Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Monday, March 16, 2009
No more campus- i moved to the "city", Mcleod Ganj, and when i say city i mean a hill station with three winding streets on the side of a mountain.... it's fabulous.... (I know that i promised some of you pictures but I forgot the cord to connect my camera to my computer and... because i would have to trek up these winding roads to get home.... i decided i will do it later on this week... sorry).
So, I moved into a home stay... which i like to call my room stay. I am living with my Aja-lah (older sister) and my Ama-lah (mom) in a room that is the size of my dorm room from last semester. It might sound like i am complaining but know that I'm not. It is actually pretty amazing to see how much stuff and space i can live without (finding an apartment for next semester will be way easier now that my standards are ridiculously low- i wonder how long this will last). The living situation is crazy though- i spend half of my time just staring at the things that go on around me... We wake up at 6am and from 6-7 my mom prepares the shrine/altar... (which takes up one third of the room by the way). She does prostrations and prays as she refills the offering cups with water and fills the room with incenses (i once woke up to her dangling the incense basket over my head and i thought that there was a fire... it was funny. kind of) ... So watching her is pretty incredible- I have never seen anyone so dedicated... anyways... my Ama-lah is from Tibet, a village near Mt.Kailash (which, i just learned is the strongest tantric site (energy wise) in the world, pretty cool) so yes, she does not know a word of English and my Tibetan is limited... so all i say to her is "this is delicious... I will see you later... Goodnight! Good morning! Monkey (ill explain later)...." but I can tell that she is just a really good and nice person- her smile is incredible and she giggles a lot. Her daughter/my sister on the other hand is quite a character. I call her Hitler... She is so bossy it is incredible! I haven't been around someone this bossy since elementary school... here are a few of our conversations...
(after marching 4 miles on Tibetan Uprising Day)
Elinor: I'm hungry, I'm going to get some grapes so that i can survive the rest of the walk.
Aja-lah: No. You're not.
Elinor: Um. Yes.
(After eating three servings of food because she wouldn't stop giving me food and telling me that i have to finish it)
Elinor: This is delicious but i am full.
Aja-lah: Try harder.
(Again, after eating another insanely big meal)
Elinor: My stomach hurts- this was so good but i am full! Thank you!
Aja-lah: Push Harder
(sitting in a cab with my legs to the side with my ankles crossed... elegant right? Apparently not. )
Aja--lah: Sit properly!
(After 3 days of living in her room)
Aja-lah: I don't know your name.
Elinor: Really? Elinor.
Aja-lah: Eh wn?
Elinor: Just call me El
(FYI: She doesn't call me anything... she communicates with me through commands)
I am laughing just thinking about these conversations... you should have seen my faces i have never been so confused!! What?? Really?? So a few days ago I went to Bhagsunag which is another little hill town which is famous for its beautiful waterfall and is infamous this little tea shop above the waterfall which serves marijuana tea and pot lassies (similar to milkshakes) and so, my friends and i went to try everything... least to say, none of it really worked BUT the cafe was relaxing and beautiful nonetheless AND there was marijuana growing freely around us... it was beautiful. Anyways, I guess the drinks must have worked a little bit because when i got home to have dinner with my mom and Hitler I finally had the courage to say "No. I will not eat any more" My ama-lah laughed because i was laughing and Hitler wasn't too happy... (In class today i asked my teacher how to say "sorry but that is impossible" in Tibetan... and so i think I'm set for a bit... ;) ) At the end of the day though my sister is a good person... a bit mistaken but is harmless.
I am realizing that i am just blabbering so, I'm going to do the whole "topic title" thing so that you don't have to waste your time reading everything. So, if you haven't given up already....
As i said before, i live in a room with my mom, sister, and alter... fortunately i went to the house before i had time to collect my luggage BECAUSE there is no room in the house for the small suite case i planned to bring with me... so i bought a little bag and put some clothes, underwear and toothbrush in it and that little bag is hiding under my bed... The place is actually quite comfortable- it is warm at night and i have a bed so no complaining.. There is a tin roof and so I hear EVERY monkey foot/hand step.. which is a bit scary (stories to follow) and there is no bathroom in the house.. the bathroom is down the alley- it is clean but definitely a bit scary to go to at night.... Oh and i have a 7:30 curfew... and that shouldn't be a big deal because what else would i be doing right? but i can't do anything in my room except watch my mom and sister talk in Tibetan and try to guess what they are talking about... or sleep. I tried to do work a few times but then my sister says "Ok, now i teach you Korean" and then i tried to smile and nod and then she says "where is your notebook? I teach you Korean"... then i put my books away and she says "You don't do homework- it is bad... other students do homework you are a bad student." AHHHH... i am convinced that this is all just a test of my patience and so all i can do is laugh...
I was sitting with my ama-lah and she said "peeyuu!" so i thought "sure, smell bad? ok... we are in India!" so i said "peeyuu" back... then i realized that there was a monkey in our kitchen...ohhh ok... "peeyu" means monkey.
I actually saw a monkey walking (on his two feet) into some one's apartment a few days ago... it was really funny... it looked like he lived there and was just going home...
