Cameras for Cultures Inc.- The Tibetan Photo Project
 

The Tibetan Photo Project
In India 2010

- Typed below is Joe's Diary of the days we spent in India- This was emailed out to those who requested messages be sent to them-

At the follwing DOC link- Is my (Sazzy's) Diary which is a mix of Joe's words and my own - I also added images to the doc. and I had used this at my
Tibetan/Inidan Party to visually show our trip and to share with family and friends. DOC

Jan. 23, 2010:
This is going to be quick... we are on the ground in india.
Everything went very well at the airport ... My friend an monk Tenpa was at the airport to greet us with Kattas (Tibetan silk greeting scarves)

We have toured Majnu Katilla this morning, getting this email out and headed off to Red Fort and chandi Chowk (google them) in a bit.

India is on its highest alert because Independence day is coming up and there are always threats...

It was a heck of a long flight ... 15 hours ... are we there yet... We are...

It will take a couple of days to get in the rythem before these become more brilliant and entertaining so I will keep this short....

Thanks to all for the support....

Visually, Joe Mickey in India
The Tibetan Photo Project.

Jan. 24, 2010:
Well here is a lesson in india internet... spent the entire morning trying to log in to do a detailed report... and now i am logged in with only enough
time to say there is not enough time to do a report

Today... Lotus temple
Yesterday Chandi Chowk..
Driving to dharamsala tomorrow.. by then should actually be on India time... google em for now and More later....

Typos are blamed on keyboards that stickkkkkkkkkkkkk

Stay tuned...

Jan. 25, 2010:
I have had a heck of a time logging in to this email. but lets try to catch up

I think today is the day i finally adjusted to India time

Yesterday was a jaw dropping day in Chandi Chowk. I really suggest googling these locations.
A monk friend of mine escorted us (Tenpa) and this was a full day of sensory overload in India.

Today was the lotus temple (get out that google) An amazing structure. Tenpa was with us again today.
Some of the indians would gather him up and ask to be photographed with him in groups and some wanted
to be photographed with westerners... lots of people greeted us and shook hands. It is an amazingly friendly country.

We began today with Masala Sweet Tea in the Tibetan Colony and a tibetan made potato pancake.. breakfast 20 cents...

Sazzy had it on her list to go to the Imperial hotel, so we did.. live music on the grounds and a buffet.

Tempa ate twice... and desert...frankly because of the flowers they put on the outdoor tables, that drew a unique fly..
I prefer the eats at the Tibetan colony and now, Sazzy has Delly Belly... I think it was her curry Chicken... I did not eat
meat and am fine. Tenpa was wowed by the place and really liked a Lamborgini that was parked at the entrance...
He wanted his photo taken ... so we have it...

Oh and we are not corrupting Tenpa, this is common and he is currently a monk, like a lot of monks and nuns on a
3 month holiday...

The hotel is classic in the english ruled India presentation... and yes, beautiful...

We had a great driver today...

Here are some local highlights. Tomorrow is India's independence day... we are getting out of town, but there will be 70,000
cops on the streets, a big military and national parade that will be attended by a few million, The parade will be accompanied
by 15 gunship helicopters, and snipers on all high roofs... sounds like a fun day... anyway if you hear any crazy news from India,
we are not near it.

Tomorrow we are off to Dharamsala, I hear its cold and snow on the ground....

We are starting off at 10 a.m. so there will not likely be any email... because of the late arrival in dharamsala...

Yep... its pretty Amazing... a simple Tibetan meal in a bit and then off to bed...

Thanks all and more to come. The intenet Cafe's in the colony are full tonight with people waiting... so

Stay Tuned....

Visually, Joe Mickey

Jan. 26, 2010
We have arrived safely in McLeod Ganj, a cool clean night ... following a great drive... There is plenty to tell everyone about
but you will have to stay tuned.... Its nearly 9 here and hope to bet something to eat before it all shuts down...P.S... Don't
know what is up with Indian Keyboards... but they do stick a lot.

Good all night from McLeod Ganj.... Will try to spend time tomorrow eve with a full report.

P.S. Sazzy has survived here 5 star Imperial hotel in Delhi food poisoning... She should be back to full speed tomorrow....

Jan. 27, 2010
Ok here is the deal... Its india. and just writing this update has taken two browsers and it freezes as I write... so I am going to
write fast and sloppy and hope its all here when I send it.

Perfect Whether in Mcleodo ganj today... Really my first look at the area since the last trip...

It appears that there is growth in the area created by interest in the area... Tibetans have created a destination gem for the India....

And... Much is the same... including the people and many of the places... In fact, I am writting from a computer I used 4 years ago
here at Cloud 9 Internet Cafe...

There is something new... to enter the main temple you now have to go through security and a pat down... its run by Tibetans....
another sign the world has changed....

The people are just as beautiful... We had an interesting encounter with a brilliant 11 year old begger boy today... He came up
on the roof top restaurant were we were having lunch and politely introduced himself ...
(He is not Tibetan) he speaks three languages very well that he has learned on the streets... and he gave us an Interview, worked
everyone's point an shoot camera and helped Sazzy connect her phone to being able to call...

but he says he can only be a begger while he is young... and then he says he will have to collect plastic bottles. This kid is far to
bright... he was also fronting for two girls that walk around with babies and instead of begging for money ask you to feed their
babies and then they take you to a store and buy rice and milk and anything else they can get you to buy...

But want an amazing young man... we have a few places we need an interpreter and we are intending to hire him to interpret...
he speaks each language fluently and he is Indian... and try to show him he has a future...

We met a Tibetan woman while visiting the prayerflags and temple at the front to the Dalai Lama's House who gave us string
bracelets....

And we interviewed our travel agent... And we intend to let folks know that when traveling to India \, Tibetan travel agents are the
best kept secret... straight forward, honest and the very best price...

Some of the usual characters are around... some Indians have groomed themselves to be photo opportunities....as shamans or
gurus... and they do make for great photos....

Tomorrow Sazzy will go off and try to connect with the young girl she has semi adopted over the years and also arrange for
filming at a nunnery that has invited us.

Tonight, dinner was a round of Momos and now here I am where the internet sticks, freezes and flips and flops... so I hope
this goes out... there is snow at the mountain peaks....

Get out the google and look up Mcleod ganj...

I would like to be more poetic, but I am racing against the next freeze.... so I hope this updates you....

Jan. 28, 2010:
The email in india tonight is very sketchy.... so wish me luck on getting this out...

Here goes... just accept the typos.... typing fast ....

Today was a very good day.... Tenpa's friend connected with us and took us to the Norbulinga Cultural Center... (This is where
Richard Gere stays when he comes here...) Get out the google... an amazing place where active working is being done to
preserver tibetan culture.... and it is beautiful .....

After that we went to the Dolma Lin nunnery and while most of the nuns on holiday, we were given a tour.... again, this is
very special access... We followed that with a visit to the monastery of the Karmapa lama.... so put the google to work....
It was an amazing day of contact and filming.... The weather is holding....

Meanwhile... Just some random notes on it all... the flight from Chicago to Delhi is the longest are-we-there-yet flight ever...

The Tibetans are doing great and one of the best kept secrets for India travelers is to use Tibetan Travel agents... very fair and
very service oriented...
We used Tibetan Tours and Travel and will have more on Tenzin tours....

Drivers, train tickets... these guys are great and do not engage of increasing prices that is common with Indian agencies.

Right now... The hike to triund is a challenge working ahead.... I keep looking up that mountain... we have to get all the
scheduled and required stuff out of the way... plus just walking around is all about getting in shape.....

Weather remains beautiful... its a full moon... I have found coffee and great food.... and it all keeps working...

So... with luck, I have beat the next internet failure and when I hit send this will come your way....

Jan. 28, 2010:
Woke up as I have since I got here to the prayers being said on the roof top that is next to my room. and then the first lightning
flash... thunder far of... and then it moved closer... bolts at the peak above Triund (Use the google on Triund) Thunder rolled from
right to left across the peaks than can be seen here ....

Its raining but light. Locals are not really using umbrellas... they tell me it will be one or two days.

I went to Snow Lion restaurant... for some warmth in a cup of lemon honey ginger tea... this is lemon Juice, Tetly black tea,
and slices of ginger and honey.... not a single tea bag of flavor...

And they have a whole page of porridge choices... I went for Honey Banana.... and yes what ever the heck porridge is, this
was made from scratch...

