From New York to Delhi and Dharamsala, by other people for other people. (Nothing to do with Vietnam!)
-3 envelopes variously filled with cash amounting to $5000 (already delivered, fyi, for any interested parties and no longer to be found on my person or in my luggage but you might try Ladakh Bud Vihara!)
-A big plastic bottle of multivitamins and packets of chicken bullion cubes (which cubes, why yes, can also be found in India)
-A pair of snow boots with T-shirts stuffed in the shoes (from my friend for his mother who lives in Dharamsala where it does not snow)
-1 envelope of $200, Proactive facewash and Uniqlo shirts and socks
-1 iPhone boxed with a $100 taped to the side (the iPhone not being gift enough)
I am obviously not listing the things which my mother sent for relatives and the stuff that I brought for people and the stuff I brought for myself.
You know how it is. Tibetans have lived for a long time in India or in Nepal, where the postal system used to be unreliable, and the only sure way to get something to someone was to send it through someone. And now the post is reliable but Tibetans still prefer to send parcels through personal courier –which happens to be any friend of a friend of a friend—rather than the post. What do we have against the post? Are we bad at packing parcels? Is the gift more special when carried by a person from the community? Is it laziness, economizing and habit?
For my mom, the US postal system barely exists except as a conduit for bills. She has an inherent distrust of the postal system, and willfully ignores it. I tell her my friend sent me something from DC and she says, with who? Worst offender that she is, she once sent my aunt in Kathmandu a sack of apples through some guy who was going to Nepal. A sack of apples from India to Nepal! Sure Kullu Manali apples are famous. But! It’s probably her postal karma that I am now paying for.