2019 Tenshug and Trip to India: Part OneJuly 1,2
My flight ticket was British Airway from Toronto to Delhi. Journey was 20 hours and more. Air tickets were not cheap- thanks to Boeing 737 Max jet which were grounded. Prices went through the roof and it was July when schools are on holidays. My flight was from Pierson airport, Toronto, to Heathrow (London) to Mumbai (India) to Delhi (India); only frugal like me can endure such pain and long journey. For the past two days, Mumbai was drenched. My flight had a perfect landing despite apprehension. Mumbai to Delhi flight was late by almost 45 minutes- a high ranking minister may had his breakfast late. My landing in Delhi was delayed by half an hour. I missed my taxi which I had booked via my agent Ngawang.
I had asked my travel agent to pick me up at the Delhi airport but I missed it due to delay of the flight from Mumbai to Delhi. I took an airport taxi which cost me more, as usual.
Delhi to Dharamsala
Out of blue, fortunately, a Tibetan couple from Toronto was about to leave Delhi to Dharmasala by reserved Taxi and they offered me a ride for FREE. I thank my Flight for being late.
How lucky, I was. I did not have to spend even a minute in scorching heat of Delhi. However, I had to leave behind my luggage because beggar cannot be a chooser. Nawang took care of it and he even borrowed me some thousand Indian rupees. He was very kind and working hard. He is an inspiration to our young Tibetans. He and his friend, another young Tibetan, started this Travel Business.
My luggage was there in Nechung the next day!
I stayed at SnowLion Hotel, opposite to Stupa, room number 10 which was booked by Kargue la. First, I thought of staying at his place in Gangkyi but on second thought, since our 3 day events were at Mcleod Ganj, it was more convenient for me to stay in Mcleod Ganj. I was wrong. Mcleod is dirty and it stinks like a toilet. I caught a cough which remained with me for almost a month. Snow Lion Hotel Phone number is: Exit Code+ 91(India code) +7018459590(personal number).
Lady owner and her staff are kind and friendly. Wifi is available but it works only in their restaurant not in the room-weird. I paid Rs. 800/ per day.
SIM is almost impossible to purchase outside Delhi Airport.
Kashag (Tibetan White House) hosted a dinner party for all of us; there was Tipa performance and later a dinner was severed in CTA staff dining hall which has two levels of dinning rooms. Since all members cannot be accommodated in one level, dinner was served in both the levels. it was bit odd but understandable.
Long-life prayer ritual went very well and HH the Dalai Lama was very happy to see Ex-CTA staff. A lunch party was arranged by U-Tsang for us.
HH the Dalai Lama’s birthday was celebrated, officially, at Tsukla khang, Mcleod Ganj. HH did not participate at Tsukla Khang. Security was tight whenever HH the Dalai Lama participates any occasion- teaching or ceremony; do not carry, with you, any cell phone or cameras on such occasions. For any other event, if HH the Dalai Lama is not participating, you can bring cell phone and camera.
It was Sunday and I went sightseeing. Dharamsala has more cars than it’s narrow road can handle. If Mcleod is made car and two wheeler free zone, like Shimla, it will improve the environment of Dharamsala. One side of the hill-climbing side- is breaking away. Dharamsala must look for a long term solution for its road. Present condition is not sustainable.
Ex-CTA staff hoisted a lunch party to current CTA staff. Although I did not participate in the lunch party but I took some photos. I met few colleges from my yonder years and it remind me of good old days. Today, almost all staff owns either motor bike or a car. Back in 1999, very few owns motor bike.
Kargyu and friends, including me, went for a dinner party at Dhauladar Restaurant, lower Dharamsala. They serve drinks too and party was paid by Kargue la. I had usual Roti and Dal; it is the safest meal while travelling in India.
I checked out from Snow Lion Hotel in Mcleod Gang and moved to Kargyu la’s residence in Gangkyi.
A friend of mine bought me a SIM and for the first time, after 9 days after landing in India, I made connection to the outside world. My advice to tourist is.. buy SIM.. at the airport. Despite being bit pricy, it is worth it. However, if you have friends in India you have a choice.
