Friday, November 04, 2005

Vanishing act

Arrival in Shigatse.I go out for lunch ,and wind upin a small zakhang on the street leadingdown from Tashilunpo monastery. The more or less standard panoramic shot of Lhasa is pointed out to me and I go yes , Kyi Chu , Tsuglhakhang (Jokhang to the westerners) and Sera .. making a quiet inner note to my self : yes that , would be Drapchi,the infamous political prison in between. We find Ganden together .
The daughter in the family sits down and takes my hand , strokes the back ofmy hand and puts her hand next to it: loook...
After a bit of struggling, using the name for the Lhasa river ,I manage to come up with a new phrase : kyipa du ,I am happy.
We watch a VCD (on the TV covered with a khatak) from Lhabrang Monastery in Amdo , with stuning scenery and even more stunning butter statues. Leaving I get ten Yuan change back for my 15 Yuan meal on a twenty.. and small gifts.
Morning kora next day: long line of locals , Khampas and Amdowas walking ,praying, stoking the sang burners, sitting queitly in more or less organised meditation.Walking with camera in my left hand , keeping the right one free for the prayer wheels. At one point one woman turns around with a wordless question as I am taking some photographs.. and turns around to enthusiasm as she gets to see the pictures.
Inside the monastery there is a lotof pictures of the 9th Panchen Lama ( the most popular on the streets is with him sitting on a horse in frontof Tashilunpo, with a white touris bus in the background) some of the 8th... and a bare minimum of the Chinese -installed 10th, always with a conspicous absence ofofferings. Soft resistance.

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