Day 18: Still Driving to Lhasa

Well, here we are.  In the car.  Still.

It is day four of what seems like an endless journey back to Lhasa.  Did some sort of spacial vortex develop on this damn highway since we passed through a few days ago?  It really feels like we aren’t making any progress.

It would seem that the thrill of Everest and Rombuk has chilled since yesterday.

Though, there is something incongruously . . . relaxing, I suppose, in a “the-only-thing-in-the-world-that-I-have-to-worry-about-is-when-my-ipod-battery-will-give-out” kind of way.  On a related note, my ipod battery is a freakin champ.

So yeah, we are driving.

During our time on the road we’ve made a specific effort to ply Choedak with all the questions that went unanswered during our time with Tsering.  So here are a few things we’ve learned about Tibetan Buddhism:

1.  There are five traditional elements, each with a corresponding color: sky (blue), clouds (white), fire (red), water (green), and earth (yellow).

2.  There are eight auspicious symbols that are compiled into a single painting that we see in every temple: a fish, which is a sacred animal(?); a parasol; a banner, which has something to do with Buddha’s teachings; a conch shell, which might have something to do with sound, maybe; a knotted rope, which may or may not deal with friendship; a wheel, which also deals with Buddha’s teaching (and maybe the genesis of Buddhist law, so we relate to that as ex law school brats); a vase, which might hold holy water; and a lotus blossom, which is a holy flower.

3.  And then my journal contains this magical bit of info, desperately interpreted from what I shakily scrawled on the rough road: “Bema Sambawa (Indian teacher).”  Further research turns up this: “Did you mean: Bima Sumbawa (Indian teacher).”  Bima Sumbawa is an Indonesian city.  Soooo . . . not everything I write in this journal is as priceless as I think it is when I write it.

We stopped for lunch at a restaurant, memorable only for the person waiting on us – it was a very young Tibetan girl who led us into a back room, puttered around setting up the table, pouring tea, and bringing us menus.  She was confident beyond her years when she knew her role.  But one quick “Hi!  What’s your name?” (you’ll have to imagine that written in Tibetan characters) and she regressed into the sweet, shy nine-year old that she appeared to be from the start.  She led us to the outdoor bathroom, squeezing her tiny body in between people in a huge crowd, slipping past us with her little hand waiving in the air shouting “hello!!” so we could locate her.

We’ve been seeing people selling watermelon on the side of the road and Kristy turned to Choedak and flatly asked: “How’s the fruit?”  It was just like that “Did he like cats?” moment from Norbulinka – a simple, silly question that struck us right in our funny bones.  “How’s the fruit?”  It was like she was asking about the buffet selection in a Vegas hotel.

In final evidence of how this has pretty much been a lost day, I didn’t take any pictures worth posting here.  So sad.


2 Responses to “Day 18: Still Driving to Lhasa”

  1. May 16, 2010 at 8:17 pm

    Aw, so sad indeed, but I’m really glad you included this entry. This journey, like life, has highs and lows and you just came off of one enormous, the-size-of-fricken’-mt-everest, HIGH. This is a needed moment to pause and regroup for the climb back up to the next awesome high. 🙂

    • May 17, 2010 at 1:34 pm

      ha! absolutely correct! this was definitely the yang to our everest-sized yin. we could have done something really big, like the potala palace back in lhasa, and it still would have been an emotional valley.

      yes, this day brought balance back to the force. and the next day did too, as you can tell.

      danke, tracy!!

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Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Use of any photo for any reason without my permission is prohibited. Danke!

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