"Is it okay for us to be in the datsan?" I ask my guide upon entering the Aginsky Datsan. "It's a monastery, after all, a restricted area. Would the lamas want to speak to us?"
"I'm sure it's okay," answers my companion, Daba Dabaev, who is a lama, a photographer and a traveler. "In Buddhism, a lama is a teacher – that's how the word translates from Tibetan. It is believed that every person that approaches a lama with a question deserves an answer and a piece of advice. No matter if it's a Buddhist, a Christian or a representative of another faith."
We enter the territory of the 200-year-old Aginsky Datsan, one of the oldest Buddhist monasteries in Siberia. Daba's father brought him here after he completed nine years of school. At first, Daba studied at the Datsan Academy at the Department of Buddhist Philosophy, but when he was in his third year, he changed his major to Pictorial Art and then started working at the datsan as a photographer. He is now 30 years old.