Friday, November 14, 2008

McLeod: Am I In India or Not?!?

Getting curent:

Dinner with everyone from the meditation course was fantastic. We gathered a group of 16 and occupied pretty much the whole first floor of a nearby restaurant. I did not feel like I was in India here, it felt like Ive known these people for years and I was back at home sharing a meal with em. The restaurant was playing The Beatles the whole time, great music to eat or pretty much do anything in the background of. We arranged for a few of us to get together the following morning for a day trek to a fabulous view of the foothills of the majestic Himalya Mountains.

I wake up, go to Peters room to wake him up and in 10 mins we are off to meet the rest of the crew. Turns out Duncan met up with a coworker from France (whos name you pronounced FX, crazy huh?) to come along on the trek, so Duncan, FX, Ashly, Peter, Sandra, and I all went for the trek. So stoked, Sandra was able to make it. Sandra also took the course and we have seen her, as well as many others from the course, multiple times walking around the town because of how tiny the town is. So stoked she made it, she is from Spain and always has the biggest most beautiful smile on her face. We leave for the trek around 8 after getting a nice omlette and chai for about 50 cents! (so rad huh?)

The trek was absolutely gorgeous. I dont know how to describe the scenary to capture its beauty, Im not even sure my pictures I took will do it justice. It didnt feel like I was in India. No horns. No smell. No millions of Indians invading your personal space, just beautiful mountain scenary. At parts there was rock formations that reminded me more of the sceneary I would see in Ireland, not in India. The air was so fresh, no pollution, just so delightful. The whole way up we had stray dogs following us up. Literally, the whole way up. They knew better routes than we did and were so friendly. us. At one point two dogs almost fought to the death about 5 feet infront of us all. Out of no where, they started fighting...Ive seen staged dog fighting in movies but never real, it was horrible...Im glad neither dog did not get hurt...The whole way up there were many shrines in the middle of no where, just on the mountainside or off the road. I went in, bowed, rang the bells, bowed, and then donated money at each one. Ashly kept teasing me about ringing the bells, "Hey Cody, there is another shrine, you should go ring the bells! Ill take your picture! ahah" But it was so awesome that they are in the middle of no where. Speaking of middle of no where, there are little Chai shops on the way up. Needless to say that was my favorite part. Sitting up in the mountain scenary drinking a nice hot cup of Chai. (Thats the picture I uploaded as my main picture on my blog) I even bought a Twix candy bar, I saw it and went "You gotta be kidding me! How much?!?!" It was rock hard, but nonetheless very delicious. On the way we saw houses made out of stacked rocks below us and I asked a local and it was their house and they lets us go see inside and check it out. There was even parts for the stray animals to come in and get away from the cold at night. I wish I could have slept over in one of those houses, that would have been awesome.

So after many breaks and many hours, we reach our destination. Just a huge green flat ground but at the end it drops like a cliff, but all around you were the snowcapped himalayas. We got a couple of nice group pictures, thanks to propping up our cameras on nearby rocks and the timer on our cameras. We arrived with the sun beating on your face and backs, and within time clouds both gray, white and black were creeping through us. We reached about 3000 meters and it got cold when the sun went away. You had smoke breath at 1 in the afternoon. There was our group and about 3 groups of Asians there. We all got to be friends while we all ate at a nearby restaurant. (By restaurant I mean a man in a space no larger than an apartment bathroom, with tarp walls, and amazing food.) We all got the Vegetable Thali. So amazing. A Thali is a little mixture of a bunch of things and has grown to be my favorite Indian dish so far also because it varies from place to place and is always fantastic. It comes with the indian staple (rice), chapati (bread), and 2 kinds of vegtables each with a different type of curry. Shortly after a group of 3 Tibetan monks arrived (2 girls, 1 guy). We all quickly became friends, taking pictures together talking and laughing. The one male was the teacher of the 2 girl monks. He gave every single person his address to make sure we send him the pictures that were taken of all of us. So cute. Tibetan people I believe as a culture are the most compassionate people I have ever ran across. Being in the center of where the Tibetan goverment is in exhile here in Dharamsala we run into alot and seriously I have not met one that had an inckling of anger in their bodies. Always happy, and always have a big genuine smile on their face. They dont need a reason for it, it is just there.

They trekked down with us about half way when we stopped for a break beacause my knees felt like they were going to break. After meditating for 12 hours a day, they are quite sore and trekking did not help them one bit. Where we took a break there was paragliders jumping off the flat run way below us. One of the paragliders upon landing looses their grace and ease and lands on their back falling from a height of probably 20 feet and tumbles a good 30 feet. Upon seeing this, the male monk bolts it down a rocky mountain side to see what he can do to help the person. The fallen paraglider was already being looked after by 4 other people but he darted as fast as he could and he gets down there and sits next to person and after a few minutes he waves at us, knodding his head with great enthusiasm inferring the person was ok. What an inspiration. After, we left to get back. What an adventure, we took a wrong turn, got lost, but nontheless found our way back.

A nice hot shower has never sounded so good. Then we all met up at a local tibetan restaurant where I tried my first Tibetan dish. Momos. I have fallen in love. They are basically dumplings but with all different types of fillings. So good! Then we all went back to our rooms and crashed.

