Tibetans and NYC Taxis

Tibetans and NYC Taxis
I had a pleasant and unexpected late night experience last week
while catching a cab across Central Park in NYC.
I first noticed the driver was not on a cell phone.
And that he was most attentive to his driving.

Taxi ID cards are sometimes (and purposely) blurred out here, but
I saw his ID card was crystal clear and his name was Tenzin.  I asked where his parents had lived in Tibet, if he had been born there (not) and we spoke in depth about the Tibetan community in NY.  There are approximately 9000 Tibetan refugees living in the US, and about 3500 reside in NY.
I remarked that I'd never before had a Tibetan
cab driver, but he said that while the number used to be quite small, there are now probably several hundred Tibetans who drive NYC licensed/yellow cabs.

Being a young man, I asked where his parents were born (between Lhasa and Ganden), and where
he entered the world...in Dharmasala or possibly Southern India, i.e. Sera Mey.

After  we arrived crosstown, he turned off the taxi meter and we spoke for a bit,

mostly relating to Tibetans in NY.  (No, I was not going to attempt a conversation
about the Blade Wheel of Mind Transformation)

But it always impacts me strongly that I have spent time in their country, where they are forbidden to travel or make a family visit.

To where I have witnessed sky burials, and In a way,it makes me feel like a ghostly thief, to have traveled somewhat freely there (albeit always under the severe eyes of the security services), and to have also received a private blessing from the venerated hat of Tsong Khapa at Ganden, courtesy of two monks who must remain nameless.
To paraphrase and quote the author Paul Theroux, it makes me feel like an interloper.

“The traveler is often the greediest kind of romantic voyeur, and in some well-hidden part of the traveler’s personality is an unpick-able knot of vanity, presumption, and mythomania bordering on the pathological. This is why a traveler’s worst nightmare is not the secret police or the witch doctors or malaria, but the prospect of meeting another traveler.”


As Theroux recently wrote, the  autobiography he once envisioned writing — volume one, "Who I Was;" volume two, "I Told You So" — writing about travel has become a way of making sense of his life, the nearest  to a possible autobiography — as the novel is, the short story, and the essay. As Pedro Almodóvar once remarked, “Anything that is not autobiography is plagiarism.”
“The thing to avoid while in previously travelled footsteps would be the tedious reminiscences of better days, the twittering of the nostalgia bore, whose message is usually I was there and you weren’t. “I remember when you could get four of those for a dollar.” “There was a big tree in a field where that building is now.” “In my day . . .” Oh, shut up!"


 Gyalwa Rinpoche, Bka' drin che

Om Mani Padme Hum