To describe life in Mcleod Ganj, or really just life traveling, here is a snippet of the events of Sunday, January 17th, early afternoon.
Jamie and I ate breakfast at Moonpeak Café (one of our favorites), and then switched to Mandala Café, which is right next-door, so that we could use their power outlets and finish downloading some movies… ahem… transcribing an interview.
At around 12, we decided to go to Kora, a circular walk around the Dalai Lama Temple, and one of our most favorite places to be in Mcleod. It’s so beautiful and peaceful. There are prayer flags, and you spin prayer wheels as you walk the path.
As we were walking down the road to start Kora’s path, we ran into Dani our skinny, 83 year old Tibetan friend, who speaks 0 words in English.
We met Dani a week or two ago while walking Kora with one of Jamie’s past students, who was going to visit Dani – a friend’s grandfather – at his elderly home (tucked back quietly down a path along Kora).
Tashi didn’t even know Dani before we visited, but over 10 of us pitched in to try and locate the frail, yet surprisingly speedy little man, before Jamie and I sat silently in his tiny room as he and Tashi conversed in Tibetan.
Back to this afternoon, we greeted Dani with warm handshakes and many “Tashi de lek la!”’s (hello with respect), and learned that he had just bought some cilantro and spinach. We mimed out that we were all headed to Kora, and mutually decided to walk together.
On our way down the hill we passed a roadside chai shop. Dani waved us over and pointed us to the bench in front of the small wooden table. Dani sat at a completely different table from us, as Chai Man asked “sugar, ladies?”. We sat there chuckling to ourselves, drinking some of the best chai we’ve had, and quietly chatting about how wonderfully strange our lives are. When we finished our chai, after the initial “let’s just wait for them to notice the empty glasses” conversation, I bravely brought them up to Chai Man and said, “thank you Ji, how much?” Dani grabbed my hand as I went for my wallet and slowly pulled out 20 Rupees. “He’ll pay.” Chai Man translated.
Dani picked up his vegetables and walking stick (not cane – literally a stick) as we said our goodbyes and continued the slow descent towards Kora. Dani expressed his disdain towards the monkeys along the path as we walked. He impressed us with his speed, and also cut some corners on the “turn 3 times” prayer wheels.
We giggled a little bit about how our day had turned out, and mentioned how we’d have to stop and smell the roses some along the way today.
When we reached Jampling, the elders home, we thought Dani would be returning to his room, but he motioned to continue, so we walked.
As we neared the end, Jamie and I sighed, realizing, “we can’t stop on the hill today. If he can do it, we have to.” And slowly began walking up the big hill at the end of Kora. Halfway up, Dani stopped at some benches where two of his friends were sitting, and motioned us to sit as well. We conversed some with Paljur, a (he says 25, I assume 60-something year old) man who was fluent in English. After chatting some on the benches, we finished the hill, and started the walk back towards town. Paljur told us “a beautiful girl isn’t beautiful because of her looks, she is beautiful because of her heart.” And proceeded to invite us over for tea and tingmo, a traditional Tibetan bread.
When we got to the end of the path, we wondered aloud (though quietly) “when/how do we say goodbye?” Before just going for it, and shaking their hands and promising to meet again.
We were so hungry we were shaking, and so ready to walk quickly again, but were more then grateful that Kora – which typically takes around 20 minutes – took 2 hours today.
Life in Mcleod is so good.
PS. have you checked out refrep.org yet? Jamie and I are working on a blog documenting refugees stories around the world! Please share with your friends and family, and also follow us on Instagram and Facebook – Refugees Represented!