3/5 – We bundled up – very cold here, and the altitude is over 9000 feet, so we both have mild altitude sickness – and walked over to the monastery. A huge area, it was made up of a series of temples, stupas, monk colleges (like the college of astrology) and monk habitations.
I walked behind a Tibetan woman with a baby in a papoose, and she made sure to touch the baby’s head to the images also. Because Tibetans are a minority, they are exempt from the One Child rule, and we saw many families with two children.
There are also yak oil lamps and candles here.
3/6 – We returned to the monastery so that Jim could circumambulate – walk the perimeter, touching every prayer wheel. This is a really big place, several kilometers! Even though the festival is now over, the monastery was still crowded with people.
We walked through the town, taking in the sights and watching the people. I feel transported to another time, until the ring of a monk’s mobile phone reminds me that these people are living comfortably in the 21st century.
At supper, we spoke with Clarie about being a westerner here. The government cuts off the electricity and the Internet intermittently whenever there is a festival, to discourage native uprisings – we experienced this several times. Clarie returned to Amsterdam for the birth of her daughter, as Tibetans are not eligible for passports. Her pretty 9 year old daughter goes to Tibetan school from 7am until 6pm daily, in a class of 57, sitting at attention on a backless stool, where speaking or asking questions is never allowed. Children who cannot do the lessons are hit, and many drop out in primary school. In the equivalent of 4th grade, she is fluent in four languages, and is doing geometry and differential equations. Hmmmm…