Wednesday, 19 September 2012

A month in the life of Woodstock: The Dalai Lama, human log fluming, and cross country (not all at the same time)

The Dalai Lama at Woodstock

The DL laughing at Woodstock on Sunday
Pic: Phuriwat Chirapisit (Fuse)
After weeks of planning in my department and to-ing and fro-ing, His Holiness the Dalai Lama came to Woodstock on Sunday (September 16). It was his fourth visit to the school since he was exiled from Tibet in 1959, and he has long term links with the area, as Mussoorie was his first port of call after he left Tibet before moving to Dharamsala.

As communications associate at the school I had the job of welcoming press and chaperoning our student photographer Fuse during the event, so we got a great view of his arrival, while the rest of the school was locked up in the gym. Surrounded by a huge security entourage, the video below shows him coming up the school ramp, and you can see me shaking his hand and saying "a very warm welcome" (sorry it's on its side but when I rotate it I lose the sound).

I also got to ask him a question later during the Q&A session, what does he feel about the current situation in Tibet's capital Lhasa, which is being rapidly China-fied, to which he gave a very diplomatic answer, at one point thanking the Communists for helping Tibetans develop more character as a result of their struggles.

HH the DL with WS Principal Dr Long
As for the second part of my question, does he still work out (I read he uses a treadmill everyday), I did not get an answer! Perhaps it got lost in translation.

My orginal question was going to be "What football team do you support", but much to Kirsten's relief I didn't ask this. My sources tell me he supports Manchester United (boo).


He is certainly quite a character and had us all in fits of laughter at times. He's a bit like a cuddly grandfather. His speech was at times interesting, at times hilarious (at one point he turned round to ask his assistant what he was supposed to be talking about!), at times difficult to understand because of his accent, but the overriding themes seemed to be show love and compassion, don't view people through the lens of race or religion but look for our common humanity, and develop a positive mental attitude. All good things.

From a Christian perspective it was interesting he admitted he had no special powers to heal or bless. Ultimately he said one has the power within oneself to change, a difficult concept for Christians who believe in an relational creator God and the inherent sin inside us which we cannot ever overcome apart from Christ.

video

All in all a fantastic, slightly surreal day, and certainly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. There is a great piece by a visiting journalist Joanna Sugden on the day here: The Dalai Lama does Woodstock



Log blog

It was Kirsten's birthday earlier this month, which coincided with our two-thirds of a year wedding anniversary, so I whisked her away to a lovely hotel for the weekend. We were staying just outside Dehradun near the Tons River, an area which we soon discovered was a birdspotters paradise, with numerous species flying around the beautiful gardens of the hotel, including a...er...red bird, a yellow bird, and a green and blue one (ornithology never was my strong point!).

We walked down to the river on both days which were sunny, and were able to swim, despite it being quite shallow.

video

Being an adventurous soul making the most of the great outdoors, and inspired by the thought that my absent bros-in-law would have done it (Marks Bradby and Oden take a bow), I decided to brave the strong current and get up close and personal with the river. Sadly I didn't have a surf board, but I found human log fluming was quite fun, particularly when my butt wasn't scraping against the stones on the bottom.

Kirsten had a go too, and although our wedding rings got quite battered, my wife assures me this is all testament "to the rich tapestry of our marriage". Watch me go on the video (above)!


Cross country challenge: I've still got it!


Still got it: Ed running in the red of Merlins
It was the school interhouse cross country tournament earlier this month, and almost 20 years after my last cross country run, I was determined to take part and rack up some points for my house Merlins (a bird, the other houses are Condors and Eagles).

I decided to run with the Grade 9 boys, the year we are advisers to, so that meant a two-mile trek round the chukkars (circles) at the top of the hill here.

It's fair to say my wife didn't have the utmost confidence in me, particularly as my earlier attempt to run at altitude had ended with my lungs almost exploding.

It is really tough running at this altitude, and I did have to stop and walk a few times, but I was pleased to finish the course in just under 25 minutes.

Amazingly Merlins, who in recent years have underachieved in the sporting arena, won the entire tournament, so my efforts were not in vain.

Now I just have to decide whether to run the Mussoorie half marathon in November...if so I really better start training sharpish!