Study Guide

Three Cups of Tea Chapter 13

By Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin

Chapter 13

"A Smile Should be More than a Memory"

  • Mortenson watches a legless boy, probably the victim of a landmine, scurry across the road and almost get hit by a car.
  • He's in Peshawar, which is a place of "unsavory characters" (13.11), trying to get by—like Casablanca with landmines.
  • Mortenson is in a hurry, because Tara is due in a month, so he hires a man, Badam Gul, to be his guide to his home village of Ladha.
  • At the last second, Gul hands Mortenson over to someone else, though, a Mr. Khan, to drive him to Waziristan, "the most untamed of Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Provinces" (13.19).
  • On the way, Khan teaches Mortenson a few phrases in Pashto.
  • They stop for the night in Kot Landgarkhel, Khan's home, and park the car inside a warehouse.
  • The men inside the warehouse wear bandoliers, and bazookas are stacked up against the walls.
  • They invite Mortenson to Haji Mirza's home, though, where they share a lamb dinner.
  • Mortenson goes to sleep, but is woken up by a rifle poking him in the chest.
  • Some men blindfold Mortenson and cart him away, then put him in a small room, furnished with only a lantern, blanket, and small pad.
  • Mortenson immediately falls asleep (like you do when you've just been kidnapped).
  • In the morning, they feed him, but Mortenson has to do a doo-doo; they lead him to a room with a toilet and watch him. "To have to, you know, clean yourself afterward while they stare at you, was nerve-wracking" (13.51), Mortenson reports. (This would make for the most uncomfortable Charmin commercial ever.)
  • Mortenson passes the time by reading and re-reading a Time magazine from 1979; he also prays five times a day to fit in, praying the Sunni way in a Sunni land.
  • Eventually, a man comes in and takes him from his cell. "Just call me Khan" (13.78), he says. We say, whatever you say, sir.
  • Mortenson tells Khan that his child is going to be born soon, and he needs to get home to be there. The birth of a firstborn son is a huge deal. Fun fact: Mortenson lies and says "son" even though he knows Tara is having a girl.
  • Khan takes Mortenson to a soccer game, and then a feast, gives him a ton of money, and then lets him go. Um, hooray?

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