Nothing can prepare you for his Holiness the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader, or "a simple Buddhist monk" in his own words, who walks in, warmly extending his hand, greeting you loudly.
The first thing you notice about the Dalai Lama may not be his flowing red and gold maroon-robes, but his laughter
In an interview with the BBC at his mountain-top residence in Dharamsala, northern India, he said he was optimistic that a settlement could be reached with China over the future of Tibet, despite his having led a life of exile for more than 40 years.
"We are now in contact with Beijing. Dialogue between two sides will continue. My special envoys and the Chinese officials may meet again in the next few months," he said.
The Dalai Lama disclosed, perhaps for the first time, the continuing direct contact between Beijing and himself following his envoys' historic visit to China