05.10.2010 - 05.10.2010 30 °C
The travels of Swami Slawoosch and Rishi Adas
30.10.2010 - 31.10.2010 30 °C
I awoke to a butterfly tapping on the window next to me. A certain intense orange, translucent wings, set off perfectly against black. I flung open the pane and it flittered, free once more, into the sun.
Yesterday we sat on a hot tin roof opposite the Dalai Llama. Macleod Ganj is the home of the Tibetan government in exile. That doesn't mean he's here all the time, he's probably quite busy, but it's the 50th anniversary of the Tibetan Children's Village, an educational facility just north. So he came along to say 'hello'. Or possibly something deeply insightful about the nature of existence, but it was in Tibetan so I wouldn't know.
Following the speeches the children performed a series of synchronised displays to music, like they do in North Korea. Eight hundred of them, in perfect lines, swaying this way and that, standing, sitting, clapping like a giant version of a Halifax advert. The discipline was almost military. The public display of the power of individuals acting together a symbol of the collectivism of the community.
We walked back through the woods with our favourite Llama, following the path as do the water pipes that here and there hiss and spark like electricity where a leak has sprung. Through broken English we talked of melas (Tibetan rosary beads), sang 'Om Mani Vajra Guru Padma Siddhi Om', then went to share a pizza.
Another barber's massage - face, head, shoulders, back and arms this time - and returning to our room with fruit and a slab of chocolate Brownie.
It's a bright, cloudless day. I should probably be volunteering to help the Tibetan people, many of which trekked a dangerous, frostbitten 45 days across the Himalaya to get here. I'll just get a cappuccino first. Scratch that, the Rinpoche next door has offered cardomom coffee and eggs.
27.10.2010 - 29.10.2010 30 °C
"Another day in Paradise" was a familiar refrain as we hitchhiked from Vaashist to the Solang valley to play amongst the rocks.
Richard fell over 20 metres, hitting his head, without giving a noise. He broke his neck. He's lost his left eye. He lies unconscious (sedated) in the hospital at Manali. Our friends have given the news to his parents in Germany.
He was climbing with our group, 3 or 4 people, the day we traveled to Macleod Ganj. The weather was so good the keener ones changed their plans to move on from the bouldering we'd enjoyed.
Some accident, some momentary lapse, some failure of equipment: we don't know.
The mood here amongst his fellow travelers is sombre, sober, stopped. Relief that he's alive, not paralysed, in the best hands - perhaps flown by now in a helicopter to Delhi. More than a sprinkling of 'there but for the grace of God go I'. Sympathy for his family. Deep concern for our friends that were there, had to deal with the immediate problem, co-erce a foreign ambulance to an imprecise location, handle the aftermath - and now, who knows what's going through their heads. I want to give them my support but am not sure how.
A quote, not from the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, though I looked.
"Life begins on the other side of despair"
- Jean-Paul Sartre
The news filtered through as we sat with other friends from Vaashist, Ebba and Driva, at the low tables of the rooftop restaurant in Macleod. The name: 'Carpe Diem'.