Last year, we spent a glorious week in Lhasa. Our hotel turned out to be a youth hostel frequented by young travelers from all over the world. The rooms were very basic, but comfortable and clean. We didn't spend too much time indoors because we were out in the city and neighboring areas all day. But whenever we were inside, we were fascinated by the graffiti on the walls.
There were messages in English, Chinese, Spanish, German and some other languages we didn't recognize and drawings of all sorts. As far as we could make out, these were messages about where people had come from and what they had done in Tibet and many were obviously about altitude sickness. The drawings were rather badly done (there was one of a set of teeth to signify, we think, tooth ache!), but were all quite innocent. All except one.
In Meenu and Swati's room, there was this life size drawing of a soldier holding a rifle. Of all the drawings, it was the most well executed, with all kinds of details. The person who drew it was obviously an artist of sorts. Every time I came to their room, I was riveted by this particular drawing because of this detail and another reason. There was something very odd about the position of the hand holding the rifle and the shading near the crotch area. Yet everything else about it was so well executed and "clean" that I thought it was all in my (dirty) mind.
On our last evening in Lhasa, we organized a picnic dinner in Meenu and Swati's room. The idea was to consume everything that was left over from the last week, such as fruits, bread, butter, cucumbers and tomatoes. As we organized and ate this messy dinner, the conversation drifted to the graffiti and how we should leave our marks on the walls too. Suddenly, all eyes were on this massive soldier drawing and it became clear that it was not just I who had doubts about the drawing.
A marker pen was borrowed from the reception and the four ladies went berserk. The intellectual Bengalis (as usual) were most active in suggestions and the industrious Punjabis in execution. We wrote a few messages and coined a term for our group using our initials: MCSP. We also wrote out the soldier's anthem about guns and rifles that mommy dearest recollected.
But the most memorable term used and recorded in that room was "Kee Dhorechish"- Bengali for "What are you holding"- written in Hindi script.