Did I mention the high is 32 degrees (low 17 degrees) and there is no heat anywhere in the city? I can no longer feel my toes and despite wearing seven layers of clothing, I am still cold most of the time. I have learned a good tip from the locals and have taken it to heart…only bathe twice a week. Since there is no possible way to sweat while here, I have taken their good advice as bathing on icy marble floors is not a pleasurable past time.
Dharmsala is wonderful and beautiful and quite spiritual. One main reason for visiting is I have a Tibetan friend here who I miss dearly. Sonam is 22 years old and I have known him and kept in touch with him now for the last three years. I surprised him in his shop my first day here. It was so wonderful to see his broad smiling face. He has been a gem and had treated us like royalty. We wanted to buy a little heater for our room and he would not allow it and gave us his own personal heater to use. He took us by motorbike all over Dharmsala and to see His Holiness the Karmapa. He has bought us meals, taken us places, entertained us, gotten us good prices while shopping and tonight is having us in his home to watch movies while he and this other girl I met last time I was here cook us dinner. We are a little worried as we mentioned we enjoy fish and red wine in America and this is the special meal they are making for us tonight. Hmm – fish and wine in India sounds a little sketchy.
Since it is so frigid here there are little to no tourists. The city is quiet, the Tibetans are warm and welcoming and we are much more at peace (Delhi sure did a number on both of us). Prices are relatively higher, but we did figure for the first ten days in India the total for all nights amounted to a whopping $66. Meals for two in restaurants average less than $4.
Today we had our second private Tibetan cooking class, another benefit of no tourists. We have learned to make momos and several soups. Making and preparing the food is simple but shaping the dough in beautiful edible delights is challenging. Both cooking teachers are Tibetan refugees and spoke a little of their plight from Tibet to Nepal and then India for religious freedom. The Chinese have pretty much taken over Tibet, most temples and monasteries have been destroyed or have been turned into museums and the Tibetan language is no longer taught in schools. It is illegal to mention the Dali Lama or to have his photograph on your possession in public. Any dissent is met with death or imprisonment. Most who escape Tibet do so leaving their families behind knowing they will never be able to see them again or be able to return to their mother country. We take so much for granted!
Tonight is dinner at Sonam’s and tomorrow night is a 12 hour sleeper bus to Delhi to catch a flight to Kathmandu. I doing well and am almost totally recovered from my minor setback of illness which I thought I would never knock. Finally I feel strong and healthy and even had my teeth cleaned from an Indian dentist today for a whopping $12.