Another monkey story... so a few nights ago i had a crazy nightmare about monkeys with rabies and I woke up and thought "Elinor, you are 21 enough with these lame nightmares" and then i realized that there was monkeys CHILLING on my roof! I heard them walking and eating... I laughed... shook my head... and went back to sleep thinking "elinor... have as many nightmares as you want" ;)
I have to talk about this briefly because a few people asked me about it... so Holy is a Hindi holiday in which there is a reversal of roles with the gods? and the gods throw colors at each other? i don't know... all i do know is that this holiday is celebrated with Indians running around throwing dry chalk at each other and so the streets and people are COVERED in hot pink, neon green, and yellow colors... so it turned out that Holy fell on the same day as His Holiness's public teaching (which were on emptiness and were brilliant!!!) and so my friends and i were all wearing our chupas and walked through the streets saying "oh please... we are wearing chupas that is not fair..." and no one touched us... i ended up changing and then went out with friends and i saw a huge group of men (obviously men because there are no Indian women to be found on the streets of India) so yes, a group of men waiting down the street with their hands filled with chalk... so i hid behind my friend Stacey who was wearing a chupa and it worked for a bit and then i saw a guy coming at me... so i ran into a store thinking "haha... i am safe! you can't get me in here!" so... thinking i am miss smarty pants I'm laughing in the store and then a guy just walked in with a "you think i care" face on and SMEARED this chalk all over my face and it was gross and funny... so then i just ran out and as i was running down the hill all of these other men just smeared this chalk on my face... and i was laughing so my mouth was open and some of Indian-man-hand and this chalk got into my mouth... I am using the word smear on purpose because it is just so gross having ANYONE let alone strangers rub their hands on your face... hahaha EW!! I like to say i was face-raped. (All i could think of was that scene in some movie with Ben Stiller playing basketball and he jumps up to make a shot and this fat and sweaty man jumps at the same time and Ben Stiller's face just SMEARS across the fat guys stomach???? anyone???)
His public teachings were awesome- unfortunately it was only one day this year (usually it will last for a week) but it was still amazing... i love watching masses of people react to HHDL- it is really fascinating. Anyways, he was supposed to discuss the Jataka Tales (tales of the Buddha's past lives... blahhhh) BUT just my luck he taught about dependent arising and emptiness- sweet! (you know i am turning into a total loser when....) seriously though, it really was amazing. They say that when you read HHDL's books or hear his teachings they all sound the same (so true) but they say that when you read/study this stuff you have to apply the teachings to your life AT THAT MOMENT... so it is pretty cool following my own thoughts and see where my head is all the time...
UPRISING DAY/WOMEN'S UPRISING DAY:
I don't want to talk about these days much but i will just say that they were pretty incredible... Tibetan Women's Uprising Day is not a day of women uprising for their own rights... it is a day of Tibetan women protesting against the COLLECTIVE issues that Tibetan people and Tibet is facing... it is really beautiful. As a Westerner... a Barnardian Westerner... I admit that anytime i hear anything about women protesting i think it is them trying to defend themselves or their rights... it was nice to see that that is not necessarily true- there was nothing gender-specific about the day.
I started doing yoga every day.... not only do i feel fat (still a bag of rice... but now a bag of rice with great legs thanks to the mountain lifestyle) and i feel like i can't breath (I'm blaming the altitude... but then i realized that my instructor inhales and exhales twice in a minute and now I'm thinking it might just be me....). My instructor is a snake- literally he moves like Gumbi... and it is just brilliant.
Just to explain the title... so in this culture one calls any older woman "Aja-lah" (older sister) out of respect... every nun is referred to as "ani-lah"... every monk is referred to as "kusho-lah" or "tapa-lah" and so.... when i introduce people it sounds like "monk meet nun" and i just think it is funny... because then my friend will be on the phone and I'll ask who is on the phone? and they say "ani-lah" oh... wow that's fantastic because i know exactly who you are talking about...
So I decided not to eat meat while in India because of cleanliness issues... BUT my ani-lah (hah) told me about this little place with the BEST tandoori chicken in India so my group decided to go... and because we are a group of 15 people we had to call the little hole in the wall place and say "Hey... a big group of people are coming tomorrow" sooo.... my teacher comes up to me the night before and asks " are you eating meat tomorrow" so i said... ehhh i don't know yet- why? and she said " they have to know how many chickens to kill"....
I am so used to ordering chicken off of a menu or having it on the table because my mom bought it earlier from ShopRight.... i am SO detached from the whole process that i realized that i have to stop eating meat... I don't think there is anything wrong about eating meat and about killing animals to eat them even though that sounds extremely depressing BUT... i do think something is wrong with the fact that i don't mind eating an animal but i do mind killing an animal... doesn't make sense right??
Right... so i decided to stop eating meat until i become more aware of what had to be done to get that meat.... i think that is important of everything though no? we should be able to eat a salad and stop for a second and think "wow... someone lives on a farm and collected these tomatoes and then someone else collected them and then someone else sorted through them oh wow and then someone else brought them to shop right and now i am eating them..."
Ok... i have to go home because it is 7:23 and i don't want sergeant Hitler to kill me...