Alexandra David-Néel (89)

It is the opening to the unknown, to other cultures, at all costs. You imagine, a teenager navigating between Protestantism, anarchism and feminism, in 1883? A conversion to Buddhism from 21 years? A departure for Asia in the wake? This fascination such for this continent that she will not let anything stop, especially not being a woman? Go to meet each other, blend in with their culture and language. It is not only the adventure of Lhasa, the most emblematic, that made her the first western woman to enter. Before that, there is the courage to go to Indochina as a singer, then Athens, Tunis … The courage to learn these oriental languages, too, to go back to China, India … She has the fagots, there has always more to do in the world than the suburbs of Paris or Brussels. More to see and understand in the East, China, Tibet, India … and share, in writing, what she saw and learned there. Alexandra David-Néel is the coronation of complex and nuanced thought, curiosity and knowledge.

These portraits are part of a series of 89 characters (and a little more) that inspired my childhood.