The Snow Drop Cafe - Yak Milk
Three days on the flat of his back with altitude sickness hinted that Saint Nicholas didn't have a head for heights.Â Yet it could be said that the saintly one was more than a tad stubborn when it came to the quest for truth and enlightenment.Â It might even be inferred that he was downright obsessed in his search for the Holy Grail.Â Not that Ms Right could be blamed for that!Â After all, the romance of true love was worth searching for, and such never runs smooth.
Many a broken heart could bear witness to this iron law of the besotted.Â Yet the love-struck also attested that love could strike.Â And the fusion of both witnesses â€“ in a platonic sort of way â€“ pointed to an underlying truth.Â That the one loving and the loved one are not necessarily destined to be one.Â But could be.Â The winds of romance were the jury to decide, and such winds could blow hot or cold.Â Or be hung.Â In which case, who was to judge whether love fell by the wayside or climbed the mountain?
Saint Nicholas had fallen without getting to court.Â Even though he desperately wanted to court Ms Right.Â The problem was he hadn't found the lady who was undoubtedly searching for him, with adoring eyes at the ready.Â Even if she did, he had no mountain climbing boots.Â Such was a dreadful oversight, here in the foothills of the Himalayas where he lay flat on his back.
Another mistake had also become apparent.Â Few in this remote hamlet in the mountain valley spoke English.Â The ones that did had only a smattering of words in their repertoire.Â The saint had assumed that God would guide his footsteps to the Dalai Lama â€“ enlightened, fluent in English and undoubtedly able to tell him where to find Ms Right.Â But there was no lama of any description, or swami or guru of any kind.Â Guiding his feet must have slipped God's mind.
Which perhaps was just as well.Â For if he'd discovered Ms Right here in the snow laden mountains, it was most unlikely that she spoke English.Â And he was ignorant of the language of love.Â How then could she adore him and pamper him if the whispered sweet nothings meant nothing?Â How could he share his dreams when the beautiful shell like ears heard only a wind of unintelligible words?Â How could the pent up love in his heart burst meaningfully over a blank face?Â Worse, how could there be pillow talk about his black motorbike and his hopes for a new red one?
Yet his immediate concern was not with the giddiness of, Oh my beating heart be still! and the sweaty palms of the love struck.Â Though such could sometimes be a fatal disease without antidote.Â No, his immediate problem for three days had been that the altitude sickness antidote of skinny flat white coffee was not available.Â On hands and knees he had crawled from house to house in the small village.Â The best he could obtain was yak milk, even though he hadn't seen a yak anywhere.Â Nor was there a breath of coffee medication of any kind.Â Nor even a sniff of mocha â€“ a somewhat foul, fall-back remedy in times of emergency.Â Even that abomination had fallen over.
This parlous state of affairs spurred the saintly one on his way, when sufficiently acclimatized.Â He'd had three days on the flat of his back to meditate on Buddha's words: 'Don't eat curry!', and 'Go home!'Â He could see the wisdom of it.Â Curry-tainted yak milk was undoubtedly nourishing for the locals.Â But he wasn't local.Â He was a child of the universe, and divine providence was abundant in its charity.Â And charity begins at home.Â This, clearly, was what Buddha meant.Â At home, there was no yak milk, and no need to eat the devil's fiery abomination of curry.Â Happiness is a curry-free zone.
Thus now he was trudging homeward bound with an all but empty backpack.Â He knew that home must lie in the direction of downhill.Â The problem was that the walking trail alternated between down and up the sheer ridges that rolled in waves as far as the eye could see.Â In short, he was lost.Â Lost in the wilderness of curry and yak milk. Â Such is perilous, even to the saintly!Â But at least he wasn't crying in the wilderness.Â Not that his stiff upper lip prevented it.Â No, his upper lip was much too numb with cold for him to blubber where none would hear his heartfelt tears for a skinny flat white coffee.Â He was wrong about that, too!
Rounding a corner of the track, he saw the mouth of a cave, with fire light flickering within.Â Perhaps it was a coffee emporium serving scalding hot skinny flat white coffee.Â If so, the sainted one would forever think of it as The Snow Drop CafÃ©.Â He was wrong about that as well, for it proved to be an abomination of God.
"I heard you coming ten minutes ago," growled a deep voice as Nicholas stumbled into the gloom of the cave.Â "You've got to be brainless making all that noise in these parts.Â Don't you know about yetis?"
