it’s weird, sometimes i really forget about why there are so many tibetans around here. since there are so many of them here and i see them everyday, it just seems natural that all of these people are here. but the thing is, it’s not. not a single one of these people belongs here. the tibetans didnt just up and decide that mcleod ganj is a pretty place and might be a nice place to live.
all of these people are refugees. they’re all here because about 50 years ago, china invaded their country. the chinese came in and killed, tortured, and imprisoned thousands of tibetans. it desecrated sacred sites, tore down monasteries, and completely destroyed the tibetans’ way of life. tibet, when it was still its own country, only had a population of 5 million people, and virtually no army since it believed in being peaceful… an easy target for china. the more i learn about the history of tibet and what the chinese government did to it, the more absolutely disgusted i get.
so, beacause of all this, the tibetans did the only thing they could do… they fled. first the dalai lama fled with a small entourage, and then over the next several decades, many others followed. it’s really crazy for me to think that every single person i see as i walk down the street is someone who had to flee their country. every single person i see has lead a life much harder than anything i can imagine. everyone is here because they are doing what they can to rebuild their lives. it’s a long way here from tibet, and the journey is extremely difficult over high mountain passes w/ no real roads. a lot of them came here with absolutely nothing.
yet, thanks to the tibetan community that came before them, and thanks to help from the indian government and other people from all over the world, they’ve managed to build a town here that lets them preserve their customs and their way of life. they can eat tibetan food, wear tibetan clothing, worship in the tibetan fashion, etc. it’s a really amazing place, this McLeod Ganj. of course, despite everything, life here isn’t perfect. for instance, when we were talking to Jamyang a few weeks ago, he told me that many of the people here are actually more sad than usual when new years comes around. this is because new years is a holiday traditionally spent w/ their families, yet for most people here, a big part of their family still remains in “china”. not everyone can come here, and many people still have to live under chinese oppression. *sigh*.
for the few weeks we were here, the weather in town had gotten worse and worse. it went from raining, to heavy storming, and eventually to snow. as the time of the dalai lama’s teachings came closer, many people started to worry about what would happen to the teachings if it continued to storm (most of the seating area has no roof). someone told me a story that a few days before the teachings started, he asked a monk about what would happen if the weather didnt get better, to which the monk replied “weather? do not worry about the weather. the dalai lama will make sure that everything is fine with the weather”.
a day before the teachings, the weather mysteriously got fixed. the snow had all melted, the rain had stopped, and the clouds parted. everything was all sunshine. right on time!since then, the weather has been a little rainy at times, but somehow it has *never* rained during the teachings. on one day, it was sunny during the morning teachings, but then started raining during the 2 hour break between the morning and afternoon teachings. but, by the time the afternoon teachings started, the rain completely stopped. the rain had only continued for the duration of the lunch break. coincidence?
sometimes, i think it’s really incredible that we’ve had such good timing w/ where we are during this trip. just watching the news yesterday, it was sad to see that everything in the middle east has become all crazy again. lebanese prime minister assassinated. suicide bombing in tel aviv. israel and the US threatening syria. everything’s a total mess. and we were there just 2 months ago! how lucky are we that we were there then instead of now? and the same thing goes for the tsunami. right now we’re in india and about to venture into South East Asia. what if we had timed our SE Asia visit for just 2 months ago? we would have been there right when the tsunami hit. seems like our timing has been incredibly lucky!