Dear Cousins, Can You Please Save Me?

Tibetan customs, Tibetan man, Tibetan woman

July turned to August. My departure for the West was fast approaching. And my cousins had yet to practice a long-lived tradition in that neck of woods – Rebgong.

A Tibetan custom, you are invited to a scrumptious meal, if you’ve returned from a journey, worked or studied a distance away, completed a long period of meditation, or you’ve recently visited a holy site like Lhasa. This ancient tradition is applied to extended family members, people from the same clan or village, as well as the family you choose for yourself – your friends. I remember my late grandmother repeated this ritual throughout her life. And now it’s our turn to continue.

Tibetan flower

Tibetan tradition, Tibetan flag prayer

Cousins-Picnic-mmddyy-(date)-242

To many, I was the girl who followed her loopy ideas and flew across the globe, instead of marrying at 15 and gathering yak dung. But, of course, whenever I travel home to the Tibetan highlands, I could always count on my people to line me up for lovely meals.

Knowing I would be traveling around for the remainder of my time in remote, historic areas or not, my cousins who live in Rebgong town (རེབ་གོང་རྫོང, Tongren officially) decided that we should gather for one meal at least although we had met at the family reunion weeks earlier.

Tibetan custom, Tibetan culture

Tibetan food, Tibetan bread, Tibetan meal

Food, yummy food

Picnic at the Maixiu Virgin Forest sounded like music to my ears. I joined along with my brother and sister’s family. We enjoyed Mother Nature – everything growing, with evergreen trees standing tall covering vast mountains, shrubs hugging the ground, wildflowers showcasing their brightly colored faces. And we listened to the stream, gurgling down the valley whispering its song in the background. We ate Tibetan, Chinese and Hui (Muslim) food varieties, we picked wild strawberries, we danced, we joked, and we laughed. It was a picnic designed to be.

As we were calling it a day, I decided to put on a show. Whilst crossing the stream on nothing but a single, narrow beam, my unplanned, sudden splashing into the water was more than an amusing spectacle for my little nieces and nephew. Awakened by the crisp chill, I noticed my brother’s unsmiling face, frozen eyes and wide dropped jaws of the children. Now, hold that picture of the whole bash and imagine using it for this Halloween season. Yes.

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Tibetan flower, mountains, Tibet

My red wine-colored pants with every soft raised parallel line of the corduroy were soaked wet to my knees, sagging downwards as if they’d been tied to my son’s foot weights. Holding my flooded hiking shoes with sandy mixture, I walked barefoot through the flowered-grass field to the car, hoping the gentle, consistent pain in my right ankle wouldn’t mean twisted and would disappear before my trip to my nomadic roots the following morning.

Oh, dear cousins, we shall picnic again, but can you please save me?

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11 Responses to Dear Cousins, Can You Please Save Me?

  1. Steve Van Lysel October 29, 2014 at 7:10 PM #

    What a fantastic way to live!!!

    • Jolma November 1, 2014 at 10:54 PM #

      Thank you for stopping by, Steve.

  2. michaelg October 29, 2014 at 7:27 PM #

    Great stories, picture and traditions.

    • Jolma November 1, 2014 at 10:57 PM #

      Thank you, Michael. A decade ago, I packed and moved beyond my own comfortable kitchen to travel across the globe. Learning a new language and experiencing a new culture enriched my life. I’m enjoying sharing my experiences.

  3. Dean November 3, 2014 at 8:14 PM #

    Beautiful pictures. Beautiful story.

    • Jolma November 4, 2014 at 10:53 PM #

      Thank you, Dean. It means great deal to me.

  4. Nancy November 4, 2014 at 2:53 PM #

    Spectacular.

  5. Peggy Gilbey McMackin November 16, 2014 at 8:45 PM #

    Hi Jolma, a lovely story, and beautiful photos. Thank you for sharing!

    • Jolma November 17, 2014 at 4:47 AM #

      Thank you very much for taking the time to comment, Peggy. Much appreciated.

      • khabum Gyal March 23, 2015 at 4:41 AM #

        You are lucky! You had great trip in Tibet after one decade and wanna have more picnic with family. For me almost two decades haven’t had that kind of great time with my family and all your lovely stories make me homesick……please write more. M soooo interested

        • Jolma March 23, 2015 at 5:07 AM #

          Will do. Yes, I’m blessed to be able to visit home periodically. And I fully understand how you would feel not seeing loved ones for two decades. I hope you make it home, the Tibetan plateau, soon, Khabum. Thank you for sharing this.

I'd love to know your thoughts.

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