Snowlion makes Taxi arrangement for travel to Tsopema and Ladak etc. We booked a taxi through them. You can wash your dirty laundry by hand and they will dry it in a tumbler. It is not complete dry but hang them out for a few hours and it is good to wear. Nothing will dry in Dharamsala during monsoon season, unless you are helped.
I hoisted a dinner party for Nechung Karma and Phuntsok at a restaurant bit further down from Dhauladhar where Gyaltsen, another friend of mine who is in California, had a party few months earlier. Soon after biting few morsel, my stomach went into spin and I had the dreaded “Delhi belly”. I took medications, brought from Canada and it saved my holidays; pain and fever went away after few days. Never eat at a restaurant where there are few customers. If you are the lone customer, just go to a restaurant that is busy.
My other friends from NY, US, left for Tsopema with overnight stay. Kargu la hoisted another dinner party at Dhauladhar, lower dharamsala, for his other friends including me. I wish he had more friends so that I can free dinner at Dhauladhar more frequent.
A friend of mine and I left for Leh, Ladak, in a reserved small car. Fare was Rs. 21,000. We left Dharamsala at 7am via Tsopema; it is on the way to Manali. We reached there about 11am. Near the Tsopema gate, outside, there is a Punjabi Daba where fresh rice, Chapati and Dal is served because taxi drivers eat there.
From Tsopema we went to Manali where we are to spend the night at the residence of my friend’s sister. She lives at Patlikul which is between Kulu and Manali. We left early next morning at 4am for Rothang la and beyond. We needed a permission to enter the Rothang la Pass and for that I had to give photocopy of my passport to the taxi driver. It was a special arrangement made by the Himachal Government to limit flow of vehicles per day to Rothang Pass; we saw several bike riders on the way. After almost two hours drive, we reached the check point where they check for the road-permit. Gate opens at 5am, anyway, not before. We had to wait almost an hour.
It is 30 km detour to Garsha Phakpa which is on a hill top. Locals call it Trilok, name given to Shiva. Both Hindu and Buddhist devotees visit this spot for blessing. Photography is not allowed. There was red robed Tibetan-speaking-monk and an elder monk who seems to be the care-taker of the shrine. I cannot make out whether they are Ladak, Indian or Tibetan. There were three images- non descriptive white figure, another non descriptive white figure assumed to be Chenrezig and Kali Mata (black image). Anyway, I am skeptical about whole historical facts. Monk offers a free white piece of cloth instead of usual red threads by Tibetans monks.
Many Tibetans would stay here for a night and return back to Manali or Dharamsala. We left straight to elusive Leh.
After travelling about 1 hour, back tracking, we reached the point where Ladak meets Manali road.
After passing Jaspa and driving about two hours and after crossing about 4 water damaged roads with 2 wheel-drive car we reached Patsio where there was a huge impassable road block due to powerful stream caused by melting snow which is running across the road amid loose rocks falling down from the mountain slope. Road was impossible. We needed help. It was not coming. Cell phones are dead, no connection. We waited for almost 3 hours and we could not cross it. We back tracked because sun was going down; we drove 20 minutes and found a PWD rest house; we booked a room there; it had no power, no water, and door cannot be latched from inside. There was one attendant, Indian, and one caretaker, a Ladaki. Both were drunk; they ask us to fill a form and rent was 450. We asked for three cups of tea and, boy, it was good because we were parched and hungry. Cook told us, he can cook rice and Dal. We were stuck in this place without light, water and uncertainty. Night was chilly. Yes, one thing in Ladak is very strange; mobile network does not work in certain area and area where we were struck has no network. Anyway, in Leh, Ladak you will need to buy a new or local SIM. Your local SIM, wherever you are from, in India, it does not work in Leh.
We were struck here without any communication with outside world.
