Filming in India: Visit to Dharamsala

January 06, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

We are not yet able to publish pictures from our film about Akong Rinpoche at present. The following is an informal record of our trip. Portraits from important interviews will appear in this blog in due course.

For the first couple of days in Delhi, Chico and I are based at Wongdhen House in the Tibetan quarter Majnu Ka Tilla. It is almost impossible to travel around Delhi on Saturday because a new mayor of the city is being sworn in. Arvind Kejriwal enjoys massive popular support and his supporters swamp the transport systems.

Nevertheless we make some new friends on the Delhi Metro.

Sunday 29th: Meeting up with Artist-Filmmaker Ambarien Alqadar and Sapna Bhatia of TV News International at the Turtle Café in Khan Market. Ambarien is kindly helping us with a driver to take us to Dharamsala, home of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government in Exile. (I previously met Ambarien at Jamia University when I did a lecture there in November.) From left to right Sapna, Ambarien, Chico and Gerry.

Monday 30th: Our driver Atuallah picks us up from Majnu Ka Tilla at 6am and we drive for 14 hours through the Punjab and Himachal Pradesh to Tse Choling monastery at McLoud Ganj where we are staying.

Tuesday 31st : We make it most of the way along treacherous mountain roads in driving rain, sleet and dense fog for over 100 km. At a junction around 14 km from Dalhousie, a policeman advises us to turn back because the onward road is blocked with snow. It’s disappointing to get so close but not reach Dalhousie.

Downtown McLeod Ganj on New Year’s Eve.

Wednesday January 1st 2014: New Years Day in Dharamsala. Filming around McLeod Ganj. Our Camera and Lighting Assistant Tenzin Phuljung is a Tulku - a recognised incarnation of an enlightened being.

Three years ago Tenzin decided to disrobe and pursue his dream of becoming a filmmaker. Nevertheless, he continues to formally study Indo-Tibetan philosophy and is fortunate to live in the same complex as the Dalai Lama.

Thursday 2nd: Visit to Sherab Ling Tibetan Buddhist Monastery in a beautiful valley of forests surrounded by snow capped Himalayan peaks.

Friday 3rd: Now we are based at Nyingma House, back in Majnu Ka Tilla. Most of our time is taken up with booking trains and accommodation for ensuing phases of filming. Afterwards, we enjoy a hard earned Kingfisher beer at United Coffee House in Connaught Place:

Saturday 4th: We boarded our overnight train to Bodh Gaya for the next phase of filming . . .


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