Life's been busy, so I haven't gotten a chance to post as regularly as I used to... but here's a new one, and I hope you like it.
A little over a month ago (July 6th) was the Dalai Lama's birthday, and a Gelug monastery in Gangtok held a big celebration for it. I went as part of the Rumtek delegation, to watch and to perform.
(the tent they set up, filled with chairs. those posts are bamboo covered in cloth!)
(backstage, looking eerie)
(me and one of the monks who came to dance)
There was a lot of down time for the performers, so the monks played around a lot with my guitar. The one in the first picture below totally caught the guitar bug, and I've been giving him (and two of his friends) guitar lessons for the last few weeks.
(figuring out those first few chords)
The monks alls wore wigs for their performance, because traditional hair styles for Tibetan nomads involve long hair for men and women, and a lot of fun was had the with process of wearing and braiding. Some of these guys have been monks for half their lives, never having their own hair longer than an inch, and they got a big kick out of it.
During the downtime, the women (who are almost all teachers at the elementary school run by the monastery) practiced in our dressing room.
And got their rather more intricate costumes prepared.
(isn't that headdress fantastic?)
(many men of the Himalayan region keep one or more fingernails quite long, often the pinky or ring finger nail. here's one of the monks killing time, painting his long pinky nail)
(the monastery was quite beautiful, though I wasn't able to explore much of it. here's a mural and the doors to the prayer hall)
(exhausted monks, post dance)
My guitar broke before I was able to go on, but another group of musicians (playing traditional Tibetan music on traditional Tibetan instruments) had brought along an old 12-string (a little broken, so only strung with 6) for some reason, and they were more than happy to let me borrow it. I also borrowed a vest from one of the monks, to fancy myself up a bit.
(me on stage)
The performers mostly had to stick to the back, so I wasn't able to capture other performances, but at the end we all hung around the front on our way out. The last group of the day performed a variety of pop music from the Himalayan region, the plains region, and the US. The songs from that last group included this gem, which I just had to capture.
After the celebration, the whole group of us headed into Gangtok for a little shopping and some food. All of the monks are on summer retreat, but got special permission to break retreat for the day, and they all took full advantage by eating dinner and running errands in town.
Hope you enjoyed this post, and never fear: there's a lot more to come. Just at this slower pace. Let me know what you think by leaving me a comment.