My Kind of Town

Don Chapman

Lama on the Lam

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Everybody was there that night at the Blaisdell Arena when the first reincarnation of the beloved Tibetan Lama Jey Tsong Khapa made his first return home to Hawaii since being identified at age 2. Now, after 16 years of study and meditation in India, he was coming home to share the Dharma.

That the Dalai Lama would be there to introduce the young lama turned the event into a political and social event, and a fund-raiser extraordinaire.

Lily Ah Sun and her new husband (and ex-cousin) Quinn were there. Lily, raised Congregationalist and tired of eternal religious wars, was curious about the way of life that gave Quinn such peace, especially for a cop. Quinn, back on solo bike after being shot, was a Buddhist and had been honored to provide police escort for the young lama when he arrived earlier.

St. Meg the Divine and Chookie Boy Kulolo were there, she looking for pointers in the holy biz because she was still so new at it.

And Dr. Laurie Tang was there, having dragged along HPD Detective Sherlock Gomes. Well, dragged may be excessive. Gomes was, as always, by nature more inquisitive than 12 other people you know combined. But as a staunch Roman Catholic he had mixed emotions about attending a religious talk by a non-Catholic. It was one thing to consort with Laurie, a practicing Buddhist, he figured, quite another to listen to the exhortations of a priest from a foreign religion.

"Lamas are not priests, they're wise and holy men," Laurie explained on the drive over. "And Buddhism is not a religion. It's a way to peace and enlightenment."

Woo hoo, Gomes thought.

Even Sen. Donovan-Matsuda-Yee-Dela Cruz-Bishop-Kamaka was there, still wanted by the police but unrecognizable with shaved head and wearing orange mendicant robes.

They were all there, along with thousands of other locals and visitors, including two sections of monks in those orange robes. The return of the first Hawaiian lama was a big deal, SRO.

Outside the arena, at least a thousand more who couldn't get tickets held a candlelight vigil, praying to free Tibet from the Chinese butchers.

Which, surprisingly, was not the primary reason Te-Wu was well represented. The Chinese secret police go back to 550 B.C., and no secret service operates with more stealth or viciousness. This evening some wore business suits, some aloha shirts, some dresses, taking positions at strategic points throughout the arena and outside. Their orders were simple: Know where the young lama is at all times, stay close and when the time is right, strike.

But there was another group at the Blaisdell with a history that also went back over a thousand years, and they marched with very different orders from Te-Wu's.

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

Don Chapman is editor of MidWeek. His serialized novel runs daily in the Star-Bulletin. He can be e-mailed at


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