My thoughts and activities in Dharamsala

Saturday, October 15, 2005

I feel the earth move under my feet, I feel the sky.....

Last Saturday a very catastrophic event happened. As many of you know from the news a huge earthquake happened in Northern India and its presence was definitely known here in McLeod Ganj. That morning I had just finished my morning meditation, so I was still sitting in posture on my bed. It had not been 2 minutes after my meditation that I felt my apartment building sway like a blade of grass in the wind. I heard some folks outside my window yelling something. It lasted for about 2 minutes and then it was over, so I did not think too much of it. I know that this area is earthquake prone so I went about my business, not knowing that in Kashmir the earthquake had devastated the area. That is all that I hear on the news now. It is such a sad event. This week has been interesting. I mentioned last week that I might attend that Miss Tibet pageant, but I ended up going to a party for people from the Amdo region of Tibet. There are three main regions in Tibet, Amdo, Kham and U-Tsang. Each one of these regions have there own dialects that are very different from each other. So much so that a person from Lhasa cannot understand a person from Amdo. The dialect that I am learning is U-Tsang dialect and most people use that dialect here. What ends up happening is that I learn many different pronounciations for the same words from Tibetans from the different regions. I think that McLeod with eventually develop its own dialect, McLeod Kay, or the McLeod dialect, due to the combination of Tibetan dialects,Hebrew, English and Hindi. So anyways, back to the Amdo party. There were tons of people there, many wearing traditional Amdo clothing. It was quite a site. For the most part, there was a lot of singing in the Amdo dialect, and this went on for hours.Then at one point a singing debate broke out between a man and women. It was kind of a Amdo version of a freestyle rap battle, but in Amdo dialect. This went on for another hour. The singing was absolutely beautiful and I could tell when one of the debaters had a good insult towards the other because the crowd would burst out with laughter. There was a guy behind translating the debate into U-Tsang dialect, so I deduced that they were debating over romantic matters, on how a man should treat a woman, etc.The lady had won the debate/battle since she was awarded several silk kataks and some money. The battle was abruptly ended by the lights going out, which is quite common in McLeod Ganj. Once the power came back Hip Hop and Hard House music was played for the rest of the night. Many people got up and started dancing. I of course, placed my "two cents" on the dance floor with some odds stares to go along with it. The party was broken up by 7 Indian police officers around 11:30pm, as far as Miss Tibet went, I was not to sad that I missed out. Several days later, I was talking to a student who told me that folks were angry at the show because it was advertised that there were eight contestants. The pageant was 150 rupees, which is no small change in India. When the people saw only one girl, they were supposedly very pissed. My student told me that he lives on top of a Japanese restaurant called Lungta. He heard some guys screaming outside his window, so he went to investigate. What was happening was that the crowned Miss Tibet was eating dinner at the restaurant and the guys were making fun of her for lack of competition. OK, moving on. Last Sunday I was forunate to visit the Tibetan Childern's Village and have lunch with the director. The Director is the father of Berea's very own Tenzin Nangkyi. (Thanks Nangkyi la!!!!). Tsewang Yeshi was such a educated man and we had a great time talking about religion and politics. Tsering La, the great wife is president of the Tibetan Women Association and is very busy, so I was very appreciative of them taking time from their busy schedule's to have me over for lunch. TCV is a bit aways of McLeod Ganj and is quite large. It is truly a village in every sense of the word. As a left Tsewang and Tsering La's place was nearly attacked by a gang of 5 years olds. I did some pseudo-kung fu moves to scare them away. That day it had also hailed pretty hard, so the temperature had dropped ever since. All the high mountains are snowed capped now, meaning that I will be watching that snowline slowly approach McLeod Ganj as it gets colder. Life at Tibet Charity is good, my co-teacher Sarah has gone on a ten-retreat at the Tushita meditation centre in Dharamkot, just above McLeod Ganj. She knows nothing about Buddhism or meditation. Her and her boyfriend Clayton are a bit nervous about the whole thing. I think it is mostly from the eccentric westerners that tend to attend such events. I think that they well do just fine, and I do admire them for just immersing themselves in Dharma with no previous knowledge. So with Sarah gone that means that I have been teaching alone. It has gone well, though I broke the classroom clock as I was erasing the board. I was having the students draw their families trees on the board. As I was erasing one of them and the clock fell from on top the board and shattered. It at least provided a break from the lesson. One day was walking up the steep Jogiwara Rd on my way to meet my new Tibetan tutor Pema. As I was walking up the hill, I see a tall blonde woman walking towards me. I thought nothing of it, until she stops and asks me if I am Wendell. I was shocked for I have never seen this woman before, thus I was wondering how she knew who I was. It turns out that she is friends with B.C. alumnus Kalden Sakya, who now lives in Dehradun. Kalden la had given her some parcels for me, but little information, beside the fact that I was black and the phone number for T.C. The woman told me that she has not seen many black men in McLeod Ganj so she deduced that I must be the guy Kalden was talking about. I was thinking, my goodness, it pays to be a black man in India!!! So we made plans to meet at a Tibetan restaurant the next evening. Her name in Julia and she is from Russia. She has been studying Tibetan language for four years and lives in McLeod Ganj. She goes to Dehradun frequently 'cause the Sakya lama resides there. She had been all over India to other Tibetan colonies in South India, and has been to Tibet. I told her that she now serves as my motivation because I have just started learning Tibetan. She told that due to all the tourist it is a bit harder to pick up Tibetan cause everyone wants to talk in English. Pema my tutor told me that I can write and read well in Tibetan but I need to talk, that when folk talk to me in English I should respond in Tibetan. Julia said that Pema gave me good advice, so I am trying. I guess I have improved since I got here, but I think I would be further along if no one spoke English here. I spoke with Julia for awhile, we then traded emails and I thanked her for being Kalden la's postal person. I hope to in the future to visit Kalden in Dehradun. Well I have been typing for a while so I think this entry is over. I hope you are enjoying this where ever you are.

Pax

4 comments:

Brian Juzwik-McDonald said...

Greetings from Berea. We received your postcard at Friends Meeting. Glad to hear you are well. Also glad to be able to keep track of your experiences at Dharamsala. Keep in touch.
In Peace, Brian Juzwik-McDonald

nangkyi said...

hey! Hotfoot,
Been trying my best to keep up with your journal entries and am glad that you finally gotto meet my parents and visit our home. That's so exciting!!!
continue to have fun and take care of yourself.

miss you here in Berea...

Nangkyi.

hill said...

Hi Thank you for sharing the story about the 5 childrens ,I find it most amousing,I can imagine your moves.You must have been in your element at the party as you dance so well.Keep up the entertaining stories......

tinsley said...

hey hotfoot! i am so glad you are having such a good time. i'm loving reading your entries. you are so lucky to have this opportunity. i miss seeing you, and i'm so glad you are having a good time. i'm coming to england in three weeks... hopefully a visit to india is in store... or on your way home, stop in to see me.