Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Dalai Lama visit to Scotland

Back in 2004, as a result of a documentary I had made on an exiled Tibetan monk, I was asked to be the producer/director to film a visit to Scotland by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. It was a great privilege and honour and I've never forgotten the experience. On that occasion he visited Edinburgh and Dunfermline.

For the past few months I have been involved in yet another visit to Scotland by HH, and for three days last week I reprised my role as producer/director for the Dalai Lama's tour, this time visiting Edinburgh, Dundee and Inverness.

The forecast was appalling, with it set to rain heavily for the duration of his visit. This could have caused us a number of problems as my crews were to film all of his arrivals and departures outside.  True enough on the Thursday as he arrived at the hotel in Edinburgh it must have reminded him of an Indian monsoon. However, as the visit progressed over the next few days, almost every time he appeared at a venue, the rain ceased and occasionally the sun even came out. There was one great moment as he was ascending a set of stairs to the courtyard in front of the Caird Hall in Dundee. As he took the last step from the tunnel of stairs onto the courtyard the sun broke through and bathed the whole scene in glorious sunshine.

At the Usher Hall in Edinburgh, the Caird Hall in Dundee and the Eden Court Theatre in Inverness, he delivered a speech followed by a Q&A from local school pupils. Outside those that had not been able to get tickets waited patiently for a glimpse of the great man for just a few seconds as he arrived and left. It was amazing the effect this brief moment had on people. Just to see him brought tears of emotion to some. Myself and my crew had a job to do, and as such we had unlimited access to HH, and at times I would be within a foot of him, but the privilege of this was not lost on me.

On the way to Inverness HH briefly visited Blair Athol Castle, and he made a request to visit the secret garden. We had used a landrover to get him to a small entrance door to the garden, but embarrassingly no one could get the door open. But he was very gracious and hid his disappointment saying, "I think secret garden will remain secret today".

On the Saturday we finished our shoot and the crew left Inverness to return home. I had been given the opportunity to stay in the same castle as the Dalai Lama for his final night in Scotland and to have a photograph taken with him before he left at a very early hour on the Sunday, bound for Italy.

Though I worked hard for those days for free, just being a part of the whole event was payment enough.

I wonder if he will ever return and I will have a third lucky involvement.

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