Study Guide

Mouzafer Ali in Three Cups of Tea

By Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin

Mouzafer Ali


Mouzafer is the "ruggedly handsome" (2.25) Balti porter who offers to carry Mortenson's packs for the very low price of four dollars a day. Mortenson later hires him to help with the building of the schools. While the Balti has a "taciturn suspicion of outsiders" (2.23), Mouzafer is gregarious and outgoing, serving as a bridge between cultures. Mouzafer isn't just a porter of the mountain, he's a porter of life, "helping to guide [Mortenson] past the roadblocks of life in northern Pakistan" (3.8). So, you know, thank goodness for this guy.

Basically, he's the Tenzing Norgay to Mortenson's Edmund Hillary, or, in non-mountain-climber speak, the Robin to his Batman. And in some instances, it might be the other way around, because without Mouzafer's influence, Mortenson might not have gotten anywhere. He's like a local celebrity, "well known throughout the Karakoram" (3.7), and his presence helps Mortenson meet people that he otherwise wouldn't if he were just a giant white man wandering the mountains by himself.

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