A Story of Karma: Finding Love and Truth in the Lost Valley of the Himalaya
ADVENTURE MEMOIR FAMILY
GETTING OUT OF ONE'S COMFORT ZONE TO GROW AS A PERSON.
MICHAEL: 32. LEAD. ADVENTUROUS, EMPATHETIC, BRAVE, LOYAL.
CHANTAL: 32. MICHAEL'S WIFE AND MOUNTAIN CLIMBING PARTNER, SHE PUTS HER HEALTH AND COMFORT ON THE LINE TO FOLLOW HER PASSION.
KARMA: 7. A CHARMING, BRIGHT LITTLE NEPALESE GIRL WHOM MICHAEL AND CHANTAL CHANGE THEIR LIVES - TO IMPROVE HERS.
MICK: 30S-40S. HE INSPIRES THE LEADS TO TAKE A DANGEROUS, UNCOMFORTABLE TRIP.
PEMBA: 4. KARMA'S LITTLE SISTER WHOM, LIKE KARMA, MICHAEL AND CHANTAL TRY TO GIVE A BETTER LIFE VIS A VIS A WESTERN EDUCATION.
THRANGU: 40S-80S. A TIBETAN BUDDHIST WHOM THEY RELY ON TO HELP GET THE GIRLS TO CANADA AND WHO IS VERY WELL-VERSED IN BUDDHISM.
The story begins with Michael's dream to climb an unknown mountain in the Himalaya. What unfolds forces him to question everything, and leads him to a little girl in a remote mountain village. Little did either of them know that from that moment they would change the trajectory of each other's life.
Target Gender: Universal
Vancouver, Canada; Kathmandu, Nepal; Nar Phu Valley, Nepal, Nepal Himalaya
Based on a True Story
Status: Yes: with a Publisher
Publisher: Rocky Mountain Books
Year Published: 2020
In 2012, Michael Schauch and his wife, Chantal, undertook an expedition deep in the Himalaya of northern Nepal, into a remote valley that had been closed off to outsiders for decades. It was Michael's dream to find and climb a pyramid shaped mountain he had only identified in a photograph.
After Michael's dream of climbing the mountain was crushed, circumstances led him to uncover a deep karmic connection with a little girl in a remote village. The story recounts this journey, and the years that follow as Karma (the little girl), and Michael and Chantal grow their lives together.
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Hard Copy Available
Mature Audience Themes
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Plot - Other Elements
Philosophical Questions,Happy Ending,Meaningful Message
Plot - Premise
Main Character Details
Key Traits: Adventurous,Aspiring,Confident,Empathetic,Faithful,Educated,Leader
Additional Character Details
Key Traits: Empathetic,Faithful,Educated,Selfless,Adventurous
Additional Character Details
Name: The pyramid mountain
Key Traits: Unapologetic
Additional Character Details
Key Traits: Aspiring
The story is about two families from different worlds selflessly coming together out of their love for a little girl. In a world of division, isolation, and fear, a story of love and deep human connection transcending cultures and continents is needed more than ever. Also, at a time when many cannot travel, true stories of adventure to faraway places are even more inspiring. I’ve shared this story to thousands of people from diverse walks of life. No matter the audience and without fail, tears are shed and the story evokes a deep emotional response and a yearning for more. I've lost count of the number of people who have said "this must be a film." ASoK won the 2021 Readers' Favorite Book Award (non-fiction adventure), and is described best by this excerpt: “★★★★★” “The book transcends multiple dimensions of the spiritual, physical, and material world, and gives glimpses of the human spirit, and how they overcome adversities and challenges and change lives. A Story of Karma is spiritually uplifting and is a must-read because it is just not about the conquest of the mountains, but also of the mind and spirit. It gives valuable life lessons in human connection, self-discovery, finding truth, the connection, and the compassion between the author, his wife, Karma, and her family. The author's story will transform the vision and perception of readers, and make them more aware of Buddhism and Buddhist teachings.” — Mamta Madhavan, Readers’ Favorite Book Reviews
DRAMA, RELIGION, POLITICS
Mike and Chantal are a married couple and avid mountain climbers who go to a "lost valley" in Nepal. They meet a lovely, enthusiastic girl named Karma. They want to help her attain a real education, which is very unlikely in their small, impoverished village. They are able to take Karma and her little sister to live and learn in Vancouver with them for a while, until the girls go back to Nepal.
