Questions about Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto’s beard are being asked in the strangest places these days.
The mayor started growing whiskers in August and has since been fielding questions about his two-toned hair color, black hair, white beard.
He returned Monday from a two-week trip abroad that included stops in Vietnam and India and a meeting with His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama.
Even the Dalai Lama was curious about the beard.
“His Holiness looks at me, and he grabs my hair, and he goes, ‘This is black,’” the mayor said. “He grabs my beard, and he goes, ‘This is white,’ and he goes, ‘Ha, ha, ha.’ My first response was that’s the way God made me, but I know that in Buddhism there’s like a different belief in God, so I didn’t want to start a philosophical argument.
“I guess I go to the other side of the world, and people still ask how is that possible,” he said.
Peduto was traveling with Bill Strickland Jr., founder of the Manchester Craftsman’s Guild and the Manchester Bidwell Corp.; Scott Lammie, senior vice president and board treasurer of UPMC’s Insurance Services Division; and Steve Sarowitz, a Chicago businessman and philanthropist.
They met with the Dalai Lama at his residence in Dharamshala, India, to discuss training UPMC nurses on how to reduce stress on their patients and themselves through mindfulness and wellness programs. They also discussed Strickland’s quest to expand his workforce development programs in India.
“It was like meeting with somebody’s very smart, funny and kind grandfather,” Peduto said of the Dalai Lama. “People will talk about, and I’ve had the experience, where I’ve been around the Pope, and you feel an aura around him. I didn’t have that sense. I had a sense that I was with a very kind old man who is very, very smart. I felt a sense of joy around him.”
Peduto said he enjoyed traveling with Strickland, Lammie and Sarowitz and looks forward to working with them in the future.