The Photographer's Diary 
Tibetan Hunger Strike
 
Photo by Eugene LouieThin-Lay, a monk from the Dalai Lamaís order, is a very interesting character. He speaks the flawless English that is so characteristic of Tibetans who have learned a distinctly Indian form of English pronunciation. He had accompanied His Holiness on many foreign visits, including trips to the United States so he was very cosmopolitan. Whenever there was a sensitive discussion about tactics, Thin-Lay positioned himself between Tseten Norbu, the president of the Tibetan Youth Congress, and me. This distressed me. In the United States, I am accustomed to complete cooperation, access and behind-the-scenes information from political groups anxious to promote their cause.  The Tibetan leaders attitude angered me because I spent my own money, and traveled thousands of miles to help make the world aware of the plight of these people.

I felt unappreciated but decided to keep my eye on the bigger picture and continued to photograph. I tried to comfort myself saying this is a cultural characteristic and nothing personal. Even though John Ackerly, the President of The International Campaign for Tibet in Washington D.C., informed Norbu I was coming, Norbu hasn't said more than a few words to me. Most of those words were, "hello." Thin-Lay stands guard daily sitting behind a mosquito net that hangs in front of the entrance of the protesterís tent. His inward looking expression makes me feel he was waiting for his cell phone to ring with good news from the United Nations so he and his friends can finally go home.

 
Photo by Eugene LouieI was overwhelmed by the amount of pollution in the Indian air. Even though the hunger strike began in the spring,
the temperature of the approaching Delhi summer soared past 100 degrees,  with the humidity just slightly lower. The strikers had not eaten anything solid for more than a month, and in their weakened condition susceptible to a host of medical problems. Mrs. Palzom, 68,  (foreground), and Mr. Kunsang, 70, retreated to cots outside the tent to escape the oppressive afternoon heat. I am astounded at the amount of soot I remove from my face after returning to my hotel room at night.
 
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