Delhi to Manhattan
It’s the 21st century and I’m writing this with my Virgin Atlantic pen traveling 3,000 miles from Manhattan to London with just hand luggage….
The last time I was traveling in this direction was with the Missing Peace Project (MPP) heading to Delhi as part of a documentary film.
And there I was at LAX on April 30th 2008, standing with people I barely knew, en route to meeting His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama (HHDL).
Amongst the group:
Gustavo Santoalalla 2 time Oscar winning composer.
Big John Salley 3 time NBA winning 7 foot basketball man.
And myself, Wellington, Shropshire 1969.
Having made it to Delhi our first experience was to visit Tibetan hunger strikers sweltering somewhere in the smells, noise and chaos of India’s capital.
Olympics looming and these people make a stand against the conduct of the Chinese government that governments around the world choose to ignore.
The lady with the dark eyes is recounting the story of losing 2 of her sons…
The man on the left translates.
These people are drawing attention to their basic human rights to live and breathe alongside one another.
As the Buddha said:
Beyond tribes, countries and religions we are first and foremost people.
Why does the Chinese government feel threatened by the Tibetan people? What exactly is it they are scared of?
Something it seems; and as HHDL later said as we sat in his company, one can only send such people compassion and love – they are after all, being driven by fear…
In the stinking heat we listen to their stories, we photograph and film them, we offer our support and leave….
And to Islam and the Jama Masjid mosque in the middle of Delhi.
And from the Muslim expression and celebration of God to the Sikh expression and celebration of God.
Having traveled by train across the smoggy plains of the Punjab the man in leopard skin welcomes any one who looks his way.
The Golden Temple. Amritsar means ‘Ambrosial pools of nectar’.
Next we trundle by road to the cooler temperatures of Dharamsala and home to the Tibetan government in exile.
And hillside trash strewn; like it is everywhere in India.
Mountains, rivers or plains – smog, plastic and oil.
A one-eared dog pedigreed and pampered yaps from his perch.
A man watches green fields on his television.
Gustavo plays charango for the Medium of Tibet’s State Oracle.
And we visit the Tibetan Children’s Village (TCV)…
What a place. Some of these children have their families here in India, but some have been sent here by their families in Tibet trying to give them a ‘chance’ away from the situation in Tibet.
As things stand many of these children are unlikely to see their parents again.
To see the living consequences of human rights abuse in the form of these children delighting in the trickery and tomfoolery of Big John Salley on the basketball court and Gustavo’s beautiful music in their classroom, is pretty humbling…
The message of Amnesty International is ‘Protect The Human’.
Standing quietly in the shadows at TCV are people that do just that, the workers and volunteers who help these children….
In the meantime how thankful the Tibetan people must be to India that they are able to maintain their language, culture and spirit in a foreign country.
The aim at Tibet House US is to help bring to our attention this beautiful culture and spirit. One that is in danger of being snuffed out.
At this point I leave the MPP and head to Jammu en route to Ladakh.
Everywhere you go in India:
Shiva, Krishna, the great battles: Ego vs God.
Symbols of faith, trust and love everywhere.
And here in a corner of an aspiring hotel in dusty Jammu, magnet to militants is Ganesh: Remover of obstacles, sitting in a glass box, 3 inches high.
And a cup of coffee and a green tablecloth.
Then to the Himalayas:
Here in Ladakh one will find more displaced Tibetan communities, as well as heavy Indian military presence. However regardless of that, Tibetan culture and customs sit alongside Ladakhi culture and customs.
A door leading into a temple, etched and timeless, ragged and beautiful, like the shepherd’s hands.
Out of the blue a full circle rainbow of the sun and a passing military plane looking small and peculiar.
Even taking a leak in shiny new urinals comes with a view – into the great wide open.
A Dzo (half cow half yak), beastly beautiful, looks at the back of the young girl pulling him along.
The little boy, two hours electricity a night, tickled pink in his woolly sweater
and springtime field.
A child clings to his mother.
Buddha’s birthday celebrations – up the hill to temple, down the hill to town.
Keep your mouth shut puppy training.
