My thoughts and activities in Dharamsala

Friday, March 10, 2006

Dipping to the Bird

Well, has many should of noticed, if they have been checking my blog, that I have not updated it in awhile. I have been lazy to a certain extent. But also when I have set a date to update I find myself IMing folks that I have not seen in a long time. It is after such occasions that I realize that I have lost the time that I had originally intended for updating my blog site. Other reasons are that at times nothing worthy to write about occurs. Soo, since my last update I have been in McLeod Ganj since Feb 9th. I had a wonderful time in Dehra Dun and I am planning on going back before I leave India. Here I am now living with a Tibetan Family who owns a Bakery and a restaurant. Their food is awesome. It is quite expensive, but it has given me the opportunity to speak more “Choppy” Tibetan. Most of the members of this family speak pretty fluent English, but after some frustrations they are slowly beginning to talking to me in Tibetan. The family consists of “Pala” Dorje. He is the father. “Amala” Chuki. She is the mother and she runs everything. “Ashang” Tenzin and “Ashang” Dhondup. They are Chuki’s brothers. “Chola” Tashi. He is the oldest son. This boy is 18 years old and studies all the time. He goes to upper TCV and is aspiring to go to Medical school in the US. Then there is “Phumo Chung Chung” Choeyang. She is 7 years old. She attends the TCV day school in McLeod and spends all day watching TV. Her favorite shows include Shaktiman, Tom and Jerry, and those horrible melodramatic Hindi soap opera. At first she had a hard time with my name (Wendell), so she naturally called me “London”. Unfortunately, even Chuki has caught on to it and now also calls me London, too. Even after me repeatedly saying “Ngea ming la London ma re ta !!!” My name is not London!! I am not the only Inji in this household. There is another girl from Luxemburg named Kathy, an American girl from Minnesota named Colette (though Choeyang at times calls her “Colgate”). And we had a NRI (Non Resident Indian) from the UK named Niraj aka DJ Baksheesh aka DJ Bhagavan Baba. He is a DJ and he had just left a few days ago. For the most part I am struggling to get the family to speak Tibetan to me all the times but they are helping me. Being with the family, I have watched many Hindi films and through at I have been learning Hindi via osmosis. I still can’t understand much Hindi though. Also I have watched some cricket games, which is impossible to miss in India, and starting to understand it somewhat. It is kinda like baseball but really long, last days at times. Since I came back from Dehra Dun, Tibet Charity Multi-Education was closed. Bossman had me on an on-call basis. So, I focused on studying Tibetan. I did have four students during this time. A tiny monk from Bhutan named Jamphel, and 3 young brothers all named Lobsang. Their mother is a student at TCMEC. They were funny to teach for sure. I have also applied to a Translators course here in Dharamsala which I can totally not afford. It is called the Lotsawa Rinchen Zangpo Translator Program (LRZTP). It is run by the Foundation of the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT). This course starts in September and runs for fours years. Two years of language study here in Dharamsala and two years as translator for a Geshe (Doctorate Degree of Gelukpa sect) in a Dharma center. The course alone cost $3200 which I do not have. How will I come up with the dough if I am accepted I do not know, but if any one out there has any suggestion for me on how to get the dough please email me. I have also thought about taking a loan out but I have found none. There are other options. I met a Swiss guy studying Tibetan and Tibetan philosophy at Sarah College in Gaggal H.P. It is really close to McLeod Ganj and a hell of a lot cheaper than the LRZTP course. It comes out to about $100 per month including room and broad, and they offer a variety of classes from Tibetan poetry to Tibetan calligraphy. But still it all comes down to money. On another note, the Tibetan New Year (Losar) had just passed. That was an interesting experience with the family. It lasted for about 3-4 days. On Losar’s eve we all ate thukpa and in the thukpa was a big piece of dough at had a piece of paper in it. My paper said wood, and the family said that it is suppose to symbolize how the rest of my year will be. Wood means stability they said. I guess that is good? Ha kho ma song. Afterwards we rolled dough in our hands and placed it on various parts of our body to get rid of sickness. This with some of our thukpa was then placed in a box and burned to get rid of evil. Then last but not least, Tashi set off some fireworks (patakas). On the first day of Losar we all went to the Tsuglakhang to pray and give offerings. Huge tormas (colored dough sculptures) and khabtse (Tibetan twisty biscuits) where on the altars. The khabtse was stacked like a jinga set pretty high. There were tons of folks there, and Tibetan music was blasting from the loudspeakers. Every Tibetan is dressed in their finest chupas. The little ones of course are the cutest. The rest of Losar consisted of drinking chang (Tibetan Beer). Pala got drunk every night and told Colette and Kathy how pretty they were. Tsomo-la, a friend of the family with four children, got pretty drunk also. She is looking for a husband, even though she has one in America and he is supporting her and the kids. She told me that she likes me but I was not having it. I told her that I was too young for her. She then asked me how old I was. I said 27. She said that she was only 33. I almost choked on my chang. Tsomo-la looks like she is 45. One night she was hitting on Chuki’s brother Tenzin really hard. She was absolutely drunk. She told Tenzin that why he only talks to white girls and not to her. The poor woman could barely stand up. Tenzin we lucky that there was another young strapping Tibetan buck to get into her claws and relieve from the unwanted female attention. Later, all of us sung songs and danced to Hindi tunes. We also had regular beer. The worst tasting beer ever. With a name like Thunderbolt one should be scared. The family had bought four cased of