#99 - a few days in mcleod ganj

McLeod Ganj Travel Blog

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after tushita, i decided to stay in mcleod ganj for a few days and i am just so glad i did!  it's such a precious town and i also got the chance to hang out with and get to know some of the peeps from tushita!  so here's what my time is mcleod ganj was like....

april 30th:
tushita let people stay at the meditation center for two extra nights if you wanted to....i was actually really excited to stay there!  it is such a beautiful, quiet, serene place.  it was just so comfortable and i wasn't ready to leave the womb that was tushita yet! 

so....joseph and i ventured into town and hit the internet cafe for awhile (that's when i wrote my previous long entry about tushita!) and then we met up with about 20 others from our tushita program!  our plan was to meet in the "square" at 7pm.

  and this was so crazy - as we were gathering....we all of a sudden saw jampa deyki (our teacher from our program) and she was getting in a cab with tenzin palmo!!!!  tenzin palmo is this very famous (and i think, enlightened) nun.  she wrote "cave in the snow" and "reflections from a mountain lake".  and the craziest part is that we had asked jampa dekyi if we could meet her since they were friends and tenzin palmo was 2 hours away from tushita.  jampa dekyi told us that unfortunately, she was leaving town the day our course ended (she's off to do her last speaking tour) so she didn't know if it would work out.  she told us to "put it out there though, and you never know what will happen".  soooooo....there we were....standing in the square and we saw her getting into a cab!  she was off to the airport to leave for her speaking tour.
  SOOO cool.  so, we went up and met her.  it was almost like she was a rock star or something, the way we crowded the cab.  hilarioius.  it really is so cool what happens though sometimes when you put something out there.  it's all karma baby! 

so, after our run-in with tenzin palmo and jampa dekyi, we all headed to the jungle hut.  we had an ENORMOUS table for all of us and it was SO much fun to sit and chat with everyone.  we really had such a cool class and it was nice to have time to actually get to know people better and to debrief on the course.  such a fun evening!

may 1st:
woke up at tushita again....ahhhh!  i just love that i got to stay here for a couple extra nights.

:)  karin also decided to stay at tushita as well, so that was fun to get to hang out with her.  she was in my discussion group during the class...she's from israel...and she is just the nicest, sweetest person.  we got some tea and sat outside for a bit and then decided that we would do our meditating!  so, we went into one of the gompas and actually sat for 20 minutes meditating.  it was such a great way to start the day.  i DEFINITELY want to continue this as a practice. 
after our meditation session, we chatted with some of the folks around tushita.  there was this one guy who was taking another course while we were there who was the smiliest, happiest looking person.  we finally learned that his name was emmanuel (we could now talk!) and that he was from germany.
  such a nice guy!  we ended up chatting with him and his friend, hardy, for awhile.  and guess what....obama came up - so they were the next two proud recipients of my obama buttons!!  :)
karin and i then headed down the hill into mcleod again and we got MOMO's.  YUM!!!  they are basically tibetan dumplings...but everyone is obsessed with them.  they are quite delicous.  we had some yummy spinach and cheese ones.  :)
did some shopping around the cute little streets and then met up with a bunch of people for lunch at the japanese restaurant.  i think there were about 8 or 10 of us there.  so fun to have so many friends in this little town.  and it was fun to have sushi for lunch (even though it was all veg and no fish)
after lunch, karin and i headed back to tushita to chill and get ready for the evening.
  i heard there was a chabad house in dharamkot (a little town next to mcleod ganj) and karin said she would go with me.  ronny and catherine were also interested (they are getting married - ronny is jewish and catherine isn't but she was very interested in checking it out).  and then this was the best - martin, the german guy who had no idea what he was getting himself into, wanted to come too.  sooooo....we all went for shabbat services and dinner at the chabad house.  it was quite the experience!!!  i think we got there around 6:30 or so....and it wasn't over until 10:30!  i had no idea it would be that long.  even though it was long, it was SUCH a cool experience.  catherine, karin and i lit the candles....ronny put on tefillan.
...ronny and martin were a part of the minyan and did all the prayers....and we all had a delicious dinner with about 20 other israelis that were there.
one of the parts of the evening that i especially loved was when the "rabbi" (i'm not sure if it was an actual rabbi, or just someone leading the service) gave a sermony thing that was VERY related to what we had been learning in our buddhist class.  it was all about treating people with compassion and living in the present and being a good person in this life.  he was much more eloquent than that, but it reallly was the same, same as what we had been discussing for the past week.  i'm REALLY interested to go back to SF and learn more about buddhism and judaism and how they relate, etc.  i love it.
  and huge KUDOs to martin for sticking through the entire thing....he was such a trooper! 

