WE’RE ON THE ROOF of the Naro Assembly Hall, looking north across the foothills, a series of spumeless humpbacks receding into whirls of dusk. Behind us, flags emblazoned with coiled dragons whip and snap in the wind, and I ask the Calvin Klein model/ indie musician what he’s doing here, sipping a beer on a holy mountain in the Himalayas.
“We got an email from my mate Ned asking if we or any bands we knew wanted to come play a gig in Nepal, so we said yes,” explained Jamie Burke, the face of the 2009 Calvin Klein ck one campaign—who also penned the song for the fragrance line’s TV ads—leaning back on his elbow, surveying an ant-line of farmers zigzagging their way up the side of a hill. “You know when people ask you, ‘what was the weirdest show you’ve ever played?’ we figured this would be a good candidate for one of those.”
It was. When Burke and his band stepped onstage later in the evening, it was for the benefit and at the behest of the spiritual head of the Drukpa lineage of Tibetan Buddhists and his spiritual panel, celebrities in their own right: the baby-faced second-in-command, Kyabje Khamtrul Rinpoche; Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo, the British-born nun who spent 12 years of solitude in a cave in Himachal Pradesh; Her Royal Highness Ashi Kesang, a Bhutanese princess; and Laki, an actress who had been introduced to me as “the winner of Bhutan’s Oscar.” (She’d giggly demurred, and I can’t find her online anywhere.)