Next morning, with fingers crossed, we tried to cross, once again, the road at 4am but water was still raging; we thought water would dry up because cold weather will stop melting snow. It did not. We waited for some help which never arrived. It was now 7am. Dark cloud was looming ominously. It is valley were flood would cause havoc anytime. It is now 13th July(I hate number 13, anyway). My hope of reaching Leh is diminishing by the hour. I did my usual Puja and prayed for deliverance. It was dim prospect- without communication and remoteness. Guess what. A guy approached our drive who was willing to take us to Leh for Rs. 7000 in his bigger car which had crossed the unrelenting road several hours before-around mid night. We carried our luggage on our back and crossed the raging water on foot- wet and cold. We left behind our small car which returned to Dharamsala.
There is a zig zag mountain climb called 22 bends. None of the bends had angular Sign post. This is very weird and utter negligence on the part of BRO(BRO is the agent who maintains the road). No wonder, many people were killed due to accidents.
We reached Choklamsar, Tibetan Settlement, Leh, Ladak, about 7pm. What a relief.
Unless you are a seeking a thrill, Ladak, by road, is not for a faint heart.
Here is a Youtube link of me and my friend at the treacherous road of Leh.
It is about 30km from Leh to the east; Thicksey is replica of Potala palace of Lhasa, Tibet. Today, it has a huge wall that is fencing it. There is an entry fee of Rs. 30 for the tourist but locals are free. It was established by a famous high priest of Ladak.
On return journey from Thicksey, we went to Shay Gonpa.
It is a steep walk up the dirt pavement to the hill top. Shey is also the name of the town. You will not miss it. Ask anyone and they will guide you.
It is on the other side of the Leh. We had lunch at Choklamsar. Tibetans run shops and restaurants at this small place. I had Veg Phing and Tingmo. It was fresh and delicious.
Spituk is Ladakhi way of writing Pituk; in reality, Ladak has preserved the correct way of spoken Tibetan language; it is near the Leh airport.
It is built by lotswa Rinchen Sangpo. It is a historical temple. It is about 60km from Leh. Photography is not allowed. It has some of the most interesting images; there are four main temples to visit here.
From Leh we went to Alchay first and on return journey we went to visit following Gonpa- LIker.
There is a huge Mitraya statue- newly constructed. It has a museum too-no photography. Some building look old but most of it are new.
Our plan is to visit Papong lake. it was cancelled due to heavy snow at Talangla and other mountains. I went to see ND’s mother. His sister came to pick me up at 10am.
Houses in Leh must meet two conditions, as I was informed. It must withstand strong wind of dust and gather as much sun as possible in winter.
In Leh, they grow a typical Tree which is grown in Tibet. It grows well in Leh with little water from house tap. Tree looks like a Eucalyptus but it is not. It is straight and tall which is cut down in 5 or 6 years for use as a beam in house construction.
I left for Papong lake at 5:30am morning and back home by 6:30pm. There are few photo opportunities along the way to Papong lake but my advice would be make straight bee line for Papong lake first. You can take time and photos on the way back.
Leaving Leh at 5am is too early because there are black ice on descend slope of the Changla mountain, which face the west. Road has no railing, whatsoever, and one slip is enough to plunge hundreds of feet below. Road is very, very narrow. Best time for descending Changla mountain, on the way to Papong lake, is between 11am to 5pm when ice start to melt.
Do not drive a car yourself on Changla and Kardongla pass.
My advice is never try your Car driving skills in Chang-la and Kardong-la; road clearance is less 3 feet. Do you know that applying break can make it skid? That is enough to plunge you hundreds of below.
If you are not lucky you will have to wait hours on end to clear military convey.
Apart from above hurdles rest of the journey is breath taking.
Road was manageable up to certain distance. Soon it turns into a dirt road and very bumpy. Changla mountain climb-up and climb-down is very treacherous. I saw at least 3 cars and a military truck laying belly up in the valleys down below. Climbs are not steep but road is broken with ice and melting snow all along the length of the mountain. Changla is the highest motorable road in the world. If vehicle slips or skid it is the end of life. There is no barrier. Road is angled toward wrong side and end is eminent due narrowness and slippery conditions. It is impossible to cross it in winter. Even during July, road has black ice. My suggestion is try to cross Changla between 12 noon and 5 pm when ice melts due to sun or if there is enough sun. Salt would be helpful but BRO (who maintains these road) lacks the resource or the knowledge.