may 2nd:
karin and i met for our last breakfast at tushita!!!  who would have thought i would be excited for that porridge and roll one more time!?!  i really think i will miss it!
after brekkie, we meditated again.  go us!  and we actually sat on the roof of the gompa - it was super nice and peaceful.  ah!  i love tushita!!!
so sad to check out....but it was time to go back into the "real" world.  i found a great guesthouse in mcleod called the "mount view inn" (reminded me of the mountain view inn up at camp, so i loved that!)...it was 600 rups for the night...i think that's around $12...and i had a great balcony overlooking the whole valley.
  so gorgeous.
karin and i headed out and did a bit of shopping.  i was so excited, i ended up buying a thanka of white tara.  it is GORGEOUS!!!!  i am so, so, so excited.  white tara is for long life and prosperity....i also think she's for compassion because she has 7 eyes, so she can see all the suffering in the world and have compassion for everyone.  you will have to come check it out in when i get back to SF!  i just love it. 
we then headed on over to the peace cafe (turned out to be my favorite place for breakfast, chai, and basically any meal!) with satyana (another girl from our program).  we had the most hilarioius lunch - satyana is such a trip...she is just right out there with whatever is on her mind, god bless her.
...it was so nice to get a chance to know her better.  such a classic lunch!
after lunch, karin and i went to the dalai lama's temple.  very cool to get to see it and everything that happens around here.  all the monks are around doing their debating thing where they clap their hands (ask me more about it, hard to explain here) and just to see everyone who was there to visit the temple.  we ran into our tall, smiley german friend, emmanuel and chatted with him for a bit.  :)
then it was time to say goodbye to karin!  :(  so sad - we had so much fun together!!  i really hope we will see each other again...either in israel or san francisco or who knows where!!!
i ended up having an early dinner at the peace cafe (i ordered something called the "spinach phing" - just thought it was funny!) and then i went back to my room, had a massage (she came to my room!  so fun!) wrote some postcards and went to bed early!!!  i was so pooped from all the activity of the past two days.
..it was so nice to get a good night's sleep!  :)

may 3rd:
i met ronny & catherine for breakfast this morning at the....guess where....peace cafe!  :)  we had planned to go to norbalinka today (it's a tibetan arts and cultural center), but we found out that the artists who are usually there working aren't there on sundays, so we changed our plans and ended up having such a fun, chill, just hang around kind of day.
nicole and christina ended up joining us for breakfast later...so we ended up just hanging out at the peace cafe for a few hours.  i just love that place. 
soooo...then, ronny, catherine, nicole and i just ended up walking around, shopping, sitting, talking, getting chai, getting lunch, walking around more, sitting more, etc.
 
then, i got another massage and this one was AMAZING.  one of the best ones i've had in awhile (and if you have been following my blog at all, you will know that i tend to get as many massages as i possibly can!  thai, lao, vietnamese...and now tibetan...so fun!)
i ended up having another mellow evening....i just got some momo's and called it a night!

may 4th
so, guess what i did this morning?!?  it's going to surprise you....i met ronny and catherine at the peace cafe for breakfast!  it was so cool though, this tibetan guy named tse ten gya was sitting with them practicing his english.  it was great to speak with him and help him out with some new words (it reminded me of what i did in laos actually)  so we practiced a bunch of words and then at one point he said.

..ronny was clever, catherine was generous and i was amazing.  it was so funny.  but hey, he's a smart man, right?
after our breakfast we actually made it to norbulinka (i think i am spelling that wrong).  anyway, it was awesome.  we got to see tibetan artists painting thankas, doing embroidery, making wood carvings, sculpting brass buddies (i think it was brass?) AND it was just a beautiful center.  we even went into the gompa and had a little mini-meditation session.  so great. 
on our way back, we decided to have our cab driver drop us off in dharamkot so we could get a falafel.  i don't think i mentioned this before, but dharamkot is FULL of israelis.  there is hebrew everywhere...signs, internet keyboards, menus, etc.
..it's a very popular destination for israelis.  so interesting!
so, we got our falafel which was very exciting.  it was just so fun to have something different to eat!!!
then, we headed down the hill to bagsu to the monastery to hear a talk on compassion and emptiness.  what an experience.  it was this tibetan monk that would speak in tibetan for awhile and then there would be a translator.  we were all CRAMMED into this little room and it was definitely hard to sit for the whole 2 hours without fidgeting or without my legs cramping up.  i enjoyed the pace of the talk with him speaking in tibetan and then the translation happening.  that way you could absorb what he was saying in little chunks.  he actually only ended up talking about emptiness and it was a bit of a repeat from what we had just learned at tushita.
  but, it was interesting and reinforcing nonetheless.
after that, unfortunately catherine wasn't feeling so hot, so she went back to rest. 
i ended up running into nicole and martin again, so we went to the peace cafe for a little afternoon chai. i just love this town!
and then i ended up meeting ronny for dinner.  catherine didn't end up coming because she still wasn't feeling well.  :(  i hope she's okay!  ronny and i ended up getting some chinese food (again, nice to have a change of pace!) and it was nice to get to hang out with him.  he and catherine are getting married in september and i really hope i'll be able to go to the wedding!  i have a feeling they are two people i will keep in touch with after this whole tushita experience.
  i am so glad i ended up sitting next to catherine in class!!!  i wonder if we would have gotten to know each other otherwise?  anyway, as they would say in buddhism, it was our karma to meet each other.  :)   (but the question is was it negative karma or positive karma!?!  ha ha ha.  just kidding guys!)
tonight there was the most insane lightening storm i have EVER seen.  i had to go to bed with my eye mask on and earplugs in because the thunder was so loud and the lightening was so bright it would light up my room.  crazy!