On the far side of the fire a huge, fur-clad man sat hugging his knees.Â Coffee-deprived Nicholas noticed a mug on the ground between the man's very large feet.Â And what looked like a heaven-sent coffee pot stood steaming on the edge of the fire.Â Any such vessel had to be heaven-sent if it contained more than the promise of coffee.
"I'm Sasquatch," continued the man in perfect English.Â "And you are?"
"Saint Nicholas," replied the saintly one, rubbing his hands in front of the fire and staring hard at the coffee pot.
"If you're Saint Nicholas," scoffed Sasquatch, "I'm the abominable snowman!"
The saint shook his head.Â "No you're not!" he said firmly, for no man was an abomination â€“ nothing created by God could ever be abominable.
"Well!" said Sasquatch slightly irked. Â "If I'm not the abominable snowman, you're not Saint Nicholas!"
"But I am!" insisted the saint.Â "I was anointed by God!"
"You were what?" Sasquatch said in an incredulous voice.Â He peered hard across the fire at his unannounced guest.Â His face was so sincere, and he had such a child-like quality that it was obvious that he actually believed what he had just said.Â Clearly, he was mentally deficient.Â "Why?" he asked gently, "can't I be the abominable snowman?"
"God does not create the abominable," Saint Nicholas answered simply.
Sasquatch nodded in agreement, and then smiled.Â "Would you like some coffee?"
"Oh, yes, please!"
"Well, it's not actually coffee," qualified Sasquatch.Â "It's mocha â€“ it fell off the back of a startled yak."
Saint Nicholas was so caffeine deprived that even Mocha sounded good.Â He later put that down to the after effects of altitude sickness.Â As he did the fact that it had actually tasted good â€“ perhaps due to the generous squeeze from a tube of sweetened condensed milk, also donated by a startled yak.
"Do you know what a yeti is?" Sasquatch asked softly.
The saint shook his head.Â "Some kind of yak?"
Sasquatch nodded, smiling.Â "Yes, that's right.Â Some kind of yak!"
"Your English is very good," complimented Saint Nicholas.
"Thank you," said Sasquatch.Â "I have a solar powered laptop connected to the world-wide web.Â It fell off a startled yak.Â With it, I can learn anything."
It went over the saint's head.Â Why anyone would connect the top of his lap to a huge web was beyond him.Â And since he had a dread of spiders, he moved closer to the fire.Â Just in case God was busy protecting elsewhere.
"What are you doing here?" asked Sasquatch.
"I'm lost!Â And I want to go home."
"No," said Sasquatch, "not lost but found!"Â He sometimes remembered to give God a helping hand.Â "I'll show you the way home.Â But I'm a curious so and so.Â Tell me, why did you come to the mountains in the first place?"
For quite a long time Saint Nicholas poured his heart out about his futile search for Ms Right.Â And Sasquatch listened patiently, over many cups of mocha â€“ by courtesy of a startled yak.Â He nodded sympathetically as his guest dejectedly confessed that he hadn't enough money left to pay for an air ticket to fly back to his home on the far side of the world.Â He smiled when his simple-minded visitor dolefully added that the tiny matter of his return home must have slipped God's mind â€“ it was understandable because He must have a very busy schedule of setting things aright in the universe.
When finally his good-hearted guest was asleep beside the fire, covered with a thick fur, Sasquatch went to the back of the cave.Â He rummaged through an assorted pile of things fallen from the backs of startled yaks.Â He retrieved an open-ended ticket for first-class passage around the world on a luxury cruise liner - a trip he'd never make.Â It was a simple matter to use his on-line computer to confirm passage for one Nicholas Saint.Â And he slipped it into his guest's backpack.
For a long time Sasquatch stood thoughtfully at the entrance of the cave.Â He contemplated on the matter of true love, and his own experience of lady yetis.Â On romance he could not advise his dejected guest.Â It would be a case of the blind leading the blind.Â Though there was much to be said for the blindness of Saint Nicholas!Â He shrugged and walked out of the cave and into the night to startle a yak.
Days later Saint Nicholas was finally standing on the edge of the known â€“ a small whistle-stop town for passing trains.Â There he parted with his friend and guide, who told him about the ticket and advised him that he had a week to reach the port of departure.Â When the saint later thought back on it all, it didn't occur to him to think of the cave as The Snow Drop CafÃ©. No, it would always be the home of Sasquatch in the mountains of the trembling yaks â€“ undoubtedly suffering from either altitude sickness or fear of huge spiders.Â Perhaps even heights as well.Â It seemed strange that God would create trembling yaks.Â But then, He moved in mysterious ways.
Tales from the Divine Drop Cafes