Tashi Delek!

Hey everybody, I finally have some time to sit down in the internet cafe and give you all an update. Things have been going really well here. I’ve been trying to stay cool as it has been in the high 90’s here… That means trying to stay out of the main part of town, lots of fresh lemon sodas and swimming in the freezing snow melt rivers. The tourism in town has really picked up. It’s been hot, dry, and crazy crowded and noisy in town. India style… that means non-stop honking, insane traffic jams, taxi drivers nearly hitting you with their mirrors, rickshaws, cows, donkeys, kids, beggars, vendors and touts all virtually on top of each other in the street… oh boy…

I am having some mixed feelings this week as I am getting ready to move onto other parts of India. I put in my two weeks notice at Lha and have started filling in the new english teacher on what they will be expected to do on Monday. It’s hard to believe that I have spent six weeks in Mcleod Ganj already. I will be teaching for the rest of this week and my last day is this coming Friday. I also moved out of the homestay as I had to find cheaper accommodation. It was sad saying goodbye to my host mom and host-sister but it will also be good having some new experiences around town. I am realy going to miss Mcleod Ganj, but I’m also very excited because my good friend from back in the U.S., Nelson Guda will get into Mcleod this coming weekend to work on his international peace project. Nelson is coming here to do some work in Kashmir and invited me along since I was going to be nearby. We’re meeting up in Mclead for a few days and then we’ll head north up to Kashmir soon after. Way stoked to help with his project and see a familiar face abroad.

Here is a link to nelson’s project – http://enemiesproject.com/

 

Above is a picture of the classroom I teach in and some of my students this last Friday (we had a pretty small class all week because there were some ceremonies going on at the main temple because there were two more immolations in Tibet on monday). Thu re-starting the 49 day morning cycle that just concluded. I had the students do a practice worksheet and snapped a couple pictures while they were working.

Here are a few of the monks who are in my class, Rabten and Tenzing. Good guys… I actually went swimming at a waterfall with them earlier today since it was the weekend.

The above picture is from the library in Lha. All over McLeod Ganj there are posters like this with quotes from H.H. the Dalai Lama. Iv’e seen six or seven different posters and all of them are great quotes about how to be a more compassionate, mindful or stronger person… It is a really neat thing to see these hanging all over. you can find them in restaurants, all the classrooms in Lha, my host mom even had a few in our home and in the bedrooms. I really like this one because for a few days I was having trouble getting through to some of the students in class and the thought crossed my mind to give up becuase I coulden’t teach them… All these inhibitions came up and self-doubt told me I had no business teaching English. Literally five minutes later I walk into the library and read this poster and start laughing… No way can you give up says His Holiness… 😉

After reading the poster I asked another teacher  if she could give me some advice. We went out for chai and talked for about 20 minutes and she totally got me back on track. It is awesome what a little bit of advice can do. Asking for help may be harder than sulking but it gives us much better feedback.

On a totally different note I almost got robbed the other day…

Luckily nothing happened but it reminded my why you’ve always got to be on your toes… I was hanging out at my apartment like I do on most afternoons. Just sitting and playing music in my room. I had the door to the landing open to let some fresh air in when a thief walked right up to my door… In broad daylight in the middle of the afternoon… I saw him come up to the threshold of my door and then he saw me sitting on my bed and we both froze. I jumped off my with my guitar and grabbed a steel pipe by the door and chased him off. He ran around the corner and up the stairs to the roof…

I caught a picture of him as he walked up to the door (see below)

Although the thief wan’t interested in my computer or camera he was eying my  delicious mangoes… Thank god I chased him off… ha ha ha

Also, I just got emailed by an Indian guy that I met up at Triund last week. We were sitting in the short alpine grass drinking chai and playing music for like three hours. This guy videod me playing a few songs and then uploaded them to youtube and sent me the link. Pretty nice of him… There are three videos and here’s the link to the first.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkQvBuYWF1Y&feature=relmfu

Here is a picture of one of the pools me and some of the other Lha staff swam in this weekend. There is a huge waterfall that is out of view (is up and to the right), but there were dozens of cascading pools below it. We staked this one out and swam in it all afternoon… Or kinda did… The water was crazy cold. An hours walk up the hill and there is snow, but luckily the sun was shinning and it was really hot outside. Good way to spend a Saturday.

I’ve got no picture for you all but I got to see the Dalai Lama today. I was walking up the dusty main drag after a late breakfast when I saw one of the other teachers from Lha standing up against the buildings with a bunch of other people on the right side of the road. I walked up and asked what they were all doing and he said they were waiting for His Holiness to drive by. For the Last few days the Dalai Lama has been giving teachings just north of Mcleod Ganj at the Tibetan Children’s Village and returning to town at around 12:00. I jumped in line next to him (being careful not to jump into the open sewer) and the crowd continued to build for the next 15 minutes. The crowd was composed of mostly local Tibetans, some Western tourists and some Inidan Tourists. All of us trying to stand on our tip toes to see if any cars were coming. People who worked in restaurants and shops along the street were running outside along with their customers to see if they could catch a glimps as well. Then some officials came out and forced everybody to pack up tighter against the building right as some government vehicles with lights drove approached. There in the middle of the group of vehicles was a 90’s era brown suv and riding shot gun was His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. He was facing the crowd waving at all of us with a smile that clearly said he would give each and every one of us a hug if he could. So neat… Within 5 seconds of him driving past the unified attention of the crowd dissoved as the people dispersed and went their usual chaotic and noisy way down the street. Pretty neat…

 

Big hugs to you all!

Alex