The Snow Leopard Trust, headquartered here in Seattle, had its annual fund raising dinner on Saturday night. Thanks to my cousin Kaysea and her husband Gordon, who came north from from San Francisco for the occasion, we were invited to this gala evening, held at the Woodland Park Zoo. And what an evening it was! The theme was a Spirit of India. It was all so well organized – like the big book sale we went to the previous weekend. ( I have been very impressed by the massive number of volunteers appearing seamlessly to assist in the smooth running of 2 obviously very big events)
When we arrived at the Zoo we were greeted by our hosts who proceeded to introduce us to various members of the Trust and guide us to the appropriate ports of call – i.e. registration and then the bar. Numerous supporters were in attendence and everywhere one turned one was greeted by a friendly sari wearer or a man dressed according to custom in various parts of the Indian Sub-Continent. Accordingly, we got out tika marks on our foreheads. Drinks in hand, then we went on our “trek”. A simulated trek at 16,000 feet in the Spiti Valley in Himalchal Pradesh in the high Himalayas in Northern India. We were the Green Group, Group 2. We started out with an examination of scat and we tried to determine whether it was deposited there by a snow leopard or some other animal. Alas, it turned out to be scat from a wolf. We moved on to another site to view a power point demonstration of some of the animals which have been caught on one of the Trust’s cameras positioned at that elevation. It was amazing. Hares, deer, yak, snow leopard (of course), and others. Our trek continued to a council meeting where several villagers were discussing an application for reimbursement according to an insurance programme for owners of animals which had been killed by snow leopards. Then our final stop, a time to meditate and learn more about the eco-camps for children aged 10-14.
Then came the silent auction – write your bid number on a list provided and then wander back later to see if anyone has topped it. Each item was tempting but I only bid on one, a needlefelted snowleopard. When I returned to see how my bid was doing, I found that it had been far surpassed. So much for my paltry $35. I think the bidding for that item went well over $150. That was one of the smaller items in the silent auction.
As well as the silent auction and the henna tattooing we listened to hypnotic Indian music – a tabla and an outsize sitar and had a show of Indian dancing from 2 young girls and their teacher. Come 8 o’clock we enjoyed a festive dinner and then the live auction. Again we were to wave our numbers if we wanted to bid. Ian wanted to sit on my bidding card to be sure I didn’t get carried away with enthusiasm for our wonderful evening. Here was the BIG chance to make a donation to the cause. And believe me, the bids were BIG. And good fun. I got my chance though at the close of the evening when they announced that the lovely centerpieces at each of the round tables were available for $50. I came home with a colorful ceramic bejeweled elephant plant holder and the plant is a live orchid. I am delighted with my treasure.
My only regret about the evening was that I hadn’t taken advantage of the opportunity to wear some of my Indian or Nepalese or Bhutanese clothing items which I have accummulated over the years and never seem to have the right occasion for wearing any of them. Oh well, at least I have saved those items and another occasion might arise now that we are here in Seattle.
Curiously though, I had just finished reading a book about living in Tibet for 5 years. Running a Hotel on the Roof of the World by Alec Le Sueur. It was a great read for me, so reminiscent of our years in Bhutan.
Here are a few photos to give a bit of the flavour of the evening.
artist at work – the official live wildlife artist at Woodland Park Zoo. The artist worked on the painting all through the evening and then it was auctioned near the end.
getting my snow leopard henna tattoo – I was wearing my Lance Armstrong jacket for warmth – by that point in the evening, it was getting cold. Also it was chilly on our trek to the Spiti Valley.
Indian dancers – 2 girls age about 8 and 12, I think
one of the henna artists – there was a choice of patterns as you can see on the sheet on the table
Kaysea getting her tattoo
one of the items at the silent auction
just a general view of the hall – note the ceramic elephant plant holder in the foreground
another print in the silent auction – I quite liked this one but the bidding was way beyond me
tabla and sitar musicians
Kaysea with one of our guides in the Spiti Valley
my ceramic elephant
Running a Hotel on the Roof of the World