Mondays are good in McLeod Ganj

The town gets as quiet as it ever does on Monday. The number of beeping cars, jeeps and motorbikes drop dramatically as the local tourists return back down to the heat. Many of the shops shut for a day of rest and there aren’t as many people on the streets. It makes for a much more peaceful atmosphere. Too bad it all starts up again by Thursday.

Anyway, today is the tenth day in McLeod Ganj and I’m not sure what I’ve done with my time. I’ve certainly spent a lot of time in cafes chatting to other travelers, the most I have done in all my time away and I have certainly been enjoying that even though it seems to me still that most western travelers are more alike than they are different. The food, however, has been excellent and this is the first time in months that I have found bok-choy, tofu and restaurants that serve them stir-fried with a bit of garlic and a little oil. Indian food, nice as it is, is really heavy and I’ve missed light east-asian style cooking.

I went to a very well attended Tibetan fundraiser concert on Saturday which had a wide variety of acts by travelers and which reminded me of the concert night one used to get at confest. It was nice enough but the very poor sound system meant half the people left half way through. It was a predominantly western tourist audience probably because it wasn’t cheap and these were the ones who left early. The few locals who could afford to come stayed on and got to catch the real highlight of the evening, a superb classical Japanese female singer with an incredible voice. The only real sour note in the night however was a local Indian guy snorting lines from the floor and then carrying on.

I’ve read an introduction to Tibetan Buddhism and marveled at how intricate it is, how much Indian tantric practices it had taken and made its own and how much more baroque it is than the form of Therevada Buddhism I am accustomed to. I have to keep reminding myself to set aside my prejudices arising from my attachments to my own practice – which is an even simpler and more austere variation – and to keep an open mind. To that end, I’ve started going to a daily Tibetan Buddhist class which is a fair hike down a steep hill and then back up again. Surely a metaphor of some sort.

I’ve found an apartment which is also a fair hike down a steep hill but it has a kitchen and looks up at the snowy peaks of a couple of mountains. Our current view is that of the valley and I am reluctant to leave it but the kitchen is a good thing especially given SG’s health and moving always reveals another facet of town. It’s not quite finalized yet but hopefully it will happen.

I’ve gone to a couple of different yoga classes and have been disappointed by both. I’m going to have to get over Surinder’s class in Rishikesh and just accept that it’s going to be difficult for me to find a teacher who is as well suited to my level and aptitude.

I’ve been helping out a little at Volunteer Tibet with a rather sticky non-technical IT problem they are having although I’m not sure if I actually manage to help much. Maybe I should be sticking to the English conversation classes.

I’ve spent a day sick in bed and a day recovering. The causative agent were some contaminated soybeans from a brown-bean sauce that was mixed in with soup-noodles.

In between it all, I’ve kept with my meditation, bought myself a new set of prayer beads after the last one snapped in Amritsar while pulling backpacks off a tuk-tuk and been thinking more about my practice and the work I need to do, especially with regard to my loving-kindness practice. Thing is, India has been proving a great challenge there. I try not to rant too much about it in this blog but I can safely say that the amount of irritation and direct animosity towards people I feel in India is easily a couple of magnitudes greater than what I’ve expressed. I’m trying though and some days are better than others. Being in McLeod Ganj helps.

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