Authors Writing Style: EXCELLENT
Franchise Potential: FAIR
Accuracy of Book Profile
Yes, it is accurate.
Draw of Story
The promise of adventures in far off, alien lands.
Nothing made me want to put the book down.
Use of Special Effects
THE STORY DOES NOT RELY ON SPECIAL EFFECTS
Primary Hook of Story
The plight of impoverished, isolated people who live among the majesty and danger of the Himalayas and the Westerners who often give nothing back after visiting.
No. It's a small story set amongst the vastness of the world but there is not enough high-stakes drama, action, adventure, comedy, etc. that would make it attractive to a large audience.
Maybe for acting, if there are talented enough actors with well-written roles.
Similar Films/TV Series
What’s New About the Story
It's original in that traditional adrenaline-junkie travelers would become intrigued enough by locals and their rich history to make real changes for those less fortunate, no matter how little it affects the bigger picture.
They are very empathetic and adventurous, with skills (mountain climbing) most people find to be an interesting choice for a lifelong hobby.
Uniqueness of Story
Not as it is.
Film: Indie, Streaming
WORK IN PROGRESS
While the mountain climbing is inherently dramatic and high-stakes, the main conflict is internal for the lead and there isn't very much story to hang a movie on. The conflict in getting people their paperwork for international travel is not very cinematic.
Tips for Improvement
More conflict between the married couple, and figuring out how to make the kids' traveling more of an ordeal that can be filmed.
Michael and Chantal have a comfortable life in Vancouver, but their true bliss is mountain climbing and they travel all over the world in pursuit of this. When they meet an amazing little girl in a rural village outside of Kathmandu, they decide to "adopt" her and take her to Canada for a better education than she is likely to receive in her village in Nepal. They undertake the arduous task of getting Nepal to let her come to Canada, where she can get a better education - without diluting her Nepalese heritage.
What We Liked
This story is an emotional one at its core. The lead characters make sacrifices to help a bright little girl from a third-world village get a Western education so she has more choices in life. Up against an unwieldy bureaucracy in order to get her permission to come home with them, they use every resource at their disposal to bring the girl to Canada where she will have more choices in her promising life.
The settings are breathtaking. Set mainly in Nepal, the juxtaposition of city life, whether Vancouver or Kathmandu, is as stunning as the mountains in the background. An irresistible little girl becomes the focus of the lives of a Canadian married couple, and they move heaven and earth to bring her back home with them for schooling. The Eastern culture they encounter is as lovely and inspiring as the little girls in the family they bond with. There is drama in smaller things we take for granted - mainly, getting from one place to another. There are harrowing moments in each trip they take. Or, going to school. It's like winning the lottery in many places. It is interesting to watch them try to give an isolated people a wider view of the world, while they themselves get a lesson in the political and social issues of an ancient, isolated nation steeped in wisdom. There is not a character one would root for more than the little girl whom they are trying to rescue from what is sure to be an isolated existence.
An adorable, bright girl who deserves more chances.
A foreign culture.
Empathetic and adventurous leads.
Interesting supporting characters.
Michael and two Sherpas are in an ancient hut in the Himalayas of northern Nepal. Michael’s wife, Chantal, waits further down the valley. After seeing pictures of this mountain - the pyramid mountain - he felt compelled to climb it. Now he’s stuck in a snowstorm and they all leave to go back down to the valley. Previously in a restaurant in Canada, Mick, another adventurer, showed them the mountain on his phone. Michael recalls meeting Chantal at university. She was a Swiss musician, but gave up playing because of its demands and decided to go into the business side. She decided to join him on her first climb and did two years of physical training for a trip up Kilimanjaro. Because of her debilitating body pain and migraines, she decided to use the climbing trips to raise money for children with similar conditions. Mick told them about the Lost Valley in Nepal, and Michael was instantly hooked. Closed to outsiders, he wonders what would happen to these simple, spiritual people who had everything they needed once the world intruded with the internet and movies. What would happen if the world lost thousands of years of their unique culture? Michael and Chantal fly into Kathmandu, where one of Mick’s trusted guides picks them up and out of the gross urban stench.
