Ever hear one of those feel good stories about something great happening to a good guy and think to yourself “Good for you, dude”? This is one them. Indra Tamang played lifelong butler to a rich NY-based family and ended up inheriting millions when one of his employers died. [Yahoo!] (tip Runa via email)
This story has all the making of a Bollywood potboiler with Tamang playing the role of Ramu, the loyal sidekick. Tamang’s beginnings were quite humble.
Indra Tamang was a teenage farmer in a Nepalese village without running water or electricity. He barely learned how to write and lived in a straw, mud and stone house with his parents before landing a hotel job in the capital of Katmandu.
His personable nature and skills caught the attention of a writer/photographer who was living in Nepal at that time, and he ended up hiring Tamang. From a routine existence, Tamang’s life went on to rival that of the “Most Interesting Man in the World“.
But after befriending a well-to-do hotel patron, the young man started traveling the world, meeting the likes of Andy Warhol, John Lennon and Patti Smith, and living in New York, Paris and the Greek island of Crete.
He became a sort of surrogate son — a factotum who lived the adventures of Ford and his entourage. At one point, Ford, Tamang and a friend rode a Volkswagen minibus from Istanbul to Katmandu via Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.
In Paris, home was a studio on Ile Saint-Louis, and Tamang took French lessons. And there was a house on Crete, where the American’s young sidekick learned some Greek from local fishermen.
In New York, they lived in a small apartment at the Dakota four floors above Ford’s sister, Ruth Ford, a former actress, model, muse to artists and writers like William Faulkner, and widow of Hollywood actor Zachary Scott.
The Nepalese emigre went along to celebrity-studded parties the siblings hosted or attended, taking pictures of famous figures that were later published in Charles Ford’s books and exhibited in Manhattan galleries. Tamang also set up cameras for Ford for profiles of well-known faces.
Tamang didn’t always drink beer, but when he did, he preferred Gorkha Beer. Ok, I made that up.
Always, loyal to his employer, his hard work won over his employer’s family. After Charles’ death in 2002, Tamang ended up taking care of Charles’ ailing sister, who died recently. Here’s where Tamang reaped his labor’s rewards.
A Manhattan woman bequeathed Tamang her entire estate — including two apartments in the famed Dakota building off Central Park and her Russian surrealist art collection.
Ruth’s three-bedroom apartment is on the market for $4.5 million. The art collection includes works by the late artist Pavel Tchelitchew — a Russian man who was Charles’ longtime partner and died in 1957.
Tchelitchew’s portrait of Ruth Ford sold in April at Sotheby’s for nearly $1 million, including buyer’s premium. Another auction of artworks is scheduled for Thursday in Paris, followed by three more Manhattan sales in the coming year.
Turns out Ruth Ford was estranged from her children and grandchildren and ended up bequeathing her entire estate of Tamang. Although, most of the inheritance was in art collections and not cash, Tamang can now lead a comfortable existence and maybe relax a little.
His acceptance speech is not unlike Tamang himself, humble yet endearing.
Tamang says he’s grateful for his poor yet rich Nepalese heritage, which taught him that “if you work and you’re honest and earn people’s trust, maybe something good will come to you.”
Then he added a string of thank-yous spanning his life.
“I thank my mother and father for putting me on this Earth,” he said. “And thank you, Mississippi, for bringing Charles to me. And thanks to him and Ruth for making me a New Yorker!”
“And thank you, America.”
Can we say it yet? Good for you, dude!