Tibetan settlements, Kushalnagar

Trip Start Sep 03, 2006
Trip End Aug 15, 2007

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Flag of India  ,
Saturday, January 27, 2007

Now , that was weird.
we set off from Mysore  on a glorious day for a 80 km bus trip (only 3 hours of teeth-shattering race) to merrily meet with the Tibetan refugees of the Southrn settlements ( most of them live in Himalayan India, near Daramsala, in particular ). We were hoping to be able to meet some monks and have some meaningful and enlightning conversations. In fact, we were sorely confronted with our quality of basic tourists and left with the uncomfortable impression of being pure voyeurs circulating in a human zoo.
Not that we did not see any monks, we saw thousands in fact and most pleasant with that, but rather shy and apparently ignorant of English. As a result, we were left to glare at them , trying to understand the routines and rituals of their days, smiling endlessly, and lost in a sea of Indian tourists shamelessly checking out the monks. Perfectly dignified , smiling absent-mindedly, the monks go their way, unfluttered by the constant fire of flash photgraphy in their face.
Hence, the impression of visiting a human zoo.
We left the place at the point of night, our mind full of confusing images and questions : How are those monasteries so affluent ? Where did the money come from for their creation and their upkeep ? What is the status of the Tibetans in India ? refugees ? Residents ? Citizens ? Are they accepted or merely tolerated ? How does one get admitted to a monastery ? Where do the monks get the money that they spend in shops and restaurants so liberally ? Money, money, money, the place oozed money, which is quite strange considering the ascetic bend of their philosophy ...
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