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Tibetan Refugee Centre

January 16, 2012

The Tibetan Refugee Self Help Centre provides a space for Tibetans fleeing their country in waves, in the footsteps of the Dalai Lama. It allows people who came with only what they could carry to begin a new life, with the support of friends in the same position. The centre also keeps alive many Tibetan skills and crafts that could not be freely practiced in Tibet.

These tools are used to push the threads down, keeping them tightly pressed together.

Drawing up the design on grid paper, then threading it on the loom. Amazing.

Honey mad a few friends on the steps. I think they were in awe of this young, modern woman speaking Tibetan to them!

Honey made a few more friends and bought them all juice boxes, so I think she’s in their good books now.

This lady was the littlest, and the cutest. All the Indian tourists were fighting over each other to get a photo with her (see below).

I think we have some future award winning architects on our hands here.

…maybe once they’ve learnt how to smile nicely for the paparazzi.

Printing blocks from the Tibetan newspaper. These were in a small Tibetan museum they have in the centre. It has some pretty chilling newspaper clippings about the happenings in Tibet.

Hand making cards to sell in the gift shop. Each character has a different colour scheme.

The people here have not lost sight of their home country, they know that Darjeeling isn’t truly theirs. They are great followers of the Dalai Lama and have photos of him all over the place.

Oh hello Leighton, what are you doing here?

One of the other skills kept alive here is wood carving. This man was talking about how all the young Tibetans of Darjeeling want to leave the centre and get an office job somewhere, they don’t want to learn the crafts of their culture. All of the people at the center are below 15 or above 30.

The carvings are beautiful and very intricate and time consuming. These photos don’t quite convey just how detailed and thin some of the sections are. These are panels for a bed. If I recall correctly it is taking a few men a year to make this bed.

All of the eight auspicious symbols of Buddhism in one on this panel.

This is my last post for this blog. Goodbye India, it’s been a great journey and I’ve really enjoyed keeping this blog. Hopefully I’ll go back in a few years and pick up where I left off! Thanks to all the readers for your attention and comments, see you again soon.



January 16, 2012

One of the other attractions of Darjeeling is to see the sun rise from Tiger Hill. At 4am, tourists pile into 4WDs all over the city and are driven to the peak. It’s not quiet. I couldn’t believe that there were so many tourists in Darj! I hadn’t seen them in such numbers in the city, where did they come from??

When the sun finally appeared, the crowd sighed and all the cameras and phones went up to take a photo. Some people even videoed the whole thing! I had to stick my hand up with my camera to get a clear shot. And everybody was so pushy! But a beautiful sunrise nonetheless.

So many cars and people! I just noticed the guy in the photo above checking his hair in the back windscreen!

Toy Train

January 16, 2012

 The Toy Train Ride (officially the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway) in Darjeeling. It used to be a necessity for the city, and still takes the odd local up the mountain, but now it mostly provide tourists with a very relaxing way to see the city.

Honey’s Primary School

January 16, 2012

For a few years Honey went to the Loreto Convent School in Darjeeling. It’s a very impressive campus and has possibly the best schoolyard view in the world.

The outdoor-turned-indoor basketball court.

Honey’s old classroom!

Some of the school is being renovated, but this slide still looks pretty fun.


January 16, 2012

The Tibetan School.

The Golden Fish (Matsya), one of the eight auspicious symbols of Buddhism. All eight are painted on the driveway to the school.

You may not be able to tell from this photo, but it is mighty steep!

The road up to the Buddhist shrine, Dorje Ling. Beggars hope pilgrims will be generous on their way to worship.  Due to the number of Hindu locals and visitors, it now also acts as a Lord Shiva place of worship. Both cultures exist side by side.

Beware of monkeys that steal your Nikes! But seriously, don’t let them know you have food, they’re vicious.

Honey’s dad is currently building a Tibetan museum. It is underneath the Tibetan cultural school and already looks quite impressive. The Dalai Lama has agreed to donate a few items, so I’m sure Mr Dekeva won’t be disappointed.

Honey and I came across this stall, which offers many plastic alternatives to household tools that are traditional woven from leaves or bark. The business’ slogan is that their products are strong enough to hold the weight of a truck. This so impressed one of the hotel staff that she came home with the grain sieve (the purple scoop toward the bottom centre of the photo). Though it would be tougher and cheaper over a few years, is it really worth the environmental and cultural losses? Not a question that most of their customers would ask themselves.

Marigold strings as decoration for Diwali and pretty much anything else.

A dog with a red tilaka, he probably participated in his families Diwali ceremonies.

More delicious, fried Indian street food made in a jugaad kitchen.

The gang

January 15, 2012

Anish figuring out the timer.

Top Row: Siddhartha, Karl, Pat and me

Bottom Row: Trina, Rooya, Hannelore and Anish

Unfortunately some friends had already headed home after end of semester. Hope to see you all again soon!

Last moments in Ahmedabad

January 15, 2012