They get to their dumpy, bedbug-infested hotel and meet up with Arek, their Polish professor and photographer, and Mike, the musician who helped raise money for the expedition. Jason joins them, an artist, who was barely able to afford the trip but did so after selling prints of his work. They get upgraded to a proper room the next day and they all go and explore the crowded, dirty city full of motorbikes, open air markets, lepers, street children, a sewer of a river, and roaming animals. They go to religious places including one where corpses are cremated in the open air. The country of Nepal lived in a state of chaos and corruption, having resisted British colonization years before. With their 14 other crew members, they cram into a rickety bus and drive over disastrous roads - where many people have died - for eight hours until they get to the road that will take them to the Lost Valley. They disembark and make their way to the Annpurna Circuit, a famous trail, and are set upon by children, mostly little girls. This made Chantal, a sensitive, loving human being, much happier than when they were in Kathmandu. They cross deep gorges, villagers involved in their daily lives, and monkeys watching them from the trees. Michael walks with Dawa, their Sherpa, which is a large community of people with deep Tibetan Buddhist ties. They pass many religious symbols of the peoples’ deep devotions. Michael reflects on why he has no desire to climb Everest. It wouldn’t be for him, it would be to tell other people. And, he’s dismayed by the tourist crowd even though the Sherpas make a lot of money guiding them up Everest. However, it’s the most dangerous profession in the world. Nuns join them on their hike. He recalls a trip his father took him on, to Carmanah, home of the oldest and tallest trees in the world. This is when Michael fell in love with nature, and a book his sister gave him about the world's highest peaks was his favorite gift of all time. His friend Joe, an avid outdoorsman, took him hiking one day, to the very top of a tall peak where he could see other peaks he never knew existed. This is where he fell in love with climbing.
They come upon a group of Buddhists playing music and are ushered inside and given tea. Michael meets Sonam, who is 21 but left home at 14 to study Buddhism and hasn’t been home since. He’s on his way home to the same village they are headed. They trek into the area - where they need permits for - and start to climb. The landscape changes and the tourist trash no longer litters the trail. Chantal becomes weary and Michael has to encourage her the rest of the way to the village, but she’s set upon by a migraine and doesn’t want to be on this trip anymore. They set up camp and their cook made dinner and a couple of locals came in and Mike sang and played guitar. Chantal feels better. The next day they make their way across a perilous mountain pass to their destination, the village of Phu. Everyone is moved emotionally at the site of this ancient place. It is supposed to be a place where dimensions intertwine. Suspended in time. The villagers look at them and they look back. No words, just peace and respect. Michael plans his search for the pyramid mountain for the next day. The next day he and his two Sherpas explore, wary of wandering into Tibet - which is illegal. They find snow leopard tracks and a curious cave entrance that seems impossible to get to. Then, he sees the pyramid mountain. The wind picks up and storms are coming. That, combined with an unsettling feeling, makes Michael want to get out of there. Michael reflects on all the kind people they’ve encountered since they arrived. He decides that he won’t climb the pyramid mountain and will stay with his group.
