Thursday, 10 May 2012
Wow! I have so much to write! Where to start!?
Me and one of the Irish lads finally left Vashist and headed to Kasol for the 'Shiva Squad' trance festival we had heard about. I only enjoy trance if I am on drugs or pretty pissed so this was going to be interesting as I planned not to drink or take any drugs.
After a scary 8 hour local bus journey we arrived in Kasol. It was a bit hotter which was nice, the sun was shining and we found a great guest house after a few minutes of searching. The guest house was run by local baba's who greeted us with a chillum (massive pipe of hash) and a cup of steaming hot coffee. I have been saying for the last few weeks I am going to stop smoking hash but with the weather being so cold in Vashist and the local traveller hang out being a pot den it has'nt happened. Judging by the welcome chillum it definately was not going to happen here.
It turns out Irish is a massive stoner so it's going to be pretty difficult not to smoke. The last 2 weeks the first thing I have been doing in the morning is having a joint. I really need to quit and decide to make a rule for myself. No joints till after 5pm. That rule did not happen and day 3 in Kasol I had already smoked my brains out.
The day of the rave I decided not to smoke as I have been pretty anti social lately and basically a complete stoner. I wanted to wake up fresh and lively and enjoy the day. The hippies I met arrived but did not want to pay the 20$ entry fee so I decided to go with Irish and pay entrance whilst they searched the forest for a gap under the fence. The rave was from 10 am till 10 pm which we never found out till 3pm so we quickly grabbed some beers and headed into the forest.
The place was empty apart from a few food stalls and about 30 Israelis smoking pipes and joints. The air was thick with smoke and the area was the size of half a footy pitch.As with everything in India I should know not to expect too much! Trance music was pumping way too loud and after an hour I felt like the same tune was playing over and over again. I decided to be social and have a few beers and make the most of it. This is the loudest music I have heard for months and I start enjoying it. I refuse joints off the fellow ravers and chat with random hippies in the circle. That's he thing about India you can go ino any coffee shop or smoking den and there is always a joint or pipe being passed around. You can sit there all day and there are so many of you smoking we all probably roll 2 joints each and we always have one in our hand.I remember when I was young there was always arguments, bets and debates who was going to 'roll the next joint'. This would have been heaven!
Within a few hours me and Irish are a bit merry and get up to have a boogie. Some of the people around us are off their faces making shapes and pulling the strangest faces. We are offered MDMA and have a little 'try before we buy' but it's rubbish so we just stick to the drink. 10pm arrives, we leave and head home. Back home we play music, have a few joints and chat till the wee hours. Irish tries his luck, I tell him where to go and head to my room. I like this guy but not like that. After no sex for 5 months you're probably wondering am I mad?Maybe I am. My excuse not to was ''I hate beards.''
Next morning the beard was gone. Awkward dot com.
I headed to a guest house where you rent a room which has a massive hot bath.The hot water comes straight from the springs and costs 40 cents for 20 minutes. It takes me a while to immerse my whole body in as it's so hot but once I stop being a pussy and slip under the hot water I feel amazing-although I was paranoid whilst sitting in the bath because of the many holes in the walls and ceiling and kept wondering was their some old Indian man peeping through whilst 'banging one out!'
I mentioned before how I love Israeli travellers. I take it all back.Here they are like brits abroad. Rowdy, noisy, they take over every bar they come across and here in kasol it is like little Israel. The menus are in Hebrew,the signs are in Hebrew and the Indian food vender's are selling falafels and lafas! I have had enough of little Israel and decide to head to Dharamsala. Vashist was way prettier than Kasol.
Oh, and may I mention I have finally stopped smoking so I can detox my body for 3 months so I can pass my drugs test for work.I have not had a join for 3 days now.
Dharamsala is best known as the home of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government in exile are based here.There are all sorts of courses available here from yoga, to cooking, to hypnosis. I find a really nice guest house with my own private shower and toilet which is a rarity in India and am pretty excited about my '24 hr hot shower!' The room is the cleanest I have ever rented.Even the bathroom is spotless! Yes!! I have 3 hot showers today.Bliss!
It's really hot here and it feels weird not wearing my fleece. Now is the perfect time to wash it and after 5 months of travelling without washing my fleece once ( I always need it!) it takes me 7 hand washes before the water runs clear!
In the morning I see a man walking up and down the stairs with massive barrels of water. An hour later he is still going...up, down, up , down. He is hunched over with the massive barrel on his back, with rope strapped onto his forehead holding the barrel on his back. I ask my landlord what he is doing. The landlord tells me he is filling up the water tank for the showers. I feel terrible.I have been having 3 showers a day because I have not had my own CLEAN, private, HOT shower in months. From this moment on I have been using as little water as I can and even brush my teeth with bottled water and not turn on the tap!
I attended a Tibetan cooking class yesterday and I can proudly say I have now mastered my favourite Tibetan treat MOMO's!