Now fortified.... I am off to my day. Given the storm I will hold off photographing and risking the camera to the rain... I have
some business to deal with the the Tibetan office of information to secure a press pass for the Dalai Lama's teaching on Feb 28....

I also found a magazine this morning at snow lion called voices.... It comes from the Tibetan Womens's organization...
http://www.tibetanwomen.org/

This particular issue of the magazine focused on the the Environmental importance, especially in the area of water serving 10
asian countries that are down stream of China....and the problem of both melting glaciers and China's mining practices.... so if
you thought Tibet was only about a small population of people... It is an important area to understand for a great variety of
reasons, not the least these amazing people.

Ok... that is the first half hour of the day....

Oh and its getting colder... as someone pointed out, this is not a culture that gets into heating... they opt for heavy clothing....
more blankets... My room has no heat... so... More lemon Ginger Honey Tea..

Jan. 29, 2010
ok... here is the deal... the internet cafe has heat... room has no heat... so this is a really good time to fill you in on today.

I went to the government Information office to take care of some details... and they have heat... and so did the car i rode there in....
Google the Tibetan government in exile... I ran into Mr. Thubten Semphel and was able to say hello. I interviewed him 4 years ago...
he is the director at the Information office and the interview is on Youtube and in Visually and respectfully Yours.
You can see his original interview here http://www.youtube.com/user/TibetanPhotoProject#p/u/35/XDy_at_ouQg

I then made a pass through the tibet museum and went to the temple where I met a monk from
Leh Ladakh which would be an amazing place but not on this trip... he offered to arrange a tour and a visit to his village with
is a 4 day walk from Ladakh.. Our friend Dawa La offers tours and info too at http://www.tibettoursandtravels.com/index.html

the rest of the day in Mcleod Ganj was heatless.... but good... the storm I reported earlier came and went... I wandered around
McLeod Ganj and collected footage.... at three the team got together and I suggested a walk to the cultural center
(Tibetan Cultural Center Mcleod Ganj - do the google. ) I lied and kept the crew moving for an hour uphill to a monastery and
stone huts in the woods up the mountains... This place is quite a find and not listed in lonely planet.

We made it back down to the sound of thunder and the first sign of rain... it was momos and thukpa... for dinner.

Momos and thukpa are warm.... I like momos and thukpa....
So now a blog and then to the blankets... there is a 10 gallon hot water on demand shower...anyway.... its all good.

A lot of good work is getting done here....

I just wish Tibetans liked heat....

Jan. 30, 2010
i AM HOPING TO get out a note, but my keyboard here in Dharamsala keeps wanting to roll back into the the desk I am at...
so I will say its been a good day... have collected more unique India and Tibetan footage... Sazzy took a momo class and
I also got some of the young turk Tibetans practicing a new song... A nepalese street flute player and a high wire act...
all before noon...

The weather is back, so for the moment Triund is now on the list for the only thing to do tomorrow.... and monday a nunnery
just down the street from the hotel.

Porridge is the thing for breakfast.... and just had the best french fries ever at Snow Lion restaurant... hey... they were a big
hit with the afternoon locals so gave em a try.... Awesome.... ok... more later from a keyboard that has a shelf that I do not have to hold with my knees.....

But at least the internet is runnuing... its a good day....

Jan. 30, 2010
It is 8:45 p.m. in McLeod Ganj on a saturday night....

Tomorrow, weather permitting the walk to triund is on.... Get out the google for this text...

The snow line today is right at the top of the trek. This is an all day event....

Today Sazzy made her phone call to Tenchoe... she has been a sponsor for this little tibetan girl since she was two...
She is about 10 or 11 now... And they are going to meet for the first time on Monday a 1 p.m. at the snow lion restaurant....
Snow Lion has the very best Thupka in the area ( Google the Thupka) and today's discovery is that they also make the very
best french fries in the entire world. Stopped in late in the afternoon for a hot honey ginger tea and all the locals were eating
nothing but the french fries...

Ok... Now... here is a tip from the momo class... (google the momos) but a great dip is Catchup, Soy Sauce and a little chili powder.... wow...

Caught on film... again, India has a lot of kids in tough situations... today... I heard a drum and of course had to follow the sound...
and just outside the main temple grounds a portable high wire rope was set up with a young girl who walked the rope...
two little boys who collected money and an adult male who was the drummer and ring master of this little portable circus.
The youngest boy was about 2-3, the next boy was maybe 6 or 7 and the girl might have been 11... its tough stuff... because
of the dynamics ... but would it be even worse if the kids were on their own... Not to confuse... these were Indian "Performers"
You can bet these kids will get cut loose when they don't make any money for the adult... and yes... Indian cops were
standing around watching the "Show" its the tough side of India.

India contrasts...

It is what it is, and unless you were planning to stay, you cannot do anything that changes it...

Meanwhile, Back on the street... the town is alive... and our rooms are still un heated... you listen to people in the internet cafe's
talking on skype and everyone is talking about the cold... coldest in 2, 3, 7 years depending on the story... so I continue to type...
the internet cafe has a heater... its not turned on... but somehow just the pressence of a heater makes it feel warmer... maybe its
just the close proximity of all the other cold typists.... and skypists.

In just a few minutes I will go take my 10 gallon hot shower... I still have an hour before shower curfew... so maybe I will type a
bit more....or just sit and watch the cursor blink....

So that is the news...

Take care .... more news after Triund... and that may not be until the next day.... I am going to stare at the heater for a few
minutes and put a vision of it in my mind's eye.... and head back to my arctic room... You know they do marble floors in all
these places to help deal with the summer heat... so when its cold here... its 10 degrees colder inside... yipeee.....

This is The Tibetan community.....

Jan. 31, 2010
I am getting notes of a few emails bouncing back... wish me luck

Three Crashes tonight and 4 power outages....

Jan. 31, 2010
Ok ... please do the google... Triund Trek

and There have been multiple power outages and internet freezes and bounced emails... so please take this as it is as I type
as fast as I can .....

We did it.... and it went amazing... the Weather held for us and we put up the prayer flags for all our family, friends, loved
ones and supporters names on the flags....

Triund is a 6 hour walk out of Dharamsala and it rises about 6000 feet to around 9000.... at best it is all mule path.... and
I have yet to see anyone who thinks its easy....

These prayer flags are now flying tonight and for as long as they last in the face of peaks of the Himalayas as thanks to
all those who have supported us in so many ways for the past decade. We also took a picture of each flag and the list of
names written on each flag and we will get that off to you when we return from India.

After reaching the top of Triund, we went up an extra 1000 or so feet to an area with hundreds of prayer flags and added
your name.... and it is flying right now

The amazing thing... we had perfect light and skys until we were done hanging the flags and then the entire area fogged in....
to virtually zero visibility for our entire decent.

So .... to all ... thank you....

Feb. 1, 2010
Please skip this email if the tough stuff bothers you.

Yesterday I sent out an email describing a small street circus act that included a little girl who was a rope walker and two smaller
boys maybe age 5 and 2... who were being run by a male adult...

This is tough stuff to watch... and you naturally feel you want to do something... but what? These kids would be on the street
without the adult if he was put out of his misery for exploiting these children...

In India there are millions upon millions of children surviving alone... where do you start? At this particular street circus, even the cops stand by and watch...

In india we have met some of the nicest people in the world and yet in contrast there is this circus of sorrow being replayed over
and over again...

Its a society without a society's safety net of any kind... (except for all too small private efforts).

I had warned my fellow travelers... don't complain about things in India to the locals unless you also plan to stay and do the work,
but I stepped over this line... and walked up to the adult and said a few words about his treatment of the children... what I got
back was a hand gesture that said "Feed me."

India is fast becoming the most populated country on the planet and maybe at this size there are no solutions...

On the other hand, India is living in the promise of a rich future .... As its economy grows, it will become an example of what a
nation chooses to do with its wealth ... but there are no simple answers.... And for now, India for all its beauty and greatness is
also a place of far far too many of these Circuses of sorrow.

Feb. 1, 2010:
India is changing and it will become one of the leading power economies in the world... and yet on this visit to Mcleod Ganj it
also has the strength of a constant to life. It is in many respects and in many of the faces what it was when I was on my last
visit 4 years ago... And it seems the same in Dehli... the signs of the economic growth is very evident, but so is the sameness
of the place.

In McLeod Ganj, On one hand you see growth in the business community and maybe this means a better economy for the Tibetan
People here... on the other you see so many of the same people doing the same things they were doing 4 years ago... this is
community.... Its a place that people can rely on.... The Children are happy and well cared for and they enjoy life with imagination
and simple things.

