Ahh, Dharamsala

Brilliant decision to stay here two nights, instead of going overnight back to Delhi tonight. Not least because our laundry won’t be done til tomorrow. Feels good to just relax. To not have to be up for anything, which has been the case only a couple of other times, both in Bombay, I think, and there I did feel a little pressure to get out to see the sights.

Dharamsala reminds us a bit of Kathmandu. We’re seeing more backpackers here than anywhere else, and that’s sort of a relief, not to stand out so much. This time, all the crafts along the narrow streets are Tibetan, not Nepalese, and the streets are steeper.

I was actually surprised when a little boy asked us for money as soon as we stepped outside yesterday afternoon, and then again 15 minutes later when we came out of the money changer. It’s like I forgot I was in India. Still, even though motorcycles and auto rickshaws honk and nearly run us over every few minutes, at least we aren’t being stopped every third second by a driver insisting that we want them to take us somewhere.

Certain vantage points of the hilltops could almost be Benedict Canyon, but then you spot a string of prayer flags, or a snow-peaked mountain peeking out between the green mounds.

Yesterday, we just wandered. We noticed hippie yoga types trudging down a steep hill beyond the shops. We asked a woman who said there is a nice place to mediate waaay up there. Rob asked how far. “Not tonight,” she advised. “Very steep.”

We got Tibetan massages, very professional. The masseurs, who escaped from Tibet about 5 years ago, did not ask us to help them move to America (as my Nepalese masseuse did), nor was I groped as before.

There is a temple across from our guesthouse. We spun the prayer wheels before bed last night, and I noticed how hard they were to spin from a standstill. This morning during breakfast, I listened to bell-ringing and watched as actual Tibetans and red-robed monks (male and female) spun the wheels, using the wooden handles at the base. So that’s how it’s done. Also spinning the wheels were the aforementioned hippie backpackers, some with enormous stuff sacks on their backs.

The only sight we feel compelled to see is of course, the Dalai Lama’s residence. Apparently he’s back from Seattle, so it will be all the more thrilling to look at the exterior of the building, knowing he might be inside. I haven’t seen any signs with arrows pointing to “Dalai Lama’s house, 1 km,” but surely someone can tell us.