We reached Papong lake by 11am. It is breath taking beauty. Lake is blue as the sky and surrounding snow clad mountain is the icing on the cake. Lake is shared between Tibet(now china) and India. More than 60 percent of the lake is in Tibet.
There is 6 minute Yak or Pony ride within the perimeters of the lake. It cost 150 Rs. Yaks are so docile and friendly they walk in pairs and wait for each other.
Bollywood has its charm in Papong and its area; Jab tak he Jan, Sharok khan and of course 3 idiots made a lasting impression and promotion of these area and the lake. Photo shots on bike, chair and costumes are one time opportunity for lucky few who dare to visit this lake.
I met my long lost friend at Papong lake. He is married to a Ladaki lady. He is now aged but very, very young at heart. He built a Tibetan monastery and rooms for monks to stay during Puja festivals. He own a prime land and built this monastery from his own money that he had earned during his 30 years of stay at this lonely spot. I am proud for his courage and fortitude. He claims that he is only one, on the planet, who has hoisted a Tibetan flag so near the Tibet border for the past few decades. I took some photos of that too and prayed that I can say the same and hoist Tibetan flag in Tibet itself, one day.
On way back, I paid homage to Kyopa jigthen Gonpo monastery nestled within a beautiful village and granite rocks. There is quite numbers of steps to climb and at this altitude, I had to make efforts to breath.
About 50 minutes drives from Papong Lake, there is a Papong Restaurant. They serve good meals. Take a break here for food, toilet and deep breath. Soon you will ascend and descent the second highest motorable road- Changla mountain, again.
It is a challenge and a risk to ascend and descend such a treacherous mountain. Why Indian government did not put a tunnel through it is a question that will never get any answer-not vote. Rest of the journey is bumpy but safe.
Wild animals on the way to Papong lake
If you are lucky, you can witness pack of wolfs and snow leopard. Yak, marmot(Tibetan ChiVig), wild ass (Tibetan Kyang) are common sights.
Ladak’s main market is clean because no vehicles(car or two wheelers) are allowed to ply within the market area. People stroll the market and enjoy the freedom from nuisance of car and honking. I did window shopping and had a coffee latte for Rs 130 (same price as Starbucks coffee). Ladak has sweet Apricot- kernel is sweet- which is considered delicacy by local and Tibetans. I wonder what side effect if this sweet kernel is consumed and many does, including me. Many kernels have cyanide in it. One kg of Ladak Apricot cost Rs. 600.
Locals sell their produce on the pavement of the main market. It adds beauty to it. They sell broccoli, Potato, onion, apple, sweet apricot, apricot, turnip, reddish and carrot.
Rest of the merchandise are from Delhi. Price of Pashmina shawl ranges from Rs. 1000 to Rs 18,000. At such price it is difficult tell fake from real. Certification from reputed firm is non existence. Anyway, corruption will make such firm render useless.
I had my lunch at a small hotel near the New Bus Stand. Shop is standing next to Sixteen friends building. Owner is very helpful and lunch (Two Tingmo and mix veg) cost only Rs. 70. She serves fresh and very clean.
In the middle of the main market is the Jokhang Monastery. It has statue of Chenrezig, Jowo and Guru Padmasambhawa. It is spacious and very nice place for a quite and peaceful meditation after hectic window shopping.
Adjacent to the main market of Leh, there is Tibet Mall. It was built a year back and half of the shops are empty. There are food and garment shops.
There are occasional few drops of rain in July. Weather is very dry. Sun is harsh. Sun screen is a must. Since Ladak is dry, when sun is up, it is hot and when sun is behind the cloud or dawn, it is cold. This is due to lack of moisture in the air that mitigates heat. Best way to keep yourself comfortable is bring along layer of cloths instead of one thick warm jacket. A thin jacket will do the job.
From Leh to Choklamsar, Tibetan Refugee Camp, it cost Rs. 300 for a taxi.
