My thoughts and activities in Dharamsala

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Sarah College Girls Gone Wild!!!!

Well not quite, but the title might have caught your eye. So what is this all about? Well it’s about girls, but not only any girls but Tibetan girls with balls, very big balls. The sports scene at Sarah is rather sausage-centric and usually the ladies don't get the chance to participate, particularly when it come down to basketball. I have never been a sports guy; I hated basketball as kid because I always jammed my finger and much rather play with my G.I.Joes. When I first arrived at Sarah many of the guys naturally assumed that I will be great for b-ballin', you know 6'4" and black are the only requirements needed to be a badass baller!

Anyways, as one first realizes as they live and observes the gender dynamics of the school, the male is paid a lot more attention to than the female. Thus, this is reflected in the sporting realm. When I have asked the girls, why they don’t play Basketball? Many have told me that they are either to shy, they don’t know how to play or that the guys always hog the court. You see, the B-ball court is directly in front to the boy's hostel and men being men, when it comes to sports love getting that lovely macho feeling of showing off one's skills that one has bitten off of AND-1 videos from YouTube. My general feeling is that the girls might want to b-ball but really not express it.

At least before they didn't... Two weeks ago Sarah College’s chapter of the Tibetan Youth Congress headed an intercollegiate sport competition with basketball, volleyball and exclusively for the ladies, badminton. There was not mention for a swapping of events were the guys played badminton. On the wall of the food line under the advertisement of the competition was prominently fixed, a poster of Michael Jordan about to dunk on someone, though it was written Mickham Jordan. And so the game went on and it turned out that the Dialecticians were kicking some serious b-ball ass, waylaying any team that stood in their way. As mentioned the girls were regulated to Badminton but that never happen, for so much focus was placed on basketball games.

So it seems that one of the girls but have said, “fuck it”, the girls are going to have their own tourney and a tourney they sure did have. Generally I do not watch the games at Sarah, mainly because being from the NYC projects and all growing up watching some crazy sick street-ballers, watching the Sarah guys trying to imitate them is quite boring, but when it came down to the girls to do their thing the situation totally changed. Now we have to think that most of these girls have never touched a basketball in their lives. So that made the games very intense. Tibetan girls are generally seen as extremely shy and at times frail, but I tell you not these b-balling broads. These girls, though lacking in skill, put so much heart in the game, and that is what to me made these game so exciting.

For these girls of get out there in front of the whole school and though many could hearly even dribble the ball, played with such heart. Many times it got rough, girls getting scratched, steamrolled, smacked, knocked down. The amount of turnovers were high, and one could feel, that yes Tibetan girls are shy, but when it comes down to the wire their warrior blood comes out and they are ready to rip you a new one. Even regardless of the fierceness of the game the girls played as a team, and were extremely courteous. Like if one girl smacked the crap out of another they would immediately apologize and hug. If that would have been some girls from back home it would have been a fight for sure. One girl who is the one who plays quite regularly always shares the ball giving others the chance to get a shot.

I have to some pics of the action but I have misplaced my USB cord for my camera. I am hoping that maybe this will instill motivation in some of the girls to continue to play. One can tell that the few girls who don’t play basketball per-say but will just shoot hoops from time to time, where the girls getting buckets. I hope that the others can see that it is possible to get the court and that they can b-ball. I think that this tourney is quite historic for Sarah, but really I don’t know. Either way what has happened this week was very beautiful, regardless of the skill level.

All kinds of violations were happening on that court, lack of dribbling knowledge, lack of hand-eye-ball coordination, chucking the ball with out any sense of aim whatsoever. On the team of the Himalaya class, consisting mostly of Ladakhi girls, was fierce as hell, they had the school nurse as a player and man this nurse moved like a Mack truck. Any girl that got her way got the shoulder and at times ended of the floor. There were times that my heart stopped as shots were fired. These games have been the most exciting games that I have visited at Sarah and I hope for more to come.

