22 August 2011

The Tibet Chronicles No 1 (Annette Andrews)


 Andrews. Tibet 2009. All Rights Reserved.

(originally published 2011 on Hipptrip)

The Tibet Chronicles No 1 
 by Annette Andrews

            For six weeks I shared space with a Taiwanese Buddhist Master.   Our meeting of two life paths intersecting at faith.  We were both journeying to NE Kham in Sichuan China with one of our favourite humans, a Tibetan Rinpoche who was only a few years older than myself. A Buddhist with an infection laugh and ESL sense of humour.  Ri Yu Shiu, a Taiwanese nun, had already lived many lives.  She  became a widow early, and raised her children, and saw them off into their own lives, and then became a Buddhist. One day, she walked out of one life into her expanding destiny.  Over 50, she became a Buddhist nun.  She lives as a Master practitioner in one of the many nunneries that pepper the Taiwanese countryside. 
               Ri Yu Shiu spoke no English and I no Mandarin.  But, her soft, slight presence emanated big around her.  We struck a fast friendship that was limited in communication, and hinged on a language that neither of us fully understood - Tibetan.  Our bond formed through singing Tibetan mantras on dusty buses.  Us, jostled and too near raging river torrents and ominous mountain walls ripe for a slide. Our bus, comical as it  was, barreled along or puttered around hairpin turns while we prayed. 
Andrews. Tibet 2009. All Rights Reserved.
             Later, after arriving to Ashuk village we took to holding captive in our tent a self-appointed translator, who as a Chinese medical doctor working in Vancouver, had a good grasp of English.  Philip was volunteering his skills and administering medicine and consultations to remote villagers along our way - in the evenings we held him in confusing gesticulations, deep sighs and big smiles. Ri Yu Shiu and I weaved our way through a new form of master-student friendship.  There we sat, crossed-legged  and enjoying each others presence unruffled by Philip's fervent looks and pleas to let him escape.  Our translator struggled through broken English and far too quick synopses, but we persevered.  

Andrews. Tibet 2009. All Rights Reserved.
                   All this transpired in the evenings over vegetable Pocky, instant hot almond cereal, and Asian chewy peanut brittle usually decorated with a share of insects solidified like a fly paper collage. Sometimes 'too crazy too remote' feelings, together with velveteen moths and dark ominous winged creatures, blind-sided us, flew into our heads, punctuated our insights, encircled the dangling flashlight overhead and eventually, heralded in a night thick with dreams and sounds.



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