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Monday, 4 August 2014

people-watching in Tibet….

Little Tibetan boy, peeking out at my daughter from behind his mother. Photo by Ariel Tarpey.

People-watching in Lhasa must rank amongst the best in the world.

Newly arrived tourists with their white scarves. Nomads in traditional dress, come in to the city to sell their wool, long hair in a single braid wrapped around the head with a scarf woven into it. Stylish young Chinese girls wearing 6" heels. Boys in black leather and skinny jeans. Women wearing surgical masks made out of sari silks to shield their faces from the sun, to keep their skin white. Young people wearing t-shirts with unlikely English slogans -- do they know what they mean? The young and the edgy, with prayer beads firmly in hand. Small children peeking shyly or staring openly at my white-skinned, purple-haired daughter. Pilgrims prostrating themselves in prayer. Others spinning their prayers to god, prayer wheels kept perpetually in motion. Red-robed monks hailing taxis, checking their cellphones. 

Rickshaw drivers competing with cars and trucks. Cyclists and motorcyclists by the swarm. I watch them to see how many things they can pile on, and how they will balance them.  Whole families on bikes, no helmets on. Kids on parents' laps in cars, or leaning out the windows. Kids everywhere, picked up and carried by parents -- no strollers, no backpacks, no shawls. Pedestrians crossing busy streets at their own risk, guided by rules -- or luck -- that I can't discern.

People playing dice, or washing their hair on the streets. Bartering for goods, or measuring lengths of cloth in street-side tailor shops. Street vendors following us down the street. Beggars and bold children asking for money. Thoughtful Tibetans with their hands full of small bills, doling out compassion, turning the wheel of karma.

Top left photo: an older man spinning prayer wheels on a street in Lhasa.
Top right photo: Linda from Lhasa with my daughter.
Bottom right photo by Ariel Tarpey.
Bottom left photo: a Chinese tourist with my daughter.

Monks inside Jokhang Temple.

For more posts about my time in Tibet, click here, here, here, or here.

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