Our cottage industry begins | Touchstones of the Sacred | Touchstones of the Sacred

Our cottage industry begins

Our new mala maker, Drolma

This next morning we have tsambas, the yak butter and flour balls we had in the Nepalese nightclub. His brother shows us how to mix up the butter and flour in our individual bowls, scooping it all around in circles until we make a nice rounded ball. They are delicious! This time the salty tea has milk in it – an improvement!

We spend the day teaching Tashi’s wife, cousin and another women how to make the malas. They are better at it then I am! It is a fun and relaxed day in their backyard and, as usual, they are delightful! At lunchtime we went into town for lunch and went shopping. The men dress in nice pants and jackets – we never see blue jeans on anyone but Tashi. Many of the women are in traditional Tibetan dress – lovely long black dresses, colorful sashes and large coral and turquoise jewelry. We take pictures of them and they love to see themselves on the camera – they are truly beautiful women who adorn themselves with care – no matter how poor.

Off on a yak yarn hunt

Tashi has told me about his mother knitting him clothes throughout his life. Is it possible to buy yak yarn? We go on a yak yarn hunt, but to no avail. So we settle for sheep yard and Jeffrey picks out his favorite color – a beautiful blue-grey. I’ve promised him a scarf to remind him of our journey.

Yushu is a fairly big town – larger then a village, smaller than a city. So many scooters everywhere! And pollution. But, it is fun seeing all of the traditional Tibetan dress.

“You are not only my son, but my best friend”.

I have so many questions about his life and about the politics here. It seems that every home has a large picture of Mao Se Tung. Tashi tells me about the different counties. Khalm, where we are, maintains the most traditional Tibetan traditions and has the least Chinese influence. His father fought in the war and Tashi tells us many horrible stories passed down from his father about the thousands of deaths.

He tells a story that when his father was fighting, his best friend was next to him and was shot in the back of the head. When Tashi was born, he had, and still has, a birthmark in the back of his head. When he was a young boy, Tashi’s father asked the High Rinpoche if Tashi was the reincarnation of his best friend who had died next to him. The Rinpoche said he would have to contemplate this question for three days, and then he would have the answer. When Tashi’s father revisited the Rinpoche, he received his answer – Yes, his son Tashi was the reincarnation of his best friend! Tashi says that often his father would say,
“You are not only my son, but my best friend”.

The children here seem to have a different relationship with their parents. There is an open affection with them at every age and a deep respect and tenderness. It is as though one of the greatest things to be proud of is being a good son or daughter.

Tonight we go to bed early as we prepare for another journey tomorrow. Off to Shandar!


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