Where the mind is pure and the head held high!

While on a trip to China (more on that later), I had the good fortune to spend a week in Tibet. We had to obtain permits on the sly in China, otherwise I am told that the Chinese Embassy will deny your entry Visa into China if Tibet is on your itinerary. Lhasa is a town of contrasts, with a main street lined with chrome and glass fronted stores and posh hotels, all owned by Han Chinese, while the Tibetan quarter is still a sleepy, rustic place full of local color and in a time warp!
solar

The main occupation seems to be selling trinkets and souvenirs and playing board games. Apparently the first thing the Chinese gifted to Tibet was a beer factory, and now beer is a way of life! beer

At the heart of the Tibetan quarter is the Jokhan temple – the same area that I heard was nearly burnt to the ground in fires before the Olympics!
jokhan
I am traumatized at the thought of what must have happened to those thousands of smiling men women and children who used to go daily to the temple. Reverence of the Buddha is part of their daily life and while everyone brings whatever they can afford as offerings, the most favored one being Yak butter to light the lamps, the most dedicated offer obeisance with “sashtang dandavats” outside the temple door!
Vodpod videos no longer available.


After acclimating for 2-3 days at the 13,000 feet of Lhasa we went on to finally see the Potala Palace. This monument towers over Lhasa and is the holy of holies – the abode of the Dalai Lama.
potala

Once past a checkpoint one has exactly an hour to zip through the Palace and be out. We found a section of the roof being redone – with groups of people singing and stomping on the mud+lime roofing material to pack it in.
Vodpod videos no longer available.


In Tibet we encountered the surly and arrogant folks, mostly Han. Although there was a gentleman who insisted on chanting Hindi Chini Bhai as he took a picture with us. No one had the heart to tell him that was not a sentiment we endorsed after the 60s! But the average Tibetan looked on you with an open face, and a light in his or her eyes, reflecting the lamp of faith and endurance clearly burning inside. My favorite was this most divine group of children, literally angels with dirty faces!
children-at-shigatse .

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4 Responses

  1. Hmm – WordPress continues to baffle me with simple things that go into glitches. Just realized that I could not embed the Jokhan prayers video into the post. Will try to fix that. In the meantime – clicking on the blue highlighted text will take you there!

  2. FYI…

    How to embed video into your post ….refer to

    http://www.themelab.com/2008/05/03/easily-add-videos-to-your-wordpress-blogs/

  3. That was most useful. Thanks for your help, allowed me to embed the videos in my post! 🙂

  4. N ji – You are welcome. 🙂

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