- The philosophizing cook
- Learning cooking Indian food with Rita
- Giving the Men Tse Khang a shot
- A teaching by the Dalai Lama
- Our last hours in Dharamkot
We are still in Dharamkot, but lots has happened! We spent a couple of days getting into the local routine, which is characterized by an interesting mix of Indian and Tibetan culture. What we do most of the time is just commuting between the pool table, Rita (the cooking classes), our room and Guddu´s. These places are literally on a 30m strip. we wake up, go to the fruit vendor of the village, buy 4 or 5 huge mangos for like a pound all together, then we go to Guddu´s, he prepares his amazing masala chai plus 2 masala omelettes and we have this along with the mangos for breakfast.
The philosophizing cook
He is just so amazing, like most people here he is just genuinely happy with his life although he does not have a lot. we asked him why he does not ask more money for his dishes, as it´s really too cheap, but he said he is not running a restaurant, he just wants people to be happy, and if they spend less money they enjoy his food more and are therefore happier. Basically his place is just a very very tiny kitchen on the ground floor, then you go up the stairs and he built a little chilling room of bamboo, full of pillows. It has a view over the valley and it´s just so comfy. When you order something, you need at least 2 hours of time, as it can take 10 minutes for a chai or 2 hours. He does not have an oven, or a normal kitchen, just one gas hub, no running water, but owns a “restaurant” with this. It´s simply amazing. Moreover he is quite lazy and the last 3 days he didn’t go to town to buy stuff. So the first day he still had everything. The second day only rice and dhal, and the third day nothing. But it really doesn’t matter and we just go there, don’t have to say anything, and he brings us some chai, just cooks whatever he feels like and comes up to philosophize.
I really hope that his place will never become too popular as money would destroy it and right now it´s just perfect. There are never more than 5 people up there, and he is there 24/7 and takes breaks whenever he feels like it and chills with us upstairs. When he is not there, he still leaves everything open, and quite a few times we just went to his place and he only appeared after a few hours. And he has a little bell upstairs that you should ring when you had a good time. And every time you ring it he is just soo happy. We don’t want to leave Guddu, but today we will :)
Learning cooking Indian food with Rita
Well catching up where I stopped. We chilled pretty much the entire day and in the evening I convinced Yassin to join me for a cooking class at Rita’s. Rita is a 27 year old Indian woman who has lived in this village all her life and gives 2 hour cooking classes in her small kitchen. She is also such a positive person and is laughing all the time, cooking with her is a lot of fun and when you are done you sit on her terrace and eat the amazing food you just prepared. With her we did Indian food and found out that it is so easy to prepare, it´s always the same and once you have those few spices which should be easy to get in London, and it takes no more than 15 minutes and is just so cheap. We liked the classes so much that we went 3 days in a row, always 3 dishes. It costs like 4 pounds for the class and you get such good food. Even Yassin who is not too much into cooking loved it!
Giving the Men Tse Khang a shot
We decided to go to the Tibetan temple complex to visit the temple one day before the Dalai Lama arrives. it is a very nice temple on top of a hill and we were very lucky to go there that day, because we saw that people started to reserve their places by writing their names on a piece of paper and putting these on the pillows. So we did this in a very good spot right next to where the Dalai Lama would enter and go out of the temple.
Andres, the guy we are travelling with, is a lot into alternative medicine, Chinese Tibetan and so on. And because Dharamsala has the biggest concentration of Tibetans outside of Tibet, they have the biggest Tibetan clinic as well, the Men Tse Khang clinic. He said he wanted to visit it and whether we wanted to come along! I didn’t know about this clinic and thank god we went.
