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Archive for the ‘Temples’ Category

The African Safari. For many it’s the pinnacle of a lifetime’s worth of wanderlust, wrought in the childhood dreams of far away places and exotic animals. Like a magnet, the pervasive pull of the cradle of life draws people from around the world to its savannahs teaming with life and its breathtakingly endless African skies.

While each of our dreams about African varies from person to person, I would guess that the spirit of all our dreams remains the same: the opportunity to encounter some the rarest, most beautiful and dangerous animals in the world, the Big 5. But the safari promises not just an encounter, for any of us could get that at our local zoo, but an encounter with the Big 5 on the animals’ terms, in their habitat, in their home.

But as I travelled across that mighty continent, I realized that there was a catch, one that put a damper on my entire experience: Safaris can’t always deliver on their promises.

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Its worn yellowish façade looked faded and weather-beaten from years of abuse at the hands of the harsh Tibetan elements. Juxtaposed to the polished ivory-white bone of its much younger counterparts, the bowl seemed to exude a sort of primeval energy, as if thousands of years of Tibetan history were contained within its brittle exterior.

But did I dare break the most sacred of western taboos, purchasing something made of human bone? Would such an act call forth the ire of the gods, cursing me for dishonouring a person’s remains, or would it, as thought in Tibetan culture, allow the person to continue to live on through use in religious rites and art?

Whatever the consequences, in that moment they were the farthest thing from my mind, as my only worry was that the dried and brittle bone would be too delicate to survive the rest of my trip through Tibet, let alone the arduous return flight home. But pushing away such questions, I began something I never would have dreamed of doing…haggling over a human skull.

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