My thoughts and activities in Dharamsala

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Beginnings of a first step….

After spending a little over two months in Amerilandia and a 12 hour lay over in London (thank you Leyla!!!), I arrived back in Bharat (India) on the July 7th 11am the day classes where to start. After fixing a complication with my student visa at the Indian Consulate in Washington D.C, which allowed me to lose time and a lot of dough that I really did not have to spend, I landed in the hot and stuffy capital of the Indian Republic for my third time. I was stuck in the afternoon heat in nowhere Delhi for three hours unnecessarily because my dear pre-paid taxi driver did not know where the hell Majnu Ka Tilla (Delhi’s Tibetan colony) was and drove us right into a traffic jam. Unlike back home, taxis here do not have a dispatch in which they can radio in for directions when lost, that concept has yet to arrive… all in due time. So to take my mind off that heat which was bearing down on me like a hundred pound bean bag, I reflected about my stay in my birth country.

There are so many people that I love and care about; though going back was difficult at first. Not seeing friends and family for years on end. Being reunited with my half-sister who I have not seen in 16 years and meeting her mother who took care of me when I was a wee one. Being reminded of my childhood self, the parts that I don’t remember, the embarrassing ones. Being reminded about my father who I never knew and his history, his family history which was all new to me, allowed me a sense of comprehending part of my physical genetic lineage if I can phrase it in such a way. I was always amazed to hear, whenever I was visiting a certain family member, that I resembled such and such person in the family, with this person always being different. To my sister I have the frame and walking style of my grandfather, to my maternal uncle I resembled my grandmother and so it went. I realized that the physical and expressive features that I hold right now are a mélange of several thousands perhaps hundreds of thousands of features that I have inherited from my ancestral bygones’ gene pool, including diseases or susceptibility to certain illness.

I won’t dwell too much on my experiences of back home since I am still processing, but it mostly comes down to, regardless of all the jetlag and the culture shock and the differences, I am very lucky to have the family that I have and the friends that I have. I felt very loved by every one (well almost every one) when I was back although I have been in India for many years now. My family and friends spans across racial, geographic and linguistic barriers and I think that this is allowing me to slowly think of the value of what it means to be a global citizen more carefully. Of course when it comes to dealing with embassies that it can seem not to be the case. But it seems to me that if a deep sincere cultivation of the feeling that us as earthlings are a much of lucky motherfuckers to be living on this random blue gas ball that is floating in space which rests exactly in the right spot to give life is not arisen and that all these divisions that we arbitrarily place on this blue gas ball is not eschewed like the plague then we are truly in for it in the future. Everything outside of this blue gas ball is hostile to our existence, if we really mess up, where are we to go? Mars ain’t really looking so good!

Moving right on along, once I arrived in Majnu Ka Tilla, I immediately booked me a bus to Dharamshala which left at 6pm on the 7th and arrived in Gaggal around 6:30am on the 8th. Grabbed me taxi and arrived at Sarah College after a two month absence and jetlagged as hell. Mind you, I done missed one day of class and I was not about to go to class on the morning of the 8th. I was mad wrecked and was pretty much falling asleep as I hauled my shit up the five flights to my room. Being away had cause me to forget a lot of my Tibetan so at first my brain was struggling to switch back over to Tibetan mode. Too bad language acquisition as an adult learner is not like placing a pen drive into a USB, from which it can be accessed instantly, won’t that be cool though?

On the 9th I made it to class, which was in full swing. Gen la had commenced exactly where we left off two months ago as if we did not have a vacation. Just like the presently presiding monsoon clouds, for many of us our minds are foggy and remembering all the divisions and definitions which we had memorized seemed like a far gone medieval time. Slowly but surely, getting back into this habit, into this practice after starting up our brains and our tongues, the rhythm of this study method became familiar again. Gen la told us the other day that we are studying using one of most unique methods out there, unlike the western model, which has debate but not like this, we are on the slow track, learning the craft in stages. We are progressively going through difficult and more difficult topics. Right now we are studying the topic of opposites (yin log min log) where a causal bystander might possibly be hearing a phrase like “opposite from being opposite from being opposite from not being opposite from being pot (bum pa yin las log pa yin las log ma yin pa las log yin pa las log pa), being spitted out at rapid speeds in front of a very confused looking defender.

