Bye Bye Camera
Monday here was the first day of one of Lhasa’s biggest festivals: Shoton Festival ཞོ་སྟོན་དུས་ཆེན་, the “Yoghurt Feast Festival”.
The day was wonderful - we left Tibet University at 5:30am to head to Drepung Monastery to see their giant thangka along with thousands of other pilgrims and tourists. After a hectic morning at Drepung and lunch at the teahouse there we caught local buses to Sera Monastery to see their giant thangka too. The weather surprisingly held up for most of the day, only becoming really stormy in the early evening as we were leaving Sera Monastery at last to head home.
There was however one thing that really upset my day: during the bus ride from Drepung Monastery to Sera Monastery my camera was stolen from my bag.
Catching the buses that day was crazy, there were sooooo many people all trying desperately to get on each one (we were lucky just to get into the bus and have something to hold onto) and once inside the bus there were so many people crushing me from each side that I couldn’t protect my bag, which was hanging at my hip as usual. It was zipped up closed, and I never would have suspected that someone would steal from me on a holy day such as this among pilgrims, but I guess I was wrong.
(Photo: People struggling to get onto the bus outside Drepung Monastery.)
Without me noticing them, the person (I have no idea who it might have been) managed to open my bag, take out my lovely big DSLR camera with it’s nice big zoom lens attached, and hide it elsewhere. I never even knew a thing until we were off the bus and walking towards the main gate of Sera Monastery.
My local friends were shocked and quite upset that someone would do such a thing on a holy day, and especially a local Tibetan person (there were only Tibetans standing around me in the bus), but they also comforted me by explaining that according to Tibetan belief to have something stolen from you really means that there are obstacles being cleared from your path, and it is positive in the long run.
I hold no grudge against the person who did it: I have insurance so I can get another one, but they must have been so desperate to do something like stealing on a holy day and the action will have generated some pretty bad karma for them. When I made a police report later in the afternoon it was pretty clear that I would never see my camera again or find out who took it - there were just too many people there that day and apparently a lot of belongings went missing. I was sad about losing my photos I’d taken that day, but a friend kindly gave me his to remember the day by.
At the end of the day it’s more of a feeling of shock than anything else, and now I guess it’s time to get my insurance sorted and get onto finding a new camera! My old precious Canon DSLR had served me well, it had travelled with me to many countries and been by my side for several years, and although it was slowly breaking down it was dear to me nonetheless.
Earlier in the day my friend took this photo of me taking a photo - a last shot of me with my trusty camera before it was taken away. Farewell camera!