The same was true in Delhi... both in the Tibetan community of Majnu Katilla and to the wild and Crazy world of Chandi chowk...

India is on the Move... and in large part it is defining itself in the modern age while it seems to pay respects to its traditions and
beliefs....

Get out a lawn chair... and sit and watch.... It is an amazing show....

Feb. 1, 2010:
Jimmys' is the first place I ate when I came to Mcleod Ganj 4 years ago... its italian run and owned by Tibetans...

When I first went in, they had the Bee Gees on the stereo... it was a narrow little restaurant.... and it is a Tibetan business
success story...

today, it is up stairs, 4 times as large as the original, a stage for live music in tourist season and the best Chocolate Mousse
on the planet... Even today, by 7 most of the tables are filled with westerners... eating tibetan italian pizza, and drinking lemon
honey Ginger Tea... real lemon and fresh sliced ginger in every glass...

Eating in india is a real adventure... Mostly you just want to be alive the next day.... for those of you following this... its
not easy as you know, sazzy had a near death experience after lunch at one of the landmark 5 star hotels in delhi...

So far... I have survived... I Think Jimmy's has that album too... I can tell you... they are still playing the same Bee Gees sound
track...

My rule is: If you ate it today and lived... you should eat it again tomorrow...

Meanwhile, Sazzy met Tenchoe today... She is the little girl in the pink in visually and she is now 11 years old... And so bright
and polite.... All Tibetans are gentle... Tenchoe lives with Grandma while her parents are working on a visa in the U.S.

It was a very sweet meeting.... We had it at the snow lion restaurant....And there the favorite is Thupka, Porridge for breakfast and
French Fries in the afternoon... {another best on the planet)

Tomorrow we are finishing photographing at the Geden Nunnery.... today they were having tests for new commers....

So the trip is good... I think I will sign off... Look up the imperial hotel and just drop them a note about Poisoning Sazzy.

Its safer to eat Tibetan Street food... Veggie Momos ( use the google) Awesome.... and they won't kill you the way the fancy stuff
at the Imperial might....

Feb. 3, 2010:
Well, I had a 30 year old filling in a back tooth give out... no pain...but none the less, a broken tooth... but down the street a great
looking blue sign reads PERFECT 32.

Down the stairs.. and a sliding glass door looks in on a tiny but very neat reception room. A lady sits at the desk.
Receptionist Nadia greets you and then she transforms into assistant Nadia who ultimately becomes Dentist Nadia.
She put me in the chair... Explained the options and then made me an appointment for the next day at 2:30...

I returned at the appointed time... I was told to remove my shoes and get in the chair...

no muss and no fuss, the drill was in her hand... "if this hurts raise your hand, do not move your face."

Gotcha... no face moving..

Drill drill, no pain.... she applied the appropriate dental spackle and I was good or better than new...

Dentist Nadia became book keeper Nadia.... $14 .... Done deal..... meanwhile, two patients were waiting their turn with this
great dentist... Next....

Meanwhile... last night in the freezing room... I tried a new technique.... I turned on my 10-gallon hot water-on-demand
water heater and when ready filled up my 3 gallon bucket and set it steaming in the middle of my room... it does not heat the room,
but I could sit on the bed and dip my feet in it...

I call it my Tibetan Sauna.....

In between we did some voice over for the upcoming film...films.... and collected more raw footage.... along the streets....

Tomorrow at 7 a.m we begin the 11 hour drive back to Delhi... 2 days in Delhi and then its is off to Varanasi...

Varanasi may be a black hole for email reports.... The Tibetan community is really geared to accommodate tourists ....
so there are about 3 dozen email places on the three main streets and all within walking distance.... India... well not so much...
it is all going to have to do with what I stumble over.

One Tibetan friend here made a phone call to another tibetan friend at the Tibetan University near Varanasi so we have a contact....

But just a heads up if the reports drop off... The night of the 7th is the overnight train to Varanasi.....

We are on the ground there for 8 days....

Stay tuned..... Joe

Feb. 3, 2010:
Just a reminder that I am getting random bounce backs on the India reports. Yahoo automatically attaches some promotional
link that I cannot take off the email... its at the bottom and this causes some email addresses to randomly reject the emails....

If you miss a report, blame it on the Internet

Meanwhile, I hope you are enjoying and I hope you are sharing... and tell friends about
www.tibetanphotoproject.com

Thanks.....

Feb. 4, 2010:
We are all safe and sound in Delhi... it was so cold in Mcleod Ganj Last night that I fired up the Tibetan sauna... you know, the bucket of hot water in the
room for the steam... and soaked my freezing feet...

We were in the car and off and running at 7 a.m... it was uneventful... as uneventful as India driving can be in the land of no lanes and anything goes...
but we did have a flat in god-knows-where India... but

certainly a place not often visited by Westerners... changing the tire drew a crowd... not to help, just to be entertained... Sorry, nothing to see
here... I know how to change a tire... but hey, it was all warm smiles and handshakes and back on the road...

Some sight seeing tomorrow and tonight... if the hotel gets in its towels... there could even be a shower in my future....

More later... right now it off to dinner.....

Feb. 6, 2010:
Today was a random day in Delhi...First stop was a Buddha park... it turned out to be a nice family park with mainly grounds and a big buddha
statue in the center... This was a locals park and you really understand what it feels like to be an outsider in another country... Still it was nice...

That was followed up by the obligatory run through Connaught Place or Connaught Circle Delhi... get out your google.. This is Western style
Indian middle class shopping on a scale they can only do in India.

The drive asked how long and he suggested we time it before traffic picked up at 5... Imagine if you will the busiest freeway ever and then add
rush hour... and yet... it keeps moving... it never freezes up... but then what is a lane? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RjrEQaG5jPM

It is kind of sad to think that the India Identity is being lost to Levies and Dockers and Gap like stores.

here is an overview... and its all stores... the Palika Bazaar is all underground and when you look at the roof... it all gets kinda spooky... if you are not a fan of caves.... http://msmedinewdelhi.gov.in/msme_di_website/image/cp_centre_MAP.JPG

Tomorrow it is off to Varanasi... Besides its importance to Hindusim on the Ganjes... it is one of, if not the oldest continual city in the world.

Be sure to use the google video and image and info machine for Varanasi

The point of this is to check out one of the Icons of India, the silks of India which are being threatened by cheap Chinese imports...

To try to understand the scale... there are supposed to be 60,000 silk weavers in Varanasi and their family working in silks dates back to the
great silk road. The most recognizable icon of the Varanasi silk is the Indian Sarree worn by women... http://www.indiawithlove.com/trial/MTH511A.jpg

Also on the list is Sardath with a Tibetan University and the Buddha deer park that this is near...

Varanasi has been a bit of a wild card... so if you have been and have tips, we are still happy to get them.. real happy...

Send tips asap and we are off tomorrow eve... and we may fall off the internet Machine until we either nail down some I net cafes or...
return to Majnu Katilla... time on the ground in Varanasi is 8 days.... Wish us luck

Feb. 6, 2010
India train class seating is a little confusing... so lets say I made a little mistake...
I thought I booked first class... nice...

oops... well second class will be fine, a private room with 4 bunks... oops...

The good news... I did not book general... that would be a wooden bench and competition for a seat...

I managed 3AC (AC is supposed to mean air conditioning... ) and a bed.... I just found a great blog to share with everyone...
The sleepless sleeper... well its only overnight...
http://images.google.co.in/imgres?imgurl=http://www.openshaw360.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/india0637.jpg
&imgrefurl=http://www.openshaw360.com/sleepless-sleepers/&usg=__DGmBrhfNupE1Dslhq_xR4TkW09A=&h=540&w=
361&sz=89&hl=en&start=4&itbs=1&tbnid=_gxp62FQHb3qCM
:&tbnh=132&tbnw=88&prev=/images%3Fq%3DIndia%2B3AC%2Btrain%26gbv%3D2%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DG

Feb. 7, 2010
Arrived this morning... the train turned out to be a great experience... Internet in Varanasi seems to be a lot more limited... and its warm in here...

Will get to the details of this after being done here most likely....

But at first glance... Varanasi is an amazing photo wating to happen...

Stay tuned.... this is first morning... we will learn more over the next few days....

