The quote is from this guy Karma who became my mentor throughout my research period- he is just truly amazing and inspiring and this is what he said to me when we had our good bye... cutieface.
SO... my semester is over! I had to say bye to most of the kids in the group and my teachers, and Dharamsala, and the shop owners and my homestay family et cetera and it was really nice. Only a sad goodbye with the group because we all really did share an incredible semester together and we really did go through it all together and while most of us will be back in Dharamsala one day I really think that the "first time" experience of anything is beautiful and priceless and i am lucky to have gone through it will my group. As for Dharamsala and my school and my roommate and the tea stall owners... I will be back soon and I'm not sad..
Our semester ended with a private audience with HHDL!! It was quite the experience... meeting a world leader! He is really nice. It was extremely emotional for some of my friends... and then when they cried i started to cry because my friends were just SO happy... It is weird to explain but I guess i look at him as a nice guy who has really stepped up in the world as a promoter for nonviolence... i admire him like i admire Ghandi, and MLK jr... Dennis Dalton... but some of my friends and teachers and many many Tibetans view him as not only a world leader but as a spiritual leader, a Buddhist scholar (which i would agree with), and possibly as an enlightened being which would make him omniscient... so you could only imagine the emotional rush that came before our meeting...
We asked him five questions... i dont have them on me right now but when i do i will post them... most of them were philosophy based and his answers were fantastic... we also asked him one question about international relations... we asked ( and i cant write the question verbatim but i will sum it up... basically she asked...) if all individuals come to a situation with their own cultural and personal understanding of the world and of how situations should be fixed... how are we supposed to resolve conflict in the international arena when each actor is coming to the table with his own understanding of what life is, ethics are, and problems are??... my friend's question was better but i honestly dont remember how she worded it...
anyways.... HHDL responded by saying that we have to find the commonalities between the actors and to do so we have to go down to the simplest level... for example, we are all human- so we need to work for humanity... he then went on to talk about the importance of introducing such a concept to individuals at a young age and how we have to train the youth with compassion and care for humanity... then he said education is important..
DING DING DING... um Dalton anyone? John Lennon said the same thing too! This made me so happy! I was so scared that i was going to sit in this audience and have some sort of worldly experience and have a physical reaction... because that would mean there is something more to him on a level i cannot experience yet and if i figured out that that was true i would just have to shave my head and become a nun and figure it out... but guess what?? i dont have to! why? because he spoke a truth that i absolutely admire and respect and i can confidently say that it is a TRUTH because other compassionate and wise people have said the same thing! I walked out smiling.. it was a great experience... and i dont have to shave my head ;)
So voila! Program over! Hang out with HHDL! Bye bye Dharamsala! Who would have guess that THIS is the time my mind would actually be blown??
SOOOO... After i tied up all of the loose ends in Dharamsala my friends and i went to Manali... a very cute... VERY touristy (Indian, Israeli, and Westerners alike) area... I would say more but i got sick and ended up spending the entire time in the bathroom reading Dharma Bums... classic right? Well... all i have to say about Manali is that i got to hang out with my cousin Naama more (she is in India from Israel doing her post-army trip) and my friends and i picked up a new friend... an Aussie named Brad... AND I MET A YAK!! I don't expect you to care at all... i dont even think i knew what a yak was before i came on this trip but my god!! I spent this entire semester learning about the Tibetan Plateau and about the flora and fauna that the Tibetans have mostly been living without since 1959... and seeing a yak for the first time was like hearing about the north pole for your entire life and then actually going there and meeting Santa! It was magical! Yaks are weird and HUGE and look like they should be in a science fiction movie..
Not only did i meet a yak but i also met an angora rabbit... PLEASE GOOGLE NOW... remember how i spoke about the Indian camels and elephants putting all that i have known to shame?? well these rabbits are not only the softest animals in the world they are also fucking huge!
We only went to Manali because it is on the way to Leh, Ladakh... you may ask how to get to Ladakh? well... it is a 20 hour drive from Manali... It is only 292.0444 miles away!! WHAT? So why the hell did it take so long? because one has to drive through the Himalayas to get there! That means up and down and around mountains for 20 hours... that is about 15 miles per hour.... sounds slow but it is on "not-so-much" roads and ice everywhere and mountain to our right CLIFF to the left.. scary as shit... I am only writing this now because i am alive and well and will never do it again BUT our driver drove the ENTIRE way without sleep and he was chewing on CAT the entire time and smoking hash... you wont believe me but he really was an amazing driver... he really was...
