Wednesday, November 01, 2006

McLeodganj -3-day 1


At the Swarga Ashram

The
swarga ashram is the residence of the Dalai Lama. From what I have read, HH was initially provided a residence in Mussorie but soon enough shifted to McLeodganj. The residence is a part of the temple complex, it being seperated from the main temple by a courtyard. This courtyard always has pilgrims, locals, tourists, animals doing everything from reading to praying and catching up on gossip. The faces are very interesting and a photographer can just sit and wait.

There is more than one type of old monk. Seriously, I saw this old monk standing in front of the Swarga Ashram, he did not understand a single word of english or hindi but was happy to pose for a photo. He blessed me too, maybe it will be of some use.

The courtyard, some monks sitting and talking. Many are very camera shy.

The security man standing at guard in front of the residence. I took his picture through the grill. Thereafter, I went into the reception area and asked some muscular looking, crew cut tibetan men whether I could have an audience with HH. Fat chance, their expressions seemed to suggest. But they were very polite and told me that I could come down the next morning at 9am and be a part of the public when HH would visit the temple. Seeing my camera, they told me that nothing of that sort would be allowed, was quickly convinced that they meant business.
Next, I changed tack and went to an adjoining office and asked the man sitting inside if I could have an audience, similar response here too. Came back with a slip of paper with the phone numbers of the people I could contact if I wanted to do something about the movie/ documentary about mental health issues in refugees.
This dog was not at all impressed by my efforts and promptly went back to sleep.

Therefore, rather than feel despondent I went up to the temple. The temple is built on the first floor and is made of 2 shrines dedicated to the yellow hat or the gelugpa sect of tibetan buddhism of which the Dalai Lama is the head.
An old lady sitting on a bench on the terrace of the main temple, I liked the pattern the shadows of the railings made. Seemed apt for the situation most of the Tibetans find themselves in.

Meditation in front of the shrines.

There is a room where all the butter lamps are lit throughout the day. A vies of some currency notes stuck to the window of that room. I then asked some people sitting outside if I could go in. They were kind enough to let me go in. The light was beautiful. And i realised that I need a wider lens in a hurry. The gentleman sitting there, a Mr Pemba got around to talking with me later when I sat around typing my shoelaces. He spoke flawless Hindi and asked me where I am from. Took my phone number and promised to keep in touch. I asked him about his story. he told me that he had come from Tibet in 1959, he was a young man then and had led a hard life. As he opened his wallet, I noticed an old B/W passport photograph of a man in an army uniform. On asking, he told me that he had served in the 8 dogras of the Indian army. I asked him if he wanted to go back home, he shrugged and smiled. I dont know if I will was all he said.


1 comment:

Phurbu said...

It was so beautiful reading through your travelogue. Took me once again back to a place I have known and lived for a long time. I can sleep peacefully knowing there are such people like you who are sympathetic towards tibetan. Thanks for all...

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