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Feb 15- Part 1
If you are just catching up. On Valentine's Day, Tibetans called for a one day break up with Goggle because Goggle is censoring sights in order to do business in China. Meanwhile, China has put a journalist behind bars with the help of Yahoo...
Meanwhile, here in McLeod Ganj, another good day of gathering raw footage at the Direction of Wangden and a 20-minute hailstorm that was as beautiful as it was unreal...
Visually and respectfully, Joe Mickey
Feb 15- Part2
First a late happy Valentines Day to all, but it will still be Valentine's
eve when you get this. In the beginning I mention that there are plenty of internet and power problems here... so again apologies in advance for typos... just hoping to get this out. And did I mention that the keyboard keys also stick...and often the letters are worn off?
It rained last night and it is plenty crispy cold this morning in McLeod
I will leave here on an overnight bus on the 18th and catch a plane home a couple days later...
If I may give a brief reflection (do you really have a choice to answer this?) a
A couple observations.
Tibetans are an amazingly happy people. Smiles come easy and very
often. This runs from the elders and the traditional Tibetans and newest refugee arrivals to the young and hip to the children. By any comparison to the U.S. then have next to nothing and yet I noticed I was startled yesterday because I heard the first child cry that I have during this entire trip while in a Tibetan area.
The kids don't have a pile of toys. String and tops are popular. A stick and a wheel are entertainment.
I visited the Tibetan museum yesterday and while I am surrounded by it with the place and the work, I was reminded front and center of the Tragedy that is Tibet.
The systematic destruction of their culture has not stolen
their gentleness or their spirit, which seems to be built within them. Whether newly arrived or second and third generation in exile.
There are huge cultural differences between the newly arrived Tibetan from Tibet and the modern Tibetan of McLeod Ganj but the spirit exists in both.
There is much talk about what will happen for the Tibetans when the
Dalai Lama passes.
India is under pressure from China with trade and military agreements in the balance to stifle and even shut down the Tibetan community and colonies.
I don't think we can afford to loose this culture. The world has few
places to find gentleness of this sort. I have walked many streets in America and never collected this many sincere smiles.
And the Tibetans pray as part of their daily lives. Again, young and
old.. A kid on a cell phone spins prayer wheels.. and as Lobsang
explained to me, these are not prayers for personal wishes... they are all prayers for a more peaceful world...
I don't think we can afford to lose any of this that remains.
One of the main posters I see here is that buying "Made in China” helps to finance China's ability to oppress. The propaganda tool that China will make from the Olympics in 2008 is another concern.
Make no mistake, China is a totalitarian dictatorship. Most business
has to work in partnership with the government. Yahoo in obeying China's laws to do business helped put a journalist in jail and Goggle has agreed to massive censorship of sites in order to do business in China.
Because of a photo of President Clinton with the Dalai Lama, the
Chinese confiscated a book contracted for printing in China by an American publisher printed for the American market.
The current president of China was the party secretary to Tibet and Hu Jintao imposed a hard-line and brutal crackdown in Tibet, declaring Marshall law. Today, Hu Jintaou is the dictator that runs China.
We cannot afford to loose Tibet's gentleness of spirit in today's
world. As Buddhists they have a saying, “If you can help .. help and if you cannot, then do us no harm."
Visually and respectfully, Joe Mickey, Feb 15, McLeod Gang, India
This will be the final day in McLeod Ganj and may be the final report from India before I leave the country.
The short version is that this trip has fully reinforced the effort and time to create a voice from the Tibetan community in exile through The Tibetan Photo Project.
The days blend, I do not think I have mentioned this. A young boy left Tibet, 6 years ago at the age of 5. A traveler met his aunt in a very small nunnery in Tibet (15 nuns) and the only personal item the nun kept was a picture of her and the boy. She has not heard from him since he left Tibet. Through our friend Wanden we have located the boy and his teacher at the Monastery that houses the Karmapa Lama (escaped from China about 6 years ago).
I went to the monastery and gave the boys teachers photos of his aunt and a letter from his aunt and while the boy is out on holiday until March, arrangements have been made with the teacher to collect voice recordings and photos that will get taken back to his aunt.
The Karmapa's office had also scheduled an interview and audience with his holiness, the Karmapa, but schedule changes and travel made it impossible to fill. At the reception office they were aware and apologetic for the missed opportunity... So I was given filming access to a special ceremony with hundreds of monks in the temple.
