The Grass IS Greener On The Other Side

Late last night (Canada time), Tibetan artist Tenzing Rigdol debuted an extravagant art installation in Dharamsala. The installation – located on a stage at the Tibetan Children’s Village basketball court – is made of 20 tons of soil from Tibet. It was so beautiful to see this simple yet deeply invoking work of art. More touching was the reactions it caused in people.

I watched the live online broadcast of the opening of this installation and loved seeing people young and old prostrating to the soil in the background, while others took the microphone up front and expressed what seeing this piece of our land did to them.

A little piece of home

I also heard that some of the soil was taken to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and he wrote “Bhoe” (Tib: Tibet) in it. When I heard this, it was so bittersweet. It invoked extreme happiness in me that His Holiness was able to come into contact with a piece of his homeland, but this was obviously quickly followed by deep sadness that this tray of soil has been the closest thing to returning to the home he lost at such a young age.

Another feeling that this installation and the reactions to this installation kind of invoked in me was relief – that I’m not a major weirdo. A close friend of mine went to Tibet, and before leaving, wanted to know what I wanted most from there. She’s known me for a long time and has always heard me talking about Tibet and being involved with the Tibet freedom movement, so she asked me for a wish list of things to bring back. When she asked me, I was actually at a loss for words – I’d never thought about what I’d want from Tibet most or that the chance would arise. Eventually, after some thinking, my wish list consisted of a chuba from Tibet (made by a Tibetan of course) (yah PemYo!), and a piece of Tibetan land – I thought since I can’t go to Tibet, this would sort of be a way for Tibet to come to me. Getting the chuba made seemed likely, but I wasn’t sure what the rules of smuggling earth out of the country were, so I wasn’t sure if I’d get this.

My friend smuggled it out in a popular Chinese milk tea container

Sure enough, my friend was a warrior and smuggled out sand from near Shigatse, close to where my Pala (Tib: Dad) is from. I read somewhere on Facebook yesterday that someone had described the soil feeling like silk. And that was exactly what I thought when I touched the sand my friend brought back – I’ve never felt sand that soft. I probably looked like a major creep to my friend when I was all excited and giddy touching, smelling, and playing with the earth she brought from Tibet, but at least now I know I’m not the only one.

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