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Himalaya

Day 38: Dharamsala and McLeodganj

McLeodganj, India 
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Surely the most approachable of all world leaders, the Dalai Lama is a powerful man, totally lacking the trappings, or the presumptions of the powerful.
Michael Palin - HimalayaDoes he worry about his own safety when he travels?

'Generally no. Friendly atmosphere should immediately happen. When I'm passing through a street I always smile, when I look at another...nice smile. But then sometimes you see the other side, no smile.'

It all begins to sound a bit Mary Poppins when I write this down, but there is nothing remotely weak or woolly about the man himself. He just doesn't do cynicism.

We talk on well over our allotted 40 minutes, and even when an hour's up he is happy to pose for a photograph. (I have it on the wall beside me as I write up these notes. The Dalai Lama is in the middle, clasping Nigel's hand on one side and mine on the other. The crew are spread out on either side and I don't think I've ever seen this hard-worked unit looking so happy.)

The only sign of any tension is after he's gone, when both the Dalai Lama's private secretaries lay aside their two-way radios and pitch in to help us de-rig our lamps, wires and cables. The next interview (with an Israeli crew) is already 20 minutes late.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 38: Dharamsala and McLeodganj
  • Country/sea: India
  • Place: McLeodganj
  • Book page no: 87

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