My thoughts and activities in Dharamsala

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.