22 The Freedom Concert

I didn’t have any trouble locating the Yongling Kindergarten. At 6.45pm, I simply flowed with the people draining downhill and there I was. The stage was set in the courtyard. The backdrop was the Dalai Lama’s “Never Give Up” poem. The Tibetan flag was in the foreground. The little kids sat upfront on jute bags just 2 meters from the huge speakers. They were causing havoc for the official video crew as little kids do. It was just like in Bodhgaya. With their mischievous smiles and curious faces, they wrapped themselves around each other to get into frame. The space behind filled up quickly with monastic and lay people, locals and foreigners. 2 guest artistes came on and sang to music backing on a CD that skipped badly. The applause showed that it didn’t really matter. They were really good, soulful, pining, hopeful. The mother of the JJI Brothers spoke into the mic, “Are you ready to ROCK And ROLL….?”. Three roars of “FREE TIBET” followed. The band then came on. The first song, said one brother, “was for the prisoners in Tibet who are suffering because of the f*%$ing Chinese, you know?”.  I noted the powerlessness and anger in his voice. The three brothers played better than they sang, I thought. The audience got the message loud and may be not so clear. But hard rock has a way of emotional expression beyond articulation. What you feel might not be understood but you certainly feel. A dog fight broke up amongst the resident mongrels who came to party. The organisers quickly got into gear and in 4 or 5 seconds hauled the 3 dogs outside. The concert continued gamely. I put in my ear plugs to mitigate the noise level and stayed for 4 more songs. There was only so much angst and anger I could handle.

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