So just before taking a leave from Thiksey Gompa, I decided to visit this last room up the balcony stair in front of the old prayer hall. As I entered, I saw a majestic Buddha statue and on the opposite window, there was a young monk sitting. As I went forward to ask his name, he started looking outside the window, indeed a shy kid. I clicked a couple of shots and then decided to talk to him. I again asked his name and in the softest voice I had ever heard he told “Nurbu”.
He was a little shy and uncomfortable with the photographers so a fellow photographer and I started a very chill conversation with him about his school, study and schedule. Clearly, kids are the same all across the cultures, he was not that interested and enthusiastic talking about studies and shit. Earlier he was uncomfortable and now he was bored.
See every person you meet when you are clicking photographs has a different zone altogether. As photographers we need to blend in the zone of the people we are shooting and for that, we have to continuously keep tuning our zones. After all, photography is not only about knowing the technicalities and pressing the shutter button multiple times.
Yes! So, back to the story. As he was getting bored we dropped our talk levels to that of an 11-year-old. We started to discuss about his friends and about the games they played in which he was truly interested. Finally, we saw a smile on his face when I made a joke “jitni counting padhi hai tumne bas zyada nhi utne hi paise chahiye jeevan mein.” Obviously, it was not that great of a joke but it worked for an 11-year-old monk. Sense of humor helps.
Later everyone went downstairs but I just sat with him and had a long chit-chat where he told me that he was the second child in his family and was sent to the monastery when he was 5. Personally for me who has always been in a joint family, living away from home at the age of five was a really big deal, I was in awe that from such a young age those kids are trained to be lamas. So I asked him that does he go back to his house on the holidays. And to my relief, he told that he meets his family every weekend. He told me that he is also good at football and loves to play with his friends after the prayer, meditation and studies are over.
I loved talking to a young monk and hearing about small details of his life like waking up at 6 and then sleeping at 10 again “kyonki neend aati rehti hai” and he said that in his cute and soft voice.
Meeting Nurbu and talking to him was the best part of visiting the Thikse Monastery. When I revisited the monastery after a few days, he still remembered me, waved at me and smiled. That smile assured me that I made an 11year old friend who was a Lama.