Asia

McLeod Ganj, Himachal Pradesh, India

There’s an article in the free Dharamshala community magazine, Contact Mag, about life in England. It’s headed: So you want to go to the west? and starts: What about England? It’s a small island situated between the Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea with a population of 60 million. You could live a long life as life expectancy is 80 for women and 75 for men. There are 78 cell phones per 100 people. It goes on to talk about the animals that English people kill in their gardens and homes, shops full of sprays and insecticides, how expensive a…

McLeod Ganj, Himachal Pradesh, India

In the bar yesterday evening an Indian guy, slightly pissed, was saying all you Westerners you come over here because you’re empty and you fill yourself up with anything you can find, like a rubbish bin, you take it all in, you don’t reject anything. You come here with no God, no belief, and you go away full of rubbish. You’re all looking for the void. If we’re empty we don’t need to go looking for the void, do we? I agreed with a lot of what he was saying, but I didn’t like the way he was saying it,…

McLeod Ganj, Himachal Pradesh, India

Yesterday people were talking about a German woman who died. She had been missing for two days and they’d just found her body near the waterfall. She must have slipped. The body was laid out in Bhaksu on a bamboo stretcher, covered up and guarded by police.

McLeod Ganj, Himachal Pradesh, India

Spent Saturday night up on Triund, a ridge 1000m above McLeod Ganj, 2800m above sea level. It took about four hours to walk up there, five if you include the breaks in the chai shops on the way up. On Triund there are three chai shops, some shepherds’ huts, some caves, some very basic rooms you can rent, but no toilets and no showers. I wasn’t so bothered about a shower but after the thali we had when we got to the top I felt like I needed a real toilet. Previously I’ve always tried to get back to the…

McLeod Ganj, Himachal Pradesh, India

Sitting in a cafe. Thunder rumbling. Stomach also rumbling. I went down to the LHA the other day, a Tibetan education place, where they can learn English from volunteers and also computer skills and website design. I know some people who have been doing English conversation groups there, and thought I could offer to do something. I told them I had website building skills. I was asked if I knew Dreamweaver. I said yes. Good, that’s what we need. I was shown numerous pages handouts for the students and as I glanced through them I started to think that I…

McLeod Ganj, Himachal Pradesh, India

Press the center of the heel down and connect with the earth and everything will be okay. The last day of yoga. I should have been writing notes on all the poses but haven’t. Pressing the center of the heel down and stretching out the toes is what I remember at the moment. Backward bends make you more extrovert, forward bends make you more introvert. There was a party at the yoga center this evening. The teacher is a bit of a musician. Someone described him as an Indian Elvis, but I think he’s more of an Indian Roy Castle….

McLeod Ganj, Himachal Pradesh, India

There was a Tibetan monk sitting outside my guest house this afternoon. He was sleeping when I looked out of my window but he was awake when I got outside and sat down. He talked in a very quiet voice about emptiness and compassion and how you should spend time studying and meditation rather than of partying. Impermanence – we waste too much time. If you’re forty you may only have another twenty years. I could barely hear what he was saying. An Israeli with a loud voice was talking to an Irish woman about Buddhism. When I got the…

McLeod Ganj, Himachal Pradesh, India

Day three of yoga. Less painful than yesterday. The plough. Lie down on shoulders, on a bolster, shoulders back. Walk up the wall, which ought to be in front of you (if it isn’t you’re in the wrong place) and put your legs over your head and rest them on the stool (which ought to be just behind your head). Lie like that for a while. Relax and observe the other upside down people.

McLeod Ganj, Himachal Pradesh, India

Yoga: Observe what the body is doing and feeling. Observe without making value judgements. I observed my thighs hurting. I tried to observe the pain without it bothering me, but that’s not so easy. I remember trying to do the same thing when I was cycling.

McLeod Ganj, India

McLeod Ganj is cold, and it rained for most of the day. I bought a jacket, one made by Tibetans living here. McLeod Ganj is the home of the Dalai Lama, though I think he’s now in England, or maybe Holland, or possibly Argentina. Have a look on www.tibet.com to see, if you really want to know. If you’re not too bothered where he is then it doesn’t matter. There are pictures of him everywhere, and shops selling posters with his most famous sayings. Not really posters, but words printed on cloth attached to sticks that you’re meant to hang…

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