Tibet At Last!
I made it to Tibet! That red line I am leaning on is the border, and I am on the Tibetan side.
Between Tibet and Nepal there is a bridge, called the Friendship Bridge, which is no man's land. Ian decided to stay put in Nepal, but I wanted to get to Tibet, even though I didn't have my passport with me. I asked a the border guard on the Nepalese side of the bridge if I could go over and touch China and come back. He said yes in that typical Nepali way, by tipping his head from side to side. It's a happy gesture, meaning more like "yeah, I agree, that will be fine," where you look straight ahead and move the top of your head to the left and your chin to the right, then the top of your head to the right and your chin to the left, back and forth a few times.
When I got to the line at the middle of the bridge, there was a Buddhist nun waiting for a Tibetan friend to join her. She is the one who took the photo. She was hoping to go to India with her friend to hear the Dalai Lama's teachings, if only her friend could leave China. Maybe she would come today, maybe tomorrow, maybe never. There was nothing to do but wait.
She had tried to wait on the other side of the bridge, in Tibet, but the Chinese guard would have none of it. I told her of my plan to cross over and kiss the ground in Tibet. She encouraged me; "Yes! Go and tweak the guard! He will probably say 'no,' but tweak him anyway."
I sauntered across the last part of the bridge in the most nonchalant way I could muster. The Chinese guard stood on a little box so that he was taller than everyone else. He stood ramrod straight. His epaulets were crisp. He narrowed his eyes at me and I smiled at him. I pointed to the ground and asked if I could kiss it. He hesitated for a split second. I wondered if he understood my request, but just continued smiling. Then he shook his head sharply, "No!" Ah, he does speak English...
I asked him a second time, explaining that I did not wish to travel any further into his country, I simply wanted to kiss it, right here, and then I would be on my way. He shook his head again, and said more emphatically, "NO!"
I opened my heart as wide as I could and looked into his eyes. I shrugged my shoulders and opened my palms to him, thinking, "What could it hurt?" He paused, looked left, then quickly right. There was no other guard around. He nodded yes.
I knelt down right there and kissed the ground. It was a beautiful moment. I kissed Tibet, and then lifted my hands in prayer for China.
I stood up, thanked the guard, and turned to head back to Nepal. He surprised me. He smiled; and shook his head in that side to side Nepali way. Maybe everything will be fine.