as of today, caryn and i have a new home (well, temporarily!). we’ve decided to stay here for a while and are gonna be living here in mcleod ganj for a whole month. it was a really tough decision. we only had 2 months total for india, and giving up a whole month of it on one place was difficult… but we really like it here. the town itself is really nice and relaxed. the scenery is absolutely incredible. and plus, there’s so much interesting stuff to do here. the final thing that definitely made us want to be here was that the dalai lama is going to be doing his yearly teachings here in a couple of weeks. yup, that’s right. every day for 2 weeks straight, we are going to be attending speeches given by the *dalai lama*. i just cant get a grip on how cool that is!
it’s weird to think that we’re still in india right now, because mcleod ganj really doesnt seem to be like india at all. most of the stores are tibetan, many restaurants are tibetan, the temples are tibetan, and most of the people you see on the streets are tibetan. it really does feel like another country. in particular, it’s been interesting being here during Losar, the tibetan new years. although there isnt much in the way of celebrations, people all around town are running around in a good mood and lighting of firecrackers. also, there’s a tradition where tibetans are supposed to wear their nicest clothes for new years, so we keep seeing people in fancy shiny tibetan outfits. seeing as i dont really know anything about tibet, i bought the dalai lamas autobiography which, by telling his life story, tells about the history of tibet and how it became ruled by china.
tibetan prayer wheels
like i mentioned in my last post, this town is completely full of monks. i’d probaly guess that about 10% of the people you see here are monks, or at the very least 5%. everywhere you look, there are tibetans with shaved heads wearing the traditional red robes. it really gives the town a mystical air. we’ve been hoping to do some volunteering while we are here, and ended up spending some time helping one of these monks named Jamyang. and what kind of help does a monk need, you may wonder? oh, you know, help with excell speadsheets, photo resizing, and template making.. typical monk stuff, heh.
we met jamyang randomly the other day in an internet cafe. we were sitting around waiting to use the phone, and he was on one of the computers. he turned around and asked me if i knew how to resize photos so that they were small enough to be emailed, and just by luck, i have a program that resizes photos so i helped him out. when he found out that i make websites and know a bunch about computers, he asked if i could maybe help him some more the following day. apparently, from what we’ve heard later, jamyang is always running into the right people at the right time. good luck just follows him around.
jamyang spends his time here in mcleod ganj by helping others. among other things, he runs an organization that helps get schooling for extremely poor kids who live in a homeless camp. apparently, it’s difficult to get these kids, who’ve had no structure in their lives, to go to school… and then just as difficult to persuade schools to have anything to do w/ these kids. sometimes, parents of other kids have actually threatened the school to not let their children attend if the homeless kids are allowed in the school. and then, often the parents of the kids dont want to send them to school cause the kids could instead earn money for the family by begging. it’s a difficult battle on all fronts. recentl, in addition to funding schooling, he’s set up a hostel where a small group of these kids can live so they dont have to live on the streets. truly admirable stuff.
just hanging out w/ this guy is an experience. he’s so warm and charismatic. he practically radiates positivity. he moved here from tibet 12 years ago, and although he misses his parents a ton and they really want him to come back, he insists on staying here to help people. today we went with him to his office in darmasalla. the funding for his organization comes from another company, and he needed some help making expense spreadsheets etc. i havent used microsoft acces in ages, but caryn and i struggled through it and eventually were able to make him what he wanted. tomorrow, we’re gonna go down to his office again and help out w/ some other stuff. it’s really cool to be able to put my computer skills to use for a good cause!
colorful houses on the hillside