Besides the B-balling, life at Sarah is going good, we had the Tibetan polemically political activist Jamyang Norbu speak which was awesome. I am a fan of his writings so it was great to see him in action, he’s good. Classes are going good and I am really enjoying studying debate. Last night the Buddhist philosophy course had their group debate. Which was exciting, I noticed that I am starting to recognize a bit of what is going, just a bit though. I know that this might be off the mark but I was wondering how it would have been like to study at Plato’s Academy back in Ancient Greece where dialectical debate were the main way of studying. Would it have had any of the intensity that Tibetan debate has? This I wonder….


Saturday, July 25, 2009

Round Three….. Fight!!!

Once again it has been quite a while since I have updated the good ole blog, but here I be. My summer vacation has finished and my third year at Sarah College has commenced. I had a very nice summer, despite my emotional funks that I placed myself concerning the realm of intimacy. But I feel that at least for now that I am on my way to overcoming (hopefully) many of these nuances. I had some help. I friend of mine introduced me to a crystal worker from Australia who surprisingly truly helped me. I have always been suspicious to such things but I was also open to see for self what it is about. I figured that to do this would not be harmful and to my amazement it help. I think that more than anything that it helped to realize how I let myself be carried by destructive thoughts and emotions and it made it an agenda that I need to work on in my life in order to actualize my full potential and to love myself more. I have never been great in the whole self-confidence arena. Thus I am grateful for that.

My summer which I had spent in McLeod Ganj started with visiting the Sikh Mecca the “Golden Temple” in Amritsar, Punjab in which I got to learn about the Sikh religion. What really interested my about Sikhism is it sense of social welfare. Everything at the Golden Temple is run by volunteers (many who have showed up that day) and everything is free. Their kitchen a.k.a rice and dal kitchen is quite an operation. Supposedly they feed thousands of people there everyday, which I do not doubt. One goes in at anytime and can be fed. The kitchen has two storeys and when you show up you are given clean metal plates, bowls and utensils and herded into one of the two dining halls. In the dining hall there are strips of burlap cloths set on the floor where everyone as they enter sits cross-legged. The food is quite delicious though simple, rice and dal, curd, chapattis are the menu items. This kitchen is open 24/7. As one sit and eat you see beggars, rich and poor, backpackers, and Sikhs all sitting together on the same floor eat and sharing together. When one finishes, you’ll see as soon as you leave the dining hall volunteers cutting vegetables, volunteers taking your dirty plates and many washing them in a huge cacophony of metal plates clanging together. It is quite an activated environment.

I and my friends met a devout Sikh named Manu who was more than willing to explain to us the intricacies of Sikhism. The Adi Granth is the name of the main Sikh scripture written in the Punjabi language. Recitation of this text by appointed clergy in very prominent at the Golden Temple. There are many places including the main temple itself where the text is recited. The sounds of these are projected on loudspeakers which one can hear throughout the Temple. Martyrdom is also very big, Manu took us to a place where one of the Great Sikh guru Babadeep Singh in battle was decapitated and continued fight with no head. At this spot where the event happen there is a drawing of him on a horse holding his own head. Sikhism started as a very peaceful faith (and still is) by the first Sikh guru Guru Nanak, with a strong element of Bhakti or intense devotion towards God. But Sikhs were prosecuted, earlier by the various Muslims invaders and then by the British. So the Sikhs took to the sword and the succeeding Sikh gurus were warriors in the defense of their faith and thus as they died in battle their martyrdom became sacred in the eyes of Sikh followers. If you want more info about Sikhism I suggest do some good online searching. The Golden Temple is actually built like a fort; it sits in a huge moat with a walkway that leads over the moat to the heart of the temple where the clergy higher-ups recite the Adi Granth to the tune of tabla drums and harmonium. The outside of the Temple is plated in gold thus its name. The text is in some ways treated like a person; the clergy wake it up and place it to sleep. There are specific conditions in which the texts have to be treated. No dust can fall on it so they have a big cloth draped from the ceiling over it when it is being read. One person is assigned the job of keeping flies off of the text with a fly whisker. When it is put to bed if it is hot they place it in an air conditioned room and if it is too cold they place it in a heated room.

There five things that a Sikh must do or have. Special bracelets, sword or knifes, special undies, not to cuts one hair and thus the turban (which can be quite stylish) and one other thing which I can’t remember know. They are called the five k’s I think because in Punjabi these things all start with the “K” syllabary. And thus you will see many Sikhs at the Golden Temple carrying so very huge and sharp swords and quite impressing turbans and long beards. Like I said earlier their commitment to social service is very impressive.