By the way. they have a log on system here that just logged off just before sending ... new challenges in India

Feb. 8, 2010:
If there is a goat with a shirt, its varanasi

This will be short... trying to beat the electricity and the internet failure...

Ok... yes that was a goat on one of the steps down to the river wearing a tee shirt...

Varanasi... and really get out the google for this one....It is all old, all contradictions,,, You buy Candles to float on the river to celebrate the human spirit from Children alone on the streets...

Buildings built in the 1200's have signs paitend on them advertising restaruants, hotels, services, etc... I guess it means the city lives also today....

I made it into a movie walking through the background ... two takes... invited by the director... Watch your video shelves for a Bengali Film called Aroha...

At sunset every night, there is a huge Puja or Prayer on the river at the main Ghat... (puja is prayer and Ghat is a stair that gateways to the river.)
A few of the buildings have high water markings and it appears that at times the Ganges could have been up to 100 feet higher than it is today....

If you want to know about Asia Politics as it relates to the West, google the Hindustan Times...

Any Indian is more world aware than most Americans.... Nothing personal... their news is just broader and more global in scope. I guarentee every
Indian is more world aware than that person who can see russia from her house.... I could not resist...

Example.... According to A recent Asia Poll, Most chinese would like to freeze American out of its business and because of U.S. Arms sales,
China can be expected to increase sales to Iran, and Cuba... and ho happy days... Any enemy of America.... Let me know if this is running on CNN

Yes, they do burn the bodies at two of the Ghats and photography is not allowed, but it is very public to viewing... and very elaborate in its
ceremony... This is supposed to help insure a good rebirth according to Hinduism.

VAranasi is the Hindu Vatican.... It is also the home of the Iconic Indian Silk which is suffering due to imports from China... Today... off to see....
some hand looms...

This is from the only internet here.... so Reports are gonna be slim to none as this is at the Assi Ghat which is at only one end of the Ghats....

More when I can ...

Feb. 11, 2010:
I don't know where I left off... so here is varanasi... because of Internet and electricity I will work to be Brief... WOW!

Toto, we are not in kansas any more and possibly not on this planet...

With Regards to The Tibetan Photo Project... There is a major Tibetan area in a very significant buddhist area called Sarnath...
Yes, get out the Google .... The Travel DVDs that we will produce will benefit the project.

With any place it takes a few days to even begin to find the rythm and the hows and where...

There is a maze of alleys behind the frontage of the Ghats on the Ganges river that are full of shops, internet and restaurants... It turns out that
Varanasi is a destination for a zillion Hindus ( India.s 1.2 billion people is 80 percent hindu) The lead deity is Shiva.. I think and I really suggest
you just get out Wikapedia and google if you want to know ... I have no clue... but this is one of the holiest, if not the holiest sites in Hinduism...
the Hindu Vatican ... if the vatican was on Drugs... which by the way are quite often offered in whispers on the street... Yikes.. and no thanks...

Walking along the riverfront, the most common greeting is Hello... Boat? meaning Hi there and do you want to take a boat ride on the Ganges River
along the Ghats... or Stairs that are the gateways to the sacred river...Ok the polluted sacred river... again ... it will destroy the romantic notions if
you google pollution levels on the ganges... but people bath, swim, and wash water buffalo in it... they wash clothes in it... They burn bodies next
to it... and for certain folks who cannont be burned, the sink bodies in it... supposed to be good for the next lifetime... Sinking is done by using rope
and tying the body to a slab of rock... and yep there is lots of ceremony to it and its all on view...

Holy men... I have not got much of this figured out... but they dress and do photo ops for money... I really don't know what is below the surface here...
Not planning to follow any of them home as they leave the ghats when the photo light goes away for the day...

People play cricket... and Varanasi is famous for its Silks... and its a big deal... but... China... (big surprise) has flooded the indian market with Cheap-ass
silks so they have done great damage to the Indian silk market... and why does this matter... The Indian Saree... the traditional dress of women is an
Icon of Indian Culture and the finest sarees are silk... hand woven on looms that go back generations...

Sazzy and I visited a place that has demonstrations looms on the lowest floor.... a hand woven saree takes 3 months to produce... The place we
visited had weaving on the bottom floor... sales on the second floor and living quarters for the family that has had this buisness for 7 generations....
Sazzy bought a Saree and will spend the rest of her life trying to manage the 6 yeards of cloth with the ease of every woman in India.... Google Sarees...
darn beautiful....

All this is a future documentary....

Its a real mix of culture, village craft work... cheap labor and environmental problems from the product production and waste... But.. A lot of muslims in
varanasi are silk weavers so it creates a social and economic link between groups that have not traditionally got along...

Ah.... India...

The foriegn crowd here is Bohemian and japaneese, Isreali, european and american... Most seem in search of something in the spirit... or just the exotic...

I like the visuals... There is henna painting... and we happened here on Wedding season... tomorrow is supposed to be an annual festival... we have no
idea what that means...

Kids work the ghats in territories, they paint hands with henna, they sell candles for the lighting ceremonies in the evening that fload thousands of
candles on the Ganges every evening... Water Buffalos just hang out and very occasionally make a weak attempt to charge a tourist here and there...

If they could they would charge for the photos ...

Little kids charge for photos... Holy men charge for photos...

One last word on water buffalos ... watch where you walk....

Yep, its all crazy.... When Its done, I am not going to have a clue about Hinduism... I am a tourist here for the view.... and photos.... and I will move on....

No, you cannot photograph burning bodies or their arrival as they are carried across town by friends and relatives and hired hands.... Just not the thing to do...

don't have friends and family, just bunjee it to the room of the car and bring it down... after the ceremony ... a better life next round...

Crazy? You betcha....

Would I miss it... well for a moment I considered leaving early... but its all in the discovery....

More to come....

Feb. 13, 2010:
Today was a day on the ghats and in the alleys behind the Ghats...

The Main Ghat is the site of hundreds of elaborate wedding parties.... The longer I am here the more I am understanding the photo access I have and
I spent a large part of today being ignored in the middle of wedding parties... The Women are in their brightest sarees and the steps of the Ghat is a
visual feast of Color and motion... The weddings are quite elaborate affairs and part of the event includes a party boat ride on the Ganges...

After that it was wandering around the alleys that are just off the main ghats.. at just about the end of the Day I came across a facility for Mother
Theresa's organization....

I intend to check that out further over the next day or so... Hopefully a car can be arranged for Sarnath, the buddhist area tomorrow...

Tonight there were monkeys knocking on my balcony door and a gecko in my room.... Have you ever tried to herd a Gecko? Those little suckers
do not just crawl straight up the wall, but they jump... and then you jump and pretty soon you and the gecko find yourself in the panic dance...
run for the door and if you are lucky the next time it jumps off of you, it will also be outside your room, but then when you open the door, you

have to watch out for the monkeys that would take just about any opportunity to pillage your room and eat your bar soap.... Fortunately my
gecko panic dance also scared off the monkeys...

Oh and it was laundry day... I took a harmless spill on a very wet set of steps on the gap but this makes it laundry day... which is a bucket
in the room with a mix of Barbasol shave cream, bar soap and head and shoulders.... And the easiest way to do laundry... start by turning
on the shower and jump in....and its clean clothes tomorrow....

Its a few more days here....3 full ones and then back to delhi..

Feb. 13, 2010:
American media rarely covers india... and when it does it rarely knows the geography... Online headlines talk about a bomb blast today....
backpack... Its in Pune which is not near here.... but in the south.... so if the news is going out.... no worries from here and prayers for the victims in the south....

Feb. 15, 2010:
As you walk along the ghats of the Ganges, you are constantly approached with greetings and offers for a boat ride... "Hello..... Boat?"

Today was a yes... none of this dawn stuff... besides its been foggy in the early morn... but by 10 a.m. we were in a boat... and a whole new
visual perspective on Varanasi....

Starting out just east of the Main Ghat and opting for an hour ride.... this is where all the photos of people bathing at the bottom of the
steps are taken.... .. you agree on a price and then once in the boat, the oarsman tells a tale of woe about his wife of 5 children having to
go to the hospital just this morning.... ...

The ride is slow and relaxing.... the rowing is light and does not disturb or jolt the boat. The guy at the oars has been doing it for 12 years...
there is an outside lane for Traveling east and a closer inside lane for the return trip....

You travel as far as you want... a few highlights are pointed out and the rest is quiet.... past the larger of the two burning ghats (where they burn the bodies)
is really quite erie... the amount of wood waiting to be burned.... and the funeral pires are lit with a flame that as been burning for 4000 years according
to a guide heard on a passing boat.... Our guy does not speak so much english, except for the story of his wife in the hospital.....

