Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Dolma Ling Nunnery

While in Rakkar i spent most of time at Dolma Ling. Even when i got there i had no idea what pictures i was going there to take. So i figured i'd just spend all the time i could at the nunnery and hopefully find some stories to tell. I don't think this is what happened in the end though, because i didn't have enough direction to get close enough to the nuns in time. Instead i focused on doing portraits of them, some of which i've put up. By the time i had to leave to come back to Bangalore some of the nuns had really warmed up to me and it was very hard to leave just when i saw i was starting to make headway. But i guess it was an important lesson for me. To dive right into people and not waste any time being an outsider. Maybe soon if i'm lucky, i can go back and pick up where i left off.
The nunnery was about a fifteen minute walk across the river, through fields with the Dhauladar range towering over. I did this walk sometimes at 4.30 am, sometimes in the rain and sometimes after 10 at night without a torch.
Both the nuns and i were initially a little wary of each other, they had no idea who i was and i didn't want to disturb them. This soon turned to a curiosity about the other. By the end of my first week they had all pretty much gotten used to my hanging around with my camera and i stared making friends :)
They taught me how to make butter lamps and i helped them practice their English. I spent an afternoon making 10 kilos of soya with some of them. Watched 200 of them debate, which was ELECTRIC. A few of us snuck into a classroom one day and ate lunch while we were supposed to be cleaning the prayer hall. Climbed over fences and went for a picnic. Watched the news. Discussed the bane of wearing bras. Shared histories and cups of tea. Tried to understand each others worlds. And in the end exchanged mobile numbers, addresses and secret grins at all the things we'd gotten up to.