Beside the Golden Temple we went to the India-Pakistan border to see the closing of the gates. My friend Miryam was quite sick for the ride which took longer than it should have because our rickshawalla’s rickshaw was slow as dirt and we had a bit of a late starts. The rickshawalla was so excited though, I got the impression that he doesn’t receive many foreign customers and thus happy to have some firangis in his care. But the poor rickshaw was not cutting the mustard. Other rickshaws packed with ten some odd folks were flying by us. It is took several seconds just to overtake a bicycle. We did finally make it and it was packed, it was cool. Folks on both sides of the border scream at each. Jai Hindustan “Hail India” on the Indian side and Hail Pakistan on the other. Then you have the soldiers with their hats that have a red crinkled circle over it that reminds me of the red comb of a rooster. They marched with precision steps, turns and high kicks. It was quite a humorous situation. I was glad that I went for sure. At least I can say that I saw Pakistan, hehehe.

The Golden Temple has a hostel or “Gurudwara” where you can stay for free, the foreigners are given their own section in the hostel. I got sick the last day really bad; I think it from drinking a freshly made pineapple juice for a road side stall. After staying in India for a few years, one gets to think that they can do stuff like natives do, nope! Wrong answer! My old belly sounded like an earthquake and I dodged for the toilet. Since it is a communal bathroom in a hostel full of people and I had to wait to use the can. My bowels were in a quite precarious situation that I thought I was going to have an accident. So as I waited I started a little breathing meditation that brought me enough time until I was able to get to the sought after place of refuge. We were leaving that morning and taking a local train to Pathankot which means that it will be packed to the teeth and the chances of having a seat was slim. My friends brought me some Imodium which saved me. But since it was a four hour train ride to Pathankot the Imodium started to wear-off and that rumbling sensation started to arise. The train is packed and there no toilet on this train so I had to hold it. I went back to the meditation of that morning and finally as the train rolled into Pathankot I made a mad dash of the toilet but I was in a quite a spot. If I ran too fast I ran the risk of having an accident, so I found a paced that balanced my bowel meditation with my stride. I swear, I felt like something out of a horrible slap-stick movie, for that last time was such a close call, too close. Anyways, finally we go home to the cool weather of the mountains, the Punjab plains are murderously hot and that was not helping my bowels.

Back in McLeod for the most part a hung out a lot with various groups of folks from all over the world. I made good friend with some U.S. college students who where at Sarah at the beginning of the year and some had moved up to Dharamkot, up the hill for McLeod Ganj and we had a lot of fun together. They have now all departed and I miss them very much. I read a lot also, in what I call a reading binge, which was awesome, I finally got to read 1984, which I loved and Shantaram which a recommend to anyone who is interested in India or not for that matter. I did not just play; I also studied Buddhist Philosophy with an ex-monk who was teaching me how to debate.

Thanks to Palkyi I taught English in a summer camp at T.C.V Gopalpur for six days which went well. I first I was quite apprehensive about doing it, but once I got into it I had fun. Some of my classmates from Sarah College attended Gopalpur and it was great to see the institution. I was helping with an English camp that they set up for the student of the eight grade during a section of their ten day summer vacation. All of the students are orphans and so unlike the students born in India they have no where to go for vacation. So Palkyi signed me up for it and there I was. It was quite a trip. Besides the teaching part which I totally sucked at, I realized that the boys are obsessed with And-1 basketball. They go online and bite moves off of you-tube. Some of these boys even know some b-boying which shocked that crap out of me. There were three other teachers, and for the first two days we were fortunate to have the Tibetan activist poet Tenzin Tsundue with us. That was quite a treat to finally to have met him, he is quite infamous as an Tibet activist and I have seen him many times in McLeod Ganj, but this was a more intimate setting. I was definitely impressed by his “full-power” dedication that he possesses. I also made good friends with Sonam a British/Tibetan girl who was been teaching English at Gopalpur for two or so months.

