Dalai Lama Arrives in NYC: Meet His Point Man

Yes, even the Dalai Lama has a "point man" -- his name is Nicholas Vreeland. As the Dalai Lama heads to Radio City Music Hall in New York today, Vreeland is a busy man. He talked to The NY Times about the Dalai Lama's sitting preference, his fashion-icon grandmother, his love for New York City, and more.

In addition to being the Dalai Lama's right-hand-man in New York, what makes Vreeland unique is that his grandmother is iconic fashion editor, Diana Vreeland, making his path to the simplicity of Buddhism even more unlikely.

Nicholas on his grandmother's reaction when he shaved his head for the first time:

I remember shaving my head for the first time... This was long before people shaved their heads. I was living with her in her apartment at the time and she was in New Mexico. I called her and told her. And she said, ‘Oh, Nicky. How could you have done that to me?’ And I said, ‘I didn’t do it to you. I did it to me.’

Beginning in 1991, Mr. Vreeland has helped organize four of the Dalai Lama's visits to New York City, working with the Tibet Center and Richard Gere's nonprofit, Healing the Divide. Vreeland gets involved in every detail, even picking out a chair for the Dalai Lama at ABC Carpet and Home. How does the Dalai Lama like to sit? Cross-legged.

Vreeland on the Dalai Lama's lack of pretense:
I didn’t expect His Holiness to have that down-to-earth quality... I understand that more and more: holiness and practicality are not separate. When something is down to earth, it means something is relevant.

Vreeland on New York City being special:

It has a blatancy that is really refreshing... The great cities of Europe are beautiful but they lack that vitality, the totally raw, contemporary relevance that New York has.

Did I mention that Vreeland is also a professional photographer? That's how he first met the Dalai Lama when he was just 25. You can check out his photographs at Ratodratsangfoundation.org.

The Dalai Lama will be at Radio City Hall in NYC form May 20-22. Here's the info if you'd like to attend.

If His Holiness is reading this, welcome to New York City!

You can check out the entire story at The New York Times.

image via Joshua Bright

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