Saturday, November 18, 2006


The Dalai Lama came to Dharamshala ("rest house" in Tibetan) in 1959, setting up a Tibetan "government-in-exile." Now, there are several thousand Tibetan exiles living here, mingling with Indians and tourists of all kinds. I came to Dharamshala two days ago, and this morning, I finally awoke free of anxiety. I simply opened my eyes, located myself, and then noticed that I didn't feel nervous at all, for the first time in at least a week.

One thing that I don't write about is anxiety, although I'm often kicking violently upstream against it. Transit between destinations can be nerve-wracking and is often uncomfortable. I took a plane from Srinagar to Jammu, and then I had to stay in Jammu for the night in order to catch the bus the next morning. That meant I had to lug my bag around town looking for a place to stay, and then I had to negotiate with touts and ticket sellers. I left Jammu at 8:30 am, and took a bus to Paranthkot (or something like that) where I wandered around the "bus station" (read parking lot/ trash heap) looking for another bus to Dharamshala. I finally found it and got on. When we arrived three hours later, I changed to another bus to upper Dharamshala. Finally there, at 3 pm, I found a room, and then I found a restaurant, and then I unpacked, and then, the next day, I proceded to find my way around.

Finding my way around is difficult, especially in India, where I'm rarely allowed to walk without being approached; I don't like this part of travel. I like the part where I am comfortable; my things unpacked, my days free for doing something, or nothing. In my transit between Srinagar and Dharamashala, I ate almost nothing. I ate almost nothing because I couldn't bring myself to face the added difficulty of figuring out what and where food was, and then standing there with everyone staring at me while waiting to be served. I did buy some fried fish from a street stall at one point, not really knowing what it was, and I was rewarded with a mouth full of bones.

Anyways, the anxiety about dealing with a new place, and getting there, begins to build as soon as I start to know it's time to leave and doesn't let up until I feel comfortable in the new place. Luckily, Dharamshala is a very comfortable town; there is coffee, there is fast interenet connection, there is pizza, there are very friendly people, and there is a kind of peace here that I haven't seen in India so far.

Dharamshala street

Despite all my Yoda remarks, I'm becoming attracted to the Dalai Lama, and I think I'll do some research, as well as try to hear him speak, while I'm here.

view from my room

Dharamshala is at an average altitude of 4780 feet, and there is a magnificent view from the porch outside my room. At night, there are three lights visible on a bend in a ridge; they are at the right point on the horizon to appear as a rising belt of shining stars, fit to announce the birth of a new saviour.

It is sunny today, and this is a place where a person can take a walk. That's the plan.


Anonymous Jef said...

Your blog makes me miss moving.

Look forward to meeting you in America sometime soon.

10:23 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Desiree, Desiree..

you've been in my thoughts a lot. And i find you here, and i smile.. enjoy ur journey, we'll be watching and listening.



12:31 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Losing your anxiety in India? You must be doing something right, that place oozes anxiety. Maybe in Pondi and Goa or Varkala, those were about the only places I think, for a minute or two, I wasn't bothered by anxiety...Like a cold that won't go away, with you at every corner! Late January I hear? wow.


8:48 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Desiree said...

Ya, I'm wowwed myself.

9:30 AM GMT-5  

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