Elaine Wong

Big hands and small hands are joined together, Holding a cup of sweet tea in the open –that keeps us warm and connects.

Sweet tea

Tashi delek – hello – we enter a teahouse filled with
ancient and simple shapes, rich colors and practical craft. In this simple yet solid vicinity, we, postmodern travellers are greeted by the server with warm smile, the visceral smile that stays and lingers.

It was morning, that we saw the trajectory of the sun, coming up from the East (is it China?) above Mt. Everest. The tea was poured from a large tea pot, tattooed
with a magnificent rose, the red witness,
juxtaposed with silk, white milk from the cows that we saw on the highlands.

Next to us were a man with a brown hat and next to him a lady with both a livid hat and leopard mask that protects her
from the strong, chilly winds and wrinkles
that betray age, meaningful or meaningless
on this landscape.

Miles away, a driver mirroring ours was carrying passengers in his race car,
climbing across vast shades of mountains, peaks and valleys
collected under the eyes of Tibetan mastiffs and eagles,
friends or foes of humans,
in the scorching sun.
Do they exist in hallucination, and will they disappear into the desert one day?
It was afternoon, that we took a sip of the sweet tea, and swallowed the noodles with yak meat, devouring the tastes.

On the roads close and far, people transport their earnest wishes, showing reverence
with their bodies. Peace was sought, yet what kind of peace?

It was at night, that we took another sip of sweet tea, along with
Sichuan dishes in various spices.
There we met a little boy who, like other children,
graced us with possibilities – possibilities of the simplicity of happiness,
and communication although he speaks in a language that we did not understand.
Thuk-je-che, shyly he picks up the Dextrosol candy that we gave him
with thanks and sweetness in his grin.
Light and song like chattering was the backdrop of our meal,
that did not affect the tranquility of the establishment
right across the heavenly Namtso lake, peacefully frozen in ice.
Constellations of stars were hiding above us,
as we shared private moments and shielded ourselves, like water in the ice lake,
from the blinding impurities, fears and worries,
that is embedded in the cracks of city glass buildings and
abstract numbers before we return to the reverse hallucination of Hong Kong.

All good people agree,
And all good people say,
All nice people, like Us, are We
And every one else is They

Across the lake, I wonder with Kipling,
The best side of They and the best side of We, that is us
That come eye to eye today.

On this day in Tibet, it is minus 10°C outside, or I thought it was.
Our fingers were numbed, by the cold, or it was the effect of high altitude medication – but not our senses. It did not occur to me that our sense of wonder
was numbed by the fog of tea vapor.
Big hands and small hands are joined together,
Holding a cup of sweet tea in the open –
that keeps us warm
and connects.