Monday, July 30, 2007

Full moon and the Dalai Lama

Today is the full moon and tomorrow the Dalai Lama will come through town. The roads are buzzing with activity!
The family that runs the guesthouse has just repainted their outside wall, and the mother was out yesterday sweeping the streets with her neighbours. People have built offering stands at the side of the road: made from mud bricks with a hollow cone perched on top in order to house the incense and offerings.
The Dalai Lama will be teaching for two days in Diskit and Nubra, so I think I'll follow him there (the 7-8th)...which means that I'll be doing a small "two day trek through roadless villages" tomorrow. Hah! I just drafted a rough sketch of a schedule and have realised (again) that time just won't stay put!

It's only been just over a week since I've been in India, and I feel like I've lived at least three. Leh has been wonderful, I've met some beautiful people (I'll post photos when I get back into a city) and I've seen so many beautiful places!

I was feeling conflicted the other day: do I see as much as I can? or do I take it easy and travel slower...missing out on variety, but increasing in quality (maybe?).
Nilsa, the daughter of the guesthouse family tells me I think too much.
It's true.

I've since decided that I'll just go where I want when it feels right - and make an agreement with myself not to feel regretful if I go home feeling like I haven't seen enough. Because the truth is I will never see everything. So - it's about quality. I'll just have to follow my gut.

SO the plan as it stands is to go do this walk from Likkir to Tsamisgang, then head to the Nubra Valley, then to the Dah Hanoo Valley...then back to Leh, and then to Varanasi.

So far, as of today, that's where it lays. But I'm not silly enough to think that this won't change! So voila.

And on to the next thing - the sankar gompa, and then a lecture at the ecological society. (very cool! ecological society, and Ladhaki women's alliance - free lectures! sweet!)

Saturday, July 28, 2007


I'm in Leh, and I love love love it!
So much so, that when I arrived at my guesthouse yesterday morning at 7am, I nearly cried with joy.
The family that runs the guesthouse is so wonderful, and the other guests are quiet, but friendly.
The Leh people (hah! get it? laymen?, we can blame this on altitude sickness) ...are very friendly. People smile in the streets, and say "ju-leh" to say hello, goodbye and thank you! How efficient!

I'm so so happy. I left this morning at 6 to see the monasteries in the region and sat in on a buddhist puja - this was beautiful. The young monks, old monks, all the monks were there. Very cool. But also kind of strange to sit in on something that I don't understand. Different than just going to Catholic mass and not being catholic. Though I've talked to some locals, and they think there's no problem with this.

Anyways, I'm going to be brief as the internet's expensive, and the streets are calling!

I love this life!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Swing of things

Venita and I : we really WERE there!

Okay, so they caught me not-so-surreptitiously taking their picture...

The Taj Mahal herself

2nd day dinner - a rather nice restaurant, and a cocktail each...the lap of luxury.

Monsoon season, yes.

A tomb at Qutb Minar, a Moghul construction from the 10th century (I think!)

Lunch with Sanjay and Shekhar (?), friends through a friend in Vancouver - LUCKY!

The view from the hotel on my first morning.


London is ridiculously expensive. But oh so so cool to lunch it with the Al girl.

4th day in Delhi and I think we're starting to manage our sanity...the first couple of days were rife with highs and lows! The constant honking of the cars now makes some sense (after driving for 6 hours to and from Agra, I've realised that there IS a significant use for the horn...believe it or not, it's all about safety!)
Delhi is also full of smell - not lovely foody smell, but rank, damp, pollution-y smells. And the bitch face that I have to wear in the streets to avoid the constant offers of rickshaw drivers, tourist information people, acrobatic children...well, it can get a gal down!

But we've found the metro, which is such a wonderful thing. No haggling, no worries about being taken to some shop instead of to your destination - aaaah independance. It's helped a lot.

So we saw the Taj Mahal yesterday - it is a beautiful thing. It's very busy with other tourists (mostly other Indian tourists) but it's got a kind of quiet in it. Probably because everyone needs to pay entrance, and so there are no beggars, or hawkers. Elitist, I know.
But we were asked often if we'd pose in pictures with people - and mostly Venita. We found out that it's because she's Chinese looking! This is a funny thing, we're like a freakshow! Good thing Venita's got the whole "don't bother me" thing going on - I'm learning a lot from this girl!

So in two days I'm going to be in Leh, where the air will be drier, and cooler, I think. I'm very looking forward to this! It turns out also that the Dalai Lama will be there on the 31st as well, which is just so perfect.

I realise here (and often) that I'm such a blessed, blessed person. That I'm here, that I'm well, that I can move around...

I was reading the Hindustani Times this morning and read an article about a 4 year old boy who uses a catheter from his bladder while he's waiting for an operation. He's just been kicked out of his school by the administration because he scares the other children.

This has me reeling. And this is why I'm here. Because these things DO happen. And I know I can't just come in here with my sheltered, Canadian privileged-girl culture and expect to come up with a solution. But at least I can think about these things, and question these things...

Woh. It's going to be a lot of processing over the next weeks.

At any rate, it's been amazing. And I've laughed and high-fived and sung in the streets. La vie est belle!

Until next time!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Kites over Delhi

Sunset on our hotel's patio, and all you see are these wildly fluttering kites swooping over the city's rooftops.

It's hot, and muggy, but I don't feel bothered by it surprisingly. Maybe it's because I'm still living in the travelling half-world - mildly stunned by planes, trains and automobiles.

I spent lunch with Allison in London yesterday, it was a beautiful thing! (and WAY too expensive!)
I'm still reeling over the fact that it's possible to hop across the globe incrementally, though quickly!
A totally uneventful flight to Delhi was welcome, and meeting Venita at the airport definitely ranks as one of today's top threes!

Delhi's not overwhelming like I had imagined it would - I mean, don't get me wrong, it's chaotic, bustling, smelly and people-full...but it reminds me so much of the Bourj in Beirut that it's almost comforting. This is not to say, however, that I'm not looking forward to moving it up north.

Okay, to dinner.

HURRAY for this life!!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The countdown's ON!

Two sleeps!
And I haven't got NEARLY enough done!
I just wanted to lay down the first few words before I head out...I'm feeling...nervous, and excited, and overwhelmed.
I realised just two nights ago that I AM in fact going - I did it! ME! And that this experience will become part of my story. MINE!

It's also ridiculously good timing, since the community centre will, in all likelihood, be going on strike.

So here's to the next two sleeps, the marathon of preparation ahead, and the beautiful faces that I'll see before I leave.


ps. Below this posting are entries from previous adventures: Down the coast in winter 06, and Lebanon in winter 05. Just to avoid confusion!