And a curious donkey.
As the world’s economic structure crumbles, I wonder how the beautiful apple cheeked boy in the mountains of Ladakh has been affected by all this.
I came across him sitting in a field with his Aunty tending 3 donkeys.
She laughed and smiled and he just looked at me.
A baby at a party in Bombay sleeps peacefully through it all.
And I’m sitting here with a fasten seat belt bing in my ear, pissing down pollution, flying into London on a fat aeroplane:
Neck pillow, headphones, tomato juice and coffee….
RECONSTRUCTION OF A CHILDREN’S HOME IN TCV DHARAMSALA
This funding proposal seeks financial help for the reconstruction of a children’s home in the Dharamsala TCV
A children’s home is a self-contained house, with kitchen and other facilities. Many of the children’s homes have not only experienced several earthquakes but were built in the early 1960s under great financial constraints and require constant repairing.
They are wet and poorly ventilated with broken walls. In many of the homes, due to heavy leakages, the wooden truss has rotted over the years and can no longer support the ceiling and roof. The floor demands re-cementing as it has worn out and during the long monsoon season gets wet and lingers with foul damp atmosphere. This is not conducive to our children’s health. For the majority of our children, the home within the school is their only home and where they spend most of their time. Therefore we feel that we must ensure a decent facility for them
The reconstruction of one home will cost approximately $35,000.
The main reason why so many children escape out of Tibet is because under the communist regime they become victims of discrimination and ugly racism from an early age. Thus, despite the wrenching pain of separation and the enormous risks involved in escaping into exile, Tibetan parents, with great hope, send their children across the border into Nepal and on to India. When they have placed so much trust and hope in us, it becomes our moral duty to take up the challenge and to do our utmost for them. To enable us to meet this challenge successfully and to create a meaningful future for these children, we are much in need of support and financial assistance. Any assistance in improving quality of life for our children is much appreciated.
Thank you very much! – TashI Dalek!
Mr. Tsewang Yeshi
DELHI TO MANHATTAN – SPONSORS
On the 10th of March 2009 peaceful gatherings and events took place around the world to mark the anniversary of 50 years in exile for His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government in exile. In spite of the of the ongoing situation in Tibet the spirit of the Tibetan people prevails in a peaceful, non violent manner.
Along with Tibet House, organizations such as The Missing Peace and Amnesty International help raise and maintain awareness of the Tibetan situation:
THE MISSING PEACE: ARTISTS CONSIDER THE DALAI LAMA”
This is a traveling, international art exhibition and educational project celebrating and exploring the many paths to peace. Inspired by the Dalai Lama, the artworks were created and donated by eighty-eight artists from thirty countries, to present diverse “portraits” of our human capacities for compassion, non-violence, empathy, patience, courage, restraint and responsibility
Future projects include a music concert and a documentary film
With more than 2.2 million supporters, activists and volunteers in over 150 countries, and complete independence from government, corporate or national interests, Amnesty International works to protect human rights worldwide.
Our vision is of a world in which every person – regardless of race, religion, gender, or ethnicity – enjoys all of the human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights standards.
The human rights violations in Tibetan-populated areas include the following: Arbitrary arrests, prolonged detention, imprisonment of peaceful protestors and other prisoners of conscience, torture, ill-treatment, violations of freedom of expression, association and assembly and of Tibetan people’s right to maintain their culture, language and religion.
DELHI TO MANHATTAN – BENEFICIARIES
Proceeds from the silent auction will benefit the Tibetan children’s village in Dharamsala whilst proceeds from the photographs will benefit both the children and Tibet House
From its humble beginning forty six years ago, Tibetan Children’s Village has today become a thriving, integrated educational community for Tibetan children in exile, as well as for the hundreds escaping from Tibet every year. It has established branches in India extending from Ladakh in the North to Bylakuppe in the South with over 16, 178 children in its care.
THANK YOU TO:
Tibet House for showing these pictures of Little Tibet and a little bit more.
The Missing Peace for pushing the boat out
Amnesty International for their support
LTI Photo Lab
Rose’s Framing Gallery
Big Apple visual group