Thursday, October 8, 2015

Sourcing: A case study.

Nawang and her makeshift dental clinic.

Back in Kathmandu our chief logistics coordinator, Ang Jangbu, chose one of his longtime Sherpa’s, Dawa, to guide One Sherpa Home from Lukla to Phortse. I already knew Dawa from my 2013 Everest Team. He guided team mate Rob Marshall to the summit on the same day I hit it. I spent time catching up with Dawa during the trek to Namche and shared our rebar conundrum with him. He visited Namche’s only Dentist, Nawang, the evening we arrived and mentioned our difficulties while she worked on his mouth. The dental clinic had been destroyed in the earth quake, so Nawang was drilling teeth in one corner of the community center while her facility was being rebuilt. She commiserated with Dawa, describing her own difficulties in the course of having the clinic rebuilt. The large Russian helicopter that normally brought essential materials to Namche was grounded and such and such. But she had managed to buy some rebar off a guy building a lodge on the other side of Namche. 

Dawa brought Nawang to breakfast this morning for the sake of repeating her story, which likely held more currency with us than anyone else in the Khumbu. Indeed, construction was well underway on her clinic and still rebar remained in her stock yard. It was possible she could spare some. So we cruised up to Nawang’s job site an hour later and found the most beautiful rusted rebar any of us had ever laid eyes on. Much of it had been tied into forms that were yet to be placed, but an exciting quantity laid about like windfall fruit, wistful and beckoning. Nawang called her contractor, who said he needed every piece of what they had. But Nawang was taken with our plight and thusly called the guy she bought her rebar from, Tshering, who by-the-by worked on a landscape crew in Seattle for two years, and he took pity on us. We presently found ourselves standing before a soul withering pile of bent metal that might or might not be for sale. There was talk, and measuring, off-hand chuckles, and fierce calculation. Claus advised me of our need for 1,200 linear feet of rebar at the minimum and Tshering allowed that such a quantity would not displease him. Tshering quoted me a price, which I will not repeat here as I intend to bury it deep within the myriad numbers I must submit to the Board of Directors of One Sherpa Home, and a deal was struck. I might have bartered. I also might have dressed as a Disney character. Tshering and I both knew I had no leverage whatsoever. Without that rebar our entire project was a nonstarter. I handed over a wheelbarrow of rupees and sulked off to meet Mingma. 

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