The following morning I went to Peters room not to wake him up but for us to have a nice little meditation session before we all met up again. It was nice, I can already tell a difference not practicing even for a day. Then we met up with Duncan and FX at a local coffee shop then headed out to the Dalai Lama Temple, where beggars lined the walk way up. People with no limbs, or limbs with elephantitis, or horrible burns and rashes begging for money. The temple was small. We got to take a glimpse at the morning tibetan monk ceremonies in action. Drums, Bells and chanting in the most beautiful gold and saffron room I have ever seen. The next room was huge gold statue of Buddha, a beautiful statue of Avalokiteshvara, which is the tibetan god of compassion, also what the Dalai Lama is supposed to be a reincarnation of. Outside the temples were old ladies bowing and chanting silently with great devotion, love, and grace. Captivating and inspiring. There was also a prayer wheel along the side of the building where you walk with your right side to the wheel spinning the little cylinders, that have the tibetan mantra Oh Mani Padme Hum. "The jewl is inside the lotus" the most common tibetan chant you will hear. I went around spinning them, wishing for everyone to be happy. Be happy.

Duncan than had to goto the bathroom. We then look at a room with seriously 1000 lit candles. It reminded me of a scene in the movie Baraka where a monk is lighting each candle with such patience and love. It was a remarkable sight. Duncan comes back with the biggest smile on his face. This is what I love about Duncan. He has a great passion for the little things in life and gets so stoked to tell us about it.
"That was the best bathroom expierience I have ever had you guys!"
"Oh yeah? What happened, were they giving out prizes in there?"
"No, even better. It was so clean! You know while you are peeing you look up and there is a big window that just overlooks those mountains over there. So beautiful and when I was done I walk out and I see tibetan monks playing a board game. They were having so much fun! This truly was the greatest bathroom expierience of my life!" I love it, his enthusiasm is both inspiring and contagious.

After that Peter had to get on a bus to Manali. Before we depart he makes us a cup of Turkish Coffee. It was the BEST cup of coffee I have ever had. No joke. I need to find this imported coffee. It had no cream, little sugar, strong, but not bitter and very tasty. Literally the best cup of coffee Ive ever tasted. Normally I drench my coffee with creamer and sugar, this needed barely anything and was better than anything Ive ever tasted. Drinking this fantastic cup of coffee looking out at the himalayas from our hotel, didnt feel like I was in India. Then we walked up to town and in the midst of our circle saying goodbye a cow comes right in the middle of our circle and walks stright through us, and then it hit, I was in India! It could have gone around, there was plenty of room, but it wedged itself between me and FX and proceeded through without hesitation. Absolutely hysterical.

The whole rest of the day I spent shopping. Ive bought serisouly like 20 books here. Its a disease I have developed in India. They are so cheap and I just mail them back to me. Its an addiction!! ahaha

We all meet up for dinner at a place called Jimmys kitchen that had a sign that tempted me to steal it! ahah it read "Please do us all a favor by not smoking" There was Bob Marley, Aerosmith, and Jack Johnson playing. Once again it didnt feel like I was in India. I ordered waffles with icecream and chocolate syrup on top. So good!

Today Ive spent the day roaming the town buying my bus ticket, getting my laundry done, buying a sweet Black Sabbath shirt for 4 bucks (seriously im not in india, black sabbath in india?!?!?), but then I look to my side and see a kid no more than 3 years old popping a squat right next to me taking a poop in the street, than reality hit, Hey I am in India! Ive also spent the day eating at the food stalls on the street. I never did not have some sort of food in my hand. Gabriel says, "Geez Cody, you are always eating!"
Normally I wouldnt, I would think I would die. But no, the food is better than in the restaruants and at a fraction of the cost. I found a lady that Steve told me about, she makes the "best momos" and he was right. So good. I love trying new food, new tastes, some bad some good. Here in India ,each time I order food I order something different to make sure over time I try it all because it is all so different and so so so good. So easy to be vegetarian here, so hard in the states, how fantastic is that!?? Anyhow, I then get swarmed by beggars with children asking for money, and I hold out my plate of momo's "No money. Momo?"
Some say no just money, then I know its not hunger its greed. I dont give money to beggars only food. Ill buy them food even but never give money. One begger takes a momo than before a blink of an eye I have no momos. I was robbed by 16 beggars of my food, Yep I am in India, but I know it was going towards a good cause. I went and bought more, no worries. Be happy. Then I found an awesome chai shop that made a great omlette and Im sitting, eating on a little bench no larger than 4 inches x 4 inches and I look to my side again, and a mother is holding her childs penis while uses both his hands to hold up his shirt up, peeing in a ditch that runs behind me. Yep, I am still in India! ahahah

Today I met up with a man named Gabriel that I met from the meditation course. Hes also in his mid thirties and lives in new york. Hes going to Thailand in a few weeks, only costing him about $300. If I didnt land in India only one month ago, I would so go with him. One of the most jolliest, funniest persons I have ever met. In the course, his room was next to mine and on the last day of silence we are resting during a break and all of a sudden in the midst of pure silence someone sneezes 3 times and coughs in a period no longer than 1.5 seconds and I thought to myself, "what in the world was that?...that was possibly the most weirest thing I have ever heard." holding back my laughter I hear a "hee..hee....he....hehehehehe" no louder than a mouse fart coming from next to me, it was Gabriel. Upon hearing this I let out my pentup laughter, he laughs harder which makes me laugh harder, which make others in the tent begin to laugh and in a matter of 5 mins the whole tent was in a uproar of uncontrollable laughter. The mere fact that we were supposed to maintain our silence just fueled the fire. This is how I am whenever Gabriel talks. We are supposed to meet up with Duncan, FX, Sandra, Ashly at a nearby lake that is supposed to be absolutely serene. We shall see, its already 1 and I have to be back by 430 to board my bus to Chandigarth for the rock garden. I cant wait for the bus expierience, Im sure it will be an expierience in itself, they never disappoint.

Much love to you all. I hope you are all doing well.
Be happy.