The good life in Dharamshala

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 Well somehow an entire week has passed us by here in Dharamshala.  Time slips by surprisingly quickly here, as our days are filled with hikes, cooking lessons, meeting new friends, and browsing art and bookshops.  However, we are feeling the need to get trekking in Nepal before the winter sets in, so we’ll be taking a sleeper train tomorrow night to the Nepal border. 

This town has been by far the most Westernized that we have come across, with real coffee in many shops and more white people than you can shake a stick at.  But it is also the current home of the Dalai Lama in exile, and so is a very interesting and politically charged place.  One night here we were eating some dinner in a little Tibetan cafe and began a conversation with some of the Tibetan guys there, and they told us of how they had been imprisoned and tortured.  We also saw a former Tibetan prisoner speak last night and visited the Tibetan history museum, a place that brought two of our friends to tears and really hit Seth and I hard.  This town seems to be a place of contrast, where life is laid-back and people are smiling, but at the same time, sobered by the fact that the majority of adult Tibetan people here have been imprisoned, abused by the Chinese government, have lost some of their family and friends, and have had to escape over the Himalayas to get to India, some dying in the process and others suffering amputations due to the frostbite.

On a lighter note, yesterday Seth and I hiked up to 3000 metres to a ridge called Triund, where we slept in a cave with some rented sleeping bags and foamy mats.  Two Israeli guys shared our cave, but they just had flimsy blankets and were freezing!  However, there were a bunch of people up there and we had a big bonfire, and so nobody died of cold.  It was great because at the top of this ridge there was also an Indian guy who would cook dinner for the hungry hikers, and he also made omelettes and tea in the morning.  I am really getting used to this ‘luxury’ trekking – you get delicious hot food even in the middle of nowhere!

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A few more things of note before I sign off…first of all, I would like to point out that there are at least 5 German bakeries in this town, but so far no sign of any German people or even any decent baked goods.  Secondly, yesterday a shopkeeper asked me how long I had lived in India for – I’m pretty sure with my lady-suit and my new tan I am pretty much Indian!… And finally, we took a picture of the sign at the Dalai Lama’s residence, to illustrate the brilliance of the signage in this country.  You couldn’t find a road sign if you tried, and nowhere in this town is the way to his residence signed, but when you get there they make sure you know exactly how to proceed!


sidenote: for those who are interested (and know how!) the coordinates of our locations are being taken by Seth’s handy GPS machinery…and are posted on his page!


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