the Dalai Lama turns 81

Happy Birthday to His Holiness. May it be a day of peace and giggles.




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All over Tibet we would come upon piles comprised of rock and other things, all carved with Tibetan scripture.

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The Potala Palace. The top of the brown section is the home of the exiled Dalai Lama.

entrance to the Dalai Lama’s home

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At the top of the Potola Palace in Lhasa, Tibet.

Potala Palace

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I don’t know what it’s like now, but in 1987 a traveler could enter the grand Potala Palace and explore every part of it, including the private residence of the exiled Dalai Lama. The Tibetans themselves entered the palace with great reverence, restricting their activity and maintaining postures of humility. But we were dumb foreigners and at that time completely unaware that there was a man known as the Dalai Lama who had to flee the Chinese occupation of Tibet for fear of imprisonment or worse. We traipsed around the Dalai Lama’s private quarters taking it all in while the Tibetans kept themselves at the entrance and did not enter. Sometimes when you travel you don’t know the real significance of what you’re seeing. The fuller impact of your experience can come much later, as was the case for me in Tibet.

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Barkhor Square

Lhasa, Tibet. 1987. Shot taken from the roof of the Jokhang Temple.

Lhasa, Tibet, as it appeared in 1987. Shot taken from the roof of the Jokhang Temple. Notice in the far background on the right side of the frame the magnificent Potala Palace–home to His Holiness the Dalai Lama before he was forced into exile.

Potala Palace, Tibet

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The way it looked in 1987. At the very top is the home of the Dalai Lama, which I had the chance to see. The Tibetans themselves stayed outside.