I return, lunch consumed.
There’s still time before the
Dalai Lama’s public
Grace’s smile radiates greeting,
as she beckons me
with her hand.
“Join us” she instructs.
Curious, my face questions –
“We go see Dalai Lama:
special group meeting”.
No hesitation – I join.
Back of the arena,
we file through double-doors
They close behind us,
and we wait corridor corralled,
expectant with hope and excitement.
I chat to Grace, I chat to others,
group majority are strangers to me.
As I stand in my new herd,
a feeling gradually becomes conscious:
my normally diminutive height, now,
sees me with my head above the crowd.
It dawns on me that I’m the
ONLY white person here,
everyone else is Chinese!”
I look back to the doors –
should I retreat/escape?
But the group is moving,
I’m caught in the rip-tide;
no use resisting, I’ll see
where it takes me.
Security looks serious:
black suits and glasses,
big shoulders, folded hands,
wires curling from ears,
observant, trained to spot
anomalies, like me.
He steps in.. to..I don’t know…
I suspect interrogate or extricate,
but Grace dismisses him with
a wave of her hand, and the words:
“She part of our group”.
Security steps back, echoing:
“She’s part of the group”.
We continue along
white winding passages,
until we reach backstage doors.
We are about to enter the room
where we’ll meet His Holiness.
Again we have to pass security.
Different, but the same:
suit, glasses, shoulders, hands,
wires, and me: white and wide-eyed.
He steps forward to waylay me.
But Grace is there with her Jedi skills.
It is as if she’d trained under Obi-Wan,
her “She with group” translating to
“These are not the droids you’re looking for”,
he repeats and steps aside…we enter.
He Holiness speaks in Tibetan,
his translator repeats in Mandarin,
Grace whispers English in my ear.
He holds hands with Grace, as he
moves amongst us, photos are taken,
and his robed attendants
give us blessing pills.
I’m heartened by his youthfulness –
soft, glowing skin, so healthy.
But, all too soon he has to leave
to take the stage once more.
In the quiet that follows, I ask:
“Grace, I wasn’t supposed
to be here, was I?”
She looks puzzled, I continue:
“the meeting.. was for Chinese..”
She frowns at me, wags her finger.
Etiquette of time and place no matter,
as she remonstrates:
“YOU know better – we all same heart!”
This is rather rough, due to its length, but it is so memorable, it is hard to shorten. I do have a photo of the meeting, but 1) I don’t have permission to reproduce it on a website, and 2) many group members fear repercussions for their family members who are still in China, if it was known they were familiar with the Dalai Lama. Instead the picture is of the blessing pill gift. Linking in to dverse