Thursday, February 08, 2007

the Tibetans at the Cliff

Varkala has a large tibetan market within its Cliff Bazaar. One passes by ‘Tibetan Buddha Arts’ – the shop where Dorjee and Puppu sell their crafts. You retrace your steps and look again at the bead necklaces and the embroidered textiles. You need to go into the shop. As you step in, you hear some music. Now, you need to continue to look at the crafts or pretend to because you want to listen to the music longer. It is the music of “Lama Chopa” – a buddhist Tantric celebration… The music goes on and on and Puppu continues to smile at you every time you look towards her. It must be a nice people, who listen to music such as this. A people for whom living in India means living closer to the Dalai Lama.

You look at her once again and ask about the music, and also about the beautiful beadwork that she strings together with her own hands. The Tibetan woman speaks of her business in Varkala. She and her husband came here six years ago from Tibet. There were not as many shops then and the rents were not so high. Today, they pay Rs.85,000 as rent and Rs.12,000 for electricity for the six month period. The municipality demands Rs.5,000 for being a part of the bazaar. It totals to almost one lakh and that works out to Rs.17,000 per month. Earnings must come also from this six month period since that is “season time”. From mid-november to mid-may is when tourists come to Varkala. The rest of the year, few shops in the Bazaar function. Most of the shops close down.

Dorjee and Puppu go away to Delhi to purchase crafts for the next season, and to Darjeeling to pick up their children who go to boarding school there and then to Ladakh. They come back again next year, with most of their earnings spent. Tibetan Buddha Arts sells bead necklaces, bracelets, earrings, singing bowls, tibetan incense for meditation, cloth handbags and metal crafts.

Other Varkala posts :
Bazaar Tour 3 - Varkala
Signage in Cliff Bazaar
Once upon a time, there were no signs
Signages at Varkala, Signages anywhere
To the Cliff
Cafe Italiano & the Badam tree

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