2019 Tenshug and Trip to India: Part FourJourney of Palmo: Cannabis
Palmo had an accident from a roller blade and bumped her hip. It was back in 1999 in Melabu, CA, US. Although pain was severe yet it was bearable. She ignored it and went to her usual self and chores.
After a few weeks, she could not lift her leg. That was when her nightmare began.
She went to see her doctor and prognosis was bad. She has Rheumatoid Arthritis(RA), a long-term, progressive and disabling autoimmune disease. It means she cannot eat many things that like to. She may not be able to comb her own hair and walk properly; her fingers may get distorted. List is long and none is good. Of course, she had to quite her job. She could not even walk properly.
She was desperate. She took modern medicines and the Tibetan pills. None worked. Pills, for a time, killed the pain but pain is becoming stronger and she was fighting a losing battle. Ibuprofen and steroids are ineffective in combating inflation caused by RA.
One day, a polish lady, suggested her to try Cannabis. That is when she started recovering. Today, she can walk and run. She can comb her own hair. She is back to her own self. Her inflation and incapacitating joints are back to normal. She plants her own Cannabis and can make oil from it too.
She also takes Tibetan pills and does meditation and yoga.
Dramatic recovery from such debilitating RA is nothing short of a miracle.
Kushalnagar is now a city; that small village is gone. There is a Special direct Bus to Bangaluru Airport which leaves from Medikeri and makes a pit stop at Kushalnagar.
At the entry gate to Sera Gonpa, there is a swimming pool operated by SeraMey. Swimming Pool is surrounded by particular grass-almost look like an artificial grass. It is beautiful except for using too much chlorine.
If your eyesight is not comparable to an owl at night, Sera Gonpa is not a well lit area for night stroll to enjoy the cool breeze. There are not enough street lights.
There is a nice coffee shop just few km from Kushalnagar. It is called Café Livesta.
Today, I walked from old camp-4 till Sera Gonpa. Between Camp-3 and Sera there is new Tibetan Camp number 7 built for new arrivals from Tibet. There are about 30 houses.
Bylakuppee Dairy farm: Chogso Khang
This farm is located between Camp number 3 and Sera Gonpa. It was back in 1986 that Bylakuppee Dairy farm owned by Nyamdrel(Tibetan co-operative society) was sold to TCV who want to develop a collective community such as Kibbutz of Israel. It was headed by Mr. Dawa Dhargyal. He planted many coconuts trees and cows were fed maize for better milk production. Suddenly, Kibbutz project was dropped by high command and Dawa la resigned. Dairy farm was sold back to Home Department (Nangsi).
When Mr. Rigden, current head of the Dairy Farm, took over the DF in 2016, DF had Rs. 15/ in its Checking Account.
Today, he had built it into a profit making DF. His asset includes a huge guest house, two cars, 4 motor bikes, office, staff quarters, cow sheds and 30 cows. He plants Banana, Coconut, black Pepper, Milk, potato, mango, animal feeds and manures for organic farming. All irrigation is done through drip irrigation. He employs more than 10 people for various jobs. Every month, his farm produces something for the market. I thought farming was so boring but when I saw his farm, it was full of excitements and money.
To beat all, he did only grade twelve. His work is beyond any degree. Mr. Rigden la, please keep up the good work. You are the shining example of hard work and perseverance.
Some of the houses I saw between old Camp number 4 and Sera Gonpa are huge with gate and dogs.
If you are visiting Tibetan houses, beware of dogs. They are not trained. They can attack you. Dogs are everywhere in Sera or camps where there are Tibetans. Dogs can cause harm to human and Tibetan owners are least responsible. I was nearly bitten by a dog, when I was visiting my friend who was not in house at that moment.
Karnataka Land Act: Karnatak Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe Act of 1978/79
Above two Castes are the lowest of the dreaded Caste System in Hindu Religion. These people are the poorest and do not own any land. In 1978/79 Act, granted lands to these people. If you buy any piece of land from them, this act gives right to them(original land owner SC/ST) to claim land back by themselves or their heir in future without refunding or any compensation to you. I heard that TVC or Nalanda Institution at Bangaluru is trapped in such land deal.
