Lhasa via Dharamsala, India via Kathmandu
My American friend Amy asked me "what are you hearing from Lhasa these days?" I was sorry to say I didn't have a direct contact to Lhasa, and that the Tibetans here report a near-total news blackout. The blog of Tibet activist Jamyang Norbu, though, has an anonymous letter on current living conditions in the city.
Norbu is a well-known author, one of the more lucid writers on the Tibet issue and former Tibetan freedom fighter. His blog is well worth a visit.
Walking the streets of Lhasa, seeing big tea houses unusually empty and many shops still closed, makes you aware of how scared people are these days. Very few people stop on the street when they meet friends, because every gathering of people is cause for suspicion. A lot of people still stay at home because they are scared they will get arrested for no reason if they go out.When you finally find someone not too scared to talk to you, you hear consistent, dramatic, disturbing and daunting stories that give you nightmares.
Now playing: Snow Lion of Peace
Blatant self-promotion, but for a good cause
I was thrilled to learn, late last night, that my photo of an elderly Tibetan demonstrator in Dharamsala had won in an international photography competition.
(Okay, I didn't get first place, I got first commendation - but we all received $200, and besides the winning picture - of a woman interviewer in a burqa wielding a microphone - really was better.)
The contest, themed "Women and Communication," was organized by the Canadian organization World Association for Christian Communication.
Here are the specifications:
WOMEN AND COMMUNICATION
Photographs that capture women communicating; women's communication rights in action or photographs illustrating how women use communication to empower themselves.
Other winning photos hailed from Afghanistan, Honduras, Thailand, Maldives and Argentina.
In most of the other photos, the women were acting through various outlets of modern media (radio interview, public address, graffiti). In addition to carrying the flag, this woman was visibly praying. Like many elderly Tibetans, her mouth was constantly in motion breathing mantras. I am continually amazed at the Tibetan community's sincere belief that prayer is a definite, pro-active force in changing things.
This woman was probably a young girl at the time of exile and has grown old in India, hoping for return to her home. The day was pouring down rain and quite cold; still she made it out to what had in many ways become a very routine event with little or no signs of progress (that is, the annual Uprising Day vigil), to pray for change.
My gratitude to the woman in the photo, to WACC, to Rita Banerji of 50 Million Missing for alerting me to the contest, and to Cheryl Hurwitz of New York City who was visiting Dharamsala that day and was kind enough to loan me her camera.
Now playing: Lama Gyurme & JeanPhillipe Rykiel - Calling the Lama from Afar via FoxyTunes