Evening in the valley
Where His Holiness lives. Didnt quite manage to sneak past the armed guards
The pogada area outside the temple
They say religion and Politics don’t make good conversation but what else is there to talk about when you are in Dharamshala. Tonight I was accused of being a Chinese agent – way to go, talk about building rapport. Now, Ive always considered myself to be pretty pro-Tibet… you know the whole going to Dharamshala thing and have even been accused of being whitewashed in the past for my views… but I would this would ever happen. Ok well heres what happend. After visiting HHDL temple, I struck up a conversation with some of the locals (there wasnt really much else to do here otherwise at night). A lot of them happen to be second generation Tibetans, whose parents fled Tibet as refugees and have built their lives there, establishing shops and communities.. and after many years the area has really grown and flourished with the influx of tourism (and blessings of HHDL of course!).
A kind store owner pulled up a chair and told me about the situation happening to Tibetans, which was great as I really wanted to know abouit first hand, an older Frenchman who had overheard us came in to join the conversation. I consider mysef the type of person that likes to challenge things, and accepted ways of thinking (or so I think), and so the conversation turned to a friendly debate on what we think China and Tibets future. As the conversation got more heated, I thought I would turn it around and talked about more casual stuff like where he was staying, for how long, what his plans were, etc.. but he just gave me alot of vague answers of which then I came to know why. “I think you are a Chinese Agent. Ive met Chinese agents before and they speak like you”, he stated in full seriousness. My reaction was a mixture of bewilderment, amusement and confusion… I laughed and asked him to check my passport “Well, you could be an Australian but still be a Chinese agent”. I told him about how I try to read widely especially on views that challenged my own… we sat in that store for the next two and a half hours discussing the topic (I chucked in some extra anti-Chinese arguements just to make him happy) and at the end of it we exchanged internet sites to review and he said he no longer thought I was a Chinese Agent, well thats what he told me anyway. He was actually quite informed about the Tibetan movement. I still havent quite figured out what the lesson to be learnt out of this is: When in Rome?, refrain from talking about politics in an unfamiliar place?, French people have a strange sense of humor? don’t be a Chinese Agent in Dharamshala? Its interesting how so much of our perceptoins which we take as our own and as certain and concrete are shaped by wha we read, and who we interact with in order to form world views on things. To have my views of my own perceptions challenged in that way was a really interesting. At least I now know that its not the dreadlocks that are causing those stares from the local tibetans. =)
Anyways, Tsuglagkhang was beautiful… I’ll post some photos when I figure out how to. Anyways, off for more adventures.