So… sitting here laughing on the verandah of our house boat on Dal Lake… because, the universe can throw curve balls…

Nelson and I were supposed to leave for Leh two days ago but we got delayed. The night before we were to make the journey to Leh (on Friday), Nels went to the ATM and got the most dreaded response ever when traveling… “CARD RETAINED”…

After much turmoil, many looks of disgruntled frustration and waving  our hands around at the polite security guard at the ATM, we went to the the the local bank here in Srinigar and unsuccessfully trying to get Nelson’s debit card back. But, due to suspected fraud, lack of funding and obtained card, we had to postpone our departure to Leh… Trying to stay positive about the situation (as we are both on a tight budget and timeframe), we decided to yet again go explore around town and meet some people…

The next day were deep in the Old City of Srinagar when we passed a large gated bulging that said “TIBETAN DAY SCHOOL”… After spending 10 weeks immersed in the Tibetan community in Mcleod Ganj, I couldn’t help but wanting to walk in and check it out.

Soon after giving our Salaams and Tashi Deleks inside the school, we were introduced to the Director, whom was very pleased to announce that His Holiness the Dalai Lama was coming to visit this Tibatan Muslim school in Kashmir for the first time in over 25 years…We were invited to attend, and as we were stranded in limbo, we decided to take up Fate on this flip-opportunity.

I learned that there are over 200 Tibetan-Muslim families that sought refuge here in Islamic-Kashmir after the Chinese innovation of Tibet in 49′. And, earlier this morning… we arrived at the school with this community, to a grand reception for The 14th Dalai Lama. We sat in the second row of the  tented-outdoor pavilion amongst the bearded Tibetan men wearing white caps, women wearing colorful silk gowns and embroidered saris, and the uniformed muslim-school children.

Nels and I were amazed just to be there in the Dalai Lama’s presence, let alone in such an obscure setting (we were very likely the only two westerners present).

When the function was over and The Dalai Lama was getting up to leave, Nelson and I risked pushing through the crowd of photographers, entourage and lay-people to see if we could get closer to him. The next thing I know… is that I’m reaching out my hand and looking through glass spectacles into the amber eyes of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama as he is shaking my hand…

Here we are on the way up to him.

Here’s to the Universe,

Alex