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It has been and incredible collection of days in Delhi. The Dalai Lama is speaking here today. I hope to get an update out soon.
These notes will be brief. I am about to leave a 9-day stay in the Tibetan Colony, Manjnu-Ka-Tilla, in Delhi, India. Not sure where I left off so please excuse any rehash of information.
I have met with an extraordinary new documentary Filmmaker. Tashi Dhondup is 32 studied film journalism on a Fulbright scholarship in Boulder, Colorado where he spent 2.5 years. He has returned on a mission to create documentaries on the Tibetan people. He has equipment and no money but somehow there is a communal aspect to the Tibetans that I do not understand that allows them to flow and work across India through the colonies.
Tashi is second generation Tibetan in exile. His parents followed the Dalai Lama out in '59 and he contains their passion for his culture.
He filmed the 2006 Kalachakra and expects to complete a documentary in about 2 months. The Tibetan Photo Project will help where we can to distribute his works. (since I left, he has collected film on other subjects and the projects are lining up. John Kittridge of Canada has donated $100 that will help by time for the editing process).
He has, in the can, an amazing 11-minute piece, “Music on wheels” on Tibetan musicians who traveled India by train to meet the train musicians... Indian musicians make their living playing music on the trains.
On my return to the U.S. we will offer a limited amount of these for a minimum donation of $10 that will cover the cost of making the DVD and the rest will go to Tashi to find his ongoing efforts here. I guarantee you have not seen a film like this.
To order Music on Wheels, email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
As mentioned, the colony in Majnu-Ka-Tilla has an amazing community working in it. At the square, two tables are set up to cook fresh meals for Tibetan children returning home from school. It runs virtually nonstop and I am sure it acts as a form of day care or babysitting for an hour or more automatically as needed.
There is a regular collection of beggars that travel the main street of the colony, but none of the Beggars are Tibetan, all are Indian and there is a generous, but pragmatic spirit here for them. Monks offer a ruppee here and an orange or banana there. The poor and the begging, the children and the cripples can become overwhelming very quickly and there are no solutions other than momentary compassion.
I would offer a political lesson learned for America: India is often the result of its economics, but at this point in time, it is the ultimate conclusion of politics that would favor survival of the fittest; politics that held no environmental standards, no building codes, no social safety net. A place where quality and access of education is directly connected to family wealth and status and where population goes unchecked.
I am again scratching from the surface and admit that perhaps looking below the surface, India may have health and building policies and it does have efforts at public schooling but they appear to be lightly or ineffectively enforced. You do not have to look below the surface to see, feel or breathe the results.
So again, I will say, if you look at the Tibetan community in the context of India, they have made amazing accomplishments working from the ground up.
Here is a bit of extraordinary news from Kalachakra. According to Tashi, 10,000 Tibetans of the 100,000 who made the pilgrimage, had actually come out of Tibet. The Tibetan Government in Exile issued special protections, sections and photographic requirements for the protection of these Tibetans, which Tashi followed in his filming. The main concern is only for the Tibetans who would be recognized inside Tibet as activists.
Another way of looking at it, is to see the reach of China's intimidation deep into southern India.
Off now to catch an overnight bus to McLeod Gang.
Visually and respectfully, Joe Mickey
It’s India. Email has been unavailable for 3 days... and it is still creating fits sending out ...
On the surface McLeod Ganj seems like a small community where the Tibetans can make a livelihood servicing the tourist industry, but, it continues to unfold. Today was was two-hour hike up the mountain in search of a monastery that even many Tibetans are not aware... Found it. The monks have built a community of stone huts up the mountain in the forest. There is a chanting and study hall. It is reached only by foot and by donkey for heavy supplies. After getting some footage and stills then there was only the silence... Tomorrow will try a 4-hour hike further up the mountain to an area called Triund. There are no signposts ... only the directions from strangers on the trail... Triund is supposed to be a the opening to the mountain range and it may turn into an overnight...
I would not recommend India to many people ... except maybe those who think government does not have a responsible role in helping to create an organized society... then they should see India and the result of lack of organization and responsible participation that create mechanisms that make society turn towards the future. No, government does not have answers or solutions for our personal lives but it does have a role in a large society to avoid chaos and the complete destruction of the environment as well. Government has the responsibility to manage our money and create spending priorities that help take us towards the future... If you doubt that government plays a role, come to India... And ask where do you begin to fix this on this scale.
But, to anyone of any spiritual or religious or simply humane nature. I would say come to this place in the mountains. You need a month and longer if you can. The flight is the expense... being here costs next to nothing...
Back in couple days... Head back on the overnight bus on the 18th for the flight out of Delhi.
Visually and respectfully, Joe Mickey
Gallery 54 continues diary