I thought I would take you to another continent today. This is a letter I sent to Q from Northern India.
I have spent the majority of the past two weeks "up north". Snow and rocks was the theme, and plenty of both to be had. The rains have arrived south bringing blessed coolness and sending the majority of Westerners, visiting Indians, and beggars onto other locals. The monsoon is useful for so many things.
His Holiness is to arrive sometime this week in time for all His birthday celebrations. It should prove to be quite the gathering. I am the worst when it comes to pictures but I will try to capture the flavor of the festivities. There will be special services at the Temple, pageants, songs and general frivolity at the Tibetan Children’s Village (TCV).
I need you for editing services upon my return; I must begin writing all this down. I have been the subject of various forms of verbal coercion; shy toadying to my ego, and allusions to possible good to be accomplished and duty, among other tommyrot. It has been proposed by those I have known for decades and a body of strangers whose numbers continue to rise as if by design that my writing is valuable to others. When the Universe hands me order by decree She seems to, in my case, use a sledgehammer to the skull as opposed to a divine whisper to the ear.
The trip to Delhi was long but uneventful which is the best one could hope for. I still cannot believe I had no jet lag, but India got me the next day with the heat in the plains on the way up. I had not forgotten how awful some Indian men can be with the leers and the lewd suggestions; however I thought with my advanced age and dressed from head to foot this trip would be different in that aspect. WRONG. From a 22-year-old encountered yesterday on the way up the ridge to Triund (9000 feet straight. up) to the old men in the streets of Delhi and McLeod Ganj it is amazing. I carry one of my hiking poles at all times and adapt a bristling demeanor. I have yet to be physically accosted, just verbally. It is a trying test of my compassion here in the home of the most compassionate man in the world today.
My audience with His Holiness on Saturday was brief (he had over 900 people lined up outside for a public address and greeting) but illuminating. I will tell you all about it when I see you. I have hopes of seeing Him again before I leave; but He is in and out of town and so am I.
The Tibetan people remain wonderful, warm, and amazing. I am treated by all except the children as a child myself. Several of the mothers have decided they need to redress me every time they see me. I am of course in proper chuba and blouse, somewhat at odds with the hiking boots I'll grant you; but I am not stepping foot on these streets without them. The outfits are a bit like playing dress up every day; and I always receive so much verbal, as well as glances, of approval. You know me, the approval junkie.
I am teaching some of the monks English. The children are on holiday from school until 12 June. I met with the Principal and I shall do some lecturing on science and politics; but we cannot make me too much of their schedule because it would not do to have them become used to me and then have me leave so soon. Most of these children have had more loss in their young lives already than seems possible to bear.
I huffed and puffed up the mountain to Triund yesterday with a full pack; but I did make it. That was the easy part. Getting down is ALWAYS the difficult part. I limped into my hotel 11 hours later battered (I hit my head on a rock, of course), bruised (a rock fell on me), blistered (but only one toe, and not badly), with my knees screaming, "Have you lost your mind!."
I met two groups on the way up, then met them again at the ridge. One a group of Israelis and the other Aussies, delightful people. They did beat me going up and then again coming down, but were carrying no packs and only taking the trail to the ridge. I kept repeating to my ego I was the one carrying the extra thirty years- it is a toss as to whether that made me feel worse or better.
I shall spend the next few days resting for the big climb and watching Wimbledon as any civilized person.
I love you my darling. Keep safe and well,