I left for Bangaluru(new name for Bangalore). I left Sera to Mysore by Car- fare is Rs. 2000/ . From Mysore there are frequent AC buses- fare is Rs. 350/. I left Sera at about 7:30 am and reached Mysore by 9am. It takes two and half hour from Mysore to Bangaluru main bus stop- Satellite: a funny name.
Mayuru Hotel is no, no for any tourist. He refused to offer me room because my ID was Canadian Passport. I asked for a reason and he lied by saying he had no vacancy. Until I produced my Passport, he ask me to fill up the form and enter the necessary information in his big register. As soon as I produced my Passport, he changed his mind. Mayuru Hotel at Majestic is no, no for any tourist.
I stayed at another hotel which is cheaper and better. There are plenty of hotels in Majestic Area.
Famous MG road, once upon a time, is turned into a ghost road by Metro line today. Backside of the MG road, once a non entity, is, today, a Church Street with light and flash. Fiip side of Church Street is that it is the back alley of MG road and thus bears ugly sight of electrical grids. K.C. Das, sweet yogurt in earthen pot, is still there at the end of the Church Road. British Library is gone after 30 years.
Also, once famous, Brigade Road is fighting a losing battle to survive. Since MG road is gone, Brigade road has lost its charm by being nowhere to position itself. Brigade Road is short and beautiful with MG road as it’s wing: now the wing is clipped, Brigade Road is lost too.
However, Commercial Street is gaining market. It is the place to goto if you are in Bangaluru. Crowd is heavy and shops are fancy without much substance to boast. Shops are trying to market their own local brands with huge price. Same items are sold, way cheaper, in the adjoining or the next street-Shivaji Nager.
Surprise, surprise and there is StarBucks too at the other end of the Commercial Street. I went there to check it out! Guess, what. For a cup of tea and croissant, price was way higher than in US. It was Rs. 500/. Croissant was almost cooked inside the microwave oven, it had turned into rubber. They don’t serve tea without sugar, it is sugar or no tea. I had to take the tea with sugar.
Unless you want to throw away Rs. 500, don’t ever go to Starbucks. Learn from my mistake.
Alas! MG Road and Bridage Road lost its charm. Bangaluru is just another Indian big city without any icon.
7 : Narayana Netthralaya, Eye Super Speciality, Bangaluru
I went to check up my eye sight at Narayana Netthralaya, Eye Super Speciality, in Rajajinagar, Bangaluru. It cost Rs. 300/ only for full eye checkup if you are local Indian or Tibetan from anywhere in India.
They perform cataract surgery too.
It is walk-able distance from Metro Station stop “Sandal Soap Factory”. You will be received at the gate and they will help you fill up the form and take you wherever you need to go: different floors or different doctors. Because I am travelling a lot, doctor gave me few eye drops and ask me wash my eye lid often. This is a complete surprise to me. I was scared that doctor might tell me that I have ticks on my eyelid: big microscope are bad, I hate it. Why doctors have to use it anyway.
There is a small canteen, just below the NN hospital. Albeit, mosquito, I spent one hour writing this note and had three cups of tea. Canteen is full of customers and food is fresh, naturally. For a traveller, fresh food is vital as to fancy.
Bangaluru has City Center mall at Majestic area where there are lots of outlets but stores are small in size. However, Mantri Square Mall is huge comparable to western malls(Snehal Mantri is name of a person; Mantri Developer; it has nothing to do with the politicians-Mantri). It has about 250 outlets and some are big. It has local brands like Reliance and cultural dresses.
Ashok Crockery at Majestic local bus stand is the store to visit if you are looking for any crockery with most reasonable and honest shop keeper. His prices are fixed.
There are many small malls such as City Center, International Mall, Bajaj mall etc. in Majestic area where cell phones, perfumes, shoes, pants and shirts are sold. They seems to be branded but they are all fake. Price is original- very high. I bought one of those iphone stick for selfy shots from Sera Monastery for Rs. 200 and they sell the same in these shops for Rs 500. You must learn the art of bargaining: just reduce the price to half of the asking price. Believe me, it is not vulgar but It starts there.