Now in the present, vacation is over and it is back to school, we are commencing our third week and I think and hoping that this will be the most decisive year of my life. As many of you know I am waiting to take an exam to enter a long term course in Buddhist dialectics that this institution offers every two to three years at Sarah. The course is mainly for monastics but they have seats for four male international students lay and monastics and four for the female students monastics only. I know that on the male side there are at least five potential applicants, me included. Thus there is some tough competition to get in because all of us have been studying and waiting for three years or more for it. The females to do not have it have any easier; I think that they might have more applicants. Anyways I am friends with all the applicants so it makes it slightly awkward to think that I have to be in competition with them. Hopefully the examination will be this spring, if not then it will be next year and that increases the competition. Since I have gotten the approvable for the funding of my tuition for this course by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, I am a bit worried that if I do not get in, what to do? I am hoping for the best, pretty much that I get in. Some of you all out there who pray please send some of your prayers in my direction, for this will guide my life to the achievement of a dream that I truly believe that will enable me to truly be of assistance to many far beyond my fleshly life.

I am in a quite intensive study routine, I have four classes. Two Dharma classes, where I am studying “Nagarjuna’s Letter to a friend” in Tsamjor or Bridge course and “A guide to the Bodhisattva’s way of life”, “Bodhisatvaacaryavatara” by Shantideva and “Collected topics” in the first level Rigne course. Orthography and history in Tsamjor and grammar self-study working through “Translating Buddhism from Tibetan and the 11th Situ Rinpoche’s commentary on the Grammar treatise called the “Thirty Stanzas” composed by the establisher of the Tibetan classical language Thumi Sambhota. Also I study Hindi on the side. So this makes it for quite an intense studying schedule. All of my classes our taught by experts in their craft and they throw so much information at you that I am surprise at how well many Tibetans are able to assimilate the data. A lot of it I think comes from learning in this fashion since they have been young, but it requires one to memorize new information constantly. I am impressed by all of my professor’s capacity of holding data, since I am quite new at this way of learning I am hoping that I will get the hang of it plus it will be well used once I am in the dialectics course.

My favorite class so far is the collected topics course; “collected topics” are a name of a genre of logic texts that traditionally the young novice monks used to learn how to debate. In Tibetan they are called “dudra” or “rigs lam”. “Rigs” means reasoning and “lam” means path and thus you have the path of reasoning. Tibetan Buddhist, who inherited this logic tradition from the Indian Buddhist but with their own style, places a huge amount of their training on logic. Particularly in the Geluk School, debate and logic is the main pedagogy for learning Dharma. These days the HHDL has advocated that the T.C.V students should learn at least dudra to help develop the student’s analytical faculties. When I was at Gopalpur, to one class I told the students that I am just beginning my studies in debate, immediately they all at once started throwing syllogisms and consequences at me at rapid-fire speeds. In our Collected Topics course we debate twice a week. We have debated together once, and since most of us did not know what was going on, we just watched and listened to the ex-monks, and monks who have been doing it since they were young go to town. It is quite a loud event as I has described in earlier blog entries. Though there is a lot stuff that needs to be learn, I think that the debate studies that I did this past summer will help me in learning and hopefully putting me on my way to the path of reasoning. I am so happy to have the quality of professors that we have though their teaching style is very different from what we are used to in an academic situation in the U.S.

In my mind these days there are aspirations for hope and for the fulfillment of my life dream. I wish the same for all people. I hope that many will realized that their own potential and strive towards it. At their potential will assist many others across boundaries. Through I am no where near being able to help others at least point, now l make it a point to think and reflect upon the idea throughout my day . I hope the same and more for others. I would not have gotten where I am now if it was not for others, and everyone should think about that in their own lives. If we all worked in such a fashion how much better will our life be as a global community. Anyways, much love from the not so monsoony Himalayas.


Monday, April 13, 2009

Second year is a done son

So, yep that is correct, my second year of Tibetan Language study at Sarah College is finished. It is amazing to think that two years at Sarah has passed, but I am satisfied with my education from Sarah, my Tibetan has tremendously improved, though I am still light years from fluency. This year at Sarah has been tough, but my learning there has made it more than worth it. So what is next? Well, first my plans for next year is to stay in the same course that I have just finished, since is was quite challenging and I think that I will get a lot out of it next year. Also (keeping my fingers cross) next spring will be the exam for the Buddhist Dialectics course. I spoke to the principal of Sarah, he said that it might be another year after next year and though I really do not want to wait for that long I will if need be, pending that I receive the required visas needed to stay here. Regardless, I am really excited at the opportunity to be apart of such a course, for if I am able to do it completely then I will be a very good position to do the kind of translation work that I desire to do.