The photos are great.... The boatman puts on a little show with a package of treats to attract the seagulls.... .. on the return... trip he pulls into shore
ahead of schedule... wait... Just wait. and he runs onshore to a wall to take a pee... we will skip hand shakes on departure.... folded hands and a
Namaste greeting will finish this deal...

We get back to our starting point... What the heck... I agreed to 200 ruppees for the extended hour and I give him 300 just in case his wife is really
in the hospital.... hey... its my karma or his for telling such a story.... I would rather it be his karma at risk for a whole $2

Meanwhile... a little note about a ride through town yesterday... You do know you are in Varanasi if you see a body Bunjee tied to the roof of a
car on its way to the burning Ghat....

Only in India.....

Oh .... and because everyone wants to know... the Ganjes river water has no smell of any kind... That makes the boat ride far better than expected....

Feb. 16, 2010:
It is back on the sleepless sleeper train back to Delhi tonight.... It has been quite a stay in Varanasi....

Yes, they really do bunjee bodies to the tops of cars for transport to the Ganjes for the burning ritual....

It has been an exciting visual experience here... And the Indian people we have encountered have been extremely helpful and friendly....

The Leela Guest House Hotel.... is a basic facility, but the owner Rajeesh is a good guy providing jobs for a few villagers who have moved to the City....
For the price I would reccomend it.... For Westerners looking for Westerners... try the hotels at the Assi ghat... Leela is two-thirds of the way between
assi Ghat and the main ghat and gets its share of Westerners and Indians.... The small room price no frills is $7 a night.... The water is sorta warm....
sometimes.... and sometimes there is both water pressure and sorta warm at the same time..... Its India in the oldest City in the world....


The train does not leave until 7:15 tonight so there is still time to roam around for a few more frames.... Varanasi is always and never the same...
the way it has been for between 3000 and 5000 years depending on whose version of history you are reading....

For those of you thinking of traveling to India... until our DVD is ready... I suggest you get familiar with Indiamike.com

Off to capture those last frames before train time....

Feb. 17, 2010:
Well you can check off two traditional experiences for the seasoned traveler in India.....

It is 12:58 in the afternoon of the 18th here.... Just finished the overnight train ride from hell...

It was 5 hours late arriving in delhi... No explanation.... and about midnight I developed food poisoning and you can imagine the fun that was on an
Indian Toilet in a moving train.... The train was late arriving in delhi as everyone explained... Because...."Just indian railway" So now I have had two
classic Indian experiences... the sick seems to be on its down side...Just to say I am safe and relatively sound, this should be passed by tomorrow..
but right now... not the time for long emails.... more in the near future...Gotta run...

Feb. 19, 2010:
Well, I am pretty much back among the living... Whew... Spent the Day in Majnu Katilla and at a textile Expo in Delhi.. After Varanasi... and its all perspective,
Delhi looks clean and organized.... I have not seen a single cow in the street today yet...

It is Losar or Tibetan new year right now, but the Tibetans are not celebrating this year because it has been such a bad year for Tibetans under Chinese
control... Majnu Katilla is slow...

Here is a tip that I have come across in the travels... Do A google image check for the Adaman Islands which Sit between India and Thailand... they are
administered by India and accessable by a couple of airports in India...

I am not going, just got the tip when at a coffee stop in Varanasi... I guess there is a future international airport planned that will likely ruin the place...
but if you are looking for adventure in the near future... have a look...

That is about it for today... Here is knowing your losar is better than Tibetans living in Tibet.

Feb. 20, 2010:
Tonight is the dreaded overnight bus ride back to Dharamsala... dreaded only because I don't sleep when traveling... leaving a couple of days in
Majnu Katilla completely recovered from the train ride from hell... You gotta love travel inside India... The good news is that India's highways continue to
improve...

This will be the final leg of this trip... The key Photo op is the Dalai lama is giving a talk on the 28 at the main temple in McLeod Ganj...

Bus leaves at 6:30 p.m. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hcXVUi35Y4Q

Next email from Mcleod Ganj

Feb. 21, 2010:
Well I am still in Majnu Ka Tilla in Delhi... Sazzy is flying home on Schedule.... But I had a bus scheduled for tonight to Dharamsala... but... the seat was double
booked and really.... who wants to fight with a monk over a bus seat.... ?

Its all really ok and just so India... I am actually still awaiting some information for this next trip from the The Tibetan Department of Information and they
have lots to do besides answer my email....

The Momo soup is good here and this inspired me to upgrade to the first class bus for the next try.... it is after all $2 more...

I guess if you really had to look at it here from 4 years ago... The Tibetan community is showing some good signs of individual success when you get a
deeper look.. In their service industry of travel agents and restaurants and hotels they have really learned to cater to the western taste... This is not a bad thing...
We do after all have $2 more dollars for the upgraded bus ticket... All of us do....

In the restaurant this morning the music began with Frank Sinatra... and moved to Sammy Hagar and by the time breakfast was finished... Bob Dylan of course...

If there is a weakness, Tibetans are also repeating themselves... there may be too many travel agencies, restaurants and hotels... but then again, all their spots
seem really busy.... really busy... heck... double booked busy.....

Tibetans work their asses off... excuse my french... But you get up and they are already at work running their businesses and when you go to bed, the same
people are at work running their business.... and... they do not compete with each other.... never a bad word about the other guys, always recommendations
and referrals to try the other guys and if you are using the other guys, they are actually reluctant to take away anyone that might be their customer.

The hotel I am in ... Wongdhen Guest House is always full... they do the guest house, a usually packed breakfast, lunch and dinner crowd.... they do a fair
meaning a good rate for currency exchange business..... and they are efficient, polite, happy, nice.... the place is really clean.... and there is no turn over in
help... I was here 4 years ago....

Dinner is about a dollar... ad a drink and its a dollar and 20 cents.

There is a new coffee house that would rival any starbucks in presentation and decor.... "What if God was one of us" is the memorable song of today....
And the Capacinos and lattes and banana bread... well Starbucks... come and take some lessons.... The Banana bread which is just about a meal... is
60cents and the coffee is under a buck....

Oh... and when was the last time you ever saw a starbucks filled with monks and nuns in red robes.... ?

Yeah, the electricity went out while having coffee... and some guy with a screwdriver did try to solve the problem with a screwdriver and an an attempt to
rewire the entire box... He kept sticking something metal into the box to see if he had any current.... I guess if he gets a good shock, that is a good sign
that he is making progress... for the 30 minutes I watched he made no progress... when I came back through the electricity was back on and there were
no singed or smoking bodies in the area... it all gets taken care of....

I am rambling... because I am here longer than I should be... and because there is electricity.... and because the internet has not suddenly shu.................

Feb. 21, 2010:
Well I tried out a Tibetan with a new travel agency to book a bus and that did not go well when my seat was double booked with a monk and who is gonna
argue with a monk trying to get back to his monastery?

I was just trying to spread my business around... give the guy a while... Tibetans as I said work very hard at making their business work...

So.... I went back to the professionals at Tibetan Tours and Travel this morning and have an upgraded bus for the overnight run to Mcleod Ganj tonight...
I called and the guest house is keeping my room for me... so as India goes, I am happy... and I am also looking to wrapping this up and heading home...
one step at a time...

I am thinking about giving myself a night at the Norbulinka in one of their guest rooms... http://www.tibet.org/norling/facilities/guesthouse.html I mean....
this is where Richard Gere is supposed to stay when he is in the area...

And what a great place to wake up... and ... maybe there is actually cushion to the mattress.....

Off to find a book and get ready for the bus....

Feb. 22, 2010
It was a good overnight bus ride... making up for the train ride from hell ... Well, I mean, as overnight sitting up anything goes... this was a good one....
smooth and on schedule... and the bus did not go over any cliffs...

I am back in McLeod Ganj and it is still cold... While Delhi was heating up, there is light snow slush on the street here this morning...

The Guest house had my room ready to go... and I just need to find the guy who can throw the breaker for hot water and get a towel and it will be just like
a resort in the bahamas...

I do not know what the deal is here... no one has heaters... my fingers are freezing at the tips here in the internet cafe and heck, the guy who runs this place is
rubbing his hands like he is trying to start a fire with two pieces of wood...

