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When I Think of Tibet


As the weeks go by and tensions and violence escalate in Tibet, it makes me more and more anxious. Tibet is a beautiful, mysterious country. I visited many years ago, and although there were always problems (I remember one incident when my travel party was delayed for several hours because of public executions!!) it was much calmer than it is now.

There isn't enough air, which makes everyone who is just visiting a little high. To add to the trippy nature of the place, pretty much every site is religious. Even the graffiti is of different incarnations of Buddha - painted all over the sides of mountain rocks. If you felt sick, you were encouraged to meditate on the cool, indigo blue medicine Buddha, the deity whose color reminded me of the Milk of Magnesia bottle, whose image would soothe, coat and relieve as you pondered upon it. Tibet has the most challenging toilets in the world. I have been everywhere and I can attest to that! Hands down, Tibet is the number one worst place to go number two.

But to counter that, Tibet has the best-looking people in the world. They are Asian but with light eyes! Like green and blue! So everyone kind of looks like they are wearing contacts but they are not. I remember sitting in the courtyard of the Drepung monastery, watching all the gorgeously hot monks draped in their deep red robes, flinging their prayer beads at each other as they argued about philosophy while trying to steal looks at us at the same time. I know you aren't supposed to hit on celibate people so I just sat on my hands the whole time and tried not to make eye contact for more than three seconds. Girl, it was hard!

I also loved the dog monastery, a special temple for wayward monks who have reincarnated into dogs. The grounds are covered in dogs of every size and shape and breed and hue, silently pondering the cycle of birth and rebirth. Squirming litters of puppies wriggle underneath their dog mothers and their distinguished elders nap in the patches of sun breaking through the clouds. There is no barking, no howling, no fighting, and miracles of miracles -- no poo! -- nothing but the quiet mediation of dogs and monks. You are allowed to feed the dogs small pieces of dough, and they actually wait in line! When I think of Tibet, I remember the politeness of the dogs, pulling back their dog lips and ever so gently taking the food from my hand with their open teeth, not wanting to bite my hand accidentally and then looking warmly into my eyes with a silent thanks. The thought of rioting and looting and blood in the streets there is too painful to comprehend.