After our two peak experiences during the week of November 13th, our remaining ten days were spent visiting with friends, usually in their home. The week after the Golden Temple trip and meeting the Dalai Lama, we developed an Indian cold, usually a hard hit for us, blamed on the changing weather by both Tibetans and Indians. I don’t disagree with that popular belief, but also think our immune systems are not used to the cold germs in India. After seeing a different Doctor of Tibetan Medicine, a middle aged nun, this time right in the McLeod Ganj office, we took it easy for a few days, going out to eat but otherwise lying low.
The Friday after meeting His Holiness, we climbed down the trail from Pema Thang Guesthouse to Chonor House below for dinner, a five minute hike on rutted dirt. I had been trying to have of meal of their tasty chicken teriyaki for several days, but they had run out of chicken due to a large visiting group requesting chicken momos, a delight somewhat similar to perogies.
On this particular night the Hummingbird Restaurant was catering a dinner for all the staff of the Norbulingka Institute, the Tibetan Government in Exile’s cultural workshop and retail facility in another town down the mountain. We could not order from the menu, we were told, but were invited to attend the dinner, as their guests, even though we were not staying at the hotel. This invitation was typical of Tibetan and Indian hospitality; both in the home and in hotels.
We sat a while before the food was ready, but it was well worth the wait. Everything at this restaurant is fresh and high quality and the chefs had outdone themselves on this occasion. First we were offered some birthday cake, and chose a small slice. (Cake first appears to be a Tibetan custom, as it happened again at the birthday dinner of our young friend.) The dinner on this evening consisted of appetizers, barbecued skewered fish and meats, then a hot buffet, followed by a dessert station consisting of mini cakes and puddings. Everything was delicious, and we particularly enjoyed the fish, not having eaten fish for several weeks.
During our time in McLeod Ganj we had the honour of visiting five Tibetan homes, more than usual, for mostly Tibetan meals. Our friend K cooked each of the three times we visited her and her husband, she would not take no for an answer. It didn’t matter if we had just eaten, we had to eat more! If K spoke English it would have made no difference; she just ignored my words and hand motions as if they were invisible!
Our final evening in Dharamshala, we went down the hill to Dr. D’s, for her daughter’s birthday dinner, this time Indian takeout, her choice. It was a perfect ending to our trip, dining with our closest friends in their small apartment where we had sat on many previous visits to the town.
The next morning we checked out of Pema Thang at 7:30 am and took a taxi downhill towards Kangra Airport. Near the back entrance to the temple I spied K and T on the road, ready to begin their circumambulation of the temple grounds, (clockwise waking around a sacred site), followed by their morning visit to the temple itself for worship, their first visit of the day. At my request our driver stopped the car, and more tashi deleks, (translated simply as “blessings and good luck”), and hugs were exchanged before we reluctantly climbed back inside the taxi.
Saying goodbye to our dear friends was hard. We spent many happy hours in Dr. D’s apartment over ten years and I have a snapshot of it in my memory. We will visit her and her family in their new home in Canada in a year or two. I took a picture of K & T at the door of their home so they will live on in my memory.
Now, after some weeks back home, I am beginning to realize how my journey with the Council of Grandmothers and the Net of Light, begun last spring, affected me during this very special time in Dharamshala. During my first two plus weeks there I cast the Net of Light, the Divine Light that holds and protects this planet and all beings on it, around the Dalai Lama’s temple repeatedly each day. Shortly after meeting His Holiness, I suddenly received the message that the net was now cast around the entire town, and that my work was completed.
We have visited this small town in the foothills of the Himalayas five times over ten years, and have developed many enduring friendships. What I will always remember about McLeod Ganj, Dharamshala, whether I return or not, is my comfort level there, how at home I feel. “It feels like a second home to me”, Don says.
Note: You can read Alma Anderson’s channelled messages about my lifetimes in the Dharamshala area in An Indian Sojourn.
Ellen Besso is a former Life Coach & Counsellor & a Reiki Practitioner. She is the author of An Indian Sojourn: One woman’s spiritual experience of travel & volunteering, and Surviving Eldercare: Where their needs end & yours begin, both available through Amazon.
Next: We return to Udaipur, Rajasthan to visit our Indian friends.