‘the hesitant, the absent and the present’ is a collage distilled from a reportage I made on the Sunderban islands in the Bay of Bengal between India and Bangladesh.
A very fascinating world where initially the white sandy beaches seemed to come out of a bounty commercial but very soon, while living with the people in their straw huts, I saw a different reality coming to the front, where struggle was more present even though the persistent genuine friendliness of the people made it very hard to take it in fully. Coming from the so called ‘rich’ west where people’s happiness often seems to be lingering a whole notch lower on the scale, ‘being rich’ is a very relative notion indeed.
‘the hesitant’, a shy boy very much into cricket and in full admiration of his idol Sachin Tendulkar, a God in India (young version behind the boy)
‘the absent’ was taken at the crucial moment during a community meeting where an important decision for the village had to be taken
I saw the girl in ‘the present’ while hitching a ride on a mule cart while on my way out of the islands. Her presence and empty state of mind struck me deeply and I asked her mother if I could take her picture as soon as the cart would come to a halt.
Sera monastery is one of the ‘great three’ Gelukpa (the lineage of the Dalai lama) monastic universities of Tibet, located just north of Lhasa. The other two are Ganden and Drepung monasteries.
The origin of the name ‘Sera’ is attributed to the fact that the site where the monastery was built was surrounded by wild roses in bloom. (se ra in Tibetan language)
During the 1959 revolt in Lhasa, Sera monastery suffered severe damage, with its colleges destroyed and hundreds of monks killed by the Chinese invader. Sera was one of the strongest pockets of resistance against the Chinese. After the Dalai Lama took asylum in India, many of the monks of the Sera monastery who survived the attack moved to Bylakuppe in Mysore, India.
The Sera monastery in Tibet and its counterpart in India are known for their energetic monk debates on the Buddha’s teachings. Sera monastery developed over the centuries as a renowned place of learning, training hundreds of scholars, many of whom have attained fame in the Buddhist nations.