Their stories are as heart warming as their thukpas and momos. Their infectious smiles can often deceive you in believing how comfortable and at home they are. Displaced and exiled, these Tibeteans have braved hardships, tortures and a threat to their cultural existence before embarking on a journey to freedom on the other side of the Himalayas. Creating a home away from home, they are today trying to find the ‘middle path’ between their spiritual heritage and the inevitable winds of change which look to threaten as well as improve their way of life.
Tibet which once ruled China is today living under China’s authority. The tables have turned before and can turn again. Till then in exile they wait, living each day praying and meditating to be back one day to their own country, to their own land.
I had seen these beautiful cactii only in pictures and gotten the scale completely wrong. I had imagined these old men of the desert to be only about 6′-7′ tall at the most. Towering more than 30′-40′ and standing tall on the canyon slopes, they start to appear like men with outstretched arms dancing in the desert winds to a beat of their own. Dark Silehouttes with a fuzzy white glowing outline of thorns and an ecosystem in it’s own, they provide a cool shelter to the native birds in their hollowed out arms. Poker faced, thorny, dusty and dry, yet beautiful and a wonder of nature and time, they stand tall in the most adverse and hostile of climates and endure it for more than 150 years. They are a charm to watch in numbers and a must see on the trails through the Sonoran Desert.
This was my second visit to the Taj. The stories of pollution from across the non-existent Yamuna are now folklore and I obviously expected to see it on the ‘pristine white’ makhrana marble. What I had not expected though was the crowds in the scorching summer heat, the kind of crowds and the lack of efficient crowd control. You can touch every wall with your hands and leave a layer of your sweat on every detail. Nothing is unfortunately being taken care of. The aging marble is turning yellow in every corner, and human touch is as much to blame as the polluting fumes. Millions visit the Taj every year. Thousands touch it everyday. There needs to be restricted access to protect our heritage as much as there is a need to control industrial emissions. Every person in this world has the right to see this great work of art and monument of love, but not every person is conscious and aware enough to realize the negative effects the overcrowding is having. If we are not allowed to touch the Canvas in the art gallery, shouldn’t the cravings, inlays and masterful details of our monuments- even if they are in stone- warrant the same respect and preservation?
For a few hours on this day, Baltimore turns ‘green’. It’s the only carnival the city can probably boast of. Guinness and Harp become the official drinks, green the official color and we turn Irish at heart. Festivals like these bring Baltimore out on the street. It’s the perfect start to the beautiful season of spring and the warm months of summer ahead. Simply love this energy on the street!