Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Wait Staff

After walking half way to the waterfall and back this morning we decided to pass the time drinking milk teas in a tiny Tibetan cafe, which turned out to be most fortunate as we saw Regina passing by and pulled her in to join us. We hatted for a while before she invited us to join her on her evening circuit of the Dalai Lama's residence, the Bodhichitta path, so we went. And a good thing to, it was fantastic! We had somehow missed the pathway the previous two times we visited His Holyness's residence. The whole path was strung with prayer flags and dotted with stone stupas painted white. One section in the middle sported an elaborate large stupa and rows of prayer wheels.
There was even a gap in the trees to see the sun set, usually hidden by mountains. It was a good walk and I christened my rosary with a couple hundred "Om muni padme hum"s. As we wound past the Court yard on our way to Nick's Italian Kitchen for dinner we caught a slew of monks debating in Tibetan; they really do stomp and clap to conclude their point. Very interesting and amusing to watch. At Nick's I talked a lot about how great Japan was and Regina told us about wait-staff slavery. WE had heard rumors of this in town, but it was better to hear it from the friend of someone who wrote their dissertation on it. So here's what happens: To get waiters the restaurants go out and get 8-9 year old street orphans, give them food, a room, and maybe Rs 1000 ($25) a month. Now Westerners call this slavery, but I'm inclined to call it better than sleeping on the streets with a begging bowl. The problems arise when you find out that legally you have to be 15 to work in India, so the 9 year olds have no rights, and thus can't complain if they are mistreated. What perpetuates this problem is that no one will hire Tibetans, even other Tibetans, because they won't work for pitiful Indian wages. This leaves vast unemployment among the Tibetan youth. We had noticed some disparity between the Tibetan and Indian lifestyles, but didn't realize it went to deep.