My thoughts and activities in Dharamsala

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Thrungkar and Rap speak

On the way home a few days ago, I ran into a Taiwanese lady. We get to chatting a bit and after a while she tells me, “Wooow, You talk like rap!!” I was a bit taken aback by this comment since I do not possess the lyrical improvisational talent that rappers possess. I told her that, “We’ll I grew up in New York” thinking that this will quell her curiosity, and then I get, “Do all people in New York talk like rap?” My immediate answer was, “No”. That pretty much ended our conversation, but it has had me thinking that since I have been here, that for many folks, I am the first black person that some folks have ever met including foreigners from East Asia, Tibetans and Indians. Most folks think at that I am either from Africa or the West Indies due to Cricket. As I think about this I find it that at least I paint a positive representation for black folks in these Asian parts. Which can not be said for other nationalities, I am thinking about the Israelis in particular, who do not possess such a good rap in India.

Since I have been here, I have heard stories of a black monk from New York, who studied at Sera Mey Gompa in South India and at the Sakya Gompa in Dehra Dun. People told me that his Tibetan was fantastic as was his debating skills and his ability to produced the “yang” (Multi-phonic overtones) that use for the recitation of prayers in tantric ceremonies. My new Tibetan tutor told that they he has not heard a westerner spoke Tibetan so well. He also said that he was the one westerner who truly internalized the Tibetan character. This fellow to be is like a ghost since I have heard so much about him and his talents and I am glad that he painted a positive picture from black people who interact and learn from Tibetans. In way I was grateful to him for it helps me as I traverse the rough terrain of learning the Tibetan Language. My praise goes out to this black monk for New York that I have never met.

There is a soap opera that plays on XZTV (sorry the link is in Chinese), the Tibetan station from Lhasa, Tibet. The story of this soap is about a Chinese girl who marries an African man from West Africa and moves there. It is quite interesting for the fact that first, this doctor was in China and had to convince the girl’s family to approve of their marriage. After her family approves she goes to West Africa where now the Doctor has to convince his family to approve of his marriage to a Chinese girl. Because of this show a few Tibetans have expressed that I look like the African doctor, and one monk even calls me Malika which is the name of the doctor. The interesting thing about the Tibetan station is that most of their shows are originally in Chinese and dubbed in Tibetan. They even have shows about Tibetans shot in Chinese and dubbed in Tibetan.

Yesterday on the 6th of July was the Birthday of HHDL which is known as Thungkar. It so happens that George W. Bush and HHDL share the same birthday, weird heh!! Anyway, there were festivities happening at the temple which including a lot of singing and dancing. Unfortunately I did not bring my camera because I thought that His Holiness was going to be there. But HHDL has been sick, and sick enough for him to cancel his tour to Europe. Usually if he were there cameras will not be allowed, and it would have sucked if I had to walk home because I had a camera. But James brought his camera and I will gank some pictures from him. I do have to say that I have fallen in love. With whom you say? Well not any one person in particular, No No No!!! TIPA (Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts) has a bagpipe and drum corps and all the women are quite accomplished snare drummers. It is with this lot that has received my crush. They were all rocking those drums with exquisite skill. I am a sucker for women who can rock at on some drums. Nuff said about that. All the other performances where great, including a group a children who were so adorable, with there little kiddies voices. Another one that was my favorite was a mask dance that is traditionally done by men. At the end of their dance the performers took off their masks so the audience found out that they were not men at all, but women. There was quite a ripple of shock and amazement that what the audience felt.

There at the temple I had finally ran into Tenzin Nangkyi fellow BC student while I was circumambulating the temple. I also ran into the sister and mother of another BC Tibetan. After all that, me and my friend Erika were having a chat by the offering stack, which consisted of a huge stack of “Kaptse” or Tibetan biscuits with candy and fruit on top of it. Erika was just chewed out by two older Tibetan men for getting to close to it, saying that it is holy. She was just checking to see how it was stacked. It looked similar to the way one stacks the sticks of wood for playing jenga. A few minutes later, I noticed a white dude with a short mohawk making funny faces. Tibetan folks are walking around him and staring at him saying that he is crazy. Erika who was sitting next to me told me that his was holding his breath until his turn blue. He then comes to the offering pile and starts eating away. I tell him that this pile is an offering and that it is not ready to be eaten until the ceremony is over. There had been ceremonies all week. Anyways, my friend James comes up and tells him the same thing, and then all of a sudden I have just realized that I had been squirted with mango stuff. I had it all it my hair, my pants and shirt. Also James and Erika who were sitting next to me got jizzed by this mango. It happened so fast, but as James was talking to mahawk dude, the dude took a mango from the pile and squeezed it causing it contents to be projected all over me and my friends. There were Tibetans looking on as this took place, but none did anything. Especially since a few moments earlier Erika was schooled just for looking at the offering pile too close. I told her that Tibetans might have a different attitude for the insane. Since Erika is sane, Tibetans will assume that she should know better, but for those who are crazy, their crazy and of course they don’t know any better. Well at least that is my assessment.

Two events have also been happening that affects Tibetans; one is the opening of the Nathula pass from Sikkim across the border to Tibet on the 6th of July. Another is the demolition of the Majnu Ka Tilla Tibetan settlement in Delhi which now I have just read that this will not be demolished, and of course the opening of the railway from Beijing to Lhasa. Tibetan Activists in Dharamsala has had several events including a hunger strike and a march in opposition to this railway.

My family was going to have a party on Thrungkar but Pala was very sick, thus no party. Pala is not sure when he was born so he, like many Tibetans will celebrate their birthday either on Losar or on Thrungkar. It would have been fun, since I will get to see Tibetans get stupid drunk. Oh well.

I have a new Tibetan tutor; he is an ex-monk from Namgyal Monastery. We have only met a few times, but he knows how to teach which is good. He is not like Pema, who I still miss very dearly, but this tutor, with his knowledge of Dharma will be good for me. He so far has told me that my Tibetan pronunciation is good, but I need to work on “downloading Tibetan to my tongue”. This is quite true and the hardest to do since that will take years to get used to.

TC MEC will start school again this Monday which is the start of a new term, my last one with them. I would like to leave with quote that I have heard from a German lady who live a long time in the US and has been living in India for 17 years. This is what she so wisely says, “In India, everybody says ‘No problem, No problem, Madam’, but in India everything is always a fucking problem” direct quote from Priya.


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