Well, today was the day. We saw His Holiness the Dalai Lama!!!!! I never thought it would happen in my entire life-but here I am. Sitting here. I was only three feet away from him at one point. Amazing.

Anyway, the day from the beginning; We rose early, and left Kashmir Cottage a little after 8am. The puja wasn’t set to start for a while, and HHDL wasn’t even set to show up for certain. Ju Lee and Adam had walked up around 6 via the Lingkor. I wasn’t brave enough for that. There was a steady stream of people into Namgyal when we got there. The security was quite heavy, but by now I’m sort of used to that; getting patted down and scanned everywhere. Eventually we got through into the yard and I found a seat vaguely between Ju Lee, Jana, and Adam. 

It was woderful to sit, surrounded by Tibetan people. To my right there were several old women and men, one continually spinning a prayer wheel, one gently caressing worn prayer beads. They were mostly silent, watching, waiting. Ju Lee was talking in Chinese to a young man just in front of me. His sister turned and began talking to me–telling me her story. How her father had walked her over the Himalayas when she was nine and left her at the Tibetan Childrens Village. She explained how her younger brother had been a reincarnated lama–he always shunned playing, instead he’d walk with prayer beads, wearing robes, keeping to himself. She told me how he died of an illness, how it made her mother very sad. How her dad had no job because he didn’t speak Chinese, and how her mother sold Katagh outside of Potala Palace in Lhasa. They didn’t make much money. For the past year Ushi and her mother had been traveling around all of the religious sites, trying to get a blessing for her brother…

We seemed to watch the gates to His residence for ever. They stayed closed, or briefly opened to spit out some official, or other monk, much to the crowds disappointment. It was hot. Unbearably hot. Adam kindly loaned his black hat to a little old Tibetan lady, sitting fully in the sun waiting. She laughed, a genuine, crinkled laugh and gratefully accepted the shade. It was so… wonderous to be outside of the group more, to be surrounded by Tibetan people. Even though we couldn’t speak the same language, everyone made concessions for each other; scooting over that little bit more, offering a hat, or a smile. I felt like I was part of something–even though technically I wasn’t. It was a great feeling.

Finally he came out. The crowd surged electrically. Everyone rose to their knees, hands together, head bowed. I ushered the young girl by so she could be with her mother. Slowly he walked towards us, down the isle. He stopped, opposite us, for what seemed an eternity–just three feet away… I thought my heart would stop beating. Perhaps it did for a moment. His energy just flowed outwards, compassionate, giving… wonderous.

Even here, back at the cottage, it seems like a dream. Later I walked back by way of the Lingkor. It was… a quiet, reflective walk. I think I’ll never be the same.