Monthly Archives: September 2008
It has been a fast moving and tiring week, and now after only about 8 days on Bali am at Changi airport trying not to overspend. But they did have a 40 language translating gadget including Tibetan – the world has changed. Anyway looking bak on that week which started with a kind of new agey spacey session at a wellness spa in denpasar where one of the partners demonstrated “channeling the energy of the universe by candle light – but then went on to say that he would be happy to see the Bali bombers executed (killed was the term I believe). Hmm its a cruel universe..well David and I did a bunch of stuff in between, me every night uploading to German Vanity Fair who thankfully loved what we gave them (thank goodness – imagine staying up to 1 am and getting up at 5.30 everyday and them not liking it… )Then we wound up the whole week with an interview with Kadek Wiranatha of Ku De Ta who over lunch, and after explaining how he did a deal with a banjar to build Ku De Ta on part of their cemetery, said that he doesn’t believe in magic but “I’m sure there is a someone up in the air who knows everything..”. Two ends of a very Balinese spectrum I guess!Oh well off to India. Slightly more to the philosphical spectrum there I am willing to bet.
It has been my pleasure this week to work once again with writer David Leser from Australia on a story in Bali, and once again it is for a European magazine. The story is about the bomb, but of course a very different angle this time, 6 and 3 years on. David is intelligent and (not always a given) witty, a man who has seen a lot with no dearth of interesting anecdotes to share. David was born into publishing (his dad was a major player in the Conde Nast world) but struck out on his own early in his career. He has been visiting Bali for years.. Back to the bomb: It interesting to see as time goes on that many Balinese really have moved on (and why not indeed) and really don’t think that much about the bomb anymore except for taking bets on when the culprits will be executed. It is time the rest of us moved on too I suppose. Reviewing some of my old images (the least graphic of which I show here) does bring back a slight bitter tang, a drying of the mouth. now of course there are only memories and memorials, and the odd poignant message.It is interesting to see just how subjective memory is. It is also interesting to see how various different people interpret the changes that have come to Bali since. But I do wonder if we will ever recover from the post bomb international (and local) carpet bagger invasion…
One of the projects that Dagpo Rinpoche has going annexed to the monastery is a school for local and other Himalayan kids. It provides an education for kindergarden, primary and the equivalent of junior high school, with most of the kids boarding. Of course during Rinpoche’s recent visit the kids came up to show their respects, of course the tibetan custom of showing your tongue in respect might seem startling but hey different strokes for different folks:.IN any case their despite their conditions being pretty basic, with one communal bathroom being shared by all, the spirit is great. The older kids (13 years old) are dorm prefects for the little ones, they are responsible for around 20 kids each getting their bedding, cleaning their rooms, and doing their morning and evening prayers. Such a difference from teenagers in the ‘developed’ world. This school provides an opportunity whch for many simply wouldn’t be there. They learn a basic curriculum plus English and Tibetan, and most of the kids spoke basic English. The older ones like this 13 year old prefect spoke reasonable conversational English, even coaching the younger ones in her care. I guess a strong sense of community helps. Although the school gets some direct donations, their water and electricity is mostly subsidized by the monastery. They have basic necessities, but I do mean very basic. Though by no means is this an official appeal for donations, if anyone is inspired to make a donation please contact me and I will redirect you to the relevant people. A few of the kids are from Ladakh, from very poor families, and as Ladakh is closed during the winter months they end up staying for the two month winter break. Some of these are pretty young still.
Just got back from two weeks in Dagpo Shedrup Ling Monastery in the Kullu valley where the Ven Dagpo Rinpoche was giving teachings to a mix of his foreign students from Europe and Asia and the monks at this newly relocated monastery, inaugurated acouple of years ago by HH the Dalai Lama. Rinpoche was taching two texts from his lineage simultaneously, it was certainly an in depth transmission further enhanced by various explanations which are only found in the oral tradition. Besides the fact that any internet connection was either incredibly slow or a minimum half an hours drive away, I have to say it was refreshing to be without the net for a while. It was wonderful to to watch the monks interact with their Lama, as Rinpoche spends most of his time in France these occasions are doubly precious for them. They showed Rinpoche their skills in debate (quite a lively affair, no quarter given!!!):One thing I did discover (not that I didn’t know it before but it really came home) is that the Nikon D3s I am using, which despite having fantastic response and great image processing in radical light, are very large , obtrusive and noisy in intimate situations. I do miss my old film contax G2 rangefinders which were perfect for that kind of thing. In any case the new monastery is thriving, and the monks’ education is going well and nobody minded my camera too much (or were polite about it). Meanwhile Rinpoche has insisted that the kitchen only serve vegetarian food, and the head cook, who despite being mute is pretty fierce, keeps the younger monks in line. but this monastery has always been famous for its discipline, especially in the old days. Everyone does their share of work. In what felt like no time at all the two weeks were over, then it was back to Delhi and the heat for a day, then the afternoon flight to Bangkok.