Sunday, November 20, 2005

In Dharamsala, from Rob

As Glenn mentioned earlier, Dharamsala is the home of the Dalai Lama. Its also full of backpackers, monks, and Tibetan refugees. Its a base for trekking and you can take courses in massage, hindi, raiki, yoga, cooking (Tibetan and Indian), and other things I cant think of because Hotel California is playing and its so distracting suck a buddha i hate that song.... Anyway, this is very much a tourist town but because there are so many unemployed refugees here things are actually quite cheap. There are stores everywhere selling cool hand made clothes and jewelry and things and they really cater to the tourists. You don't have to worry about getting sick from the food here. Restaurants have signs saying things like, "Food is prepared with the strictest standards of western cleanliness," and "All vegetables are washed with boiled water." Its nice, but it we know its only temporary till we go back into the chaos of India. This is not really India. Its more like Tibet.

I just came back from a Tibetan museum and it struck me that this place should not even exist. I mean I knew before, and I am sure most of you people know as well the basic history of Tibet. Before 1950 Tibet was its own country when China invaded Tibet and called it "peaceful liberation". Tibet was overrun and the Dalai Lama as well as thousands of Tibetans fled to Nepal and India. Since then China has brutally persecuted the remaining Tibetans and more still make the trek over the Himalayas all the time. I even met one boy who just arrived. In the meantime China has encouraged their people to relocate to Tibet which has made the Tibetans a minority in their own country. They have also used Tibet to dump nuclear waste and have caused much environmental damage. Its one thing to know about the history but when you can actually meet the people and put a face on it, it affects you more deeply. Its also interesting to see the Tibetans make the best of it. They are not just sitting here feeling sorry for themselves. With the help of the popularity of the Dalai Lama they have created a great resort town. Most are not rich, but they are working. This place is full of tourists and its the off season right now. They work hard to educate themselves, learn English and gain a career. But anyway, I have to run, I am doing a cooking class on momos (Tibetan dumplings) in 8 mins. Sometimes this place reminds me of university because there are all the people drinking coffee and going from class to class.


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