I met few Tibetans on Majestic Area who are still selling winter clothing. Every Tibetans I met want to go to foreign. As long as Tibetans cannot buy land in India, life is not settled for the Tibetans. If Tibetans move to foreign land, losing identity is very real and happening already. Learning few Tibetan dances is not culture per se.
I strolled the majestic area for any new discovery but nothing except for the bad roads and bad smells. Modi assured that India is free of open defecation. Good luck.
I visited the famous park of Bangaluru- Lal Bagh. There is a Metro train that leaves to LalBagh. Just ask the ticket counter for Lalbagh and they will tell you which platform to goto and which station to deboard. There is an entry fee of Rs. 25.
Glass house is still there and rest of the old trees are there. Rose garden is more of a decoration, rather than experience for people. It takes about 3 hours to see all the lakes, gardens and ponds. There was no lotus today.
left for the Train station at 9 am. My train Sampark Kranti leaves from Yashvanpur railway station- not from Majestic. It cost Rs. 200/ by auto Rickshaw.
Train ticket racket
While I was waiting in “upper class” waiting room, I saw 6 or 7 TTs(Ticket Masters) flock there with folders and sheets(Train seating sheet) around a guy wearing expensive looking dress with laptop. Although I don’t understand Kanada language but I understand Hindi and numerals well. Guy with the laptop has access to Train Reservation chart- these charts are flashy with lots of columns and rows. He made transaction of upwards of Rs. 40,000/ in one hour. As soon as he and his group left the “waiting” room, another guy with a laptop with the same fancy datasheet was working his butt out to make more money. However, he had less TTs circling him but had a data sheet to populate the Railway Server.
It is clear that why public do not get ticket and it gets sold out so soon.
Here is how they work and cheat Railway. I booked a ticket from Bangaluru to Delhi and paid Rs. 3900 for first AC two tier coach. Two other people joined my cabin and one seat was vacant. These gentleman just paid Rs. 2100/ per seat. How and why they got it so cheap when I have paid almost double: Rs. 4000.
All the train seats are filled with “Ghost” and kept aside for someone with the access to Server. Waiting list are made long and shown “CND”- confirmed yet seat not allocated. CND are given to AC two tier and three tier. Someone with access to Railway Server, allocates these seat to their customers by jacking up the train hierarchy without paying the full price. This is how my other two co-passengers got seat of Rs. 4000/ by paying only Rs. 2000. It is the legacy of Mr. Lalu ji when he was the minister of Railway.
Public is not getting access to AC two and Three tier coach, when in reality train is running half empty.
Railway minister should travel in these coaches or give it a surprise check. All will be revealed.
Next time if you see someone with a laptop outside a booking office, instead of paying a huge extra for Tatkal Ticket, try to purchase ticket from him. He will give you for extra Rs. 50.
I stayed at Potala, Majnutila. Room is clean and tariff is just Rs. 800/. It is cheaper than Tsampa. They have Wifi and best of all, they provide Allo Parota(Rs. 20 each) and regular tea for Rs. 20. What more can you ask.
I left for New Delhi Railway station by Taxi for Rs. 350/. It was reasonable fare. My train Mahabodhi Express leaves at 12:10(train and military use the same clock-24 hour). My ticket was 3 tier AC and fare was Rs. 1900. I booked it from Bangaluru railway station in Tourist quota. Regular was sold out due to Ghosting.
I reached Gaya Railway Station at about 5:00am. I took an auto Rickshaw who charged me Rs. 400/ to BodhGaya. Nechung Guest House is nice and short distance from the MahaVihara. Nechung Guest house has AC and regular rooms for rent. It is very clean and quit place for meditation. They don’t run restaurant. There are plenty of restaurants in BodhGaya for veg and non veg. it cost Rs. 1200 for Ac and 1000 for non-AC.
This year, another new rule is in place at MahaVihara. Usual entry gate allows only entry and exit is at the opposite side of the outer walk. Why people did not think about this many years earlier. Such new arrangement is much smooth. And people who wish to go to the other side of the market, they have a special path and Entryway to the main temple(MahaVihara) is secured. As usual, cell phones are not allowed to carry inside the temple and you can leave it at the gate where it is kept in a locker for FREE. Locker key is handed over to you and register is maintained. It is safe. I always do it. It is safer than the hotel room.
