The Dali Lama’s Armpit Hair
Waiting in the spacious, multi-level courtyard of the Tibetan children’s school in Dharamshala, India, she is nervous about meeting the Dali Lama. There were about 50 people around, all family and alumni from Woodstock school in Mussoorri, India. Everyone has been told to gather here for their “audience” with the Dali Lama. The organizers are very specific, it is not a meeting, greeting, or interview, but being granted an “audience” with his holiness.
Other specifics were that women had to cover all their skin from neck, to wrist to below their ankles. Long sleeved shirts, sweaters, long pants, long skirts and scarves around the neck or a button up shirt that must be buttoned up. Everyone was to stand in a line, like a receiving line, their hands outstretched with a special white scarf hanging across their wrists. The Dali Lama would be coming by, touching your hands or the scarf. You would have maybe 10 seconds with him.
She nervously though about what she would say to him. She enjoyed his book, “The Art of Happiness” so very much and it was extremely helpful. She fretted and picked her thumbnails to the quick while she tried to compose a phrase to say to him in less than 10 seconds.
As the Dali Lama made his way down the line, he touched each person’s hand and moved on. Shit, it was only a second or two at most. How was she going to say what she had rehearsed?
The Dali Lama stops at her and puts his hands in her outstretched palms and curls his hands into hers. She quickly thanks him for sharing his wisdom in his book, “The Art of Happiness”, and she tells him that it helped her tremendously. He was very kind with a sweet reply that she couldn’t remember because the adrenaline was pumping furiously in her veins. After all, THE DALI LAMA is holding hands with her! He moves on to her father next and holds his hands too while her father asks him a question. The Dali Lama then only touched briefly each person after that, except towards the end. He stopped and talked to only a couple others.
As everyone was being herded to the stone steps in the courtyard for a group picture with the Dali Lama, she took advantage of her crowd maneuvering skills learned from being a tour guide at Disney World. She finds herself standing next to the Dali Lama. Nobody else wanted to walk up next to him for the picture. She was not afraid to go there.
The Dali Lama quickly welcomes her and puts his arm around her. As everyone else in the group finally organizes themselves on the steps, the photographers tell everyone to get closer to together so everyone can be in the shot. The Dali Lama says to her in English, “Ok, come closer,” as he pulls her right up next to his body, like he was her boyfriend, tucking her against him. As the photographers take the picture, she is nestled up to the Dali Lama and she thinks to herself, ‘Holy Shit, I can feel the Dali Lama’s armpit hair! Are you freaking kidding me?’
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