Ok to back track just a bit, my good friend from Bhutan Pawo just recently got married in Bir (about four hours east of Dharamshala) this spring equinox with Stephanie an awesome and beautiful Taiwanese woman. I along with a few Sarah students attended the wedding in which there were eight Rinpoches in attendance along with Pawo and Stephanie’s parents from Bhutan and Taiwan. The weather on the day of the wedding was very iffy, but when it came down to the time, the weather was perfect. Pawo was dressed in a white dhoti bare-chested, and Stephanie was wearing a Sari. They sat in front of a statue of the Indian goddess of wisdom and melody Saraswati. There was chanting in Sanskrit, Pali and Tibetan, they offered, white scarf’s (kataks) to all the Rinpoches and a great speech was given by Pawo’s Uncle Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche and also by Jigme Khyentse Rinpoche. Towards the end of the wedding we all threw rose petals on them and then the audience was able to offer kataks to the newlyweds. I hope that these two love birds achieve the highest that they can achieve with each other.

The utter highlight of the night though was when Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, told me straight up that his organization the Khyentse Foundation will sponsor me to study Buddhist Dialectics at Sarah/ I.B.D. and upon hearing at I almost started crying in front of him. I was so moved by that, though I still do not know if I will be accepted in the course at Sarah College, when he said that it felt like I am doing the right thing, that I am on the right path towards fulfilling a life goal, and that it is something that I love so much. I also owe a lot to Pawo who first mentioned my situation to Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche. The man has such a true heart and I owe soo much to him. So now I have to do the work, since only my tuition is covered I will need to figure extra expenses, like at some point I will have to return to the U.S.A., emergency money and etc. Even more crucial is getting into the course, for if I don’t get in and I have the funding specifically for that course that would so suck.

To assist me in that while I stay in McLeod Ganj this summer I will study some of the introductory dialectical texts with the German nun Ani Kelsang Wangmo la, who is a great teacher and whom I have worked with before. Also there is an ex-monk who knows debate really well and I will work with him also. I need to also work on my visa extension, so I need all the luck that I can get with the visa action.

To something that has just happen more conducive to Sarah College and I.B.D is that the founder of these institutions, Geshe Lobsang Gyatso la’s yangsi or reincarnation has been official enthroned at the main temple in McLeod Ganj. He is about nine years old, and was born in Ladakh, his father I think is from Lahaul and his mother is Tibetan. For the pass few days the little Tulku has been running around Sarah’s campus playing with the other kids. Last week during class, he was pressing his face up against the screen of one the classroom windows that faces a balcony, which is were I sit in class and unbeknownst to him the screen was not locked and it slipped a bit and he slightly fell. Everyone in class started laughing really hard, and I like a little kid pointed my finger at him shouting, “ha ha”. He moved a way really quickly. When I saw him at his enthronement he did not seem too happy with me, he gave me the eyes of, “I remember you, you laughed at me”.

Anyways, last Monday the State Oracle of the Tibetan Government in Exile came down to Sarah College, to go in the trance for the Tulku. This was the first time that I have been able to witness the state oracle called “Nechung” go into trance. It was quite wild. When you see him before trance he just looks like any old monk, but when he is preparing for the trance, he is dressed in elaborate garb and he sits in meditation. This took place in the Sarah prayer hall. Anyways, there were some monks around him chanting a kind of solemn chant, and slowly but surely he starts to twitch and the twitching gets more and more pronounced and intense and when he is really going they place a really heavy hat on him and then is jumps up and starts dancing. He then offers kataks to the all the statues in the prayer hall including the throne of HHDL.

