Study Guide

Three Cups of Tea Chapter 12

By Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin

Chapter 12

Haji Ali's Lesson

  • Back in Skardu, Mortenson tries to get his supplies from Changazi's office, but he can't get in since Changazi is out of town.
  • His accountant, Ghulam Parvi, helps him get into the locked storage facility and get his stuff.
  • They haul it up to Korphe, and Mortenson is dismayed to find only two mounds of stone in a field. No foundation.
  • Haji Ali let's Mortenson know it's not a big deal: "The people of Korphe have been here without a school for six hundred years. […] What is one winter more?" (12.26)
  • Mortenson lets Twaha know that he got married—and he didn't even have to give her dad any goats. Amazing.
  • Later, he visits Korphe's mosque to pray, and is shocked to realize that he only knows Sunni prayer, but Korphe is Shiite. Mortenson prays as he was taught (we think, the passage is vague) and they tolerate his differences.
  • To commemorate the site of the school, Twaha drags the village's biggest ram to the site, where Hussain slaughters it.
  • They have a big feast and celebrate.
  • Back in the states (we have no idea when, but it's before this trip and Tara Bishop is pregnant and they've bought a house in Montana thanks to a loan from Tara's mom), Bishop and Mortenson have dinner with Jean Hoerni and they talk about starting a charity foundation: the Central Asia Institute.
  • He hires Mouzafer and Ghulam Parvi to help.
  • Finally, construction begins. Mortenson is so antsy, running around and micromanaging, that Haji Ali finally says, "Sit down. And shut your mouth. […] You're making everyone crazy" (12.87). Give that man a hand.
  • Haji Ali teaches Mortenson to slow down and build relationships, instead of trying to bulldoze through everything.
  • Speaking of relationships, though, there's a bad one brewing. Haji Mehdi of Askole tromps over and says that "Allah forbids the education of girls. And I forbid the construction of this school" (12.129). Well then.
  • Haji Ali bribes Haji Mehdi with twelve rams, "half the wealth of the village" (12.110), and he goes away.
  • The elder has another valuable lesson: "Long after all those rams are dead and eaten this school will still stand. […] Now our children have education forever" (12.110).

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