India Local Leader - Uden Sherpa
Uden lives in a small village near Darjeeling. He completed his school and graduation from St. Joseph's School, North Point, and Darjeeling. Uden also completed his Adventure Outward Bound Course, Basic and Advance Mountaineering Courses from the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute in Darjeeling and has been leading treks in Darjeeling, Sikkim, Bhutan, South India, Garhwal and Ladakh. A very responsible and dedicated person with a very pleasant temperament, Uden speaks fluent English, is knowledgeable about the local culture and environment and has been receiving rave reviews for his leadership from the groups he has been guiding.
We interviewed each of our leaders and here is what Uden had to say...
How old are you?
I am 34 years old.
Where were you born?
I was born in Sukhia Pokhari, a small town very near to Darjeeling, West Bengal, India.
Where do you live now?
I live in Darjeeling.
How many brothers and sisters do you have?
I have a brother and a sister, both older to me.
Can you give a brief outline of your education?
I studied in St. Joseph's School, Darjeeling, and graduation in Bachelor's Degree in Business Studies from St. Joseph's College, Darjeeling.
Are you married and do you have any children?
Yes, I am married but have no children yet.
How did you come to be working in the tourism industry?
When I was a student in St. Joseph's School, as a part of our curriculum we had to undergo the Adventure Course conducted by the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute in Darjeeling. The experience I had while on the course made me pursue my mountaineering courses and make trekking my profession.
Have you had any training specific to working with foreign tourists?
Working under trek leaders and talks, interaction between guides, Motup, Yangdu on a regular basis to discuss various issues and dealing with clients. Rimo organised a basic 2 months German language course. Mountain Leadership Course conducted by Rimo Expeditions in association with UIAA & Petzl Foundation.
What is your first language?
My first language is Nepali.
What languages do you speak?
I can speak in Nepali, English, Hindi and some German/Deutsch.
How did you learn to speak English?
School and college were English medium schools run by Jesuit priests and medium of Instruction was english.
Which KE holiday do you most like to lead?
Markha Valley in Ladakh and DTB (Darjeeling to Bhutan).
What has been the most amusing moment you have experienced on a KE holiday?
The most amusing moment I have experienced on a KE holiday was knowing Mr. Rex Munro. He had been the leader in many of the earlier KE trips when I was the local leader. He taught me many things. I will not be wrong to call him as a mentor. We have had many instances to laugh at or to ponder. All the KE trips that I've led with him has been amusing as he has so many stories to tell and something to cherish about.
The most amusing moment I have experienced on a KE holiday was rain in one of the Markha Valley treks just after I had said to one of the clients, that "it never rains in Ladakh".
What has been the most challenging incident you have faced on a KE holiday?
I still recall, it was a trek in Sikkim in the month of April/May 2004, when I was a novice in Rimo Expeditions. Thomas Richardson was the trip leader, and I was working as a sherpa under Tenjee Sherpa (the local guide). We were doing the ‘Sikkim Ridge trek' and the weather conditions were awful . Our Dzos (pack animals) were exhausted and the porters were suffering from ‘snow blindness'. We had no choice, but to retreat. There were five clients including Tom. Never in my life have I carried so much load for days. But now when I look back, it adds up to all the wonderful experiences I've enjoyed till now.
Do you think that foreign tourism is a good thing for your country?
Foreign tourism is definitely a good thing for our country.
What do you think is the future of foreign tourism in your country?
It has been expanding ever since. And now with the easier accessibility to newer, remoter regions, I feel more people would want to explore the new. We, in general have also become more aware and appreciative of foreign visitors. We as a country have the potential to become a desired destination for everyone.
What do you do with your free time?
I do some reading. Watch movies and engage myself in house-hold activities.
What is your favourite sport?
Like majority of the Indians, Cricket is my favourite sport.
When travelling with a group, what do the local people say about your clients?
The locals appreciate the fact that people from abroad come to their place and enjoy it. They find it amusing to interact with our clients. Although the conversation is limited most of the time, they still feel happy about it.
Have you travelled abroad, and if so where?
Yes, I have travelled to Southern France.
Which countries would you like to visit?
I would like to visit England and New Zealand.
What music do you listen to - who is your favourite performer?
I listen to various genre of music. From Bollywood to alternative rock music. My favourite performers are Adele, The Script and Daughtry.
Which person do you most admire in the world?
After my parents, H. H. the Twelfth Gyalwang Drukpa Rinpoche.
What you have to say about Uden...
"UDEN is quite simply the best leader I have ever travelled with he is in my opinion far far superior to any other trip leader i have encountered this is my 15th Trek and i have never ever had such a good leader HE IS QUITE SIMPLY BRILLIANT " - Andrew Wrighting
"Our trek leader, Uden, was outstanding. He provided very strong leadership, inspired confidence and trust from us all and had a great sense of humour. Of all the trek leaders I have had Uden is the only one who has been completely in tune with both the clients and with the local crew." Roger Aylard
"I have been on many trips and treks with very very good leaders but Uden Sherpa was head and shoulders above any of them. His command of English, his sense of humour, his personality and his obvious leadership skills made our trek run smoothly and successfully. His attention to detail added to our trip e.g. making a photographic record of the trip and giving each of us a copy on a disk. He was obviously liked and respected by the support crew. I cannot praise Uden highly enough. All my future treks would be with KE if you could guarantee Uden would be leading them." Iain Campbell
"I can't praise Uden Sherpa enough. He was thoughful, informed, caring and trustworthy. I wouldn't hesitate to trek with him again or to recommend him to others." David Marks
"Our trip leader was excellent. He related well to the group and we were well looked after. He did his job very well and I would highly recommend using Uden to supervise other trips." Adam Limer
"Sherpa Uden performed very professionally at all times. His sure footedness ensured the holiday was a success. He is a man worth investing in for trekking holidays." Alan Harper
"Uden Sherpa was an outstanding leader in every respect - caring, compassionate, thoughtful, amusing, knowledgeable - excellent." Susan Harper
"Uden was a fantastic trip leader. His knowledge, care and sense of humour added value to a fantastic trip." Amy Dodd