“I tried to be a tough but fair taskmaster[工头],” Mortenson says. “I spent all day at the construction site, from sunrise to sunset, using my level[水平仪] to make sure the walls were even and my plumb line[铅垂线] to check that they were standing straight. I always had my notebook in my hand, and kept my eyes on everyone, anxious to account for every rupee[卢比]. I didn’t want to disappoint Jean Hoerni, so I drove people hard.”
One clear afternoon at the beginning of August, Haji Ali tapped Mortenson on the shoulder at the construction
site and asked him to take a walk. The old man led the former climber uphill for an hour, on legs still strong enough to humble the much younger man. Mortenson felt precious[宝贵的] time slipping away, and by the time Haji Ali halted[停住] on a narrow ledge high above the village, Mortenson was panting[喘气], as much from the thought of all the tasks he was failing to supervise as from his exertion[努力].
Haji Ali waited until Mortenson caught his breath, then instructed him to look at the view. The air had the fresh-scrubbed[擦] clarity that only comes with
altitude[高度]. Beyond Korphe K2注1, the ice peaks of the inner Karakoram knifed relentlessly[残酷地] into a
defenseless blue sky. A thousand feet below, Korphe, green with ripening barley fields, looked small and
vulnerable[脆弱的], a life raft adrift[漂浮的] on a sea of stone.
Haji Ali reached up and laid his hand on Mortenson’s
shoulder. “These mountains have been here a long time,” he said. “And so have we.” He reached for his rich brown lambswool[羔羊毛] topi注2, the only symbol of
authority Korphe’s nurmadhar ever wore, and centered it on his silver hair. “You can’t tell the mountains what to do,” he said, with an air of gravity[庄严] that transfixed[使呆住]
Mortenson as much as the view. “You must learn to
listen to them. So now I am asking you to listen to me. By the mercy of Almighty Allah, you have done much for my people, and we appreciate it. But now you must do one more thing for me.”
“Anything,” Mortenson said.
“Sit down. And shut your mouth,” Haji Ali said. “You’re
making everyone crazy.”
“Then he reached out and took my plumb line, and my level and my account book, and he walked back down to Korphe,” Mortenson says. “I followed him all the way to his house, worrying about what he was doing. He took the key he always kept around his neck on a leather thong[皮带], opened a cabinet decorated with faded Buddhist wood carvings, and locked my things in there, alongside a shank[柄] of curing[腌制]
ibex[野生山羊], his prayer beads, and his old British musket[滑膛枪] gun. Then he asked Sakina to bring us tea.”
Mortenson waited nervously for half an hour while Sakina brewed the paiyu cha. Haji Ali ran his fingers along the text of the Koran that he cherished above all his
belongings, turning pages randomly and mouthing almost silent Arabic prayer as he stared out into inward space.
When the porcelain[瓷] bowls of scalding[滚烫的] butter tea steamed in their hands, Haji Ali spoke. “If you want to thrive in Baltistan注3, you must respect our ways,” Haji Ali said, blowing on his bowl. “The first time you share tea with a Balti, you are a stranger. The second time you take tea, you are an honored guest. The third time you share a cup of tea, you become family, and for our family,
we are prepared to do anything, even die,” he said,
laying his hand warmly on Mortenson’s own. “Doctor Greg, you must make time to share three cups of tea. We may be uneducated. But we are not stupid. We have lived and survived here for a long time.”
“That day, Haji Ali taught me the most important lesson I’ve ever learned in my life,” Mortenson says. “We Americans think you have to accomplish everything quickly. We’re the country of thirty-minute power lunches and two-minute football drills[操练]. Haji Ali taught me to share three cups of tea, to slow down and make building relationships as important as building projects. He taught me that I had more to learn from the people I work with than I could ever hope to teach them.”
Three weeks later, with Mortenson demoted[使降职]
from foreman[工头] to spectator[旁观者], the walls of the school had risen higher than the American’s head and all that remained was putting on the roof.
Three Cups of Tea 三杯茶（节选）