Thursday, June 5, 2008

Ahhh Dharmsala

So I have to say of all the place I have been in India...this place is the best. The people here are great and this place is so rich in Tibetan culture and the Buddhist way of life that it is probably the safest place on earth. So far I have seen the Dalai Lama twice and I swear it is so weird how star struck I am...I mean I am not even Buddhist, but no one can deny that he is a great man and to see him and be present at a prayer service he conducted (even if I couldn't understand it) was awesome. We are getting to the last few days of the trip and I have realized a few more things that I want to share...
1. The Chinese Government is torturing/killing the Tibetan people and the people here have witnessed or even experienced this horror
2. We as American SOMETIMES have no idea what is going on in the rest of the world and we should do more to be informed about world events.
3. I never realized how much I appreciate Ice until I got here
4. Being on the top of a mountain is beautiful, but any "walking" you do is more like HIKING!
5. India makes you forget your troubles and realize that there are people in the world that are worse off than you...much worse.
6. Never say you would never do something...I mean in 25 days I have Hiked up a mountain, white water rafted, cliff dived, met the Dalai Lama, slept in hotels that Frommer's doesn't even give one star, and gone without meat (well at least for 18 days)! NEVER SAY NEVER!
We said goodbye to one of our group members the other day because she had to get back for her sisters graduation...I have to say I miss her! Right about now she should be landing in the US and itching for a shower and some home cooked food! You really get close to the people you have this kind of experience with...I mean sleeping in a bed next to a girl for 25days kinda makes you closer! I will admit this though...I miss my friends and family...I can't wait to see them again...but then I think I will miss India too. Hey why don't all of you move here and then I will have the best of both worlds!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

"The Dalai Lama looks like he'd be the nicest Grandpa ever!"

Since Heather and I are roomies and tend to be attached at the hip, we decided we put forth a joint effort in this blog. We are halfway through our time here in Dharamsala which is interesting because it feels as if we have been here for quite some time now. As Tony and Rachel have both said, Dharamsala is breathtaking with its views and it is so much more appealing with its atmosphere. There are just winding roads with little Tibetan shops and restaurants, and monks and nuns walking around everywhere. We have attended two different buddhist teachings and a prayer for the earthquake victims in China that was hosted by his holiness himself, the Dalai Lama. (Yes we got to see him...and he totally waved at us. Im pretty sure that is a bunch of blessings right there!) This prayer time consisted mostly of mantras that none of us could really understand. However it was really inspiring to sit and be able to take part in this religious act with the Tibetan people. We both really enjoy this culture and the people here, seeing as all of them seem to be so happy. We have walked up and down these streets many times now and are starting to become locals at certain restaurants. People are even recognizing us on the street! (Which I guess isn't that difficult since we are a bunch of Americans). One of the restaurants that we visit frequently, Khanna Nirvana, is not only a great vegetarian place but is also a community center, where they house everything from open mic nights to documentary films, to guest speakers. Since Dharamsala is the Tibetan exile this place offers a lot of information on the conflict between Tibet and China. It is very interesting being in a place where so many people have fled to. I know that I, Megan, did not know much about this conflict until we came here, and now want to do something to help. This topic has brought on many conversations between Heather and I, discussing the unjust that is going on in Tibet and we could do to help. As for now we're unsure, but we are trying to grasp any information about this situation we can and loving all these people as our time is winding down in India. On a side note...Heather and I are both ready for a HUGE HAMBURGER!!!!! See you all soon!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Mountains, mountains, everywhere!

We have been making our way through the lesser Himalayas, going from Varanasi to Rishikesh to Shimla, and finally to Dharamsala. Not only did we leave behind the scorching heat but so many of the facets of India which were wearing on me so heavily. The lifestyle is so much more laid back in the mountain towns when compared to the huge metropolises that we have visited so far. Dharamsala is the Tibetan Buddhist capital-in-exile whilst China continues its ridiculous occupation of Tibet. The religious energy here is incredible and seems so much more inviting to tourists than the sacred Hindu places we have visited so far; a much larger portion of the population here seems genuinely happy with their lives and it certainly shows. Snow capped mountain peaks of the greater Himalayas rise up in clear view from our hotel roof and a large populated plateau sparkles at night on the other side. Although I wasn't sure what to expect of Dharamsala, I know now why I was looking forward so much to finally being here. It has been difficult to motivate myself to find internet and reconnect with the world we left behind in the states; there are certainly things I miss and look forward to being home but yet I don't want to leave this incredible place. With less than a week left in India I feel my time is running short; it will be difficult to leave this place behind.

Monday, June 2, 2008


I must agree with all the wonderful things everyone said about Rishikesh, but I love Dharmsala!!
There is just something about this place. I think it might be the Tibetan influence. Yesterday we visited a Buddhist temple, it was so beautiful and peaceful with lots of colorful artwork. People were circumambulating and quietly praying and spinnig prayer wheels. It was wonderful. I liked the Hindu temples but the Buddhist temples have a different atmosphere. I can't wait to see more. I wish that we had longer here. I feel like it is what I have been waiting for this whole trip. I am excited to attend more buddhist teachings and learn more about buddhism. I think that visiting this city will enable me to throughly enjoy the tibetan religion and culture class I am signed up for in the fall. I am so excited to be taking another Buddhism class. The first one converted me to a religious studies major, so it is so awesome to be here and try to learn more. On another note, I hope that we have a Dalai Lama sighting while we are here. I was thrilled to find out he returned to Dharmsala today and I will be keeping my eyes peeled. (Ew I hate it when people say that. How do you peel an eye?) Until next time!!!
PS Dylan I will try to get you a mini chess set:)