past few years.
Shopkeepers great me pleasantly when I walk by in the morning. There is
no more pressure to buy souvenirs or "just look" at their merchandise.
I am learning how to be a local. Learning where the best prices on fruit,
snacks, and clothing are. Learning how to speak basic Tibetan (there are as
many if not more Tibetans than Indians here, thankfully, as this IS the home
of the Dalai Lama and the exiled Tibetan government and many refugees.
I am volunteering as a conversational English teacher every weekday with
the Tibetan community at L.I.T. (Learning and Ideas for Tibet)...follow the
link to find out more!
Help stop the human rights abuses the Chinese are inflicting on Tibetans!
There is a real community here, both of locals and westerners like myself who
are getting involved with the Tibetan cause.
Actually, I have been selected to choose the topic for Monday's
conversation class, and I am having a bit of a dilemma, but have a few ideas
which I'll run by some other volunteer coordinators.
In other news, I trekked to Triund 2 days ago with a nice girl from Finland
who I met at L.I.T. We started at 7:20am but had a few stops for tea/snacks en
route. The distance is roughly 5 miles one way, starting from 6831 feet
climbing (steeply at times) to 9514 feet.
We reached the summit at about noon, rested and took photos for over an hour,
and started down at about 1:30pm
We made great time coming down until we encountered a fellow trekker who
pointed back the way he had come and told us it was a "shortcut" to
Dharamkot. By this time we were all for shortcuts, so we decided to go for
The slate ledges were steep and loose in many places, and often the trail led
in several directions, so we were never certain we were going the right way.
I was in tremendous pain and on the verge of a panic attack when we
encountered some Tibetan Buddhist monks sitting in front of simple stone
cottages. We asked "Dharamkot?" and they pointed, and a little white dog
sitting with them suddenly bounded off in front of us. Every time we'd lag behind,
the dog would stop and wait. I am pretty sure he thought we were taking him to
town for biscuits, and thereby showed us the way!
We should have been to the village by 3:30pm but the short cut added at least
an hour and a half, so it was nearly 5, the shadows long and leading into dusk,
by the time we came back to McLeodGanj!
I had my first Tibetan language class yesterday afternoon, and today boldly
introduced myself to the assembled group of Tibetan students in their
language, partially to help the girls in my group who had never spoken
English publicly before feel less awkward! If I could say some phrases in
Tibetan...anything was possible!
After class today, I hung out with two other western volunteer
coordinators and a group of Tibetans at the tea shop connected to the
ex-political prisoners association. Somehow the topic turned to relationships,
and everyone wanted to know if we wanted Tibetan boyfriends.
We all agreed that Tibetan boys are very cute, but one of the other girls
boldly said, "Yes, but I have heard Tibetans are very bad lovers!" so I
said, "Well then we just have to teach them!" Everyone loves to joke and
laugh. And now I have three Tibetans playing match-maker for me!
Well, life is good, and I can't wait to see how things develop.