There is no proper address that one can ask taxi to take you to. You need detail map or family tree to locate any person in Choklamsar. Many in Choklamsar do taxi business and they own car. Major income is from small business: Silver trinklets, beats, eatery and taxi services. There is TCV school that employs few staff. Opportunities for Tibetan are plenty, such as mountain trekking, computer coaching and repair, construction business. There is construction everywhere in Ladak. I am told that there are substantial numbers of Tibetans who make their living as unskilled laborer for road construction. They are paid 14,000 thousand per month or 168,000 per year. According to my math, Tibetans who make living by agriculture such as Kollegal, earn only 10,000 per year per crop after adjusting for labour, hiring, fertilizer and packaging. At end of the year, Ladak Tibetans make more money by working in road construction than doing agriculture, according to my calculation. May be, I am wrong.
Due to lack of water, not withstanding that Sanghe Tsangpo (a huge river; Indus river), is flowing just near by. Ladak has a very unique toilet. It is a small cubical double storey, roofless structure. You have to climb to the top floor where there is a small hole. It is through this hole the material is let go. it lands on soft soil down below on the ground floor. After the chore, you spread soil on it. Scares commodity water in not needed to flush. At the end of a year, it becomes a good natural fertilizer. Since Tibetans in Ladak do not own crop field, it is picked by middle man who are paid Rs. 3000. They will sell it to local Ladakis who own crop field. It is a win-win situation.
Those who are coming from west face two problems. First, hole is not very good idea. Second, we are not used to sitting on our own two legs. We need support which is not there- for goodness sake. You can still use toilet paper though instead of pot of water, if you like it- Thank goodness. World is not kind to westerners. Some hotels provide western style toilet and they use flush and toilet paper too. My tip for westerner is to eat at some fancy restaurant whenever you have to attend to nature’s call. This way, you will have a relief and your legs won’t get hurt, except your pocket. Always carry a huge toilet paper with you, in case, it is warranted.
If I were mayor of Ladak, I will built a huge reservoir on the top of the Leh mountain by flattening the mountain, which is the highest point in Leh. Pump millions of gallons of water on top. Let gravity do the distribution of water to thousands of residence below this point. It is that simple. Who cares if Sange Tsangpo get frozen in winter. Whole mountain can be used as water tank. With huge Sange Tsangpo river flowing out of Ladak without being useful to Ladak is a waste. Compare Ladak with los Vegas. Los Vegas need to pump water from thousands of miles.
Indians, including Ladak, are hyper sensitive to “no photo” as if whole wall will collapse if photo is taken. Ask them why photo cannot be taken, quick come the reply “ it is not allowed”. Today, camera are so sensitive that we do not need to use “flash” to take photos which is the main culprit. If such camera hurt the artifacts, then mere looking at artifacts will cause harm too. Despite all this explanation, with a smile, they will say “No, No”. it is a fashion of some sort. It is copy cat in another way. No logic but mere stubborn. Logic fails in face of ignorance. I travelled all the way from the other side of the world and they denied a photo. Some of these are wall painting and most of the figures are huge. There is no possibility of transporting these huge images unless caretaker in involved.
How frustrating! I hate them all- including care takers, monk or not. Damn their ignorance. Most of the hardship we face today are man-made.
It drizzled the whole day. Flights were cancelled. Not mine. I still have time.
I went in search of birds along the Singhe Tsangpo(Indus River). River is raging fast and it has reached its bank. It was drizzling whole morning. I enjoyed cloud and drizzle. Sun in Ladak is very harsh. I walked about 2km and found a cantilever foot bridge, not for vehicle, across the Indus River. As I was walking in the drizzle, a kind Ladaki man offered a ride in his car. There was a food stall at the road side. He is a fan of Bob Marley. He has two poster of him on the wall. I had a coffee and a tea, yes, both. It was refreshing after a long walk. I took the same road back home. There are few unique shrubs and tree that it seen in high altitude like Ladak.
Ladak hardly gets rain but occasionally it drizzle. Houses are made of mud and mud bricks. Roofs are always flat. If rain water accumulates it has nowhere to go but through the roof. Why roof is always like this is due to wind. Ladak is freezing cold from Oct to April. Singhe Tsanpo is frozen during Dec, Jan, and Feb. Playing Ice hockey on frozen ponds and river is common here. I was told that winning team visits Canada.