this crap. It is worst than Busch beer, or Natty Ice. They come in huge 20 oz bottle and the next day your head feels like it has been struck by a thunderbolt. This is the best crap that you can get around here. Oh, then there is Old monk rum (appropriate for McLeod Ganj with many monks), and 8pm whiskey in which you could be dead of alcohol poisoning by 9pm. After the last day of Losar, Hotel Bhagsu was having a Losar dance party. All us Inji’s were excited. I was jonesing to dance, not thinking of the implications of such a thing in McLeod. Niraj went to Hotel Bhagsu and got the manager to agree to let him DJ for 45 mins. We were pumped. Niraj has awesome tunes on his laptop so I know that I will be dancing. Right! Wrong. We get to the clubhouse around 9pm to find tons of drunken Tibetan boys, a few Tibetan girls, some drunken Indian boys, and Westerners girls shaking their goods. There were more white girls than Tibetan girls by far. Every time I saw a white girl, she was surrounded by ten or more Tibetan guys. When DJ Niraj aka DJ Baksheesh started DJing some folks did not like the music. They wanted hip hop, though Niraj played House of Pain, Cypress Hill, and Rapper’s Delight, let me clear MY throat. After 15 mins DJ Bhagavan Baba was absconded from his DJ position and Bhangra and cheesy ass Hindi film music ensued. LIKE TOTAL BUZZ KILL!!! So I stopped dancing and watched this odd scenario. I was approached by some teenage Tibetan guys who where thanking me for dancing, shaking my hand and all. I was trying to figure out what I had done that was worth all these thanks. Folks were indulging themselves in Thunderbolt and 8pm. Some folks where so drunk that the bottle slipped out of hands and ended up on the floor. A friend of mine was dancing barefooted and sliced her foot nice and good. But, by far what made the night was that a fight broke out in which someone was stabbed. LOVELY!! Thus that was end of this party. We were there for an hour. Game over. There was blood spilled going from the clubhouse all the way down to the entrance of the hotel. It seemed also that someone during the fight had broken the front door window of the hotel. LIKE TOTAL BUZZ KILL!!!. Many people where utterly shocked that someone had gotten stabbed, but I had already assessed the equation. Many drunk young Tibetan guys+ Drunk Indian guys+ a few cute and not so cute white girls= fight. This could be one of the reasons that a club named Rock and Roll was shut down in McLeod Ganj a few years ago. I still do not know what the cause of the fight was, but rumors stay that it might have been Tibetan on Tibetan violence. Some kind of rivalry might be happening with young Tibetans from other settlements like Bir or from the Norbulingkha Institute. This is what people are saying. Regardless, my urge to have some good clean dancing fun with shot down with a knife blade. Another issue is Indian cops. A week before this incident, me and some friends were stopped on Jogiwara Rd near the memory theater at night, by some very drunk cops. They wanted some baksheesh for whiskey. They told us that they where just doing their jobs. They wanted our passports and said that we were breaking curfew. There is no curfew. I don’t carry my passport with me, but I do carry a copy just in case. But we first asked the drunk pig for his badge since it was not in plain view. We told him that we will call our embassies first and then pay a fine if it was legit. Well, he let us go. That was my first encounter with cops of this sort since I have come to Dharamsala. A week before that Niraj and Kathy were had by these same pigs and they gave them Rs. 100 in Baksheesh. Thus that is way Niraj is also known as DJ Baksheesh. One guy wasn’t even a cop, but he tried to threaten us with a lathi (hard long wooden stick). These same cops were the bouncers of the Hotel Bhagsu dance party. I was sad to know that some one was stabbed, but these things do happen all over the world. Another funny that I have heard, is that old white women will come to McLeod Ganj, to sugar mama some young men. There is currently a story going around of a 77 year old Aussie woman paying a 25 year old Kashmiri boy 4 lakhs rupees (Rs 400,000) for sex. I busted out laughing when I heard this. This lady is was a neighbor of an American girl that I know. I spoke to Pema, my Tibetan tutor, about it and she told that this happens all the times here. She then told of other such incidents. I do know that Westerners are marrying Tibetans rather quickly. I met a girl who married a Tibetan boy after dating for 3 weeks. They got married at the stabbing party. I know this boy and I have seen him swoon after white girls since I got here. He loves to talk in English was a horrible impersonation of a Cali surfer dude. My teacher says that it might be a business agreement to get him to the US. This a common site in McLeod Ganj along with white girls carrying half breed babies. It is all too interesting and expectable. Today was a special day for Dharamsala. March 10th is Tibetan Uprising. Because on this day in 1959 Tibet had lost its independence to China. Though I had to work this morning at Tibet Charity, I saw a huge of parade with Tibetans carrying banners and screaming “Bod Rangzen, Tsang ma re”. HHDL spoke in the Tsuglakhang this morning. I went too late, thus I was unable to squeeze in. HHDL teachings start this March 14th. But, I will be leaving to Pokhara, Nepal this Sunday March, 12 and will miss the teachings. It will take me 48 hours by bus to get there. My visa is done so I need a new stamp so that I can stay for another six months. Dharamsala was utterly dead when I got here in Feb. with only a few white faces, now it is full with tourist, and beggars. Busy is good. Before to long the Israeli Ecstasy laden full moon trance parties in Bhagsu will be in full gear. Well this is it for now. When I come back from Nepal, I will be better with the blog (hopefully), that is, if people are still reading it. So, once again, any suggestions on how I can increase my time in India so that I can continue learn the Tibetan language and Tibetan Buddhism please email me with financial suggestions. It is better to study here than in the west. Me thinks, for sure, for sure.