Today I decided to wander and pick up any final shots.. but no day is ordinary here. An Indian Doctor, Dr. Mahesh Yadav came to McLeod Ganj to write a letter in support of Tibet to the President of China... he has been writing these letters for the past 11 years as a public event and has raised much awareness for Tibet... because he writes his letters in his own blood... He withdraws about a shot glass full and proceeds to write the letter while gaining public coverage. In India, he has been very effective in getting media coverage and gaining Indian friends for the Tibetan cause...
The rumor here is that after the Dalai Lama passes, China will exert extreme economic pressure on India to withdraw their support for the Tibetan exile communities... so many scenarios are in the air. Tibet will need its friends around the world more than ever..
Now it’s back into the street for the last half of the day. I won't say for certain that this will be the final report from here but it is likely... An overnight bus ride starts the final few days, soon to be followed by 30 hours of planes and airports.
I want to thank you all for accepting these reports.. Certainly the material gained from this trip is available for publication. We hope you have passed some of this on and we look forward to hearing from you...
Visually and respectfully, Joe Mickey, Co founder with Sazzy Lee Varga of The Tibetan Photo Project.
Over the last few days, I have made a new friend. Tenpa is a 24 or 25-year old Tibetan monk that I met in McLeod Ganj. He needed to come to Delhi to do some annual paperwork as a refugee so we rode the overnight bus together.
Tenpa's comes out of Tibet from a farming family with three older brothers and a younger sister. His parents are still alive and he is the only member living outside of Tibet. His family had little problems with the Chinese because their village is so remote. Tenpa entered a monastery in Tibet at the age of 14 and at the age of 19 traveled 24 days through the mountains to Nepal and has now spent the last Five years in a monastery nest to the temple that is at the gate to the entrance of the Dalai Lama's compound.
Last night I bought Tenpa dinner and this morning he bought me breakfast. My room has an extra bed and he could have stayed with friends but he would have had to sleep on the floor so I offered the extra bed.
Tenpa has a passion for English. He is self-taught to this point and travels with an English-Tibetan dictionary and a notebook filled with every word he has learned. His dream is to become an interpreter.
I have learned a few interesting things such as how he affords to travel to Delhi and buy me breakfast. People make donations to the monastery and they are divided among the monks. The monastery supplies three meals a day and room free. Tenpa is considered a good student so he has a room with three other good students. Rooms at the monastery hold up to 15 monks for sleeping.
He also receives a stipend of 1200 rupees per month (Current exchange rate is 43 rupees to the dollar). Like many Tibetans, he would like to come to America, in his case for his study in English.
He is able to write his parents about once a year and does receive letters from home. His ultimate goal is to be able to use his ability as a translator to serve Tibetans in exile and in Tibet. He expects to return to Tibet.
Naturally there are a zillion legal roadblocks. Refugee Tibetans do not travel on a passport but on a yellow card so the Visa process is extensive and involves sponsors and reasons for travel. But it is done, just as Tibetans travel to give cultural performances and just as we were able to bring Wangden to Centenary College. (Side note: having fulfilled the requirements of his visa to the U.S. the first round, Wangden was easily granted a new 6 month Visa to the United States and is currently in the North East on his second visit that will continue to benefit his family in India).
So that is the story of Tenpa. We did an on-film interview in McLeod Ganj and through the project we will tell his story and where it can be found we will offer to help him.
Visually and respectfully, Joe Mickey
It is 4:21 p.m. and I am at the Delhi airport.
All systems are go. I check in and go through customs at 11 p.m. There is a waiting area and it will do just dandy... Tenpa really wanted to come to the airport, but he had never done a city Taxi ride. His eyes were as big as saucers and of course there was one brake slam... that rattled his cage pretty good but he was really excited by it all.
We did a quick goodbye while, what else, the taxi driver ripped me off for 50 rupees. Tenpa gave me a silk Tibetan scarf ...The taxi ride with Tenpa may be one of the greatest personal interchanges I have had...It was a mix of pure fear and just a grin from ear to ear, when not completely freaking out. Eventually he started to chant. I reminded him that it is likely that his karma is good.
He is spending one more night in Delhi with his monk friends and then five of them will bus back to the monastery in McLeod Ganj tomorrow... it was really great seeing the great happiness all this gave him... So that is my news... then who knows what the fog will be doing...There have been up to 8-hour fog delays.
Thanks again for listening... From here on out, please return to firstname.lastname@example.org@email@example.com@gmail.com for all email correspondence...
Visually and respectfully, Joe Mickey
Gallery 55 continues photo