If roofs are inverted V, it will be blown away or strong winds will enter from minute space left by design.
Many new houses have glass house to trap sun rays for heat. Green house effect is made good use of. Each house in Ladak plant lots of peculiar tree which is very tall and straight. Its timber is used in building houses for beam. Ladak has barren rocky mountains and its valley are dotted with houses and green- tree and shrubs. Mountain tops are clad with snows.
Air service in Ladak is dismal. When sky is clear there are about 10 flights per day. But when sky is cast or it drizzles, all flights are cancelled. Therefore, give yourself enough days if you have connecting flights to catch. If pilot cannot see “runway” with their naked eyes, it never lands and return to Delhi instead.
It drizzled whole night and day. I spend my day watching Bollywood movies and had a good rest.
Khardung-La is at 18,838 ft above sea level. My friend went there but my courage failed me after seeing the road conditions at Changla. Whenever there is a drizzling in Leh, it snows at peaks. There was drizzling in Leh for the past two days and I could not summon enough courage to either go to Nubra or Khardung la.
In Ladak, power failure is more often. Flash light is necessary.
TCV Ladak has no Wifi. I thought all schools do. At this age and time, I wonder how students and teachers can update their knowledge. For instance, www.khanacademy.org has wealth of educational tools that both teacher and students can benefit from.
It was my last day in Ladak. I went to pilgrimage to Stok. There is a huge Buddha Statue looking down the green valley. It was consecrated by H. H. the Dalai Lama in 2015. Stok is Ladaki way of writing Tok. In my view, Stok is the right way of translating Tibetan spelling into Tibetan sounding word which was originally taken from Devnagiri. Stok has a museum which is suppose to have artifacts of Tibetan King Songtsen Ganpo. Unfortunately, it was closed due to bereavement of a family member. Anyway, journey was spectacular and view was astounding.
You can see the Leh valley and much of the green of Indus River valley below; it is July. People told me that all the green things will vanish in months of Dec, Jan, and Feb. How sad with desolate look.
I met a Tibetan teacher who owns a motor bike. He narrated a sad story. He custom made a wind guard for his motor bike in shape and color of a Tibetan flag. It cost him fortune but he took pride in it. One day when his bike was parked inside his school compound some non-Tibetans wantonly broke his wind guard. This has happened in Ladak. Nowhere else in India such desecration of Tibetan flag had took place, in my recollection for the past 60 years. Why Ladakhis hate Tibetan is beyond me. When Tibet was a free nation, Ladakis would study free in Tibet.
I flew back to Delhi. My flight was GoAir. Flight took almost 2 hours and not even water is served. I paid Rs. 10,500. GoAir is no, no, next time. I will walk, if I have to, way back to Manali.
Delhi is 36c and humid. It feels like 41c. I stayed at Tola hotel in MajnukaTila, Delhi. Tola has restaurant and elevator too. I had dal and tigmo- I am vegetarian. It was very delicious.
2017 look of Majnukatila is gone. It has new look and is ugly: 2019.
I have urgent matter to attend in Delhi- stitch five ladies chupa for my wife. Tibetan dress, Chupa, is stitched by Indian tailor in Punjab Basti, opposite to Majnukatila. Every tailor in Punjab Basti does not fit the profile. I made some enquiry and here is an address that most Tibetans go to for Chupa and Chupa material. N-101, Punjab basti, MajnukaTila, Delhi, India; Phone: 9953818090/9811441930. He delivers five chupa, next day; unlike Tibetan tailors who never gives business any priority but money.
I left for Clement town, Dehradun, India. I paid Rs 6000/ for reserved taxi.
It rained heavy in Clement town. There was not much relief in temperature. Dehradun has the same temperature as Delhi. It is hot and humid. I hate India, in July.
My friend runs a boarding school for destitute kids, Tibetan Children’s Home, at Clement town. Dheradun, India. He provided me with lodging and food. Room is spacious with sofa.
