Tuesday, November 17, 2009
The Tibetan people are probably the most interesting people I've come across. Every aspect of their culture makes them stand out from the crowd. Firstly, you notice the traditional dress. I've never been to a country where such a high percentage of the people remain in their traditional clothing. The clothes are often very colourful but what is very interesting is those sleeves that hang all the way to the floor. When I ask them, 'What is the long sleeves about?', I'm told; it keeps the hands warm when they are riding their motorbikes or they are great for swinging about the place when dancing. Traditional Tibetan dance is the complete opposite to traditional Irish. When Tibetans dance, they swing their arms around like crazy, and while Irish dancers often stare straight ahead and have a face like stone, one of the key things with Tibetan dance, is to keep smiling. Its contagious. I often thought the Dali Lamas' book, The Art of Happiness could be more fittingly described as 'The Art of Self-Deception', but these people seem so genuinely happy. Music, singing and dance seem such a part of these peoples lives. In restaurants we hear singing coming from the kitchen. In hotels, its not unusual to hear Tibetan staff singing confidently throughout the hotel. On the road, long sleeve Tibetan boys roll be on their motorbikes with big smiles and loud music blarring from their speakers. Chart music here display mountains, yaks, rivers, wildlife and traditional Tibetan costumes as commonly as chart music videos in Ireland show African-Americans with big jewellery driving fancy rented cars. The Tibetans know they are popular around the world and so are very welcoming to tourists. Most people pity and sympathise their struggle against the take over of their country from the stronger China, in the same way as most people would feel towards Ireland's history and its conflict with the more powerful nation of Britian. They have the exiled, Nobel prize winning leader of the Dali Lama on their side. This hugly respected leader is the pride and joy of the people as he continues to try to resolve their struggle through peaceful means. Some of the areas I visited were up to 97% Tibetan and the people I visited were some of the most colourful friendly and welcoming people I have ever met.