Sarnath, Uttar Pradesh
I got to shake the Dalai Lama's hand today. It was a total surprise - just a lucky accident. I was one of just a couple of reporters sitting in the front of the teachings at Central Insititute of Higher Tibetan Studies. The security in their grey suits with walkie-talkies came out of nowhere and said "His Holiness will come this way, so please move aside, then you can move back." I and one other woman, a Croatian freelance reporter, stayed over to one side.
First, I heard the horns. The lamas with yellow Toucan Sam hats preceded him, blowing the massive Tibetan trumpets. Then came the Indian commandos in khaki with rifles slung over their shoulders. It was a sharp reminder, amid all the ancient pageantry, of the danger he lives in every day. So many different parties would like to see this amazing person dead.
On the rare special occasions when my dog Daisy gets to come in the house, she "hides" in plain sight (crouches down on the carpet), hoping you won't notice her and make her leave. That's exactly what I did (actually knelt down on the red rug to minimize myself). He was only 10 feet away!
When he walked by I rose to my knees, peering up, and stretched out my hand. He grasped mine, softly. Wow! He looked straight into my eyes with his usual smile, a mix of curiosity, concern and sweetness (like, what are you doing down there, young lady??). Then his red robes brushed past my face and he was up the stairs to the throne. The Croatian woman next to me was weeping quietly, holding a white kata scarf he had touched.
I would love to natter on about it but there are lots of people waiting for the internet here. There are only 3 ancient computer terminals. And it's 8.30 and the gates of the Burmese monastery where I am staying close at 9pm.
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