“It seems more than a little patronizing for Westerners to lament the loss of the good old days when life in the Khumbu was so much simpler and more picturesque. Most of the people who live in this rugged country seem to have no desire to be severed from the modern world or the untidy flow of human progress. The last thing Sherpas want is to be preserved as specimens in an anthropological museum.”
In chapter 4, Jon attempted to paint a picture of Sherpa Country. As the quote above suggests, he wanted to work against the modern day patronization by Westerners who "lament the loss of the good old days when life in the Khumbu was so much simpler", which means, perhaps, by those who are saddened at the imperial conquest of this area. Rather than maintain this patronizing view, Jon suggests that the imperialistic Westernization of this area has been beneficial: the business of guiding people up Everest has changed the Sherpa culture, now the Nepalese economy relies on income via tourism, etc.
I can't help but feel frustrated by the way that Jon speaks for the Sherpas, "The last thing Sherpas want is to be preserved as specimens in an anthropological museum". To speak on their behalf seems as patronizing as to lament the loss of the good old days, what gives him the authority?
But am I right to feel so frustrated with Jon? There is a man who lives at my house in Steamboat, Chhiring Dorje Sherpa. He is a guide on Everest, he is also a Sherpa. Being a guide has allowed him to move to the United States, to work at an outdoor gear shop to save money to send his two daughters to a good boarding school in Nepal and ultimately attempt to bring them to school in Steamboat. Chhiring is wholly the Sherpa that Jon wants us to reconsider.
Yet, I am deeply torn on the matter. Is Chhiring really working towards something better as Jon suggests and as would seem the obvious answer. Chhiring clearly desires to be tied into this modern world, into the "flow of human progress". But to suggest that this modern world is somehow better than the "good old days" of the Khumbu is to maintain superiority to our form of life in a way that perhaps we, and Jon, should reconsider.