So... we gathered our belongings and our new friend Brad and we met the 10 seater cab we hired.... we got into the car and realized that there was an empty seat... SWEET!! right? no... because in india that would never happen... a seat would NEVER go unfilled... so... the driver took us to the closest bus stand and just sat there and said "we find one more"... i was sitting there thinking "you must be fucking kidding me... what are the odds that we will find ONE person in this parking lot at 2am who wants to hitch a ride across the himalayas to Leh?" obviously... India smacked elinor across the face and not only did we find ONE person.. we found FIVE Nepalese men... four of which sat on the floor the entire time... the floor... let's talk about the drive so that you understand how insane this is...
The first part of the drive is called the Rhotang Pass... which literally translates into "the pass of piles of dead bodies" I am not kidding... google it if you dont believe me... it is a CRAZY drive! For the first half i was sitting with Brad and we were talking about how we have never ever seen such a sky of stars in our lives! Then Brad said "Wait, I have never looked to my side and seen this many stars!" THAT is how high up we were! So.. this part of the drive was complete ice- literally a wall of ice to the left.. cliff to the right... great... we turned a corner and saw WILD HORSES... NO JOKE this was the most magical thing i have ever seen in my life... again, these horses were bigger than any horse i have ever seen.. and they were just galloping on the ice in the moonlight- ahhh it was incredible..
then i slept... or at least tried to... it was SO COLD and so bumpy and a part of me thought "i refuse to die in my sleep on this road so at least stay up so you can see the view..." in the mean time everyone started to get sick... the altitude sickness started and the car sickness continued... one third of the people in the car puked the entire way... fabulous! small 10 person car with 15 people in it... 5 of which are puking... lovely..
So the drive went on! I HAVE NEVER SEEN SUCH BEAUTIFUL MOUNTAINS AND NATURE IN MY LIFE... IF I CAN OFFER YOU ONE PIECE OF ADVICE FOR THE FUTURE MAKING THIS TRIP WOULD BE IT (get it?) But i am serious, it was the MOST worth while trip i have ever done.... PLEASE consider doing it... at least consider it!
So altitude sickness... when will it happen? i dont know... i didnt even know it was happening to be honest.. but the first time we had a pee stop i got out and just started to laugh.. i could NOT stop... i felt like i was drunk and then laughed so hard that i almost puked... at the time it was funny because everyone else was out of it and delirious but altitude sickness is definitely scary... we went through the second highest pass in the world... called Taglangla which is 17,582 miles high!! WHAT? Most of my friends stayed in the car but i had to get out... i needed air... turns out there is no air up there... but it is beautiful nonetheless.. really really incredible... pictures will come soon...
Along the drive we then went through extremely lush areas... ice again.... deserts... and ice again... along the way we saw nomads! NOMADS! really? it was so exciting! I am actually going to go try and live with some this weekend... but i shall let you know...
So the drive was over! well... nearly over! We were 30 minutes away from Leh and we stopped in a town... why? because the driver had a doctor's check up... this was at 10pm and we were 30 damn minutes away from Leh... you should have seen the faces of the people in the car.... i just fell asleep.
So we are in Leh! Actually the most beautiful place i have ever been to in my life... number one no question... it is surrounded by mountains on ALL SIDES... desert mountains, snow capped mountains in the distance... there are a few trees here and again... NO AIR! we spent the first day in bed... literally i slept for 30 hours.. because our bodies needed to get used to the change in altitude... i go to the bathroom and am out of breath- it is actually a bit funny... sad... scary... but funny. It is just incredible being on the Tibetan Plateau.. this is the perfect way to end my semester... just incredible- everything is coming together physically.. seeing monasteries build on the sides of the mountains... and seeing the animals.. and the Ladakhis... and now it makes sense that all they eat is dri butter, grains and yak meat.. THERE IS NOTHING ELSE HERE! Vegetables and fruit are SO expensive because they have to bring them in from god knows where... some far off lands... as if you could get further from here... i dont know.
This is where i am and i am having an incredible time.. really really incredible... I want to write more and i will when i have time next but it is now 11pm and this internet shop closes at 10pm... I'm a shmuck... a shmuck sending love from the top of the world!!!