23 August 2009

The ani (nun) who lives next door does not speak English.  I barely speak Tibetan, but even with my little knowledge I realize we don’t need words to speak to each other.  Over Amala’s thenthuk or tsampa, we look at each other with so much to say behind our eyes.  Even with a shaved head, draping red cloth for clothes, she is strikingly beautiful—she reminds me of another “nun” I know in Chicago.  Amala doesn’t understand why she became a nun, for this reason—she could easily find a husband.

Even with no words to speak to each other, it is still difficult to say goodbye, for I will be leaving Dharmasala this evening to venture back to Delhi and on to ten months in China.  A brief hug, a squeeze of the hand, and she is off to Namgyal Temple to pray, to search for enlightenment for herself and for her people, to search for peace.

A memory, looking back on Dharamsala:  Kelsang, Jamyang (my “brothers) and I at the corner table, our favorite, over beer.  Jamyang stated he didn’t know what it was like to be free until he came to India.  If they do go back to Tibet, what will they do?  Now they know freedom.  Freedom of speech, action, thought.  For me, it will be the opposite.  I will have to visit China in oder to know freedom—I must not know freedom in order to find it.

Later, the two of them illustrated their frustrations–they will only know their place.  They cannot move.  For now they are happy in India, content with their community, their “band of brothers,” the job at First Cup Cafe, the easy repetition of their lifestyle.  But then, yet a little later, Kelsang mentioned that his heart is always in Tibet.

Again, at MClo’s:  Using salt shaker, beer glass and lighter, Kelsang illustrated why it was good for me to go to China.  The salt shaker represented America, the beer glass was Dharamsala. “First, you are here,” he said in his broken English as he pointed to the salt shaker.  “Then you come to India and you think like this.”  He pointed at the beer glass.  “Now you go to China and you will think like this.  I think it’s good you go to China.”  He didn’t point to the lighter that represented China.  He pointed to an empty spot on the table in between the three objects.

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