yeti bar.

My father wanted to travel half way around the world just to meet a real adventurer and to hear about his life. Good stories were the center of our household: Brother Grimm, Hans Christian Anderson, Ernest Hemingway, among hundreds of others. And now I tell them about my father.

People often ask me why I do the things I do: travel to odd places; move to new cities; seek out strange encounters. I have come to realize that I do it for the stories. The ones I will hear and the ones I will tell. Like the this one of Boris and Beau—-two men led by curiosity,  who left tales in their tracks. Left so I could follow.

Love,
Nancy

One Comment Add yours

  1. This touched my heart, especially since my Dad has recently been diagnosed with dementia. Inspirational. Thanks for sharing.

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