For our Perfection of Wisdom (phar phyin, prajñaparamita) class which is to start next year and lasts six years, we are to receive 25 books. Not no puny books either, but quite hefty philosophically terse texts, like the Abhisamayalamkara and its commentaries. Right now I am struggling just getting through the three small texts that we are using now to study elementary logic and reasoning. The thing is that we have to mull over ideas many times over and understand them in such a way that when in debate one can provide a fruitful and beneficial discussion that shed a light on the topic at hand.

So far, this process is not coming easy to me, a few days ago, a Korean nun and I sat as defenders together in a damja (group debate). Both of us are very new at this and in the group that we went to they had some very sharp, witty and experienced debaters. We were not able to answer very effectively and the challengers ganged up on us like white on rice and I was feeling rather discouraged after the whole ordeal, but as one my classmate told me, we have to keep the goal in mind and not to compare ourselves to others for what’s the point in that, we will come to our own in due time, keep on studying and don’t give up. Those were some wise words from this fully ordained monk (gelong) from Spiti.

This pass week there was a sports tournament going happening on campus held by the Sarah Regional Tibetan Youth Congress (RTYC) where all the classes including the teachers duked it out amongst each other in basketball, badminton and ping pong. For our class, I was chosen to play basketball for all the obvious reasons, though not realizing that I can’t play it worth doo doo. But I took to the charge figuring that it could build some class camaraderie at the least. I don’t like to play basketball so there was definitely a part of me that did not want to play, and after I jammed my finger, that acted as a reminder of why I don’t like to play. Anyways, I did the best I could, I missed every shot I took and I am quite out of shape to be running up and down a full court, so you could imagine that I was not looking so good. My classmates where there on the sidelines cheering us on so that was some motivation though we lost our first game pretty badly. We also lost the second game insuring that we were not to advice to the next round. But so what, Nang rig a.k.a the Buddhist philosophy class suck ass at b-ball, but we placed some serious damage in ping pong and wooped ass in badminton.

The girls also had their turn on the b-ball court though it seems to have come from the motivations of Lina, a German student. Though I know it was a trying for her to get things going for the girls it did get done. Things at Sarah and it might be safe to assume in the Tibetan exile community in India is generally androcentric and from what I have heard from the girls, they either don’t seem to know or are too complacent to step up and take matters in for themselves. Men are men and one can not totally lie on their hands to have considerations for the ladies, especially in a place where this lack of consideration is the norm and not regularly questioned openly. Now I know for sure that there are women at Sarah who wish to empower the girls at large but so far the actually steps to crank up “Girl Power” has not been implemented. The so called power that is lackadaisically believed to be held by the “dudes” is totally ephemeral and mentally constructed. So maybe once this is realized by these ladies then fairness for the ladies can happen. From talking to Lina, who I know has placed a lot of her energy and compassion in this endeavor; so far the going is pretty rough but it is not without hope and work of course.

Well I just want to let every one know that I am well and striving hard to my task, many challenges face me, financially, emotionally, intellectually, and mostly pertinently spiritually. Many of you out there in the world have and continue to be of such a great help, and I was surprised to know that so many of you care for what I am trying to do with my life and to this I am the utmost appreciative. To all of you who have stayed up late nights with me spending hours either chatting on FB, on the phone, or in person, you have encouraged this person and shared your hopes and your fears. All of you know who you are. I hope to write more entries but my internet situation here is quite iffy and my computer might keel over and die anytime soon. It amazes me to think that I have had this blog for 5 years now! Oh! Please leave comments so that I know that you are reading, I love those shout outs! Most of the time I am surprise that any one read this until I meet someone and they say, “heh, I read your blog!”. Aite, I am dogged tired, man that jetlag don’t go away so easily at times. Sarvamangalam!!

Pax

1 comment:

Sonam said...

Glad to see you are safely back. I enjoy your blog. Thank you for taking the time.