My thoughts and activities in Dharamsala

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Monsoons Begins…

The weather just could not hold out any longer. The infamous rains have finally come. Supposedly, Dharamsala is the worst place to be in India for monsoon, and I can see why. I think that these next few months will be the hardest and most challenging time that I will have in McLeod Ganj. Three months of rain does not sound like my cup of tea, but I do have some serious rain gear. I am only missing one thing, and that is some rain boats. And with all these small bodied Indians and Tibetans around there are not much prospects of finding any in my size.

The first term at TC MEC is over. My class ended up with 4 students on the last day. With my class was consisting of beginners with no knowledge of English, I was happy for the students that stuck it out. I think a few found teachers better than myself, and one lady, in fact the only lady in my class, had some kind of foot injury preventing her from coming to class. Her name is Coenga, which means “fifteen”. With that name, I could not help but to affectionately make fun of her. I noticed with her that she will transcribe all the English words in Chinese. She is not the first Tibetan that I have seen doing that. With some new comers, they might not necessarily know literary Tibetan. And some do not know Spoken Tibetan every well, or they speak a dialect from a remote area in Tibet.

There is one woman of about 24 years old that I remember from my first class. She was not supposed to be in my class in the first place, but she will sneak in. So, I will call her out on it. She was a rather obstinate woman. I would of let her stay in the class, but she’d always over power the class. I think that even the male Tibetans were afraid of her. So, after a few little spats with her, she finally listened. I noticed with her that she will talk to Tibetans in Chinese, and they made fun of her for it. She was totally educated in Beijing and was very Chinese in character, despite that she was born in Tibet. She eventually went back to Tibet.

Class at TC MEC will resume on the 10th of July, at this moment HHDL is giving teachings on the Bodhisattvacharyavatara a.k.a A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life by Shantideva. This is a very important text because in outlines the Bodhisattva’s ideals (to stay out of nirvana until all sentient beings are liberated) which is the crux on which Mahayana Buddhism is founded on. In comparison to Theravada Buddhism where the Arhat (one who seeks liberation for ones own self) is the highest ideal. The teachings have now been going on for three days, and I am enjoying very bit of it. Every now and then I can understand a bit of HHDL’s Tibetan. With the teachings, McLeod Ganj is packed full of people, also with the coming rain after the teachings they will all flee for their dear lives.

At home we are all watching the World Cup and that too I am extremely enjoying. We had two girls for two different prep schools here on a study abroad program. One of the girls goes to Lawrenceville which is a school that a friend’s sister attended for her senior year. They were quite interesting girls since they come from pretty wealthy families. But regardless of that I did enjoy their company. I have never interacted with folks from a prep school before. Us po’ folk usually make fun of prep school students “preppies”. There is no doubt that these girls have rich families, and we had very different high school experiences, but for their short time here I truly had fun with them.

Pa la came home drunk one night and Ama la was not too happy about it. Pa la got schooled hard and it was the first time that I have seen them have anything that could resemble a fight by western relationship standards. They never share any affection towards each other. I get the sense that the only reason that they are together is because that is not to acceptable to divorce. It feels more like a business relationship. And I have a feeling that this is quite common among Tibetans, well at least older ones. A friend of mine was telling me a story. She was teaching English to some Tibetan carpet makers all of which were women. On Valentines Day she asked if they will make Valentines Day cards for their husbands. She told me that all the women starting laughing saying “Why would we do that for?” as if that was not an option. She then asked them if they loved husbands and they said, "Why would we love our husbands?" We then realized that in exile and probably in Tibet, marriage is done more for the sake of convenience over that of romance, not to mean that love does not happen but that it is not the main impetus for marriage.

Oh one more thing I have purchase my airplane ticket back to the US. I set to leave on the 24th of September, flying straight to Kentucky. My heart stops at the thought. Don’t get me wrong I love my home just not ready to leave just yet. I think that I will leave this post at that.


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