Moving to Kopan
Around July the lamas moved into Kopan, where Zina gave them a small dark room with two small beds at the side of the house. There was just enough room for Losang Nyima to sleep on the floor. Once again, their food was awful. The monks accepted it all.
Clive Giboire visited them there. Later, he recalled, “I must confess that I was shocked to find the lamas stuck away in such a tiny room at the back of the house when Zina had this rather grand boudoir kitted out in white carpet and a leopard-skin bedspread.
“There were times you felt like cursing Zina. You would lend her some book you treasured and it would come back underlined in red all over the place, pages missing and coffee spilt all over it. But that was Zina. You couldn’t really get angry with her…that would have been useless. By and large she was a true friend. You didn’t lose her. She was friends with everybody and yet nobody in particular. She got along well with Boris Lissanevitch. He had danced with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo before arriving in Kathmandu and opening the luxurious Hotel Yak and Yeti. They were both café society people and understood each other’s worlds.
“Initially, Kopan was a bit like the Villa Altomont revisited—a beautiful environment, people coming and going, and ‘her lamas’ tucked away there. When I first met Zina, Conrad Rooks was still very much a presence. Without his small monthly allowance she would have been on skid row. She was always rushing to the Rastra Bank or the Nepal Bank to see if he’d sent her a bit.”
Every so often Zina would go to Calcutta to sell something—jewelry, silver and such. She was an experienced hustler. On one of these trips she ran into her old translator, Jampa Gyaltsen Mutugtsang. “I had a restaurant in Sarnath then,” he said. “She was alone, without her daughter. I was very surprised to see that she was a nun. She told me she wanted my help to find Hindi, Nepali and Tibetan translators for a big project she was starting up in Nepal.”
After the trek Max had begun to study the lamas’ teachings. She had agreed to help finance a gompa for Lawudo and continued to support the lamas, which included paying for English lessons. She was utterly devoted to Lama Yeshe, but there was constant tension between her and Zina. Time and strikingly different circumstances had not taken the edge off their old competitiveness. They were both used to being the center of attention.