PUBLICATION DATE: 30-05-2013
Inspired by the work of Ippolito Desideri, a pioneering, eighteenth-century Jesuit who wrote the first detailed account of Tibet, Ivan Cooper travels by clapped-out jeep and on horseback across the remote grasslands of eastern Tibet. In the company of an itinerant painter of deities who serves as guide and mediator he encounters, amongst others, Lama Sonam, a living Buddha held in reverence by the surrounding nomads, who summarily condemns him to rebirth in one of the Buddhist hells. In a chaotic monastic shanty town that has been illegally constructed around the residence of a living saint he narrowly avoids arrest. Alone and isolated in a land where few foreigners have set foot he is forced to re-evaluate both who he is and the fixed certainties of the culture in which he grew up
After a false start working as a lab technician, Ivan spent several years kicking around Asia, including long journeys through Pakistan, China and India. In the following years teaching jobs in Taiwan and Korea sparked an enduring, if love-hate, relationship with oriental languages. Growing fascinated with Tibet after visiting Buddhist regions of China and India, Ivan made his home for ten years in Dharamsala — the Indian headquarters of the Dalai Lama and his government-in-exile, where he studied Tibetan, Sanskrit and Buddhist Philosophy. After moving back to England in 2009, Ivan divides his time between looking after his young son and instructing youngsters in the art of sushi making.