Two Words... SPACE HEATER

But ... the air is cleaner.... and really if everyone had space heaters the power grid would suffer a heart attack.... so.... jacket and stocking hat .... and hands in
pockets more than on keyboard...

What this really means... Snow Lion Restaurant for a 45 rupee bowl of banana honey porridge, just to wrap my fingers around....

I am off to breakfast....

Feb. 23, 2010:
Well, for the first time, I put down the camera and just went for a walk following the overnight bus...

Mcleod Ganj has a number of coffee houses... Berkeley style ... and the western spiritual tourists who are here are wired and wi-fied...

Bits of enlightenment and self relization that used to flow from heart, to hand to pen to paper ... way back when ... are now being pounded and clicked out on
lap tops.
Cut and pasted wisdom is added and meaningful or meaningless conversations rise above the clatter of the keyboards... The coffee house sounds more like a news room than any sort of base of introspection... I say this as I click this out to you.... I am as guilty of clicking and the most enlightened Spiritual tourist.....

One man had his keyboard and his 5-days-to-enlightenment chart at the ready... It was obvious that his five day schedule to bliss was overloaded and made
even more exasperating because he was jacked up on his third beautifully made cappicino...

Meanwhile... young and very hip Tibetans who were producing some really fine specialty coffees, were choosing music they thought would appeal to a full
seating of Westerners and I Kid you not, they were all working feverishly while each of them mouthed the words to Shakira's "Hips don't lie"

Ahh The road to Nirvana... at least there is great coffee and Wyclef Jean's hip rattling duet with Shakira along the way....

But that was an hour ago... A monk just took up the computer and internet access across from me... Headphones on, he is tapping into to his skype account
and checking his address book on his cell phone.... He hears nothing but the sound inside his headphones... Elelectronic high tech Bliss... it is everywhere....
But then he can't hear himself either so he is shouting into his skype account...

I met Dawa on the road... Dawa is the Tibetan Travel agent who has taken care of many of the bits and pieces that it takes to travel India... this is not an enviable
profession... Not in India... If you need to book a bus Ticket or a train Ticket... mor often than not, you cannot log on... or even call... someone has to go to the station where Indians do not line up at the ticket windows and purchase the specific ticket needed... Dawa is a Saint... he greated me on the street taking both my hands and then offering a warm Tibetan bear hug... happy to get me yet another Bus Ticket... He is Tibetan Warmth and he travels from Mcleod Ganj to Delhi regularly... ad in every other week... and he is all heart, all hard working Tibetan through and trough... and he creates successfull businesses so he can put more Tibetans and Indians to work..... He just opened a great restaurant in Delhi in Majnu Katilla.

Tenzig is Wangden's brother... Stay with me now... Wangden made The Tibetan Photo Project's first movie... "Voices in Exile" With the equipment we supplied Wangden and the oppertunity for Wangden to get into America through a college exhibit... I am almost family when I come to town... Wangden is in America trying for permanent status... Tenzig is a former goat hearder turned businessman... successful business man... He was out of town on this trip's earlier run through Mcleod Ganj... Today he was in his Jewelery store selling Tibetan jewlery right and left when I walked in unannounced. He immediately ordered up lemon honey ginger (no tea) and gave me another warm Tibetan hug... He finished his sale... we discussed his decision to close his guest house and convert it to offices... and We discussed the prospects of his brother as an immigrant in post 9/11 America...

I finished my Lemon Ginger Honey (no tea)

We said some warm good byes and he began selling to the next customer that showed up...Tenzig will travel on business to the U.S. for 4 months next year... Business in India is good for Tenzig..

Click click click and sending your way... someone here just announced that their day just crashed with the dreaded blue screen of death... pushing send now...

Feb. 23, 2010:
I want to start with a P.S. to an entry that you should have today from an earlier entry....

This is on the surreal nature of what is becomming the soundtrack that runs behind the India experience...

Yes, out in the street, you hear the tibetan music and the chants and things you would expect to hear coming from vendors selling local music...

Local music is just not the soundtrack of socializing ... i.e. going out to dinner etc...

I did make some notes on some of the coffee house background today.... and you might want to find that note first... but here is the topper from tonight and
going out to dinner (Under $2) with a Tibetan Monk Named Tenpa...

Tenpa has been a long time friend and he has really been a guide this time around to some very unique access. I gave him a donated Olympus camera tonight
and he was thrilled... All hardware, extra memory card, card reader and extra set of batteries... On his own, he has signed up for a Computer class that is costing
him 3000 rupees...

Back to the music... We went out to dinner tonight... and we walked in on the soundtrack to The Love Boat... Tempa pick up on melodies very quickly and within
a verse and a half, he is hum-singing the soundtrack to the love boat... He is very musically sensitive and this pattern repeats itself through an instrumental
version of somewhere over the rainbow and something from the benny goodman era.... I was amost tempted to put him to the test on a series of youtube
selections... If the boy was locked in under a set of headphones... Now that would be some kind of footage...

But meanwhile... Its Pizza, fried Rice and a monk humming along loudly and in tune to the theme song from "The Love Boat."

I also thinks he sings when happy and he was darn happy about his "new" Camera... thanks to donors..... this is how it gets done....

Oh and why should I be the only person stuck with this playing in my head

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_wFEB4Oxlo
enjoy... seriously... you just cannot make this stuff up...

Feb. 23, 2010:
I asked everyone at the start of the trip not to respond to the updates... I just did not have the time to respond... but as the trip winds down.... if you have been
following the emails.... if you have any thoughts or responses... drop me a note... I will be closing out this email a week after the end of the trip...

Thanks for joining me along the way...

Visually, Joe Mickey

Feb. 24, 2010
Yesterday's beat this was pretty good.... so today... I beat it...
You can have three music choices to go with this to get you in the mood...
If you want a bit of heart... then go here... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5DnVUMBTGO8

Or if you are still feeling the enery from last night you can return to the local ambiance of the hip Tibetan coffee house and the Tibetan crew that was fired up
and mouthing the words to this one to dance through their day.... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bEHVw_vcp-A

Or you can go contemporary Tibetan with Phurbu Namtyal... my personal favorite Tibetan singer
Phurbu Namgyal http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aw66wPng3X8

So while you are picking out your song and setting the mood to join us...

It has been a good day... there were 2000 monks and nuns chanting at the main temple today in advance of the Dalai Lama's teaching on the 28th...

We have been waiting word and we stopped by the Department Of Information and International relations and

Here is where you turn up your music choice

We have permission to photograph the Dalai Lama at the entry of his program

So... that beats yesterday....

I think this will be the last Beat this

so turn up the volume and join us in spirit in India... its been a darn good day....

Also, as the trip ends... forget the rule about not responding here...

We would love to hear your thoughts on The Tibetan Photo Project and/or this series of reports....

Visually and Respectfully, Joe Mickey and Sazzy Varga (who is back in CA. )

and turn it up

Feb. 25, 2010:
Well this is now officially the last week.

I thank everyone for the comments on this series of reports while in India.... I still hope to hear from everyone... This email will close about two weeks after I get
back to the U.S.... I also want to thank you for joining us on this journey...

Be sure to tune in tomorrow... we have been asked to supply the recipie for Honey, Lemon, Ginger Tea....

I just wrapped up the Day with Mousse and Cappucino at Jimmy's to the sound of an Italian Latin version of Sinatra's "I Did It My Way." By the way... you do
hear sinatra here quite a bit....

But... that is not the music choice today...

Mcleod Ganj as a walk around has a cycle... and its photograph walk photograph... repeat... but there is always music on the streets

from the music vendors and from the Restaurants... and on the walking/photo cycle and return cycle... it was clear that one restaurant had brought out the
whole stack of early beatles albums....

Now here is the thing about hearing some songs... they are like scents and they instantly and without notice transport you to times in your life you might have long forgotten... So if you would like to join this report in spirit here are your choices...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2fDUb57_xk
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6FarJhsXUqo

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6TIEkB4_F8
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NzJ2NKp23WU

turn it up....

One thing that I have found as a distraction it Westerners who feel they have somehow "Gone Native" via fashion...

Westerners do not wear Indian fashion well... for the most part... there are rare exceptions... But there are these god awful pants that no self respecting Indian wears that are shapeless droopy diapers in bright colors and paisley that Westerners somehow envision as enlightened and Native... It is really sad...

The word on the street is that the Dalai Lama gets back in town tomorrow... extra prayer flags are everywhere....

