Noi6 means "the 6 of us" in Romanian.

We are five, you are the sixth one.

We thank you for joining us in our trip around the world...

Friday, December 2, 2011

A Blurb

Upon arriving in Lhasa, we are greeted by Tsewang Lhamo (TehWAN LahMO)— a name which she tells us means 'Long Life Fairy'.

And she does look like a fairy— 5'2", petite, with bright, beautiful, brown eyes, and a melodious, singsong voice that sounds amazing both in Tibetan and English.

Our driver's name is Tashi (pronounced DAHSHee), and apparently he will be our driver for the entire trip. (We went through four drivers, only the last of whom we actually spent any time with). We drive from the train station into the old part of Lhasa— which is incredibly busy.

Honking in Asia is a language— it's not like in America where a honk means "GET OFF THE ROAD!" or "HEY, BEST FRIEND THAT'S WALKING ON THE STREET! I'M IN A CAAAAAR!"

It means, "I'm here," "You're in the way," "Be careful," "Watch out," "Get off the road," or "Hey, best friend that's walking on the street! I'm in a caaaaar!"

Cars in Tibet do not care if you are a tourist or a little old lady carrying groceries (though there are no little old ladies carrying groceries), or if you're a strapping young boy. They will drive on THEIR road and if you want to get on it… well you'd better be able to look where you're going and where the cars are coming from (and don't you forget about the rickshaws and the motorcycles and the bicycles! Those can break a leg too!) and where you're coming from.
Look both ways at all times, and don't stare fixedly at one spot— look all around at the same time— watch the cars that are coming towards you, but make sure you know that a car may come whizzing from a completely different direction.

And when all the cars are going every which way? Wait, for goodness' sake, until they're not. Otherwise you might find yourself not moving properly any more.

You've gotten to the other side? Congratulations! Now you can walk really fast to your destination.

Lhasa boasts cats in restaurants. This may or may not have been the best part of the restaurants— we like cats. We especially like the fact that they don't miaow (much), but instead wait patiently (ish) for you to give them something.

We saw about three monasteries, all of which have a large amount of buddhas (which all have a meaning unto themselves).

These monasteries are small or big, and they all have monks and pilgrims (which act in one way or another). But the interesting thing about this is how the Tibetans approach religion.

It seems to be ingrained in their day-to-day lives— even Tsewang wore prayer beads as a sort of bracelet. We didn't see these prayer beads until she showed them to us, though. And though religion pervades their lives, Buddhists (we've only seen Buddhists) don't feel the need to convert others to their religion. They don't mind staring at you when you walk into their temples. They will walk up, bow, put their hands together, prostrate, offer butter, whatever, and then go along on their business.
If they're praying, it's while looking around at everything. It's a wonderfully free religion compared to Christianity, or at least what I've experienced of it, and best of all… it provides writing fodder.
I've been asked by a couple of people on NaNoWriMo if the trip is influencing my writing yet— that is, if I put elements of what I've seen and heard and felt and smelled and tasted into my novels.

I don't… but I harvest the experiences into a bank that has no records, and then when I need a death ceremony for Paa'nik, the world I've been creating since December 4th, 2009, I can draw from Tibetan death ceremonies and come up with the fact that Paa'nikans believe that they become the Tree God's leaves, that they have a series of gods that work for dead people— separate from those that work for alive people. And Paa'nikans, because they become leaves, don't need a body any more, so it gets wrapped in a white cloth for the cleaning process and then sent off to the wilderness for the wolves.

And this comes from the fact that Tibetans believe their last gift to the world is their dead body. It may seem… heathen, perhaps, that people routinely will send their relatives to an undertaker. And that this undertaker will chop that relative into tiny little pieces and scatter the pieces in high places for the vultures… or drop them into the Yellow River for the fishes… but I think it's remarkably sophisticated. 

Human beings have evolved from leaving their dead outside for the elements into building pyramids and tunnels and constructing extraordinarily complicated burial rituals to ensure that they have a body in the 'next life.' And Tibetans, who know they will have a body in the next life (after all, they got this one), come full circle, and decide to leave their bodies outside in the elements to feed a new 'circle of life,' and indeed ensure this by making it easier for these animals to eat them. Something most Westerners would shrink away from (would you decide to be eaten by a vulture?), Tibetans believe is completely normal. 

And that is beautiful.

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