Throughout this process he is guided by monks because it does not seem that he can move very well on his own in trance. Then eventually the monks sat him down, and then all the Geshes and higher ups from Sarah/ I.B.D went and offer kataks to him, I assumed that they must have asked a prediction for the young Tulku as well. The tulku was terrified of the oracle, for he does not look pretty in trance, he is drools all over himself while his body is shaking and he shakes his head back and forth, mumbling sounds in which a monk standing near to him seems to understand what he is saying and is furiously writing what the oracles says. After they were done, then the rest of the crowd lined up to offer kataks, once I had gotten close to the oracle on his right hand side was a metal bowl filled with red barley seeds in which he was handing to everyone who passed in front of him, and we also received a red piece of cloth to tie around our necks. After everyone had passed the oracle jumped on his feet with the bowl of red barley seeds and started to madly grab handfuls and threw them all over the place, and then we were told to leave. The oracle was still in trance convulsing everywhere and then some monks just picked him up over their shoulders and hauled him off to the side, the whole time his was still in trance.

Then that was that, is was over, though I was curious as to how long does his trances last and if the assistant monks have special techniques to get him out of trance, or if the oracle can control on his own, but from what I have seen it does not seem that way.
What is also interesting to me concerning the young Tulku was that he previous incarnation was essentially murdered by supposed advocates for another oracle called Dorje Shugden and now the young Tulku was scared of the Nechung oracle, I found slight amusement in that thought. The rest of the day was a celebration of the Tulku’s enthronement with a big Tibetan tent erected at the Sarah Park, with great food and games and was a really nice day. I did speak with the tulku for a second when he asked me if I was from Africa and if my hair was real, he seem have forgiven me for laughing at him.


Saturday, March 14, 2009

The life passes...

The life passes, and it goes at times without even a recollection of its movement. Since my last blog entry an even dull life of living at Sarah College

can at times blossom into something amazing with a connection to some amazing and extremely supporting allies.

I witnessed the matrimony of two Tibetan friends that had I went to Berea around New Years time. Tseten and Phuntsok who were upperclassmen when I was a freshman had tied the knot at Upper TCV, also attended by Tseten’s younger sister Nangkyi, and my good friend Palkyi and Tsering Yangkyi all of whom had attended and graduated from Berea College. Tsering Yangkyi was from one of the first batch of Tibetans to attend Berea College, and now she is the President of a Tibetan Environmental NGO here in Dharamshala called “TESI” named after the most sacred mountain in the Tibetan religious sphere..

I had a really great time at the wedding seeing and hangin’ with Tseten, Phuntsok, and Nangkyi after so much time, especially in their hometown which was such a pleasure. I ended up getting a bit bubbly-headed after the full day of wedding festivities. In a way, Tibetan weddings reminds me of Las Vegas, without go-go girls, flashing lights and Wayne Newton of course, for there is a lot of drinking, gambling and some dancing, in the form of Tibetan circle dancing, involved. Though this is just a short synopsis of the event I was a happy for their union and I wish them the best in their life.

I celebrated my Christmas and New Years in McLeod Ganj and though there is nothing to talk about I was in the company of good friends and did enjoy myself. Pretty much things stayed the same at Sarah when I returned back from the holidays until the increase in Sarah’s U.S. population due to 15 students who are studying in Dhasa with the Emory Tibetan Studies Study Abroad Program in which the students and staff stay at Sarah for about 6 weeks. Most of the different Tibetan classes prepare some sort of performance to welcome them to Sarah, like the year before.

At first there was a school-wide discussion as to whether or not to have a welcoming event for the newly arriving students that involved singing and dancing. The reason for this being that this year is the anniversary of 50 years in exile for Tibetans, and thus supposedly news was coming from Tibet implying that Tibetans in Tibet will not be celebrating the Tibetan New Year “Losar” this year and so to use that time for the remembrance of all those who had struggled in the movement and as a stand to ruling Chinese government: thus meaning that any celebrations would have been inappropriate. Even the anniversary of the founding of Sarah College was cancelled because of this a few months back, some students were adamant about not having such celebrations for the welcoming of the Emory students and were not too happy when it was finally decided that a show will be done for them.

And so we practiced, in Tshamjor “my class” we had five acts total: there was a traditional Tibetan Dance, we sung a group song called “Phayul di Ngatsho tshangma re: This fatherland belongs of all of us” that went to the tune of “This Land is your Land” and of which because I was the tallest in the class was required to hoist a photograph of the HHDL behind the rest of the singers. I rocked it on the Didgeridoo. Four guys did a Hindi dance routine and the songbird in our class, who is my desk mate, sung a Tibetan or a Hindi song. We practiced for about a week until the day of the show which was on the 18th of January: I think.

