But I really cannot understand why other patrons of Donkey's favourite, chilled-out eatery seem hell-bent on shattering the quiet ambience with megaphonic observations of "the thing that's going wrong with Tibet", in a pompous, American East Coast, Ivy League drawl. Try as I might to ignore this twit, by the time it had gone on all the way through coffee numbers one and two, and through the first googy and tomato, I had to get up and stick my head around the corner to see just who this loud-mouthed braggart was actually talking to.
And what do you know? The poor sod who had been stuck listening to this nit-wit for the last hour as he spouted his opinions on why there were no monks at this or that monastery, and why Tibetans are no longer interested in spirituality and the old secrets was perhaps the only person in Lhasa who was not allowed to turn their back on an obnoxious, ill-informed prat. She was the poor, young, Tibetan waitress who, without this job (and all the trials that go with it), would be forced to return to her family and spend a long, draughty winter without a steady fire for warmth. In essence, she just had to endure it.
What else could I do? I gave her an out by calling her over and ordering another Colombian. My incredulous shake of the head was answered with a pleasant, conspiratorial grin, and for a short time all was calm and peaceful in the land, until some more of his countrymen came in and forced me to endure the whole procedure again – this time in stereo! That was it! I scalded my tongue as I downed the last caffeine hit and ducked out of there as Mr New England was proclaiming all the reasons why Tibetans today will never reach a state of heightened consciousness through tantric meditation.
My walk back home, usually very pleasant in the warm midday sun, had been soured. I had been cheated out of my pleasant weekly ritual, and now all I could think about were his last, anger-generating words about heightened consciousness. I was angry 'cause a) it wasn't true, and b) 'cause he was just another ill-informed, Martin Scorsese-worshipping "Boo-dist" who'd been here a week. Besides, of all people, he was the least likely to reach a heightened consciousness through tantric meditation ... certainly a lot less likely than the poor waitress with the bleeding ears.
Besides, what's so special about a heightened consciousness anyway? I've been clubbing - I know what it's like to have all my friends e-ing off their heads and hugging and drooling down each other's shoulders. And I've seen people lying in the gutters off Smith St, blissfully oblivious to the freezing Melbourne rain pelting down around them, or of the warmer, darkening patch around their groin.
And me. I get pissed pretty often, allegedly as a means of reaching a heightened state of consciousness, but I can't say that the results are all that cosmic or spiritual. For instance, just the other night, after about ten Lhasa beers, I got into a heated argument with someone who didn't believe that in the Tom and Jerry cartoons, the only humans are the housekeepers, who we imagine to be big, black, Queen Latifah-like ladies, although all we can see of them are a pair of stripy socks. Strike me down if it isn't true (unfortunately this place prevents me from Google-ing it), but either way, I'm sure you'll agree that neither of us seemed to be approaching Nirvana through our heightened consciousnesses.
Crikey, see what happens when I don't get my quiet, Sunday morning breakky?
Tom and Jerry, the new spiritual quest for weekend "boo-dists" everywhere. Pic: http://www.tomandjerryonline.com