I have stopped by the local movie houses here which show movies via big screen TV and DVD and dropped off a copy of Visually and Respectfully Yours to add to their libraries... These magic little show places have Avatar on DVD and all the latest and pepper their schedules with Tibetan films including Kun Dun, 7 years in Tibet.... etc....

I also made a call to check on my press pass because it occured to me that they are promising delivary on Saturday... and when was the last time any government office was open on Saturday?

I was told there were special arrrangements were being made for my pass and for Saturday Delivary....

We will see... But it sounds promising... http://www.dalailama.com/teachings/schedule

Tomorrow is just more wandering for shots.... but the treats never end....

There are at least two films in the works... We will pick up where Visually left off... Tenpa has a new Still Camera and is taking a computer course... we should have perspective from him and he is the one that put together the trip to Norbulinka

The New Film From The Tibetan Photo Project will be "Save Tibet... Why?" Which is the note that Visually Ended on....

And we are doing an India 101 intro Travel DVD...

You are cetrtainly welcome to reserve your copies early.... It will also help pay for this extravganza... the India Travel film will also benefit The Tibetan Photo Project... and it opens a door to a larger audience....

So.... That is the news....

Again... we encourage you to drop us your thoughts.... and thanks for coming along this far....

Visually and Respectfully, Joe Mickey and Sazzy Varga
http://www.tibetanphotoproject.com
Look for Visually and Respectfully Yours online at Cultureunplugged.com... when you get there run a search for the title...
Check out The Tibetan Photo Project On Youtube

We are doing what we can to help... so don't be shy, consider a donation or purchase.... and tell Friends.....

Feb. 25, 2010:
Ok... I don't know anything about this... but there will be a live stream from India during the Dalai Lama's teaching where I will be photographing the Dalai Lama for The Tibetan Photo Project.. You can go to this page and find the live stream down the right side of the page...

Keep in mind the time and date differences in your area... its too big a math problem for me to figure out

here is the link

http://www.dalailama.com/teachings/schedule
Live stream info is down the right side...

Feb. 26, 2010:
Today was A national geographic photo moment....

With a growing number of monks chanting at the temple in advance of the homecoming of The Dalai Lama, let me try to paint a picture... A large part of the temple area is sort of a huge open air patio... in the afternoon, the sun steams in but behind the monks.. Nice rim lighting, but mainly flat lit silhouettes But... one monk's position put him directly in front of a yellow wall... that was being hit with a shaft of light about the size of his face .. a face full of Character.... this wall as a relector not only front lit his face and all its rich character... but in an area filled in outlined shadows... his face glowed among the shadows of his fellow monks and nuns... I am telling you, this was a national geographic moment... it lasted about 10 minutes as the sun moved out of position to the space on the wall...

Word on the street here is that The Dalai Lama arrives home tomorrow... sometime after noon... one sign is that temple road will be lined with monks when the time becomes known... I am getting my word from the monk Tenpa...

Tenpa is loving his new camera

Tomorrow morning, I go and get my press pass for Sunday....

Meanwhile.... a couple of recipes for Lemon Honey Ginger Tea ( as promised)

With or without tea...

Ginger-root 5 slices 1/8 thick 1 1/2 inches long.
Lemon- using a potato slices slice off 5 or so pieces of rind 2 inches long
Honey to taste
Hot water in a glass.

or

peel a ginger root, cut into little slices like shoestring potatoes or grate...
Squeeze a lemon.. Juice and pulp
Honey
Hotwater
Mix it in a glass to suit your taste of each flavor...

The key is a glass... not a cup... just leave room at the top of the glass so you can handle it....

Now if you want it to be honey Lemon Ginger tea... Just add any simple black tea bag and strenghten to your taste... In India they use a lot of tetley.. nothing fancy...

Its great either way...

Feb. 26, 2010:
The word was on the street Yesterday... the Dalai Lama was returning home...First time since meeting with Obama.

He would be arriving every half hour depending on who you asked... The earliest was 8 a.m and the latest was 2 p.m. and all times were given with authority....

The Town has been decorating for the past two days, plus all the chanting at the temple stuff...I am a photographer... I record what there is to see... for understanding try the google machine...

This morning the word on the street was still the same: the dalai Lama was returning every half hour until about 2 p.m....

But he might be in by 9... well heck... I had the appointment to pick up my press pass at 9;30 and that is when I got the definative answer... aske a taxi driver... The Dalai Lama was on a flight that would arrive in Dharamsala at 10 a.m. and that with the security escort would make for a 10:30 arrival.... Bet money on it...

So it is offical... I have my press pass in hand to film the teaching tomorrow ... then I went back... the streets were lining up at 9:45 I found a position.... slightly above the crowd and If no one pushed me from my spot one story off the ground, I would not fall to my death or injury... It was crowded but I did not surrender my spot at the edge... toes hanging over... The crowd lights insense... not whimpy sticks, but entire handfulls of sticks...

Crowd photos... crowd photos... at 10:22 a guy taps me from behind and points across the valley... a string of cars is minutes away.... 8 minutes to be exact... ask a cab driver.... the crowd is 4 to 8 deep along the side of the road...

Here it comes.... there it goes... at 40 miles an hour.... the crowd of thousands is satisfied and goes home.

Time... 10:31

Well the crowd shots are interesting.... Today is all about the luck of timing ....

Tomorrow I am supposed to have a front line position when he walks in... not at 40 MPH

and I am free to move about....Not quite all access but really pretty darn good...

Tomorrow night this trip begins to wind down.... Overnight Bus back to Delhi and then wait for a plane ....

Next stop... the editing machine....

Reminder... this email will shut down two weeks after I get back home... Thanks for coming along on this journey
Don't forget to look up the live stream of the teaching tomorrow at dalailama .com go to schedule... and I have no idea how live stream works or what you need. but remember your time and date difference....

Now... coffee

Feb. 27, 2010:
To set the scene, there is the temple and in front of it, a large cement court yard. Please, rmember the cement part.

The Dalai Lama has a raised Seat at the front door of the Temple and addresses the audience via a pretty nifty sound system.

At the oppisite end of the court yard is the entrance to his compound... and there was a red carpet running from his compound gate to his seat... The distance is maybe 25 yards or a little more.

People sit on the ground ( hard cement) and leave a path kept secure by Security . Tibetans have this down... they bring cushions and most do a pretty good job of sitting for hours cross legged...

I was told to get to the temple at 7 a.m. for the Dalai Lama's scheduled 8:30 teaching.... I had a suspicion... I went at 6 a.m and the place was packed... The spot I had scouted the day before was long gone and that guy was never getting out of it... Ind fact, he was still wedged between a fence along the red carpet and a pole when I left the grounds

I turned on my journalistic insticts and training and ignored the sign that said "foriegners area" Coming in, because of my press pass I was put through Locals secuity... Now, that was a pat down... Yikes.

I located the main camera that The Tibetans had set up to record the program... and set my butt down next to it.. on hard cement 4 rows of Tibetans on beautiful soft cushions from the front. I din't want the Tibetan's camera angle, but he had the head set, he would know what was going on...

Right on schedule at 8:30 he aims the camera at the steps and the Dalai Lama's Procession is coming down the stairs... score... Thre is an entry ceremony and the Dalai lama took his perch... This teaching would be in Tibetan...I collected footage and had no clue as to what was being said... other Tibetans with cameras would all take up shooting positions all of the sudden... the dalai lama would be telling a joke... the great shot is him laughing at his own jokes.

Now, did I mention hard cement... yeah... I had no cushion... and i don't sit cross legged... fortunately, the wires to the camera created a clear area and I could squirm and stretch...on the hard cement...

Don't get me wrong, while I understood nothing the cadence (as someone else said on the way out... not me) sounded like Yoda... and the Dalai Lama is pleasently annimated and he is the Dalai Lama. Its pretty entertaining and engaging... even on hard cement....

This was a short teaching 1.5 hours and 6 minutes and 23 seconds on hard cement....

I made one move thinking I would head to the back and get crowd shots... and considered leaving... and then duh... The Dalai lama would walk out to the gate of his compound and my seat was 4 rows back on the red carpet... I scurried back to my seat on the hard cement....

When he leaves no one rises... Security frowns on anyone who rises... and think about it, its hard to charge someone when you are on your knees on hard cement... For the Tibetans this is all Standard respect...

Anyway.. consider at the widest angle how close do you have to be to get a head and shoulders image and a direct look into the Camera...

