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Himalaya

Day 72: Yushu

Michael Palin - HimalayaWe have taken a tent at the festival site. All around us people are getting ready for the parade. A man with bells around his short leather boots waves red and white scarves and tries out a few dance steps. The dancers' outfits look central Asian, even Cossack, with embroidered sashes across chests, baggy, peppermint green silk trousers, dark hair squeezed into nets and covered up with fiery red headscarves.

The main stand is beginning to fill up. Men in suits are arriving, TV crews running backwards before them, to be greeted with white scarves and shown to their seats. The political officials are accompanied, more discreetly, by military top brass.

Around the other three sides of the parade ground is a vibrantly colourful crowd, dressed to the nines: women in long patterned dresses, hair carefully braided, ears, necks and hands adorned with coral and turquoise and men in calf-skin shoes, shades and imitation Armani suits, which I'm told can be picked up in town for about $7 each.

A sharp crackle of fireworks starts the parade, which is led by massed motorbikes, decorated with mountains of flowers and coloured sashes, followed by the massed blue trucks from local co-operatives, bearing politically sound placards lauding the policy of opening up and developing the wildernesses of the West.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 72: Yushu
  • Country/sea: Tibet
  • Place: Yushu
  • Book page no: 170

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