Asia | India | Indian Himalayas – What is Life?
That was what the artist Ali said this morning. ‘Most people don’t ask this question,’ he said. ‘What is life?’
I noticed him in the hotel cafe and was intrigued by his good looks. I asked if he would let me sketch him, and he joined me at my table, and sat very nicely while I drew him. I asked if his parents were from Kham (eastern Tibet), as he had the high cheekbones and facial structure of the east. And he said yes.
Then he told me he was an artist, so I asked if he would like to be interviewed for my film. He was quite a natural exhibitionist, and while he ate his breakfast, I filmed him.
I really enjoyed the way he launched forth on a number of different subjects. When I asked him some questions about the situation in Tibet and the possibility of freedom, he gave a biting indictment of politics in every shape and size. I am happy that at last, I feel a sense of artistic license with this film. I feel like it’s mine … not just a bunch of sterile questions.
Last night I did another interview with Sonam Wangdi, a representative of the Tibetan Youth Congress – and an actor. He played Tenzin in the film “We Are No Monks” … and he was really enthusiastic about being interviewed and also offered to help me with the film. He has a definite creative urge and wants to do films himself, as well as acting.
It was a bit noisy in the office of the TYC, but still the interview went well. Afterward, he loaned me his CD of 6-minute preview of ‘We Are No Monks’ … now I really want to see the film. It was fascinating. I shall go and see him this afternoon and return the CD and talk to him some more about the film.
This morning’s class was also interesting. We made boxes out of paper. First, you have to color in the shapes, then cut and fold and glue them into place. I had brought a jar of feathers and each person could glue one feather on the top of their box. Annamarie went down to the market and bought lollipops that the kids could put inside.
Then some of the ones who had finished made kites and ran with them along the floor. I was particularly impressed with two older girls whose boxes had such intricate and lovely designs. The natural folk art of Tibet is really very reminiscent (to my eyes) of Navajo designs. The same sort of stylized birds and the pointillist technique similar to the Maori drawings. The colors were also wonderful.
One little girl got word in the middle of the class that she is being sent to Massoorie tonight. How exciting. She is being placed in a school there. I was really happy for her. She is one of the more troubled kids, always slightly out of step with the others and with a very short attention span. I was happy that now she’ll have a place where she can stay.
In talking with Ali this morning and also T.B. at lunch yesterday, I realize that there’s a real difference in advantages between Tibetans who were born here and those who come as refugees. For Tibetans born here, they have the chance to go to school, and pursue a definite course in their higher education.
There are dark clouds on the horizon and we all think it will rain, but so far, the sun has come out again, and I am not sure it’s a good idea to lug around my umbrella today.
I was going to stop in at my favorite teahouse (Lhamo Tso’s) and see if I could interview her, but I need to go back and recharge my battery first. Maybe this afternoon.
Our plan today with the children is to finish the boxes and play dressups with some of the extra things we have in storage. Annamarie and I are making waves, I guess, as we are changing some of the routine, but it’s also nice to know what’s available to us for future classes.
When Annamarie’s husband comes the end of the month, she will leave and they’ll go to Rajasthan. Lucky things! I will miss her.