Here are some notes of my encounters with His Holiness the Dalai Lama (HHDL). Again I thank everyone at Thiksey for allowing me to have this incredible experience. <3     (BJ)

Day 1

Upon arriving for the teaching on the first day he came to me shortly after getting out of his vehicle and asked “where are you from?” America, I said “Which state?” Florida. “Well thanks for being here”
I cried and cried… I had been wanting to meet him for 25 years and though I had seen him up close (1995) and shaken his hand (2010) we had never exchanged words. It was SO exciting!

5 hours later, upon his arriving for lunch he said — “It’s the American.” “You know… America has a very important role to preserve peace in the world. But the politics are very interesting right now.” He literally said something to the effect of “good luck with that” LOL

I took a million photos for during lunch. I was across the room taking photos and I saw him gesturing to me and telling one of his assistants something. The assistant came over and said His Holiness wants you to get something to eat. I smiled and chuckled that he pays attention to everything in the room. I obliged and ate faster than I ever have in my life so I could go back to taking photos and enjoying the moment.

I was basically sitting next to him during lunch (I was standing next to the table where he was sitting). He looked over at me one time with a huge smile and winked (or at least in my mind he winked)

When he walks through a crowd he makes this piercing direct eye contact with as many people as possible. He makes you feel like you’re the only person around.

Upon departing I was taking photos of many people with him. He asked if I wanted a photo with him as well. He put his arm around me and said — “look at his shiny head!” He rubbed my head (true story.)

Everyone said how lucky I was and wanted to shake my hand and touch my head.

Day 2

Got to the Press section early to grab the best spot. Ended up only staying a short while after HHDL arrived. Though it was straight on, it was not terribly close or exciting so I moved on from the Press section.

At the end of his teachings, he was brought back to the hotel where I was waiting. They used a back (secret) entrance which a guard showed me. It was only me, a couple police, Thiksey Rinpoche, Kelkhang, & Khenrap along with a little girl. Got a great photo of the little girl with HHDL.

Spent some of the afternoon with HHDLs videoographers that travel everywhere with him. Both named Lobsang. One is a monk and also has a Fuji (X-Pro 2). Good guy. We’ll see him in D’sala when we’re there in November. He got a video of my first meeting with HHDL — the one where I bawled.

Went to watch the debating in the evening. Good times! So much fun to watch. I wish debates like this were more of a think in the West. It seems to really stimulate critical (and quick) thinking skills.

Day 3

Waited at drop-off area before he arrived a little before 8am. He was greeted as usual and came straight to me, said “hello again”… shook my hand and gently touched my cheek. Hehe…

Wandered about the huge crowd and got some photos of ladies with peraks.

Came back to stage area and listened to his teachings (there was a speaker with English translations)

Was able to creep forward until I was right next to his seat (super close, though slightly behind). Tried very hard to take photos of everyone that was blessed by him. My goal was to capture as many people interacting with him as possible. These people have been waiting a lifetime for such an opportunity and I was hoping to capture it.

Upon his leaving he again smiled and shook my hand.

Going to show Lobsang around Thiksey. He wants to see what a tashok (monk’s home) is like here at Thiksey so Chamba gave me his combination and said to go inside.

Day 4

Went to downstairs hotel to meet Gabrielle for a ride to the nunnery. Got there early and talked with her and had breakfast. There started to be lots of stuff going on. I walked outside to use the restroom and they had moved HHDLs chair to the steps/landing. I then realized that he was going to do a goodbye audience before heading to the nunnery.

All the monks (Disket, Thiksey, etc) arrived along with many Ladakhi VIPs as well as a few western VIPs (Swiss doctors or something). Probably 300 people in total.

HHDL’s photographer started getting groups together for photos. He’d organize each group and put a hole in the middle so TR & HHDL could slide into the middle for the group photo. There were about 8 different groups.

I was talking to HHDL’s sister (Jetsun Pema la) and she urged me to a corner where he would come out. It was a while of waiting before he eventually emerged from his room. Upon descending the stairs there were a couple Ladakhi VIPs as well as an Indian author who wanted his book about HHDL signed.

Just after that he came over to me. He said something like: “And here is my American friend. I tease him a lot.” [He then started talking about American imperialism and called me an Imperialist] Everyone laughed and he grabbed me and hugged me and shook my hand.

I went on taking photos of him greeting everyone for probably 30 minutes before heading off to the nunnery. I got a ride with Gabrielle and a couple monks. I didn’t stay at the nunnery for long as I knew I had to get to the Chamba Camp. I therefore had to miss his visit to the mosque.

It took quite some time before he arrived at the camp. I spent much of that time talking with Jetsun Pema la. We had talks about Donald Trump, eyeglasses, politics, and I showed her my magic trick.

He eventually arrived and I tried getting photos of the group from the camp.
He had lunch with the guests from the camp and afterwards there was a grand entrance.
He shook my hand one last time and said “Tuk Je Zhe” [thank you in Tibetan]. That was his last day at Thiksey…

Day 5

There was a dinner event and cultural show for Ling Rinpoche (the reincarnation of HHDL’s teacher). After he and the other rinpoches finished dinner I asked if they would like to see my magic trick. They loved it and asked to see it a few times. The cultural show (organized by Thiksey) was wonderful. I was asked to come up on stage and was presented a gift by Ling Rinpoche.