This takes up roughly thirty miniature pages of notes, in a similarly miniature scrawl, and essentially I'm just transcribing and improving my notes.
In consideration of this, I am splitting the post up! Hopefully get the next bit in by later on today. If not, I'm off 'till friday, so tough cookies. Here goes:
Waiting For Lama
Up bright and early for a spot of Lama viewing and... ick, already it's raining.
A sizeable host of people greeted us as we approached the Usher Hall. The doors were at this point still shut against us and we found ourselves filing into some sort of pen. After a few minutes spent gazing around with idle interest we observed the doors to the side entrances swing inward and a general move in that direction. It was not so much of a queue as a morass of people, but we did our best to join it anyway.
Following a few false leads, we find ourselves in the far left of the Gods or “Upper Circle”. From behind I overhear one of my cohorts mumble that he's not so good on heights. Worse luck mate.
An observation is made that the farther down you go, the comfier the appearance of the seats. I suppose that traditionally, the more “common” you were, the less you could afford to pay for a decent vantage point, the less they cared how unimpressed you were with your perch.
A small legion of Buddhist monks and nuns were scurrying about below. These brought forth exclamations of wonder from younger members of the group and some delight from those of us who were already experienced Samye Ling campaigners, past Buddhist encounters already securely under our belts.
There is an inexplicable drum kit on stage. This could turn out to be very interesting indeed. For all I know, the Lama is a drumkit-bashing NINJA.
Mrs arrives trailing Torquil in her wake. He promptly relates his horrifying two-day experience at Edinburgh High (ambushed and embraced by a some girl he had never before met) finishing a tad abruptly with quote “...so I left and been playing golf ever since” unquote.
At this point, I discover that the rubber band which I been using on my hair this morning was still restricting the blood flow to my wrist. It is tempting to ping it somewhere.
So far, so eventful.
A curious mix of people file in to fill the several rows of chairs on the stage, foremost amongst them a guitar-wielding quartet. Currently we remain ignorant of what this may portend, but I am confident that all shall be revealed in due course. Our Lama is no where to be seen.
Lights go down, everyone shuts up.
Some chap sporting a jaunty purple turban creeps awkwardly in.
The Reverend Donald Reid now gives an introduction. A jingle starts up amongst the audience and heads turn to glare. The tune finds itself prematurely cut off.
Apparently the Dalai Lama is going to be presented with a scarf in the 'new tartan of world peace'. Could this be the start of a new Buddhist trend? Out with red, we're having tartan.
The Reverend pauses reflectively for a moment and somewhere, somebody begins to clap. Again this ceases abruptly.
The 'World Opera for World Peace' stride into centre stage. The solo singer, Martin Aelred, whom they are accompanying bursts heartily into the 'Canto Della Terra' to a World-y montage being played behind him on the Big Screen.
The Lord Provost -Rt Hon Cllt Donald Wilson- of Edinburgh put in an appearance, telling us that His Holiness the Dalai Lama had not yet arrived (thank you) but that fortunately he was not very far away.
Next up was the Tinderbox Orchestra and I have to admit- pretty spectacular stuff. The moment they began I almost expected them to be twirling their cellos and jumping about the stage. Indeed I wasn't far off. The conductor bounced about, gesticulating wildly, created quite an impression, and I confess myself quite impressed.
We have a new conductor for the second piece. Far more tame.
Now on the verge of panic; I have already filled out approximately twelve miniature pages worth of notes and the reason for out visit, the Dalai Lama, has not yet put in an appearance. Happening to glance up from my notes in what I thought was a lull in the musics, I catch the last vestiges of our energetic orchestra being hastily cleared away.
Some Tibetan dancers appear in exotically colourful skirts, performing to 'express their joy at the presence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama'. Presumably this is anticipatory, since they are not actually feeling the benefit of his presence yet, as such; but hey, it's interesting and pleasant enough. They're doing a wonderful job of being synchronised.
They exit and something sounding suspiciously like Homer Simpson's throat-singing precedes some chaps dragging a v. comfy-looking chair into the room.
Meanwhile our friend Martin Aelred has strolled back in.
I'm presuming that the chair is for the Lama. Beside it a table trembles under the weight of a dozen water bottles.
And at last, the long awaited moment. As the Lama wanders he is greeted by a standing ovation, he walks to the front of the stage and bows to the audience and still everybody is clapping. With nearly every seat filled, it's quite a clamour. Two minutes and he is already cracking jokes.
To be continued... :O