Michael walks around the village, notices how bad of shape it’s in. He runs into Sonam, who tells Michael that he fears the village will be lost soon and people are getting out as soon as they can. There’s no education, toilets, or electricity. He tells Michael about a prayer that says suffering is unavoidable and this is their karma. Arek takes pictures of the villagers while Jason sketches them. They all gather in a home where a dung-fueled stove cooks potato dumplings and they drink a fermented alcohol. The villagers line up for portraits by Arek. An old woman tells Michael he lived there in another life. Sonam is sad to see them leave. The group leaves Phu, and Michael is compelled to make the dangerous climb into the cave he’d seen. His two Sherpas come with him, and they discover piles of human bones. Feeling they’ve encountered something sacred, they quickly descend. The Phu villagers don’t even know the origins of the cave. In the next village, Nar, they bed down at a tea house that takes travelers. They find a school and sing with the children. There’s a teacher who seems disinterested in the whole affair, sent by the government to this far-flung village. Chantal and a small girl dance, and the girl finds them later at the tea house. Her name is Karma, and she flings her arms around Chantal and Michael. They decide they want to help Karma get a real education and find her home. Her mother, Pema, has six daughters, most of whom are off in monasteries where they can get a free education - but there are no plans for Karma or her little sister Pemba. Michael offers to provide for Karma’s education and her mother nods. They Google for an appropriate school and find one in Kathmandu, only to hear that it is full with a waiting list of 400. The only person who can accept a new student is named the Venerable Thrangu, the founder, who happens to be near Vancouver recovering at a monastery. Back in Canada, they visit the man, who is very high up in the Tibetan Buddhist hierarchy. Michael tells him about Karma, and the old monk says she will be admitted next year. Michael and Chantal are thrilled. Michael reflects on how he started his kitchenware import/export business that became a success, and now works in wealth management. It means little now that he’s met Thrangu.
Karma made the long journey to her new school a couple of months early and was turned away. A year since their trip to her village, Michael and Chantal go to Kathmandu to see Karma start school. After getting Karma settled and touring the school that houses 500 children, they go exploring temples. They meet a monk named KP, and Lama Tashi, who answer their many questions about Buddhism and explain the Wheel of Life. They take Karma to the zoo with her older sister Nyima who is in a monastery in the city. Karma is thrilled. She rides a swingset for the first time, and even a roller coaster. They buy her closed-toed shoes. A year later, they return with 3000 multivitamins for the children - much needed in Nepal. They see that Karma has grown a bit and her hair has come in thicker from her increase in nutrition at the school. Also, her little sister Pemba is now a member of the same school through a connection with an uncle. Karma is getting straight As. Their father Somna drops Pemba off and meets Michael and Chanta. They go to dinner and Somna explains the births and deaths of his many children. They all bond. While building their house away from the city in Canada, Michael and Chantal learn of a huge, devastating earthquake in Nepal. Thousands die, many more are injured or homeless. They are relieved to find out that Karma’s school and the children all made it through. The city is in ruins, and the children have to sleep outside in tents. They apply for a visa for Karma and Pemba to visit Canada but are denied, and this makes them angry. They go back to Nepal, where political fights over their new and first constitution cause a blockade on the landlocked country. Sorely needed supplies were cut off. The whole school goes to a park in a neighboring city and the children are thrilled. Back in Canada, they climb a glacier and two people fall and get badly hurt. Michael misses a big rock falling toward his head because he had a premonition about it but has panic attacks after. He goes to see a Buddhist therapist who coaches him in mindful meditation to help with the bouts of anxiety and sadness he’s been feeling.
Michael and Chantal mull over bringing Karma and Pemba back to live with them and finish their education in Canada, so they go back to Nepal to speak with their parents about it. Much has changed. The Chinese are building a dam and many of the roads are being made safer and wider. There’s a cell phone tower, and Karma’s father gets them a toilet. They stay in the family’s hut and eat good homemade food. The entire family gathers to hear their proposal for the two girls and the parents decide they should go to Canada. They bless them in many ways as they leave the village. Now in Vancouver, the girls are immersed in so many new things but they adapt to them quickly. They make friends. They learn how to use strange appliances. They clean up after themselves as they were taught to do in Nepal. Mike and Chantal tutor them every night. They start rock climbing and are great at it. They celebrate their traditional holidays and go to a temple to learn Buddhism and Dharma as their parents wished. Now, Mike and Chantal have to decide whether the girls would stay with them for the rest of their primary education or go back to Nepal. They would have to take a grueling test to see what their future would be like since Nepal doesn’t recognize grades from other countries. Would they stay in Canada? Their minds had expanded so much there - but they end up taking them back to their home country.