Today has been a day that I will remember for the rest of my life.
I spotted a cute cafe advertising the fact that all it's profits go to Tibetan refugees so I decided to have a coffee. The cafe also sells local handicrafts handmade by Tibetan women in the crafts factory they own.The Tibetan woman are given a fair wage and free childcare to work in the factory.I got talking to the barrister and a cup of coffee turned into a 3 hour chat about Tibet, China, communism and his old life in Tibet. I don't know much about the history of Tibet or China's invasion but after speaking to this guy I was moved, upset, and angry I did not know the history and wanted to know more. I headed to the local Tibetan Museum where I read newspaper articles, stories of Tibetan refugees, stories of Tibetan prisoners, watched a few documentaries, looked at photographs and left 2 hours later with a lump in my throat ready to burst into tears. I found a quiet spot down an alley and cried.I don't think I have been this upset since Andy died.I don't know why it affected me like this? I got myself together and headed to the Tibetan Temple next door. I sat in the temple all afternoon listening to the monks chanting mantras, I said a few prayers myself, watched the world go by and got chatting to a monk who could speak good English. He told me about a school close by that accommodates male ex political prisoners of war and Tibetan refugees.The school provides accommodation, food and teaches them English, Tibetan history and religion along with many other things. Their is no age limit at the school, the men here are aged 16 to 70.He tells me they are always looking for people to drop in and chat so they can practise their English. I got directions and headed straight there. I was very nervous but to be fair talking is what I do best so I figured it would not be that hard! I headed into the building and was greeted by a smiling Tibetan man called Jinsun. He led me to a room and we sat and chatted over a cup of tea. He is 34 years old and escaped from Tibet 2 years ago. It took him 18 days to walk from Lhasa to Kathmandu. He told me all about his old job as a tour guide in Lhasa, how he misses his family and how it upsets him he cannot return to his family.He escaped without telling a soul and regrets its so much. He does not like India, he does not like Indian food and misses his family so much.I kept a brave face and listened but inside I was crying for this man.How can China do this? I am so angry I visited China 4 years ago.Had I known any of this I would never have gone. He asked me had I ever been to China.I lied. I have a chinese flag tattoo on my foot and chinese writing on my back for god sake!I am so angry with myself.I love the tatoo on my foot but the chinese tattoos have to go. As soon as I get to Australia I'm getting them removed.
Another man overhears our conversation and joins us.His name is too long to remember.He has the longest name in the school.I refer to him as Mr.Long.
Mr.Long escaped 6 years ago and has a wife and 2 children in Tibet. He escaped to earn more money and get a job as it was hard in Tibet. What he did not realise was that to get a job in India he must speak English. It took him 2 months to walk to India and on the way him and his friend where attacked by the chinese.They managed to escape but his friend had been shot in the arm. He helped his friend all the way and when they got to Nepal his friend was suffering from serious frost bite and his arm had to be amputated.His friend was sent back to Tibet for hospitalisation and is still imprisoned there. Because he helped his friend he was allowed into India. He showed me photos of his children who are now 8 and 6, a boy and girl and told me it has been 2 years since he heard their voice. Why? Because the chinese cut the phone masts in the village where they live so the only way he can communicate with them is by letter. Like Jinsun, he too misses home but he seems a lot happier in India than Jinsun does. He told me his wife now has a boyfriend and he too is searching for a girlfriend, preferably a westerner so he can get a different passport and return to Tibet to see his children. It's crazy how if they leave their country they will be imprisoned on their return.I just don't get it. I hate china.I hate the Chinese government and I hate the fact that nobody can do anything to stop this. We then move onto the subject of marriage and children and I am now the topic of conversation because at the age of 30 I am still single with no children. The clock strikes 7 and I have been there 4 hours and it's time to go as they are having dinner. I promise to return tomorrow with my hard drive of movies so that they can practise their English skills more of course!
I head back to the cafe to tell the barrister all about my day but he is not there. A Korean volunteer who can't speak much English is making coffee. I read a few notices on the board in the cafe and see that there is a local nursery also run by the same charity as the cafe. They provide free childcare so that the Tibetan refugee women can go to work at the local crafts factory that they also run.You can sign up and help at the nursery which has 50 odd children all under the age of 3. I sign myself up and buy a few postcards and another coffee.
A group of Indian tourists stroll past the cafe then turn back and rush in for a photo. I tell them they can have a photo with me only if they all put a donation in the donation box.They agree. The first guy takes a photo and puts the smallest coin in the tin possible so I refuse a photo with the next guy unless they stick their hand in their pocket.About ten photos later I have sold a handmade Tibetan bag, a handmade shawl and the donation box is heavier. The Indian's leave and someone orders a coffee with me thinking I work there lol....
I head back to my room and tearfully watch 7 years in Tibet.
What an emotional day. I have learnt so much today my head is sore. I know I cant change the world and free Tibet but there must be something I can do...........................................