School has about 80 children from north India. These children are the poorest of the poor from Himalaya region and Arunachal. It is a primary school- upto class five. Age ranges from 5 to 17. After finishing primary at this school, they go to other school in Dehradun for junior and high school education but they remain here for lodging and food until they are ready for college.
Clement town is named after father R.C. Clement who settled here in 1934. There is infamous Prison from where Hennery Hariar escaped to Tibet.
It rained whole day. I could not visit either Dehradun or mussoorie. I am stuck.
There were incident of theft at TCH office- Money were stolen. Nobody knows how it was stolen; was it during day or was it during night. Everyone is a suspect. Whenever there is such incidents, always enquire about whether there was any person from outside; maintenance guy, plumber, electrician etc
TCH had a suspect and they connected a CCTV in the office. It was yesterday that they caught the thief. He was the plumber guy(a local Indian). TCH office remain closed for lunch-break between 1pm to 2pm. Thief had pry opened the iron guard and wooden frame which is facing backside of the building. He would climb in from window and climb out with money and put back the iron guard and window frame. None of the staff knew that window was not secured to the wall at all. He is caught in CCTV and his exit from the window was caught in mobile phone.
Clement Town Tibetans don’t live in a house, they live in mansion with Pent house. Here, you have to look for poor Tibetans- there are none. Young people in Clement town don’t have work. Their daily chore of loitering begins at 11am and they go to bed around 1am. For them, life is easy- no work but loads of cash to spend. Chegyal relatives send them money to throw around.
Houses are big but people who live here are senior and few.
This situation is replicated in other Tibetan settlements too. Some of our adult young people are waiting for foreign settlement and many are wasting their life. It could become a social problem within few years if not addressed in time.
In Clement town nine out of ten owns car and everyone has a motor bike except me- poor me.
There is a huge Geluk, Tashi Kyal, monastery with 120 monks at one end of the town. Nyingma, Milo trichen, monastery is main attraction with huge Stupa and standing Padmasambhava. Kargyu, monastery, is just next to it with huge Standing Buddha.
Today, due to these huge statue and beautifully kept garden, it is called Buddha Temple of Dehradun and is tourist attraction. Many local come and visit this spot and spend their weekends here.
I met a 10 year young Tibetan girl from US at a café. I teased her for supporting Danold Trump. She replied that she is a fan of Obama. I asked why? She said, he is a supporter of lesbian. She complained that she miss Pizza in India.
Ladak, from where I came is dry and parched. Clement town is rain after rain and wet. I wash my cloths by hand and it takes days to dry them. July and August is bad season for tourist
There is drizzle and I went to have my usual cup of tea at 3pm. Tea stall is at the end of the market-shabby looking but his tea is boiled many times over- Indian style of making good tea is to boil it forever. Tea is the safest drink in India. It cost Rs. 10 only. It fits perfectly with my budget. There, I met an old friend from my school days.
He looks much older than his real age; he drinks and smokes a lot. We had chat over double cup (In India there is no large, medium or small tea) of tea; he drinks black tea with sugar. For a while, we were transported back in time. We were living in the past with energy and zest until I got up when my, darn knee, brought back to present age.
As usual, I gave him the run of mill of healthy living advice; what to eat, how much and benefit of fasting. It is of no avail. He is a man of old school; they never change. Bad habits are hard to change especially at his age. He fits the profile of divorcee and yes, he is divorced with three kids.
It is cloudy and sticky. I taught meditation to kids at TCH. There are about 20 kids who showed up and above grade five. Hope, it will help them in their life. They have much more to live.
I went to Harpapur which is 38km away from Dehradun. There are few clusters of Tibetan living around that place. They are Saleque, Lakhanwala, Harpapur, Brotiwala. In total there are about 300 Tibetans living these four clusters.
A Tibetan couple is running a school in Harpapur- Jonson high school. There are about 600 students who attend the school as day-scholar. The students are local Indians. Another old school acquaintance of mine is also running a hostel near Dekyeling, Rajpur.
Everywhere, situation is the same- Tibetan population is dwindling. Houses have done bigger and there are fewer people living there.