I did morning one hour meditation under a Bodhi Tree. After 10am to 12 noon it is really hot. Another good time for meditation or circumambulation to Main Temple is after 3:30pm.
Today, I noticed a Hindu shrine below this Bodhi Tree where I was doing meditation. A Hindu servent who washes the idols and leaves the spot. Soon after a Hindu priest follows him to this spot and makes regular Hindu ritual- one in the morning and one around 5:30pm. I have no clue about terrorist exploding the Buddha Temple, but Hindus will over run it in few centuries. There is already a Linga(Shiva’s Phallus) in front of the main Buddha Statue in the Maha Bodhi Temple(MahaVihara).
Hindu’s could put Linga anywhere in India but there is only one MahaVihara in whole universe. Why Hindu wants to undermine this holy spot and drive away Buddhist is beyond me. Mr. Dorjee and other Buddhist Care taker of MahaVihara are just a rubber stamp.
Everyone, Hindu Jagnanath Temple, Muslim Mosque and restaurants, including Buddhist, play their prayer with maximum decibel noise level. Peace, tranquility, silence and serenity is impossible to find in Bodh Gaya- a paradox. People come from far away land such as US and Canada, me, to find peace near Bodh Gaya Temple but when you reach here after spending thousands of dollars, all you find is noise, Hindu idols, dog screaming, and dog poop.
This year, there are not much mosquitoes as it used to. Temple premises needs more trees for shade instead of flowers and Palm Trees that hardly offer shades. It is not garden per se.
Since Cell phones are not allowed inside the Temple premises, I bought the cheapest wrist watch in the maket for Rs. 50. It is quartz. All quartz watch are made from same piezoelectric crystal and hence time is very accurate whether it is one dollar or thousands, except fancy dial and metal casings.
BTMC(BodhGaya Temple Management Committee)
“1949 Act” gave Hindus the exclusive right to manage BTMC. Buddhist have no power until Nitish Kumar come to power and made DC governing member of the body. Today, still Hindus are holding it: four hindus and four Buddhist. Why Hindus are managing Buddhist Shrine is beyong me.
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Public water system in BodhGaya is Hard-water with high level of Calcium, Magnesium, iron and fluoride. Drinking water is not purified by municipal. Politician drank the money and let the water run as is for the public. One of my friend brushes his teeth with bottle water! You cannot take risk. Western soap industry has left the old technology and moved on with new formula for soap. Dove, Ivory liquid body wash are good; I wash my hair with ivory body wash-it is good. Indian body soap still use the same old formula and thus soap scum gets left over your body, hair and cloth.
I use bottle water to make my black tea.
Today(Oct. 19, 2019), it rained in BodhGaya; very unusual. Namgyal Monastry in BodhGaya, let me join their kitchen. It is cheap and healthy. Kitchen serves only Veg food. Breakfast is heavy Tibetan bread(white) and tea(Tibetan tea or plain tea without sugar) with Peanut Butter. Lunch is very special; rice, roti, dal, palak and yet another green, yogurt and fruit. Dinner is, almost always, Thukpa which I skip. I hate Thukpa. It is because of my school days. In school we were given Thukpa which is always watery and nothing but water and onion. I hate those who invented Thupka too. I hope it is not my grand dad; fingers cross.
Today is an annual religious celebration of “Dana of robes for the monks” commemorated by Thailand Buddhist at BodhGaya. Only one Tibetan monk was representing us there. He did Tibetan Puja. Whole railing was adorned with Mary Gold flower in three shades of color.
There are three rectangular pathways for circumambulation. Outermost rectangular path takes about 7 minutes for complete one round. Inner one takes about 4 minutes and innermost takes about 2 minutes. Shoes are not allowed inside the innermost circumambulation. Tibetan prayer wheel is installed at one side only.
