Seven Years in Tibet

Seven Years in Tibet - Heinrich Harrer Heinrich Harrer, the author of this book, was a mountaineer and an adventurer. He was the first to climb the North Face of the Eiger Mountain in Switzerland. He did this int the 1930s. This book, originally published in 1953, is an adventure classic that recounts Heinrich Harrer's 1943 escape from a British internment camp in India, his daring trek across the Himalayas, and his seven years in Tibet, coming to an end with the Chinese invasion. He became a dear friend of the fourteenth Dali Lama.

Definitely interesting, but in that the narrations follows the time line of the events it was repetitive at points, i.e. a particular theme was discussed many times. One example of this is how white scarves are used in Tibet as a means of expressing respect and honor. People were handing out scares right and left......I kept wondering what was done with all these scarves. Finally near the end of the book it was mentioned that they were reused and handed out to others. And this leads to my next complaint. Listeners are left with questions. Terms are not clearly defined so you search for understanding, to make sense of what you are told. At one point, my husband and I, we were both listening to the audio book together, did not agree on who had been killed! Neurotic as I am to understand EXACTLY what has happened I rewound and listened again and again. Finally I understood. In fact I was right in the mini battle with my husband, but the point is that what you hear/read can easily be misinterpreted.

So the book isn't perfect, but don't let that determine whether to pick it up or not. The reader follows an exciting adventure and there is a lot to learn here about old Tibet, before the Chinese invasion in 1950.

One other point which I found intriguing is how there are so many rules to be followed.......but there is always a way to get around them. In the Buddhist philosophy no creature can be killed, so of course meat cannot be eaten. But, but, but, but people do need some meat so it is quite handy if the people in neighboring Nepal can provide this......then all is OK! This bothered me tremendously. Time and time again, the Nepalese were handy to have to do that which the Buddhist faith did not allow to be done in Tibet.And it bothered me that in sport events where it was determined that the Dali Lama must win, he of course always did win. Is that real competition? Never mind, just my own thoughts troubling me.

It is amusing to picture a dike being built and a worm appearing on the shovel of dirt. That worm had to be carefully placed aside so no harm came to it. This all sounds so sweet, but to function as a nation bribery and conniving were necessary.

I am very glad I read this book. I learned a lot, and it made me see into the reality of a Buddhist culture. It is very hard to get a view into Lhasa, the Forbidden City.