Monday, November 06, 2006


The Norbulingka was the traditional summer residence of the Dalai Lamas in Lhasa. There is one in the small town of Sidhpur, a few minutes drive from Dharamshala. Today it houses a chapel and the Norbulingka institute that is dedicated to the preservation of Tibetan culture. There is a doll museum (entry rs 20/-, free last time I was there) and a shop that sells beautiful but expensive Tibetan handicrafts.

A view of the chapel, has a massive statue of the Buddha. The expression is one of indescribable peace. When I climbed up the stairs to reach the chapel, was surprised to see a man sitting on the stairs in a pensive pose and wondered what is wrong with him. When I reached inside I saw a man with a camera mounted on a tripod taking pictures of him and shouting instructions in Bengali. I could not help smiling. Sat down on one of the cushions and asked the Buddha some questions that I had asked the last time too. No answers still, all my answers lead me away from god and closer to me. I liked the expression though and wanted to clear my mind of all it has seen and experienced, to clear it of how it thinks and get some innocence, intelligent innocence. Not the innocence of someone who doesnt know better.

A monk walks past.

Once the bengali photographer left with his friends, sat there for some more time. And then I started to feel hungry. And my back was not paining as much as before. Walked out, saw a monk engrossed in a conversation with another man, remembered him from 6 months ago. I took a picture of his companion, the expression in the viewfinder was perfect. The metering approximation probably wasnt. When I got the negative developed, the picture was grossly underexposed. Lost another great portrait.

Went to the Norling cafe and ordered a Tibetan pasta, it was delicious, the pretty waitress from last time wasnt there. The restaurant was all empty except for me. Washed it down with a strong coffee and set out on my way back to the real world. Took one last picture with my camera phone of myself, just to remember how i looked that particular day. not very different.

What a goat thought of my efforts, a grab shot on my way out of Dharamshala.

As I end my pseudo-travelogue, it is with a sense of loss. In a way, writing this was one of the fun things that I have done in a long time and getting back is always traumatic.

I am reminded of those tumultous days in the first 6 months of 2005, I read my text books for the first time and while reading about the theory of some thinker came across the lines that gave me a lot of courage and have stayed with me since, "In the most important times of life, you are always alone".

1 comment:

RĂ©gis said...

Love the last picture.
Goats in India are actually really crazy. They seem to go everywhere and most of the time at the oddest places ! Got some funny shot of goats too :-)

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