Some time ago I mentioned my own visit to Tibet and some of the wonderful things I saw there. Most of these things were not tourist sites or anything extraordinary, but were the wonderous moments of every day life. Two of them happened to me at the Potala Palace, but that was inconsequential to the events themselves. I will share them with you as they came to mind when I was looking over some of my old pictures for good images to decorate my new (adult) room with. Somehow, looking at serious photos makes you appreciate your delight in the simple (and perhaps not serious) sides of life more.
The first was my favorite pit toilet of all time which was basically in a cave. Potala is built on a rather large hill, and evidently some of the caves below are still largely open to sunlight. Hence, this particular trough of a toilet was open to the sun from below. It was a little scary, but the crack was really too narrow to fall through. Still, the image of urine arching downwards into multiple rays of sunshine has stayed with me. Not to be vulgar, but as a woman I rarely get to watch my urine arch anywhere.
The second (of which I have recently rediscovered video records) was a song-and-dance group of the unintentional kind. While we were walking around the Palace, I could hear music drifting outside – beautiful, top-of-the-lungs filling and joyous music. It didn’t really sounds like monks chanting, and there were female voices included as well (I had yet to see any nuns at Potala). So I thought it was some sort of special performance. After all, the voices were singing in unison and on key – anyone who’s ever been to a Chinese church knows that carrying a tune is not a skill the majority of the population possesses. However, when we eventually wound around to the ‘performers’, they were in reality the roof repair crew. I’ll give you a little electronic sampling of thier stylings:
It’s only about 5 seconds long, because I was afraid to embarass them by taking a picture while they worked. Below is a bit more, with a woman pouring the plaster. Sorry about the sideways image.
I don’t know why they were beating the plaster into the existing roof, or why they felt the need to sing. Still, it was a moment of joy and goodness in a potentially bland and sometimes opressive world. Despite everything, we still grow. We still sing. We still dance, in step with a neighbor or two, under the sun.