Dharamsala, India March 2010

Namaste! Tashi delek!

I am currently taking a short break in northern India, having taken the opportunity to meet up with an American girlfriend who was performing 2 days of charity surgery in Himachal Pradesh province in India.

I have found my way to Dharamsala – perched in the foothills of the Himalaya, below Nepal – it is best known as the home in exile of the Dalai Lama.  While my motivations for coming here in the week before Grace would join me were to find some trekking routes to the north to stretch my legs, I have somehow been compelled to rest and simply “stretch my mind”.  I know you’re all now trying to imagine how I could come to calming my adventurous soul (believe me I think it’s only a temporary state!) but I can always be convinced to try a new approach.  It has called for tranquil long breakfasts on rooftop terraces, gazing over the pine and rhododendron forests towards the snowcapped Himalayas, punctuated by yoga sessions, Buddhist philosophy classes and lingering over the pages of several novels as the afternoons wane.

I will not regale you this trip with exotic Indian destinations but of the simple pleasure of wandering the narrow streets of a tiny, but special place in the world, that I discovered almost by serendipity.  You wouldn’t imagine that you were in India – (except perhaps for the odd stench of a sewer, the carelessly tossed rubbish and the mangled limbs of beggars) – but more than half the population here is Tibetan refugees, followed by the eclectic collection of foreigners.  We have been lucky to catch the Shoton festival of Tibetan opera this week and to see some of the most important archives, scriptures and religious icons from Tibet that have been smuggled to safety here in India – the soul of Tibet has been translocated to “Little Lhasa” here in Dharamsala.

So I hope this travelogue finds everyone well.  I have another busy year ahead (and this has been a welcome break from the frenetic pace) with more travels planned… of which you will hear more in good time.

Shanti, shanti.

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