I am suppose to leave for KukuPada (Riwo ChaKang: kuku means bird and Pada for foot) tomorrow with another Tibetan but everyone I talked to warned me the dangers of robbers and thieves at this isolated location. In the past, Bihar was not safe place. One monk had seen pages of Sutra strewn in the bushes, many years back. After enquiry, he was told that just two days before his arrival there was a nun who was murdered for money, thinking that she had money-belt in fact it was her shirt wrapped around her waist.
Not many years ago, many Japanese women were killed and raped for money and sex. Much is not reported in the media too. Japanese women were gullible and fell prey to sweet talk and bells and whistles.
Never hire an auto-rickshaw from BodhGaya or Gaya from the street, randomly. Ask your hotel or guest house to arrange Auto Rickshaw for you. Hiring Auto rickshaw in the night is dead wrong. If your Train is leaves at 5pm or 12 midnight or 1am, reach train station before 4pm. Waiting at train station is boring but it can save your life.
Travelling in India is risky for women especially if you are travelling alone. Do not gamble with life. There is no safe city for women in India.
if you must take auto Rickshaw, then pick one from a queue of auto rickshaw; at least someone had seen you going in that auto rickshaw and thus safe.
KukuPada or Gurpa in today’s local name can wait another 20 days for more Tibetans to arrive who are willing to visit this spot. Sir Cunningham tried to locate it but failed because it was in the wrong direction: it is south of BodhGaya and Cunningham looked in the east-west of BodhGaya.
There are not many Tibetans who is willing to go there for FREE.
Why Buddhism flourished in this god dammed place is beyond me. You cannot even visit these holy spots freely.
This morning about 6am, I went to pilgrimage along with other three Tibetans. They hired a smaller, four person, taxi for Rs. 4500 and I am a free loader. Our destinations are: PaldenShawari, SipaTsel, Valuture Peak at Rajgir, Hot spring at Rajgir, SoneBhandar Cave, Nalanda and Dashrath Manjith or Mountain Man.
PaldenShawari or Dungeshwari
It is believed that ascetic PaldenShawari, one of the 80 ascetics, was meditating on Deity Gonpo and he was successful. Locals call this mountain Dungeshwari Cave. There is a Tibetan temple too.
As soon as you reach this spot, biker gangs will swarm your vehicle; they are making a living and are harmless. There is small walk of 10 minutes up the hill to reach the cave. But you can pillion ride a bike for a fee. There are shoulder rides too for senior citizens. Most annoying are the cookies seller who will pester you along the way. Monkeys are ever present in any remote sites.
Cave is dark. You need a flash light to reveal its interior. There is a skeletal Buddha, put there by those who owns the Cave- a cunning Hindu. My co-travellers were scared of the biker and travelling vendors who never seems to leave you alone. One of them suggested to walking away from the visiting this spot. It was that desperate. Their intention is to harass you in buying their merchandise. I stood my ground and not paid a penny. In the process, beggars too did not receive anything. We were so scared to touch our wallet.
In the past, priests make money when deads are cremated at their private properties which are declared as sacred such as Ganga at Kasi, Varanasi. Even the ignition fire has different costs according to how old the fire has been burning; some claims are more than 600 years. Some believe that cremation at Ganga will have rebirth in Heaven. This is Hindu story.
Buddhists also have similar story. There are eight sacred cremation grounds in the Buddhist era of Bihar- MaghaDha. One of them is SipaTsel.
Since cremation ground plays an important role in religion as well as economy for the priests, in the past, Hindu and Buddhist fight for it.
According to Hiuen Tsang, Nalanda was built around 66bc. He studied under Silabadra (not the disciple of Dignaga) for ten years in Nalanda(634-644ad). His Sanskrit was impeccable and translated many books into Chinese. In glorious days, Nalanda had 10,000 students with more than 1000 teachers.
Islam was born in the 7th century and it entered India only in the 12th Century. Hiuen Tsang(602-664ad) wrote that Nalanda was destroyed two years after he was back(645ad) home in China. He studied in Nalanda for 10 years and remaining 6 years he toured all over India.
Present vulture peak is not what Hiuen Tsang(HT) described in his book. He saw a huge cave that can accommodate more than 1000 monks. Such cave is yet to be found.
