19.06.2011 - 24.06.2011
We enjoyed the comforts of a family home for a few days- recovered from our colds and injuries.
In Chandigarh we spent our time eating great home-cooked Indian food, met some of Kishan’s friends and just did basically nothing. It was a well-needed holiday from our holiday ;-)
Last week Sunday we (plus Kishan and his friend, Mayank) took a 5 hour bus up north to Shimla. Shimla is one of the most famous and popular hill stations here in India- the British ran here to escape the hot, humid summer months in Delhi and nowadays it’s a very popular summer destination. The bus ride took us on windy roads with steep valleys below us and high mountains above us. Sitting on the seat away from the window- if I looked out I couldn’t see the road; only a steep fall down…
We only stayed one night in Shimla- had a well- deserved dinner and just walked around through the busy streets. The next day the boys went back to Chandigarh and we headed on north to Mandi. Mandi is nothing but a stopover town to cut down the journey to Dharamsala into 2 days.
The ride from Mandi to Dharamsala was surprisingly pleasant. Despite the fact that the bus was a ramshackle-of-a-bus, the trip went by pretty nicely! It was so fascinating to see Indians looking really different to ones I’ve seen before. The mountain folk have sharper features- longer, pointier noses, grey-blue eyes and are averagely tall. They look more like Iranians, than a stereotypical Indian. They also treated us differently than the ones in the flatter plains south- they stared out of curiosity and interest and never once did I feel like any of the men stared in a perverted way (as many of the Delhi and Punjabi guys have done). After 6 hours we finally arrived in Dharamsala, but our journey was finished yet. We had to take a squashy jeep up to Mcleod Ganji, 7km away. There was a guy sitting next to me who smelt drunk. His left arm was spread out behind Angie and I. Every few minutes he would remove it and place it back in his lap. But his movements included a slow movement, touching my back as his arm went past. He even tried to touch my leg. It was a small space and I didn’t want to cause a scene, but man I was this close to slapping him!
We reached Mcleod Ganji and took an auto-rickshaw a further 3km up the hill to Dharamkot- a peaceful little village sitting at 2200m above sea level. We found our guesthouse and soon we were eating pizza and drinking tea, whilst overlooking a beautiful valley below us and mountains above us.
Dharamsala is the home of the exiled- Dalai Lama and his government and all the Tibetan refugees who have escaped Chinese- occupied Tibet. So this area is completely dominated by Tibetans, meditation centre’s, Tibetan libraries, monasteries and temples. I feel like I have left India…
Our first day was spent researching different yoga courses and just walking around and getting a feel for the place and enjoying the glorious cool weather. In Dharmakot there are numerous little cafes and restaurants and laundry services. This is also a favourite spot for young Israelis who have just finished their compulsory army service (2 years for girls, 3 for boys) to chill out and smoke hash- so there is a lot of Hebrew and Israeli food around. (Yummy hummus!) I really like the Israelis- they are interesting to talk to and have different approaches to life.
We decided to join up for a 5 day (3 hours a day) yoga course. Hmm, if only we had known what we had signed up for… I thought I liked yoga, but after 3 years of being mute to it- I have lost all my mental strength and balance! The course is for everyone, even if you are an advanced student. Sharat (our teacher) teaches right from the beginning- how to stand properly and how to do the poses absolutely correctly. During class we use a lot of props to help us with the exhausting and painful poses- this is new to me and I don’t like it. I like to just use my body and a matt. But it has been interesting to try a different method of yoga. I thought I would struggle, since my right arm is still sore from the scooter accident, but since the course started my arm has gotten so much better and stronger!:-)
Since being here we have met 2 weirdoes. First it was a 23 year old dude from Delhi. He asked Angie and me if he could join us on our walk. In the beginning he seemed ok, but then he asked us if we had boyfriends, I lied (didn’t want to give this boy any thoughts) and the conversation carried on. Then he asked us what we thought about commitment (?!). We weren’t sure where he was going with this… then later he asked if he could stay in our room for the night since he had to walk back to his guesthouse alone and he was scared to be attacked by a bear!! Really?? WTH??
Day 2: a guy asked us where we were going etc, he told us of a waterfall close by that he could take us to. We agreed. He suddenly blurts out “can I live with you?” (??!!) Do we look like a homeless shelter? Then when we decided not to go all the way to the waterfall, be became so pushy that we politely ditched him.
Next week the Dalai Lama will be in Dharamsala for 2 days giving some talks and teachings. I never thought I would get the chance to hear him, so I am really excited that we are here at the perfect time! :-)
Ok I must go now and eat some more splendid food! (Since we walk up a steep hill every day and we do yoga- we need the extra calories. So it’s all legit ;-))