Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh
I just met and he is really cool. He and Robert Thurman ('s dad) were here for a scientific conference with the and 11 top neuroscientists, cosmologists, astronomers, physicists and psychologists. The conference is called "The Universe in a Single Atom," which is the name of one of the Dalai Lama's many books. The Dalai Lama has always maintained a keen interest in science. It was a pretty amazing conference, covering the confluence between Buddhism and its traditions of "mind training" and modern science's technological manipulations of consciousness.
Richard Gere had just walked out of the Dalai Lama's residence and was having coffee at Ten Yang, my regular hangout, with Matthew Ricard (a French Buddhist monk and Tibetan translator) and Jeremy Russell (another Tibetan translator).
My friend Victoria had sent him some material about her current project, "Stand For Tibet." So we boldly went up to the table at an opportune moment and asked whether he had a chance to review it.
Amazingly, he had read the whole thing and gave Victoria very valueable, detailed feedback about her project. He lamented the relative uselessness of the United Nations regarding the Tibetan issue ("They won't do anything - I mean, they won't even let me be an International Ambassador for fear of offending China") and suggested that, since "face" and "honour" mean so much to the Chinese, that an appeal to their global-image-conscious side would be an effective approach.
Richard then graciously posed for photos with the Ten Yang coffee shop employees, who are Tibetan. When a few excited westerners started snapping his photo, he smiled at first, then gently said, "Okay, enough. I'm trying to talk with friends," and smiled.
The Gere Foundation literally paid for all the paving and sewage and drains on Temple Road here. He is quite the local patron saint/hero.
In case you're wondering, he looks great in person, with a huge crop of thick silvery hair, glasses, and somewhat pinkish (sunburned?) complexion. I have a photo I snapped of him walking down the street with 2 friends and promise I will post it tomorrow!
--A week later: Okay, the photo is here, you Gere-heads!!! and in case you can't get enough, here are 2 more random ones...he is a normal person who walks down the street dodging garbage and cows (we are in India) like everyone else!
Bad looks = Good luck
Looking like hell must be my good-luck charm for meeting famous people. As luck would have it, this morning I tumbled out of bed with no time to brush my teeth or hair or even wash my face. Naturally, this would be the day I would meet Richard Gere in a coffee shop. The first time I shook the Dalai Lama's hand, I hadn't showered and was wearing an inside-out shirt (!), and when I met Sakya Trizin, head of the Sakya lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, I had not showered or even looked in a mirror all day.
Maybe unpretentiousness attracts good fortune, and auspicious beings....
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