On Sijila, Tibet’s Marlboro Man

So we have spent several days touring with Sijila, our enigmatic driver, and we’ve come to appreciate some of his . . . idiosyncrasies. During the trip to Everest where we spent four or fives hours driving each day, our love for Sijila and his ubiquitous old-man-jeans and short-sleeved collared white shirt grew to new heights.

He claims to not speak any English, but we suspect it’s a lie.  He laughs at all of our jokes from the backseat. At first we thought he was simply listening to us laugh at each other and reacting to that, but he was even chuckling at dumb jokes that we’ve made to each other so often that we don’t laugh at them anymore.

He’s really an entertainer – working hard to crack us up. While speeding by a little kid crossing a road he yelled BLIND!!! out the window (“SHADA!”) just to see our reaction. He mockingly imitates the waving arm motion of people trying to flag down rides on the side of the road. He swerves toward children selling things in the street. And he laughed maniacally while he spun the back wheels to kick up dust which got sucked into the air vents and filled the back of the car. And continued to laugh for miles while our eyes watered.

When he gets sleepy, and his head starts dropping onto his chin,  he pops in a cd and we rave.  He thinks it is hilarious when we dance in our seats, and loved it when Sam got her little flashlight out and waved it around like a glow stick.

He has a kind face with deep laugh lines around his eyes.

He’s like that quiet uncle who sits in the corner with twinkling eyes and waits for the perfect moment to crack all the kids up.

A cigarette is never far from his lips when he’s not driving (hence the Marlboro Man comparison).

And he runs like a monkey-penguin.

That’s Sijila.


4 Responses to “On Sijila, Tibet’s Marlboro Man”

  1. April 30, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    Aw, nice tribute to your driver! I suppose when you spend THAT amount of time with someone, it sticks with you! I wonder if he is regaling stories of you guys to all his friends? Over a smoke, of course! 🙂

  2. 3 Sam
    May 4, 2010 at 7:48 pm

    oh man… what about his dirty look when the james tried to “teach” him how to turn on the car wipers??!!

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