This hot spring, which is within Rajgir, is also not the one that HT described.
SoneBhandar is described by some as the actual Cave where thousands monks can be accommodated. However, there is one flaw. Cave is too small. People believe that there is a special passage to the main cave from this rock cave. Can be use sonar device to look behind the cave?
Prison of Bhimbisara
There are few layout of bricks that resembles houses where AjataShastru jailed his own father Bhimbisara who died in prison.
When I visited Vulture Peak, President of India was expecting within few days and fresh road is being painted and heavy maintenance work is in progress.
Wider walkway is constructed all the way up to the Vulture Peak including final few concrete steps that lands you into spot where Buddha gave his second Sermon; Heart Sutra. In the past final few steps were precarious.
It is good idea to bring along umbrellas, incense, lighter and Pecha, for shade and Puja. Sun is harsh and peak is bear. Water and fruits are sold by the side of the road. In Rajgir there is Hotel Green which serves good and clean food; Masala Dosa and Puri.
Tour of these 4 major spots, PaldenShawari and Sipatsel, Vulture Peak, Nalanda, and SoneBhandar cost Rs. 4500/. If you lave at 6am from BodhGaya, you will be back by 5pm with plenty of time at each spot. It is safe to visit these spots in Oct, Nov and Dec.
Days for meditation and circumambulation.
Indian girl: sad stories of Indian life
She was married to a local boy and she gave birth to 2 girls. Her parents were afraid that she might be murdered by burning her which happens quite frequent in Bihar if girls are born. Science has enough proof that boy’s chromosome has to come from father, male, not mother. Yet male dominate society is full of flawed stories and government is infertile (pun).
Her parents took a couscous steps and ask their daughter to stay with them intermittently. She did. Her husband often visits her at her parents home.
Yesterday, I was asked to translate a court notice, written in English, send to them by the court on behalf of the husband who want to end their marriage. Matter is not that simple.
He had accused her of adultery and girl born at her parent’s home was named and claims that he had no cohabitation with her for the last 6 years. DNA test cost about Rs. 20,000 which is far too much for her to bear. Divorce is devastating as much as the accusation. Accusation of adultery is another way of killing their wife without burning them alive.
I was there with a senior monk of Namgyal Monastery who knows the family well because Monastery help them from time to time- economically.
They don’t have enough money even to hire a lawyer, forget DNA test expense. What on earth she or her family can do. She has now three girls to look after. Whole family were crying in front of me and the monk. I gave her Rs. 1000 to calm myself down. It was so desperate. I hate all man- Indian.
Days are for Meditation, contemplation and circumambulation.
There are about 500 Tings for anyone who want to offer water as part of their religious Puja. I saw people who first clean the Tings, 113 tings, and then pour water into them. As water in BodhGaya is high in Calcium and other soluble substance, Tibetan use the filtered water instead as part of the offering which I find bit odd. Filtered water is for human consumption and unless someone pays for it, they cannot use gallon and gallons of filtered water to offering- fairness sake.
Anyway, there are about 500 Tings for use for FREE.
Tibetans created lots of business for the local Indians. They make Chakden, chakBang, hand cushions, meditation cushions, mattress, momos, baglap(Tibetan bread), Tibetan tea, rosaries, idols, ritual objects, incenses, Khatag, Chilly, tsampa, monk robes, Chuba tailoring, Printout images of various kind including the Bodhi leave. Huge amount of tea is served to all the monks and lay people who are doing Chak(Prostration). They serve hundreds of people of all kinds.
Once again I took three French women for pilgrimage to Nalanda and Vulture Peak. For French citizen Nalanda entry ticket is Rs. 600/ per head. As usual there are Indians who will follow you like shadow especially if they are women. Just ignore them and you are good. At Rajgir, near the hot spring, there is Green Hotel which serves clean and fresh food.
I went for dinner at Kirti Hotel. By the way, Kirti Hotel in BodhGaya does not belong to Kirti Monastery. It is owned by a lay/Monk man. He is Amdo. Dinner for Three was Rs. 1035/.
End of part Four.