An up-close visit to exile Tibetans who reside in Dharamsala, India, following the footstep of their spiritual leader, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.
I’ve been to Dharamsala back in 2010, had the honour to meet with H.H. the Dalai Lama. Sure all the curiosity, excitement and encouragement ignited in Dharamsala have been quite an inspiration in my future pursuit in photography as well as in life. Nine years later, I had an opportunity to visit Dharamsala again and see it when I am older and able to understand more.
Out of its splendid landscape under Himalayan foothills, its uniqueness in spirituality and Tibetan culture, I realized how welcoming and heartwarming to scout the holy land with endless steps, laneways and narrow corners that lead to anywhere without a lock and a wary eye. I often found myself lost in laneway, yet simply making a turn did I see a way out to a nunnery, monastery or a residence. Fading arrow signs will be somewhere on wall to show you directions. Wandering around along with a homeless cat, I found my way back to hotel in any given day.
Following the failed Tibetan national uprising in Lhasa on March 10, 1959 against the mighty Chinese army, the then 23 years old Dalai Lama had to escape into exile to India, making Dharamsala the second home to exile Tibetans. At age of 84 today, he shares his wisdom with us, talking about climate change, Tibetan human rights and simple how to be happy.
During one day of my work, I stepped aside to check photos in camera while noticing there is a hand approaching under my face with some crystal rock sugar. “Do you want have some of my candies? It’s from Nepel,” a nun wearing Tibetan yellow and red robes greeted me aside. How would I not know that crystal rock sugar while grew up in food scarce age in China in early 80s. It was one of a few childhood snacks I can remember. We chatted, added each other on Facebook and kept each other in contact.
As H.H. the Dalai Lama says, compassion is the art of happiness. Escaping from home through snow mountains, living in borrowed land for six decades, exile Tibetans yet never lose their faith and compassion. An approaching hand with crystal rock sugar somehow often stays in my mind to prove how simple can compassion make people content.