And after ten days of silence no one really knew what to say. We just kind of looked at each other and laughed. Then ten minutes later at breakfast everyone was trading stories of their own experience with the silence, the meditation and the teachings. I really enjoyed the silence, even if it made for very awkwardly quiet dinners where people sit across from each other but no one says anything. The only sounds are the clanking of forks and knives on plates. A few of us did break the silence a bit early as we had an impromptu late night hangout session in the dining room. It felt like Christmas Eve where you know you’re going to open the gifts in a few hours so why not just start now. It was especially neat because we hadn’t had power in a couple of days so we were just hanging out by candlelight, and then someone snuck into the kitchen and started bringing out dinner rolls and Tibetan peanut butter (which is soooo good). I actually hope no one from Tushita reads this or any prospective students. Don’t get any ideas. Respect the silence.
Every morning it was one guy’s duty to walk around and bang a gong at 6 a.m. which would be our wake up call. First meditation would be at 6:45. My job was washing the breakfast dishes along with three other people and at first I was not psyched at all about this as I hate washing dishes. Then I heard that some people had toilet duty and I was super psyched about my job.
After breakfast we’d have our first of two classes of the day where Janpa Dekyi, a Buddhist nun, would teach us about simple everyday topics like karma and reincarnation. We’d break out into discussion groups for an hour each afternoon where we were allowed to talk to each other!! I can’t tell you how much I looked forward to this hour. I think we all did.
Tushita itself is a cozy place tucked into a mountainside, away from everything except loads of monkeys who spend all their time swinging through the trees and trying to cause as much havoc as possible.
I left my window open one day and when I came back they had stolen my toilet paper and rolled it down the hill. Someone else had their towel stolen and we saw a monkey rolling around in it, covering himself from head to toe. And one day as I was washing my 1,543rd dish, I turned around and saw a monkey had snuck in the kitchen taking a banana and a roll of bread out of the trash.
We were about 40 of us total with people from everywhere: Israel (half the class), Portugal, Holland, Slovenia, Mexico, USA, Germany, Austria, Belgium among other places. And now everywhere I walk here in McLeod Ganj I run into someone from class. It’s actually making it kind of hard to leave. I plan to go to Rishikesh next, I’m just not sure when. There’s a lot to do here in MacG (as I call it). I went on a day long hike up to a place called Triund yesterday. It started with me and a classmate of mine, Ori.
Then along the way a couple of dogs joined us, one in front and one in back, just to stand guard. And as we kept walking, more dogs joined our troupe till we had 8 dogs!! It was so cool. They would walk when we walked and stop and rest when we did. And when we got to the top 4 hours later they were so completely beat that I had to put the bowl of water I was giving them right up to their mouths since they didn’t want to move an inch. And then I took a well-deserved one hour nap myself.
I stuck around MacG today and for the first time in my life I fell asleep in a yoga class. The guy’s voice was so drawn out and deep (“Inhaaaale and relaaaaxxxxxx…”) and one exercise had us lying on our back’s with our eyes closed and that’s when I dozed off. It felt great. Oh yeah, and it was $4 for 2 hours. Stuff is so cheap here. You can get by on less than $15 a day and sleep and eat really well.
In the afternoon I went to teach English at a Tibetan volunteer center called Lah.It’s a big room where you walk in and speak with one of the students, mostly all Tibetans, monks, locals, teenagers who all want to practice their English. I met this guy Tenzin, 19, who is a football (soccer) fanatic and told me about all the football jerseys he owns of Manchester United and Chelsea. His dream is to become a professional football player.
I spent most of the time asking him to explain this board game Carrom that is all the craze with the locals. And I think I finally understand it. It’s basically like pool except no balls or pool sticks. Just checkers on a board and you flick them around with your fingers. Now I really want to get a game in.