My thoughts and activities in Dharamsala

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Time is a passing……

Finally we, here the temporary and non-temporary residents of McLeod Ganj, have been able to see a break in the clouds that has covered us for the pass 7 or so days. So far, as far I am aware there is no tap water at home or anywhere else in McLeod Ganj for that matter. Water, Water, everywhere but not a drink!!! Well not exactly, since we had several days of continuous rain. Up the hill for McLeod Ganj in the Israeli “settlement” of Dharamkot, a mud slide has damaged the pipe or series of pipes that is responsible for providing our aquatic needs. But the Tibetans don’t worry, they just use rain water, which I was thinking, be better to drink than the tap water. I have seen Tibetans watching their clothes, and their bodies in the torrential pour. Buckets have graced the roofs and the roofs edges as water collecting agents. So life is not hampered for the locals, but for some foreigners it might be a bit of an inconvenience.

Once one sees the plumbing infrastructure that mazes itself in and around McLeod Ganj, then it is easy to understand why water could be a problem. All throughout the town the pipes are not bigger than a ½ inch to an inch in diameter and there are many of them bunch together and then jotting off to their corresponding destination. All these pipes leak, some more badly than others, and they all lay above ground. This was one of the first things that I actually noticed about McLeod Ganj when I got here. I thought that if I wanted to be a really evil person, I could go out late at night with a bolt cutter and cut people off their water. From reading of older accounts of McLeod Ganj it seems that this system has just been installed within the last 20 years. I know that it will be any American plumber’s nightmare to see this chaotic labyrinth of piles. When I was chatting with Jeremy Russell, a scholar from the Norbulingkha Institute, he told me that the plumbing system is bad because is keeps the Indian plumbers employed for they are the only ones who understand the mess. I have seen many times where people are trying to fix their water problems and make it worse. If the “powers that be” fix the system and make it smarter then the plumbers fear of losing their jobs. What are we to do? Just leave it as it is.

The road that I walk on to go to TC MEC is now missing a chunk. I noticed how that a few days before there is a pile of sand about four feet high that is piled next to an edge of a stone support wall that is about 20 feet high. When I was waking pass this pile in the rain I noticed that the pile was gone, so I was thinking that it was used up in the construction of the new edifice that is being built below it. When I got to the pile I then noticed that the pile was still there but just sunken into the ground. As I turned the corner I saw two cracks in the stone wall that made a big V leading from the lower ground. The next day when I went to volunteer it had fallen and the construction crew that was working on the building was now working in repairing the mini landslide that happened.

McLeod Ganj has pine trees all through the mountains, which come to find out was planted by the British. Pine trees are not known to make really deep roots so when it rains like it does here; they fall really easily and at times create landslides. There are deciduous trees here but they are all shrunken from the Gaddi people who cut off their leaves for fodder.

At TC MEC we are now in a pinch for volunteers because of the weather and we have lost one volunteer because she did not like the director. Another volunteer went to speak to her to see what the problem was, especially since we had made our entire summer teaching schedule around her, since she was going to stay for three months. It turns out that the lady might be a little bit crazy, at least that is what I have heard for the volunteer who spoke to this woman. So because of that we have a gap of a few days without a teacher in which I will more than likely take over. After August begins there will be some new blood to fill in the shoes of the volunteers that have left. With me being volunteer coordinator I am trying my best, but it has been difficult since our system had a virus that messed things up. But it is not detrimental.

Last Monday we had a staff meeting to say goodbye to some of the volunteers. Two older guys who stuck it out with us all spring. These guys are 50 years and above and they have braved the tough terrain of Lahaul/ Spiti. One of them wrote the science curriculum for a school in Spiti and the other will return next year to volunteer at the Tabo Gompa, the same gompa the HHDL says that he will like to retire in. I would like to go there some time; the people for these areas are ethnically Tibetan and speak a Tibetan dialect. Due to it isolation it is said to be just like Tibet was before Chinese occupation at least in some areas. The Moravian missionary, Reverend HA Jaschke who spent a considerable amount of time in Lahaul, Spiti and Ladakh and constructed a Tibetan English Dictionary and in his book he saw these areas as no different from Tibet itself that is being because he lived in this area in 1851. I hope that all we go well for the fellow who will spend time in this area.

There we were also having a conversation about the crazy people that we have met in Dharamsala. I know for a fact that I have met a bunch and more seem to be cropping up all the time. There is a new Tibetan dude who thinks he knows Kung fu making a total fool out of himself. Anyways, I was telling them of my experience with the mango squirter that I had mentioned from HHDL’s birthday party. It turned out that this very dude at the temple had severely beaten up five Tibetan men. The guy is German and his mother had brought him here to McLeod Ganj to see if Tibetan Medicine could cure her son from the psychosis that he suffered from. The day of HHDL’s B-day the mother left her son at the main temple to his own devices to go sight-seeing, thus leaving her mentally ill son to mingling amongst Tibetans. That was a bad move on her part. The wife of one of the volunteers, who herself was volunteering at Delek Hospital, was treating some of these Tibetans men who had been beaten up and she said that he did a number on them. We evidently heard that the police had issued a warning to the guy and mother telling them that they are not allowed to enter the state of Himachel Pradesh again. After hearing this story, I was glad that all me and my friends got was some mango gook on our clothes.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi there

I was searching on info about Dharamasala in august (monsoon) as I was thinking of volunteering. Found your blog really interesting. And useful for knowing how much its raining out there! So the rain doesnt stop you getting on with things? And are there really lots of wierdos out there too?!