may 5th
so, today turned out to be so crazy!  i had a ton of stuff to mail home so i had to make it happen this morning since i was leaving at 2pm that day.
  SO, i got up and was at the tailors right at 9am.  you see, you have to get your packages SEWN!  they wrap them up in plastic and then actually sew a piece of cloth over your stuff and seal it with wax.  so interesting!  then, i was at the post office the minute it opened to avoid crazy lines and i got it done JUST in time for my 10am cooking class!'
i was going to meet ronny and catherine there.  unfortunately, catherine was still sick.  such a bummer!  so, it was me, ronny and this other thai woman in llamo's cooking class.  we learned how to make 2 soups.  and it turned out to be the perfect day to make soup actually...the weather had turned cold and rainy....so perfect soup day!  and i have to say, it was actually fun to see the rain after all the hot, hot, hot days!!!
then, this is when my day turned super crazy.
  i got my cab to the airport and when i got there i learned that my flight was CANCELLED.  the ONE flight that goes down to delhi each day was canceled due to weather.  (oh and on my way to the airport it was actually HAILINGĀ“- so bizarre!!!)  SO, i basically had to decide if i would wait to take the flight the next day, or figure out a way to get to dehli that same day.  i decided i couldn't risk the flight being canceled again the next day because if that happened i would definitely miss my flight the next day to frankfurt.  SO, i called mark to see what he thought.  i originally said, "i guess i'll just take an overnight bus"...mark's response was great..."i have been in india for 18 years and i have never taken a bus..
.do NOT take the bus".  sooo, the next thing you know...i was in a cab for a TWELVE hour cab ride to delhi. 
this cab ride was INSANE.  i literally had to lay down in the back seat because i couldn't bear to watch.  the roads are so bumpy and windy and cars just pass each other left and right. and trucks. and cows. and everything in between.  it is just pure chaos and i just couldn't sit up and watch it all happening.  oh - and this was the piece de resistance....we actually got TWO flat tires on the way down.  so, the driver would pull over, fix the flat and then whenever he found a tire place we would stop and get it fixed.  that happened TWICE.  oy.  i took a couple notes while i was in the cab to capture the whole thing.
..this is what i wrote down:

om mane padme hum (i did some buddhist chants to keep me calm for a bit)
nice cab driver
backstreet boys (they kept playing them on the radio and it cracked me up....."tell me why, ain't nothing but a heart ache"...)
flat tire!  fixed it
then stopped to fix the tire
this is going to be LONG
another flat
fixed again
backstreet boys
toll collector (some random van made us pull over to collect some money)
random stops on the road
peeing in the bushes twice
weird dinner experience and not having enough money
into delhi at 3am!!!!

so, yes, i FINALLY arrived at the hotel where mark was at 3am!!!  SUCH A CRAZY TRAVEL EXPERIENCE!!!

oh and i have something to admit.  i took a valium at some point in the car.

  i had a couple from vietnam (long story) and i was SOOOOOOOO glad i had them.  i think they kept me calmer than i would have been.  so, yes, i took a valium.  hilarious.

musicdan says:
What is this with "never take a bus in India"? Who is this Mark guy? I was in India for just two months and took over 20 buses. Isn't that how normal people travel in India? McLeod Ganj to Delhi non-stop in 11 hours for 240 rupies. How can you beat that? Just make sure you buy tow tickets, BOTH bunks - so you don't share with a smelly, hairy, greasy Indian man!!
Posted on: May 13, 2009
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McLeod Ganj
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