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Friday, June 20, 2008

It’s a Small World, After All

posted by on June 20 at 10:36 AM

A recent email from my friend Erika, an anthropology Ph.D. student at Indiana University, who is studying in Beijing. (She and I have been going back and forth about my reactionary antipathy for the Dalai Lama.)

I am having a very complicated morning. I’m trying to help a teacher here with very limited English skills to find an apartment in Bloomington where she will be teaching Chinese next year. I just found a very promising furnished place and then discovered through a google search of the landlord’s very unique-sounding name (“Kunga Norbu”) that he is a nephew of the Dalai Lama (whose brother lives in Bloomington). Zoinks! There goes that option.

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I used to go to IU for grad school (MFA/MA, yeah me!), and there was a dude with a yellow Corvette, license plate "Rinpoche" (IIRC), and word was he was the DL's relative. Richard Gere helped to establish the Tibetan Cultural Center outside Bllomington, so it doesn't surprise me that some folks from the power structure would congregate there.

And can I just say, I love Bloomington and truly miss bleary-eyed breakfast at The Runcible Spoon...

Posted by Jubilation T. Cornball | June 20, 2008 10:56 AM

Is it not an option to live with the nephew because of antipathy for the Dalai Lama on the part of the teacher or because any association with Dalai Lama, even at one degree of separation, would place her at risk from the actions of her own government?

I'm guessing the latter.

Posted by flamingbanjo | June 20, 2008 11:02 AM

I went to high school with the Norbus, and yes, not news if you're a local, I guess. I met the Dalai Lama at least once on one of his semi-regular visits in the 1980s - I guess that's less frequent now that there's more hoopla around the guy. The Norbus' dad was a prof at IU.

Posted by mike | June 20, 2008 11:07 AM

like flamingbanjo @2, i am also curious as to your precise reasoning here.

Posted by ellarosa | June 20, 2008 11:14 AM

Jubilation, do we know each other? ex-spoonie, late-80s scenester, been in Seattle since 1990. pleased ta meetcha.

Posted by mike | June 20, 2008 11:19 AM

... I think I just did some math here, and don't think we've met. But you are friends with a certain local music writer that I met at the recent James Combs performance, if I did my sums right. Anyhoo. if our paths crossed at the Spoon I hope I made you feel welcome; I was one hell of a crabby server.

Posted by mike | June 20, 2008 11:24 AM

I thought you guys couldn't discriminate on the grounds of religion or national origin ...

This is someone RENTING not becoming your life partner.

Posted by Will in Seattle | June 20, 2008 11:29 AM

Brendan: I love this amusing story.

Will, ignorance at the level you exhibit here, if unfeigned, is how Iraq was allowed to happend. (don't make me talk about Hitler)

Posted by cracked | June 20, 2008 11:54 AM

What, you mean how GWB's grandpa helped Hitler fund his attacks on America?

Unlike you, my point stands, even if you secretly want to live in a totalitarian nation state.

Posted by Will in Seattle | June 20, 2008 11:57 AM

my neice who lives in Madison, In, won't even consider IU, which is the only bearable place in the state of Indiana. she says "dumb kids" go there.

Posted by max solomon | June 20, 2008 12:56 PM

Will, it almost certainly isn't about whether or not Norbus would rent to the teacher, but about what the Chinese government's reaction to one of its nationals renting from a close relation of the DL's.

Posted by Rebecca | June 20, 2008 12:59 PM


I haven't the slightest idea what you are talking about, and I suspect the converse is true as well.

all for the best.

have fun.

Posted by cracked | June 20, 2008 1:00 PM

My comment about Hitler was a veiled allusion to Godwin's Law and a recognitions of the likelihood that my comment was moving in an exagerated direction. I now see that you are kind of a hypersincere literalist and I will bear that in mind in the future.

Posted by cracked | June 20, 2008 1:06 PM

@11 - now that was an informative reply.

Nobody cares about Godwin, though, cracked.

Posted by Will in Seattle | June 20, 2008 1:49 PM

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