July 9th, 2000
I am sitting at the outer courtyard of the Jokhang, as I have been most evenings here in Lhasa. There is the usual crowd of people doing their prostrations. I recognize many of the faces by now, and they recognize me. They all have their spots, and I have mine too – on the steps, to the right. The two women who are always place their mats to the right, against the wall are done for the day. As they leave, they touch me on the shoulder. We exchange tashi delek’s and one of them hands me a piece of candied sugarcane with a smile. The man with the battered felt hat who sits to my left must have known I was leaving. In gestures and broken English he wishes me well and tells me to come back again. When I nod my head, he whispers yakpo, yakpo du! He answers kale phe to my kale shu. Up there on the left is the old lady who always badgers me to do the prostrations with her. She didn’t badger me today. She held my hand and talked. I have no need to know the language to know what she said. I am going to miss this; miss these people with their big smiles and open hearts.
As I sit here, the light fades and I know I have to go back and pack up. I have to leave tomorrow – I have no choice. But I promise myself that I will come back. How could I not? This is home.