Afterwards I gradually became acquainted with all the students and the staff who are some really awesome and incredible people. Especially the nun Ani Kelsang Wangmo, who is the coolest nun that I have ever known; I met her last year with the pass Emory batch and was so impressed by her. She is originally from Germany and has been studying Buddhist dialectics for 15 or more years at the main institution to which Sarah is branch of called “Institute of Buddhist Dialectics or I.B.D.”, she was one of the top in her class, and she is the Buddhist Philosophy Professor for the Emory students during their stay here. She knows Buddhist Philosophy extremely well and at the same time she is so down to earth that you can relate to her. After some time of staying in Dharamshala one always runs into the more anal retentive Buddhist Scholar/Practitioner types and it turns me off, and so it is a breath of fresh air to have such a great scholar as Ani-la who is also great to just chill with. Since she has been here she has also been teaching me the intro to Tibetan Buddhist Debate and she is a kick ass teacher on top of that. So I was happy to that she was at Sarah for a bit.

I met all or at least most of the students and they all have been so great, especially since they brought the U.S. with them and reminded me of home. All of them being such extremely talented and brilliant students and with me being 10 years older than a majority of them I was invigorated by their youthful energy and presence. And too, I learned a lot from all of them. The Program director for this year is an amazing lady and has been so encouraging for the goal that I have set for myself concerning the study Buddhist dialectics at I.B.D. for the next decade. She has lived in India and Nepal for a long time, not sure how long though, but she kicks some serious ass, that is for sure.

Recently I have become close to the two T.A’s of the program who have been helping me out as far as my internal mental space is concern. They both have spent considerable time in Tibet and India and they know their stuff. One speaks awesome Tibetan and Spanish and other Mandarin. I would like to say more about them but all I will say is that at times staying in India and in a conservative situation such as Sarah College things can get pretty tough in the head bone, and these two women have shown me a side of myself that I have been unable to see; a positive, intelligent, handsome and human side to myself that I have been unable or unwilling to see due to the environment that I live in and previous life experience. I am in emotional debt to these extremely beautiful and multi-talented women for all of us have opened up to each other in such ways that are healthy and holistic.

All the Emory folks stayed in Sarah for about 6 weeks and had just this week moved up to McLeod Ganj. We celebrated losar together and though this was a “Mourning Losar” we still managed to party but on a much more subdued scale as compared to last year’s Losar.

Right before the students headed to MC Ganj they organized a Talent Show to show some U.S. culture to Sarah. Many of the Emory students lived with Tibetan roommates during their stay and had become really close to them. As since the Tibetans had welcomed them with such a nice welcoming they had decided to return the favor. I ended up salsa dancing with one of the T.A’s, participating in a skit that made fun of the way Westerners can act when visiting a Buddhist Temple for their first time, and in an a capella version to Mariah Carey’s song “You always be my baby” by holding down the bass. The show was really fun, though I was a bit nervous about shaking my hips in front of all Sarah.

But now that is all over. March 10th has passed with demonstrations and hunger strikes, One day of teachings from the HHDL, my friend Alyssa is in town whom I have known since my first time in McLeod which. Generally despite all the mental nonsense that I put myself through I have been in a good place, doing something that I love and surrounded by some of the most beautiful, helping, and talented individuals. I am for sure lucky, and I need to constantly remind myself of it for in the midst of the pile up of the bad mental ka-ka that I punish myself with from time to time the beauty that surrounds me is stronger than all that ka-ka.

To end, I would to say that I will be more than likely to get a sponsorship from the Khyentse Foundation to study dialectics here for the next four to five years. The sponsorship will only cover the tuition, thus I will need more assistance for living, for the time that I will have to go the US, health and etc. If any one out there who believes in what I am doing and in that what I am about to pursue is worthwhile then please get in contact with me. I know that folks are struggling with the shit economy and all, but India is cheap and I don’t need that much. Even if it is only five folks who could send 5 bucks, 10 bucks a month, whatever it will be so helpful. Please pass the world.