A few years ago an online community forum I participated in had occasional posts called "randoms" in which people asked and responded to a set of random questions.
This post will be a series of random updates because I have no one particular topic I want to expound upon, yet I feel there is much to be shared.
*Regarding daily schedule: First, let me say, all things considered, life is good. I have not been sick this trip beyond a few minor inconveniences. Despite some discouraging events early on, nothing bad has happened.
Life has taken on somewhat of a routine. I get up between 6-8am most days, enjoy a nice hot shower, dress and have tea and sometimes breakfast on the patio or (more recently, since a room change) on my private balcony, overlooking the Dhauladhar range of the Himalayas. Usually I leave the room by 9:30 and go either up into town to buy fruit or down and around the kora with a stream of local Tibetan exiles. By 10 at the latest I am usually seated in One Two Cafe having sweet milk tea and checking emails and facebook. By noon I have usually moved to another local restaurant which tends to have faster more reliable internet where I can actually upload pics and work on my online shops. I often have lunch there as well. Before 4pm I have usually finished and tend to drift around town depending on which friends have called or dropped by. Sometimes I go out for dinner, others I snack or cook back at my room. 3-5 days of the week, I tutor a Tibetan friend in conversational English from 6-7:30 or so, and we usually have a really good time. Most nights I am in bed by 9:30pm at the very latest.
*Regarding "Practice": I have gone through a series of views on daily Buddhist practice. I set up a shrine in my room and make offerings and do prostrations, albeit somewhat erratically. I may go to kora 3 times a week, depending on weather and energy level. I try to go to the temple at least 3 days a week, as well. I have started reading 2 more books on Tibetan Buddhism, but as is often the case with me, I read when the mood strikes, not daily. I've decided not to beat myself up over this because it just doesn't work for me. I try to do at least one mala of Om Mani Padme Hum daily and sometimes also Green Tara and Medicine Buddha, and on occasion other mantras such as Vajrapani, or Vajrasattva, creep in there. A few of my Tibetan friends have told me it's not what I do as ritual but what actions I do that make the difference.
*Regarding weather: So far it has been mostly pleasant weather. Daytime highs are still in the low 60s Fahrenheit with overnight lows dipping to the low 50s. I haven't bought my heater yet and am still only, usually, wearing a single layer of pajamas and socks! (last year in the depth of winter I was in double and even triple layers!). We had 2 days of showers with heavy rain during the pre-dawn hours, and on the 2nd day the snow level dipped below Triund, but other than that it has been mostly sunny.
*Regarding "curriculum": I am friends with a fellow American who speaks &/or understands 5 Tibetan dialects and who has been teaching me the alphabet and some very useful phrases. I would say my Tibetan language usage has increased two-fold since beginning to hang out w/her. Still, I frequently flounder trying to make simple conversation, and it can be very discouraging.
*Regarding Everyday Exile Project, my initiative to increase awareness of Tibetan exile issues and main reason for being here: Things have been erratic. At times I gather many new pieces of information and hold impromptu interviews, at others I feel very discouraged at the lack of local interest on the part of people I have spoken to, and the difficulty of making progress. Things here are done differently. Emails and phone calls often produce little if any interest or result. You literally have to plant yourself in front of someone to get something done. I have, admittedly, not made a huge effort to get down to the government offices, mainly because I am not sure exactly what I want to say. My questions are diverse and rather unfocused. I need a lot of information on a wide range of topics and have no idea where to begin. Even finding out which person I need to contact has been complicated.
Those are the main things I wanted to cover for the moment. I feel things evolving, but am not sure I can clearly describe how. The best I can say is "stay tuned" for updates! I will try not to be so inconsistent in the weeks ahead!