NYEMA Projects, Inc.

Seven Weeks in Tibet:
A Summer in Nangchen with Lama Norlha Rinpoche

By Bari Pearlman

The pictures come to life

From top to bottom:
Lama Norlha Rinpoche (l) and Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche (r) at Xining Airport.
Chinese Muslim outpost on road
 from Xining to Yushu.
Typical Yushu street scene,
 with side of yak.

This past summer, I had the blessing to join Lama Norlha Rinpoche on his visit to Tibet, a trip he makes whenever possible to visit the people and monasteries of Nangchen. Every year at Losar (the Tibetan New Year), I had been writing a check to NYEMA Projects in support of that picturesque place, but I had never expected to actually see it except through brochures and website pages. Now I was being given the opportunity to witness it through the lens of a video camera, to make a film about these people and bring their story to the world. And it was Rinpoche asking, so the answer was of course, “I’ll make it happen.” And on July 9, my bag full of Power Bars and my veins full of hepatitis vaccine, off we went.

It was a long flight to Beijing, but surprisingly not an unmanageable one. The trickiest part was over – getting all of Rinpoche’s many suitcases checked in. He hadn’t visited Tibet in four years, so there were many gifts and supplies to bring. After overwhelming the bellboys in a Beijing airport hotel during our four-hour stay, we flew on to Xining, where we were hosted by Rinpoche’s cousin and her husband. For several days, we adjusted to the altitude and the time zone while drinking sugary Mongolian tea and eating too many sweet dried apricots. From there, it was a 17-hour overland journey to our next home base of Yushu, where another of Rinpoche’s cousins would serve as our host and guide for the remainder of the trip.

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