Indra Tamang’s story is nothing short of amazing. He came from less-than-humble beginnings, growing up in a mud, straw, and stone house in his homeland of Nepal and barely knew how to write. Nevertheless, as luck would have it, he landed a job at a hotel in Katmandu, the capital of Nepal. But his good luck didn’t run out there: after meeting a wealthy hotel patron, Tamang was able to travel the world, met many famous people including Andy Warhol and John Lennon, and lived in France, New York, and the Greek Island of Crete. Then, almost four decades later, luck found Tamang again when he inherited millions of dollars of property and valuable paintings from Ruth Ford.
Tamang doesn’t attribute his success to luck at all, rather he believes his loyalty is what brought him good fortune. After all, he attended to Ruth Ford and her brother for 36 years prior to their deaths, available for round-the-clock care as Ruth’s health deteriorated.
Tamang’s story rise to fortune began when he met Charles Henri Ford, a Mississippi-born writer, photographer, and cultural activist while working at the hotel in Katamandu. Charles originally hired Tamang to buy groceries, cook, and mail letters but later trained him how to be a photographer’s assistant. That’s when Tamang’s travels around the world began. He became like a type of pseudo-son to Charles and attended star-studded parties, all while working as an assistant photographer. The photographs that Tamang helped to take later appeared in Charles Ford’s famous books and at art exhibitions in Manhattan.
After Charles died in 2002, Tamang’s attention shifted to Ruth, who was losing her sight and hearing. He attended to her at her call, skipping family vacations to take care of Ruth’s bills and appointments and to help supervise her home.
These days, Tamang still isn’t a millionaire—although the Wall Street Journal recently made him out to be one. Until Ruth’s estate and paintings sell, Tamang’s life still hasn’t changed very much since the Fords weren’t very cash-rich. Furthermore, during his service as a butler to the Fords, there were times that Tamang felt homesick, but he consoled himself by stating “be happy where you are”. Overall, Tamang’s greatest happiness in his daughter, 10-year-old Zina. Recently, he was quoted as saying: “I thank my mother and father for putting me on this Earth. 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.”