Tashi-Delek friends, family and stalkers back home! We are reporting from Dharamsala, India, the seat of the Tibetan government in Exile and residency of his Holiness, the Dalai Lama. We spent our last two magnificent weeks before spring break transported out of India and into the magical realm of Tibetan Buddhism with Professor Elizabeth Benard. Every PacRimmer enjoyed the gracious hospitality of Tibetan home-stay families, living in pairs with a unique family located throughout the McLeod Ganj (upper Dharmsala).
This was PacRim’s first experience in with a home-stay family, and as our time on PacRim dwindles to an end, we all took great comfort living in a home, eating home-made meals, and enjoying the pace of family life once more. Several PacRimmers enjoyed cooking with their families, others tried dressing in the local tradition chupa dress of married women. With limited language and exceptional miming skills, we shared stories and adventures, worries and laughter together with out home-stay families.
We had the opportunity to sit for a teaching from His Holiness, tussled together in the early morning in the courtyard of the main temple, listening on our headphones to the live translation of his address to the Tibetan people and spiritual community. A few days later we witnessed Uprising Day, March 10th, the commemoration of the Dalai Lama’s flight from Chinese invasion. All of Mcleod Ganj took to the streets with Tibetan flags and songs, marching in solidarity for their friends, family and countrymen living abroad and in Tibet.
Dharamsala was a remarkable experience. Populated equally by Monks, Refugees, Indians, and foreign explorers and seekers, the community persisted in being one of the most unique, interesting, and surprising places to live in. The massive confluence of so many different people, with entirely different intentions and life experiences, all drawn to this one location inspired a kind of whimsical spontaneity usually found only in the pages of J. K. Rowling or Lewis Carroll. We will never forget our time here.
A Question to PacRimmers:
What was the biggest miscommunication between yourself and your home-stay family.
It’s a small thing, but my biggest miscommunication with my host family involved the dog. It was a fluffy little thing, and when Cony and I were home, it would jump on the furniture to cuddle us and have us pet it. It took us a few days to see whether it was allowed to or not. Our host grandma yelled at it to get down the first time, but we think that was because I was shying away from it. I only shied away because I didn’t want to encourage it if it wasn’t supposed to be on the furniture. But then our host dad would let it come up at dinner time, so we did from then on as well.
Biggest miscommunication was one day while washing dishes Erin and I dumped this pan full of tea remains into the drain when we were not supposed to wash it. Our Amala was amused but also annoyed.
Okay, so I found out during our home stay that I got a job as a peer adviser back at the University of Puget Sound for my senior year! So I was really excited and told my family. My Pala speaks limited English. He was trying to tell me about this custom that Indians/Tibetans have where when someone has very good news, he or she is supposed to give out sweets to the people around him or her. Well, I completely misunderstood and thought he was saying that he and the family should give ME sweets as in a party celebration type thing! So I was like, “It’s okay Pala, it’s okay, I don’t need sweets…” which was met with HUGEEEE laughter by everyone else, especially my host brother Gyurmey who explained it to me and I turned bright red from embarrassment. And he still does not let me live it down to this day. Like actually.