During the ‘60s after the Chinese tightened their grip on Tibet and the Dalai Lama went for a stroll from which he never returned Mustang was a hotbed of insurgency against the Chinese led by Khampas, Tibet’s most ferocious warriors. At the height of operations there were thought to be at least 6000 soldiers in the area, as well as adjoining regions (such as Dolpo). Not surprisingly they initially had the support of the CIA (God Bless America). Everything changed when Kissinger and Nixon decided it was to time to play kissy-grabass with Mao in an effort to improve relations. After that the insurgency fizzled (with the aid of a taped plea from the Dalai Lama making the case for peaceful resistance) and, fortunately for the residents of Mustang, the 10,000 Nepali troops sent to ‘settle’ the issue became superfluous.
Lunch was taken in a small village not far from the caves. I was brought to what I believe to be a private residence and served lunch in the host’s private prayer room, a sort of mini-monastery. Not long after I sat down an elderly gentleman entered and sat down cross-legged on the padded bench-style seats across the room. A young male I presumed to be his grandson or nephew explained to me that it was ‘prayer day’. He apologized for the interruption and offered to relocate us to another room. Apologize for engaging in sacred acts in one’s own home? Seriously?