Greetings from the Himalayas!
You can’t make up a story like this one. I’m going to learn from the Dalai Lama.
I arrived to India two weeks ago to write a new play at the Global Arts Village in New Delhi, India. With support of an Artist Fellowship from the Utsav Mandir Foundation, I’m in a beautiful artist colony in the south-east corner of the city. The village is picturesque and peaceful; we’re treated so well, I think we’re spoiled rotten.
Ashwin, the founder of the village, leads meditation everyday at 5:30 AM. He practices quite an invigorating style of meditation which includes Indian-electronic music, dancing, and the chanting of Sufi mantras. We eat only vegetarian food, exquisitely cooked from scratch every day, and I’m in residence along with three inspiring Indian visual artists–a photographer, a graphic illustrator, and a painter.
From the moment I arrived, I got into gear and started to write as much as I could. I got the first act, 60 pages, of my new play down in three days. The words were flowing out of me from the get-go. Though untitled, I know the play’s about love, in the form of meditations on self-love and the success and failures of romantic relationships.
The Internet was down in the village for a week; telephone lines were cut in the neighborhood as they’re building a subway station nearby. During my time off the net, I devoured Paulo Coelho’s “The Pilgrimage” in search of inspiration for the second act of my play. While I know that a story in search of divinity (god as love) in India is a cliched narrative, I must confess that’s one of the reasons that brought me here.
Reading about India’s different religious traditions, I considered taking my own pilgrimage to Dharamsala to see the official headquarters of the Dalai Lama.
There was a solar eclipse this Friday and I was told to stay inside for health reasons. Luckily, the net was back and I went online to kill time. I discovered that the Dalai Lama was in India to deliver a 3 day workshop on “the path to Enlightenment” at the request of a Korean group. I jumped on the opportunity to learn from His Holiness and decided to venture to Dharamsala that night. I left the village as quickly as possible. I had no idea how to get here, but I quickly packed my clothes and called a cab to the nearest interstate bus station.
I had to arrive to Dharamsala yesterday morning to register and get security clearance to attend the workshop. To do so, I had to take a 12-hour bus ride up north to the Himalayas, not quite sure of what would happen once I left the comfort of the village. I felt anxious all the way here, but I trusted that things would work out in the end. They did. I am now staying in a beautiful guest house, waiting to attend a 3 day-workshop with the Dalai Lama in search of enlightenment and truth.
The Global Arts Village is a 40-minute rickshaw ride away from the city, so I haven’t had much to time to explore. However, I took a day-trip to Old Delhi (within New Delhi) last week. New Delhi is the third oldest city in the world, and throughout its history, the city has existed in seven different locations under different names. Old Delhi is home of Jama Masjid, a mosque which is well-visited by tourists. It was my first time walking into a mosque, and to be honest, the feeling was quite new to me.
There are galleries and markets for the Muslim community living near the Jama Masjid. The area’s been preserved to maintain its history and tradition, by keeping its distance from the rapid urban development occurring in the rest of the city. I saw everything from women covered in birkhas to handless beggars on the streets. My fellow artist residents and I got a lot of stares, but everything was just fine in our 40 minute stroll away from the mosque.
Article in the Korea Times: http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/special/2008/08/139_27331.html
Also, I published an article last month in the Korea Times regarding arts education. I wish I could emphasize how important it’s been to have received training and education in the arts as a child. If it hadn’t been for my drama and piano teacher in High School, I don’t know if my life would be the way it is now. They inspired me to pursue a career in the arts when most of my family was against it (with understandable reason). These days, life as an artist is fulfilling and taking me to places I thought I’d never see. For that, I’m most thankful to all my teachers who encouraged me to dream.
I hope everyone’s well. There’ll be more once I return to Korea in September.