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Tuesday, Nov 30, 2021
Outlook.com
Appraisal

The Amiable Snowman

Only Sir Edmund Hillary could have worn greatness with such casual aplomb

The Amiable Snowman
The Amiable Snowman
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

But the Auckland beekeeper and the Sherpa from Darjeeling, as they came down the mountain to the real world, held us all in thrall. Modest to the core, fully conscious that destiny had dealt them a magic hand, they never lost their human touch, grace and endearing shyness. In Kathmandu, local chauvinists tried to project Tenzing as the real hero. Tenzing would have none of it. Others tried to give all the credit to Hillary, claiming he had pulled Tenzing up the now-famous Hillary step, and walked him the last few yards to the top. Ed dismissed such petty attempts to prove the white man's superiority with contempt.

In Delhi, the then president, Rajendra Prasad, honoured them both. Tenzing and family were to fly for the first time to London to meet the newly-crowned Queen. Nehru, in his typically affectionate way, took Tenzing home, opened his clothes cupboard, and asked Tenzing to take as many achkans as he needed. They were about the same height. With his loveable personality, Tenzing took the West and the British by storm. Nehru set up the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute in Darjeeling, and made Tenzing director of training. Nehru became the president, and came every year to preside over the graduation of young Indian climbers.

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