A Conversation for Dharamsala
pikachurinpoche Started conversation Feb 16, 2002
I lived at the Geden Choeling Nunnery for 5 months. I tutored monks and nuns in English.
The roads are very thin. Often, when two cars pass going the opposite direction, they both go off the pavement, onto the shoulder, which is often inches from a sheer drop. I'll never forget what one monk from Tibet said. 'The roads in Tibet are very poor, not like these here in India.'
When it's not raining, there is a lot of construction on the hillsides. When they lay a second floor, they hold it up with tree branches. Most of the buildings are brick laid. What the buildings lack in in architectural sophistication, they make up for in color.
Mcleodganj is at the top of a mountain, so there are a lot of ups and downs going anywhere. Flights containing hundreds of stairs lead into the valley. It's a beautiful walk down, and a daunting walk up, unless you're used to hundreds of stairs.
Staying at one of the Monastary or Nunnery Guest Houses is a fine way to investigate Tibetan Buddhism. Guests may request permission to attend Puja, the chanted prayer sessions. It's easy to find people who speak English.
Pick up a copy of Contact Magazine and the adds will lead you to volunteer sites. You can help teach English and computer skills among other things.
Even if His Holiness is not in town you are free to visit his Temple. It is a magnificent place. Walk around the buildings to the left and spin the prayer wheels nestled inside the walls.
Save a coin or two or seven for the lepers begging on the side of the road leading to the Temple. And if you hear a beep, jump to the side of the road as fast as you can. I've seen nuns hit by cabs.
There is a lot of suffering in Mcleodganj. Refugees are often ex-political prisoners. The Chinese aren't very nice to political prisoners. They are required to clean latrines. They do so by scooping out the latrines with their hands into their food bucket. They don't get soap to wash their hands, and they must carry their food in the dirty bucket.
One child I met was imprisoned after creating a disturbance in front of the hospital that wouldn't admit his sick mother because she was Tibetan. He was six when he was sent to jail. The guards use him as a martial arts dummy. When I began his therapeutic massage, I was shocked to feel his broken body. He healed wrong in many places.
So if you're rich, bring you're checkbook and donate as much western money as you can afford, as these moneys translate into huge amounts in India. Your relatively small dontation can change lives.
Once again, your entry is wonderful.
John the gardener says, "Free Tibet!" Posted Feb 16, 2002
Stories like that of the poor little boy are enough to break your heart. It's a shame that so many tourists seem to take away impressions based on how far Dharamsala falls short of being a holiday resort. It makes you wonder what it will take to make the world see the miracle of the place against the backdrop of the tragic events that brought it into being.
Pdmatthew - Probably In a corner somewhere with a guitar Posted Jul 2, 2005
Im going in August, its nice to find an entry on It
John the gardener says, "Free Tibet!" Posted Jul 2, 2005
Thanks. I wish I was. If you haven't already, have a look at h2g2 Friends of Tibet - A2170982.
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