Norjin (uptown cafe) Café is clean. Their Muffin is gone by noon. They have some fancy drinks and food for the tourist. They have semblance of AC but not quite but price is high class. Fun part is, when they prepare shakes, it sounds as if helicopter is landing nearby. It is the noise of their mixer; it is frighteningly loud. High end price, very loud mixer and shabby Air Condition is a joke. Unless you need to show somebody that you are rich or simply nincompoop, there is no reason to visit this Café.
I met a man who is about 80 years old at a tea stall. He is very healthy. He told me that he is one of the three survivors of the 18 Tibetans who built their first residence in Clement Town-back in 1960’s.
One of my friend who owns a house in Clement Town told me that he had paid Rs. 2000/ for a plot of land that will fetch him Rs. 70,00,000 today. Where was I when such sweet deal was happening under my nose? I am very unlucky. I blame my friends and everyone- I am so mad.
There are many Bihari (Indian) and Nepali (Indian) who are living within the Tibetan colony which is illegal. Tibetans cannot buy land, anywhere in India but can built temporary residence in allocated land by the Government of India. If such land is occupied by Indian, then Government of India should provide equivalent land size for Tibetan somewhere else.
In Ladak, many Tibetans have sold their allocated land to local Ladakis instead of surrendering the plot back to Tibetan government or selling it to Tibetan instead.
Tibetan colony of Clement town has weird by-laws that forbid new school to open within the colony.
There was incident of purse snatching by duo on motor-bike within the Colony on 5th July, 2019. However, due to the luck of the community, thieves (duo) were caught the next day. Although the purse and other items were recovered from the thieves but local police has not yet returned the purse to the owner. This raises a question! Who is the real thief- police or the motor bike duo? Law of the land dictates that all items be surrendered to court of law as evidence, until such time nothing is given back to the victims.
It is raining again. Mussoorie is so near yet so far away.
Whole day I was in Clement Town. On two occasions I went to see my school friend but he was not at home- gate was locked. Today, he had just returned from Delhi in their private car but it was driven by a hired driver. I wonder how much they had paid the driver? Due to Yatra(Hindu Pilgrimage walk), it took them 14 hours to get from Delhi to Dehradun; normal time is 5 hours. We talked about school, health, and other friends.
I went to see my old friend again today. He owned a small house in Kalimpong which was under litigation for the past 12 years. In fact, the house was his but his greedy uncle claimed it--anybody remember Milarapa story and bad uncle.
I went to GandhaGar(Clock Tower), Dehradun, in a shared TukTuk (Sawari Auto Rickshaw). Fare was Rs. 20/ from Clement town to Gandagar, Dehradun. It took almost 40 minutes. If you reserve an Auto it cost Rs. 250/. It will also take about 35 minutes. Gandagar is still standing-I don’t know whether it still chimes or not. GandhaGar is surrounded by four main roads: Railway station Road, Charata Rd, Paltan Bazaar, and Rajpur Road. Paltan Bazaar is the shopping bazaar where car don’t ply but two wheeler. They are the most annoying. There is new café which is clean. I had a Allo ticka, masala dosa and cup of tea; it cost me Rs. 160. If you want to see people, it is the place to go to, especially evenings. I bought a steel bowl, a mug and a spoon; it cost Rs. 175 total. My flip-flop from Canada did not hold good against the Indian condition. I bought a slipper for Rs. 300.
Just about 200 ft, north of Gandagar, there is famous Punjab Restaurant and next to it is the Moti Mahal restaurant. I had a pot of tea and butter toast. it cost me Rs. 185.00. These Café and Restaurant have no AC. If you really want meaningful AC with authentic Masala Dosa, just walk for 5 minutes in Rajpur Road. There is an old movie theater, which is still working. Just adjacent to it is a Black Pepper Restaurant- South Indian Vibes. It offer meaningful Ac and Dosa or Veg Thali. I recommend visiting that place, if you are in Dehradun; Masala Dosa, tea and bottle water cost Rs.300. South Indian Style Veg Thali cost Rs. 275.
end of part One.