It´s a simple clinic and you can go to the open doctor rooms anytime. The woman I went to was quite old and spoke enough English to understand my problem. I told her about my foot, the operation and all that stuff. She examined me for 30 min and made such a good impression on me, just by touching me she knew loads of stuff, like my allergy to dust and my past injuries. That really impressed me. When I told her about the operation she told me that there is no need to operate and prescribed me medicine that I will take for 2 months now. It´s all herbal and I have to put a powder mixed with water in the evening on my ankle, a cream in the morning and three different kind of herbal pills before or after every meal. It will be tough to do but I will. I really think this could make a difference. For the consultation and medicine for 2 months I paid 12 euros. Just incredible. If it wasn’t for Andres I would never have gone there and now I am not sure about this, but I am optimistic and it might really help!
The medicine tastes like crap by the way :) but she was so confident and told me that this treatment is just ideal for increasing blood circulation in a part of the body and this is exactly what western medicine can’t do without operations. And she gave me an email address and in case I want to continue the treatment from Europe. She will send me everything for a few euros straight to London. So happy about this!
We took a long walk that day and it is just impressive how happy these Tibetans are. They don’t have a lot, but because of their non-materialistic believes, they don’t need a lot to be happy. They always give money to every beggar on the street, they always smile, they always help you with everything, and they are just amazing! In the evening we had a classic night at Guddu’s, some Indians joined us and we just talked and talked and talked while it was raining like hell outside.
A teaching by the Dalai Lama
Dalai Lama day! We got up at 6am, to be at the temple at 7am. The security measures taken were insane. You were not allowed to take anything inside, camera, mobile, bags… our reserved places were still free and we sat down and waited for hours until 9.30am when it started. When the Dalai Lama comes in everybody sits down and lowers his head. He came in and was literally 2 m from us and stopped everywhere to talk to the people and smiled and laughed. We had a radio and earphones to listen to the translation as the teaching was obviously in Tibetan. But the English translation was just sooooo bad. I am really pissed off that it was that bad because apparently it was amazing! But I was sitting in the Spanish section and just turned to the Spanish radio. I got most of it and the teaching was about Buddhism in general, the differences between Buddhism and other religions and then basically a lecture in philosophy. He was talking about knowledge, ignorance, and how to overcome this ignorance. About how you should never hate somebody, because we do not exist independently but are a result of other causes like everything else in the world. It was quite abstract, especially because I had to listen to it in Spanish. But the main massage was: show compassion, be open-minded, don’t give too much importance to certain problems and be nice.
It was very impressive and his mere appearance is amazing, he just has such a positive aura. They handed out chai and food all the time for everybody, and gave money to all the monks and nuns. Was quite an experience. When he got out he stopped right in front of us and talked for ages to the Spanish translator. But one weird and creepy thing happened. The temple has a path which follows a square. And this one guy kept on walking on this path during the entire first 2 hour teaching. Nobody else did that, everybody was sitting. He had an afro, some weird yellow western party sunglasses and was drinking and eating while walking; I found it very irritating and wanted to talk to him in the break between the teachings but didn’t see him. In the second teaching he continued and I saw how he annoyed everybody, even the Tibetans. But they would never show their annoyance. So I stood up at some point walked up to him, during the teaching, and asked him why he was doing that and that he was being disrespectful. I saw that he was a Tibetan and he just said he is doing his thing and I should bugger off. But he was in kind of a trance and very creepy.
At the end of the teaching when the Dalai Lama left, everybody was sitting and at one point somebody jumps out of the crowd towards the Dalai Lama. He got an elbow in his face before even coming close to him by one of the badass Chinese bodyguards. And guess who it was: the guy I talked to. I don’t know if he had a knife or just wanted to touch him, but it’s creepy. Everybody got nervous and the Dalai Lama fled. Well just weird, but I sensed he was not normal. But all in all just an amazing experience and I consider myself very lucky to have been able to attend such an event.
Our last hours in Dharamkot
Today we slept a lot and we have to get ready to leave. Breakfast at Guddu’s, mango, chai and masala omelette. Then we will go down to town and visit the Tibetan museum, which describes the history since the Chinese invasion. Tonight the bus to Rishikesh, the home of yoga. We decided to visit quite a few more places in India, mainly spiritual places as we both find these holy sites very interesting.
I go to Guddu’s now. One last time enjoying this paradise!