Madeline’s German friend Gerd took advantage of the free wifi in the park in Paris and an internet cafe in Dehli to send us this contribution.
Let’s start at the historic site of Notre Dame in Paris, where I pass along using my free time before my plane leaves tomorrow. It’s not really that warm to sit outside in the park of this famous church with a view of the Seine, but it’s still ok, and this early December….
The idea of the travel which I started this morning amidst a magnificient reddish dawn in Auvergne, where Madeline lived before as well, is to travel to India and Nepal with the aim to meet people who met the 16th incarnation of the great Karmapa, who actually is seemingly incarnated in two 17th Karmapa incarnations. With a little luck I will meet both of them during my stay there. Let’s see what comes out of it!
Five minutes after arriving in the park I became witness to two young women stealing the money of two Japanese tourists, and thus could offer my knowledge of English to the Gendarmarie Paris. The invitation to their local office I couldn’t refuse, it was so friendly and I had the strong wish to see it, in spite of my 22kg backpack.
Later I met with friends and passed a nice evening before leaving the city from Charles de Gaulle airport.
One person in the boarding area, an elderly woman, looked slightly Buddhist. I wished to sit on the left at the window, and when I boarded there was a place free and so I sat there and I had this woman as my neighbour.
I should have studied the worldmap before, because we crossed my homeland Germany right over Freiburg where I come from, so I should have wished a right-hand place. Too late!
My neighbour was very interesting. She had left Czechoslovakia in the moment of the Russian invasion in 1968; has lived in Paris since and passes the winter in Dharamsala, the place of exile of the Dalai Lama.
We were lucky: The airplane was late and so we arrived in Delhi right on time to take the first metro.
The Karmapa International Buddhist Institute (KIBI) is situated in a rich “institutional” quarter of Delhi. So the start was soft and not that typical for the country. When I drove to the inner city to buy my train ticket, I was reminded of the four times the Buddha left his palace to see old age, sickness, etc. and this is in spite of the fact that Delhi is, of course, one of the richest parts of India – a country which had during my first visit 18 years ago even in Delhi, a few cars – and only British inspired Ambassador taxis, with a vintage design of the 50’s.
KIBI itself hosts 12 motivated students on a new BA course, as well as some Lamas and the friends of the administration of the 17th Karmapa Thaye Dorje. The atmosphere was friendly, warm, harmonious: in short, welcoming. So my start in “Incredible India” was very agreeable.
The work on the project I have mainly in mind was more difficult. There were two Lamas in their eighties who knew HH16th Karmapa back from his days in Tsurphu. But some of the old monks don’t understand the richness of what they could tell. When I asked for accounts about Tsurphu, one of them replied : “I have my texts about the history in Ladakh, please come there…”! They consider the textual knowledge as the only thing really of importance…! (By the way: Ladakh is covered under snow and tourists go there only from May to October, otherwise I would have accepted the invitation with delight).
With the other possible sources it was slightly better. A meeting was postponed, which leaves at least some hope, but nothing to count on…
(to be continued)
Now I am in an internet café, crossed a wedding, they are really crazy. Being still in good shape it’s really fun!
(Here the temperatures only by night are a little cold – otherwise perfect…)