Wednesday, May 17, 2006
No Power in the Ganj
On this past Monday, May 15th; TC MEC was able to hold a workshop designed for English as Second Language (ESL) students taught by an actor from NYC. He was only here for three days and on Monday he provided our students and teachers with a lot of fun learning ideas. He came to three of our English classes and held a workshop. In these he provided us with various games that involve acting to strengthen English skills. The students were such awesome troopers, and at times I had to serve as translator for the Beginners class. He was able to get even our most shy students to participate. Everyone was very happy and I was glad that I was able to organize this event for TC MEC. I owe my appreciation to Mr Jeffrey Solomon for coming to McLeod Ganj and sharing his skill.
The days have been getting hotter here but also some of the most intense thunderstorms have been releasing their wrath on McLeod Ganj. On day about two weeks ago it hailed so much that it was piling up all around town, at first it looked like snow. Some piles were so big that I could place my hand in it and not feel the ground. It has hailed many times since then. Yesterday around 3pm it looked like it was 8pm for the clouds were evil dark and two Mondays ago we had a great lightening show. I saw one of the mountain peaks being struck by several bolts of lightening. It was quite a site. This I am assuming that this is the precursor to the coming monsoon season.
On a sad note a Westerner woman, sorry I can not remember where she was from, had died while trying to hike to Triund (top ridge from McLeod Ganj) by herself. She was caught in a hailstorm on her way up and fell of a cliff. There were signs all over McLeod Ganj asking for her whereabouts. These storms come in fast. It will look like it will be a sunny day and then the next minute marble size hail is hitting you on the head.
Sometimes when I am working at the TC MEC office Jigme the director will be chatting with his family back in Amdo, Tibet. At these times Jigme will call be over to his computer so that his family can see me. Jigme has a webcam on his computer. One day Jigme's father was home in Amdo and at the computer. Jigme's father is a Nagpa, a Tibetan yogin who spends most of his time in retreat practicing serious meditation. I knew that he was a Nagpa because they grow their hair long in matted locks and then when it gets long enough wrap it around their heads like a sweatband. Also I have seen some Nagpa's here in McLeod Ganj and at the Kalachakra. When they saw me they all started laughing. I don't think there are too many of my kind in Amdo, if at all. It was interesting to be connected to Tibet via a webcam and to see a bit of Jigme's life in Tibet.
Yesterday HHDL came back in town and once again I was able to see him smiling and waving as he was driven up the hill. Today there was a ceremony at the main temple. I think it was for HHDL. Since for most of the day there was no power, which is normal and unpredictable, I went to the temple to see what was up. At the same time as the ceremony the students from the Institute of Buddhist Dialects (IBD) where debating. Tibetan Buddhist debate is a rather loud event and is quite aggressive, thus while the ceremony was going on all one could hear was the claps that the monks do when they ask a question. I am intrigued by this way of debating, so I went to see what the fuss was all about. There is usually one person who sits on the ground. This person is being asked questions by another person, sometimes two, who is standing up. The person asking the question in one fluid motion will swing up onto his left foot while his right hand is swung over head thus he is balanced on the left foot. Then as he is about to conclude his question, he simultaneously stomp his right foot that was in the air and bring his right hand to meet his left hand on a loud clap. Then the person on the floor must answer the question.
The person on the floor is bombarded by the questioner, especially if he is good. All of the questions are from Buddphilosophy and logic. This is the way that one gains his Geshe degree (Tibetan Buddhist Doctorate degree) which usually takes about 21 years to obtain. Usually, for the Geshe degree this is done in the main temple of one's monastery. What was also interesting was that there were a few laypeople, men and women who were debating. There were few nuns also. Since laypeople are allowed to take this philosophy course at IBD they too must debate. At first, I taught that monastic debate was only for monastics, thus I was happy to see that laypeople are in it too. Especially as I contemplate on going to IBD Sarah. I saw one white monk there. I was admiring his Tibetan as he debated. He was having such a good time that I stood close to listen to their session. I spoke to him for a little bit, he is from Israel and he has been with IBD for five years. I told him that I might go to IBD Sarah. He serves as an inspiration as my own Tibetan language skills slowly improve. The first time that I had seen debating in McLeod Ganj was while I was passing by a nunnery. The nuns where so loud that it took me a while for it to register in my mind what was going on. Also at the Kalachakra there were more formal debates happening after the ceremonies were over. That is all for now folks.
Well for those of you Berea College students who are graduating in a few days, I decide this blog entry to you. Keep on rocking out in everything that you do. Reach for the sky. I am proud of all of you.
With much love from McLeod Ganj.