It does not matter that I cannot feel my feet... Did I mention I just sat on hard cement from 6 a.m to 10:06 a.m.

It is all about getting the shot.... and I now have it...

Tonight is the bus back to Delhi...

I will be lying very low... and have plenty of time for your emails.... I would like to hear from you....

This email for this Trip to India will close two weeks after I get back...

Photos will be posted online and 2 films are in the works. Feel free to help fund the project by reserving your copy early... We may even provide a bonus photo DVD for hours and hours of fun....

Again, thanks for coming along in spirit... don't be shy... drop us a note.

Visually and respectfully yours,

Joe Mickey and Sazzy Varga
The Tibetan Photo Project
www.tibetanphotoproject.com

Tomorrow... a recipe for Thukpa

Feb. 28, 2010:
Before I begin... its a little tough to keep up on the News, but certainly prayers for Chile, Haiti, and France... Whew!

_________________________________________________________________________________________

Ok... I am in Majnu Katilla... overnight on the Gigantic Volvo First Class Bus...

Now this bus is a full lane wide....But then so are the trucks in India...

Last night around midnight, some guy was out on the road with a road block.... And While I do not understand hindi, this was a WTF moment and there was a bit of a stand off to see who would budge... finally the bus did a U-turn and the alternate route was a 1-lane tree tunnel that ran for miles. Oh and it was a trucking route... for trucks going in the other direction... Now keep in mind the bus is one lane wide... the trucks are one lane wide and the road is one lane wide lined with trees... not a lot of extra room..

Now here is the deal in India... no one stops... there is no right of way... people just get out of the way... now that was interesting... My seat... first one... directly behind the driver... whooooo hooooooo e-ticket...,

Volvo Bus... India... http://www.motorbeam.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/volvo_bus_india.jpg
Transport Truck, India http://www.india-travel-secrets.com/images/india-transport-truck.jpg

Ok... I have to learn how to sleep on these drives...

I will get my hotel room and not move...

Safe on the ground in the alleys of Majnu Katilla

I had breakfast and the group Included a Tibetan Lama who spent 10 months being tortured in a Tibetan Prison, and was released when China was trying to fix its image after Tiananmen Square... Today he is an Australian citizen and he can now travel to Tibet as an Australian and has a Childrens educational charity working inside Tibet... All because of the status of his paper work....

March, 2, 2010
I have 2 more days here in the Tibetan Community of Majnu Ka Tilla... so who knows, I may have more final final thoughts.

India is amazing and India is hard.

Getting anywhere is a major effort even under the best of circumstance. And India both boggles the mind and can wear you down.

I am at the front of the heat that will consume a lot of India into August when the monsoons come and offer only soggy relief.

The beggars are tough to take, men, women and children and often teams and combinations of any of the above. It is a society without a safety net. Maybe the modern economy will change some of this...

I came for the Tibetans, and I am finishing this trip in the Tibetan community of Majnu Ka Tilla in Delhi, a city of 15 million people.

It is a joy to be in this oasis in a crazy place. and yet, Varanasi which is 3.5 million people felt like Delhi on Steroids... except for the calm of Sarnath and again the Buddhist community and the Tibetan presence.

The Tibetans have made the most of their opportunities in India as refugees. Many are getting higher education and most are very dedicated to preserving their culture while preparing for the modern world and its challenges.

Many Tibetans are seeking to exit India... for America, Europe, Japan, Taiwan, South America and Australia. A place with a path to citizenship means the power of a passport that would allow them to go to Tibet.

In my own experience, Westerners have only a small grasp of Tibet, china or the Tibetan situation or culture and society.. Yes, it has its human problems... but, overall it is focused on creating the tools for a happier and more well balanced human being. The love and care given Children in this society are not work, it is just life. And the children reflect it in their dynamics with each other.

Then there is the whole buddhism thing. Trust me, I don't get much of it and Tibetan buddhism in particular is extremely complex... but here is what I do know... The Western media when required to report on it, often misses the point. Starting with the Dalai Lama who they like to refer to as a "god king.".. As he says, he is a simple monk, and a conversation with a Tibetan Businessman on the overnight bus explained it to me as a westerner, he is a leader, a good leader and Americans might understand him as a most respected father and a teacher of children grown and small. He is an example of a life well lived with purpose, and the man works his tail off for peace and for the Tibetans. Just long on and check his amazing schedule in service to his people and the world at large.

So. the next report you see with "God King" you can know the reporter and reporting agency just does not get it and he or she was lazy and looking for bumper stickers to write their report.

Tibetans off er a different society and it is also the same. They have businesses and stores and they work extremely hard, but they are fair and honest and they all contribute back into their community with a heartfelt sense of duty. Business is created to make money, but also to employ other Tibetans and Indians. The do business honestly and unlike India, they have not adopted the hustle and one fair price fits all. So, seriously, if you are going to travel india and need the help of an agency, get a Tibetan agency to help you as much as they can and as you need.

I have been fortunate to even glimpse even this close... Tibetans are dignified and warm and friendly... but they are not grasping at Westerners... They are strong and they know they are their own salvation. They deserve respect... Collectively they dedicate their lives to preserving their culture and ethics while still adapting to a changing world. And yes, they are humans and there are Tibetans who have worn monks robes to cheat people... they are humans...

If you ever have the opportunity via a film, an exhibit, a sand mandala, a cultural presentation, a local event... meet them for yourself.

Monks are not unapproachable... There is one on skype next to me having a pepsi... the only unapproachable aspect is language...

These are just wonderful people trying to get through life in an honorable, meaningful and useful way.

That is more than enough... This is why the effort needs to continue, the world needs this at its core.

I want to thank you again for joining us on this trip. It seems like 10 years ago when Tenpa greeted us at the airport with white katas.

A simple gesture that makes you feel so privileged to be allowed in to their world... and I can tell you... it is a great privilege.

.If you have not visited the Website for a while, stop by and take a new look at the photos and the perspective that is their gift to all of us.

I want to thank my traveling companions who are now back home. I hope this trip continues to enrich your life as you revisit it in your own film, photos and memories.

Visually and Respectfully, Joe Mickey

www.tibetanphotoproject.com

Sazzy Varga, Co-founder and Webmistress

March, 2, 2010:
I have not talked about the Tibetan family, but generally its extended and a lot of grown children live with parents and even grandparents. I have seen this carried over into Tibetan homes in America..

Now you are going to need music for this story
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zCv907sU1iY
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qafLBd3c2H4

Its the end of the day and I just stopped in at the Starbucks like coffee house in Majnu Katilla.

I take my seat, which was the only one available as timing would have it, because before my order of cappucino and banana bread arrived, the place cleared except for the two people across from me..

Now I have to guess here because the discussion was in Tibetan, but given the distictive resemblance I would guess given the age of the woman between 25 and 30 and the man who was in his eighties this was a grandfather and granddaughter. The father had the distict marking on the sides of his head that I have learned are scars from shock treatment torture by the Chinese... and given his age, its likely he followed the dalai lama out of Tibet in 1959.

I am also guessing by dress, quality of clothes and labels, haircut and style of jewelery and makeup that this is now a Tibetan family living in the West. The Grandfather was in dockers, fine tennis shoes and a pressed yellow polo shirt. This was on my best guest a visit to relatives.

The father was having a cappucino and the granddaughter a chocolate milk shake... but what was so exceptional was the quality of discussion they were having . He obviously adored her and she returned it in the tone and attention they each gave to the conversation. This went on for about 10 minutes, then he pulled out an American style wallet and gave her the money to pay the bill the way a grandfather would with a modern woman.

A Tibetan once explained to me that a house was lonely without the parents and grandparents around. Everyone does their share of the work. I earlier mentioned that tibetan children are raised with a great deal of attention and love and that simply seems to carry through in life without effort or thought. It just is.
It is beautiful to watch.

On the way out, the granddaughter did not fuss, but was close at hand as the grandfather made it up the stairs.. This was a man who coming to india could not have avoided some unimaginable hard times. Today he was happy, basking in the light of his bright young granddaughter and she was happy simply basking in his love.

This is Tibetan.

As they left, a young couple, clearly on a date came in. Both very formal. young Tibetans are not sloppy romantics but clearly on a date.

March 5, 2010:
Home ... safe ... sound and dead tired.

A completed wrap tomorrow... along with the pomised thupka recipe

March 7, 2010:
This is my last call if you would like to receive photos from the India Adventures for The Tibetan Photo Project. Please email me you confirmation.

Visually, joe mickey

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