Gallery 49

The Tibetan Photo Project exhibits.

Jan.- Mar 2006 Joe's trip to India-The Diary

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Some names have been changed for the protection of the Tibetans.

January 12
Smooth 30-plus hours of flights and arrived in India... ride to the airport... imagine Tijuana x 10 and that is a start.... what a place.... leaving for Dharamsala in the morn... off to sleep...Visually and respectfully, Joe Mickey

Jan. 14
Well let’s hope this gets typed before one of the regular power outages.

What an experience. Arrived in Delhi at sunset and with a heavy smog on the city of 15 million-plus in a twilight hour, it was all very monochrome and surreal...Got picked up with a scheduled driver for the first hotel and that was a relief. Once on the streets you just trust your life to fate and your karma. and where you lack, you hope the driver's karma is in good shape.

What a ride.. but it all works, pulling onto city streets in the monochrome haze created a city of ghosts, driving and walking... Amazing... Got to hotel early eve and after 30-plus hours of flight and transfer and more flight, the night's sleep was welcome.

With an invitation to take a ride to McLeod Ganj with a private driver, it was 12 hours of an unbelievably skilled experience. I guarantee I will pass this man's phone number to anyone and everyone coming to India.

Lanes have little meaning, and the horn is used like a song and somehow it all works. Saw no accidents and none of it is hostile. There is no road rage and it all works and it is a miracle.

About 7 hours were across the Indian plane towards the foothills of the Himalayas , then the climb to 1800 meters or so... Poverty stretches from Delhi all the way. It is amazing and it makes you wonder, given the complexity of how India functions, how any nation can decide to Nation-build another culture and nation.

Arrived in McLeod Ganj at around 9p.m. about a mile out on dirt road, there a truck had got stuck and the driver was only able to make it by in inches to complete the trip.

With a fourth floor room and a terrace overlooking the mountain community known as Little Lasha and no heater but heavy blankets, first it was dinner at a hip Tibetan run establishment with the surreal sound of the Bee Gees “Saturday Night Fever running and pizza. Western Movie posters decorate the walls…then to bed and some welcome heavy blankets.

Could not wait for dawn to rise on McLeod Ganj and it comes slow in the mountains. An amazing community built at the base and on the sides of the mountains.

Photographed, video graphed and was served fresh flat bread and scrambled egg for breakfast with a Masala Tea.

Then off to tour McLeod Ganj, just wander. Wangen the filmmaker for “Voices in Exile” came by and we caught up on the street before leaving to help the woman who provided my ride to find a young student in McLeod Ganj so she could deliver photos of his aunt, a nun living in cave in a nunnery in Tibet. She also wants to get word back to Tibet that the boy is doing well.

I found the temple and the Dalai Lama's compound. and then hiked 3km to another part of valley and photographed the washer woman and the women working at a new construction site who was carrying rocks away as men hand dug and leveled the space for the foundation.

The monkeys have come down out of the mountains because of the cold and steal food from the street vegetable and fruit vendors.

Everyone is friendly and the only unfriendly noise I heard all day was a westerner complaining about being overcharged 15 cents for his internet use.

The hotel Tenwang is next-door to a Tibetan Nunnery and above a Tibetan pool hall.. the streets are narrow and the experience unreal.

At first impression we have so much in the West and we also have so little, Like I said, the only sad voice was the angry voice of a Westerner complaing about 15 cents.

I have also learned that pedestrians that step out in front of moving vehicles are not what I would have called them in America, instead they are people "who have faith that our driver does not intend to run them down."

I am learning new perspectives.

Visually and respectfully, Joe Mickey, McLeod Ganj


Gallery 50 continues diary





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