The Beauty of Dharamkot


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Asia » India » Himachal Pradesh » Dharamsala
April 16th 2019
Published: April 17th 2019
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Warning: long blog ahead. Make your tea now.

I started to write this before I got sick and never sent it. Now it feels unfinished to send without being updated first. So here goes:

March:

This past year has been filled predominantly with joy, watching my baby become a boy. Considering I left the decision of my motherhood up to fate, I never counted on having a son. So I’m beyond grateful everyday that he came to me. But once the sadness of the situation surrounding his arrival subsided, I was still left with wonder and questions, many questions and worry of our future. Much of this was surrounded by finances of course. But with no clear path for me and the unusually large amount of hours of sleep I’ve needed since Taylor’s birth, I often wonder and worry how I will support us alone.

Spending our money traveling to India, rather than on the common consumer items many people seek out for their family’s comfort, is a necessity for me, to find the answers. And in many cases, to just be at peace with knowing some of the answers are yet to come. This is a
Taylor drinking his chai at the local chai shopTaylor drinking his chai at the local chai shopTaylor drinking his chai at the local chai shop

On one of those colder doing days
particularly hard one for me! Putting out there what I want for us and being open to the answers the universe reveals…Knowing what I want to begin with!!

I’ve recently come across a brilliant explanation for my continuous travels to India…it’s nourishment for my soul. Rather than running away from life in Montreal…I’ve never felt this to be true, but it’s often questioned. And it’s been a struggle for me to express why I choose every year to remove myself from the comforts of Western life, to spend time alone, in a chaotic, far away place. My whole being is nourished here. It’s whole. At peace. Keeping this feeling elsewhere, is draining. It feels empty. So I am grateful that I have the opportunity not only to come here and recharge but also to share it with my little boy. I feel pride each day I see him grow here and explore new aspects of himself. I’m also a better, more attentive and patient mother when I feel whole...which I think we both appreciate!

He doesn’t love it here every moment, like I do. I think time here is illusive to him and because of that he feels
Taylor with KukuTaylor with KukuTaylor with Kuku

A sweet 7 yr old girl I’ve known since birth
as though he’s been here a long, long time! So he asks every so often “”Why did we come here” or “ why did we leave the beach” and even “I want to go back to Canana…I miss my toys” haha I feel horrible when I think he misses his family but I feel a little less guilty taking him away from Canana (as he pronounces it) when it turns out it’s playing with big trucks and different toys that he really misses.

Visiting a nunnery was meant as a middle ground between the heat of Goa and the lingering winter of the Himalayas. Which is interesting because one of Tibetan Buddhism’s theories is that of the middle way...finding balance. And I think it was clear from my last blog that I felt exactly that surrounded by the Buddhist nuns.

And this feeling has continued, now that we have arrived at the main attraction…we finally reached Dharamkot and not a day too early. Our time in the nunnery saw snow on our mountain home and an unusually cold winter that saw many snowstorms over 3 long months. We were lucky to miss out on the snow covered streets, but still managed to catch some single digit temperatures…which is quite chilling with no indoor heating, winter boots or warm water running in the taps until the geezer is switched on for a few minutes. Taylor’s first shower here was the first time in his life I saw him shiver…he wasn’t as cold playing outside in -15 Montreal! There have been a few moments where I questioned my devotion to spring in this place (where the village is void of tourists and we can walk the mountain in silence, sampling the rhododendron), but then the clouds clear and the snow on the top of the mountain shines visibly under a bright blue sky and I breathe deeply. Just sitting on the balcony, looking up at the mountains I used to climb yearly, is enough to slow my heart rate and allow more air into my lungs. I love to see the bright green trees on the mountain after a rain fall. Do yoga on my balcony in front of a calming mountain view. And watch the massive grey monkeys run back up the mountain, having just escaped the latest storm. The lasting winter means a late start to the tourist season here and a quiet, almost empty village for longer than expected. As the construction begins, to prepare for the new tourist season, I watch for all the changes that have come since our last visit and see how the new calfs have already grown. We are the only patrons of the few restaurants that have opened, the only hikers on the mountain and the only visitors to the chai shop…aside from the volunteers at Tushita, which just started a new meditation course yesterday. That means in about 10 days the village will be inundated with newly converted and confused Buddhists, talking about the complexities of the philosophy I had once contemplated…back when I had time for thoughts.

Taylor already calls our guest house (Shanti) here his home so I know he feels the comfort that I do here. As we approach it on our walks up the mountain home, he calls out “there’s my Shanti house”. He starts many sentences with “remember, last year” although he almost always means yesterday, but seems to catch on to my constant reminders of events that took place in this very spot last year. Its great to be back, in the familiar spot, where our community welcomes us and invites us in. He is shy with the constant affection he gets from the local men and women who are ecstatic to see him again after almost a year of more growth. They love to hear him speak this year and feed him sweets in exchange for a handshake…which he is still hesitant to give out. IT’s common here to shake hands upon meeting, so Indian families train their kids young. It makes for many awkward moments as strangers approach and say “oh cute baby and put out their hands as Taylor stares at them blankly. I say shake if you want, or don’t…no need to encourage him to touch 10 different hands in a day! But my explanation of “he’s a baby and doesn’t always want” doesn’t seem to make any sense to them!

Already we’ve trekked down the mountain to McLeod Ganj by foot…which never once happened last year. I saw trek because it’s a ridiculously steep hill that requires me to walk backwards when taylor’s in the stroller! We’ve also hiked higher up my beloved path than we made it in our entire 6 weeks last year. Our journey here was so much lighter and the energy we both have allows us to take full advantage of the sunny, warm breaks in the weather. One advantage of the stormy mountain weather is the night we sat together outside, passed Taylor’s bedtime, to watch a beautiful lightning storm. Every once in awhile the big, dark thunderstorm clouds passed and revealed the full moon, while in the distance lightning struck every 5 seconds it was magical. I love to hear the rumbling thunder here, as it lasts minutes rather than seconds. And now I’m looking forward to 2 more months of hikes, chai and friends and of course beautiful mountain views.

April:

Ok so now we’ve taken a 2 week hiatus from all activities! Thankfully we still have another month since his cold and then mine causing intense headaches for a week, have stopped us from leaving our little town much. Luckily an Israeli mom traveling alone with her almost 2 year old appeared and we were able to spend a lot of time together so taylor wasn’t too bored alone on our balcony! These 2 weeks did give me the chance to leave taylor to play on his own more than usual and I noticed a change i might otherwise have missed...he is now able to sit quietly for quite some time, to play with his trucks, to colour and to create new games. His favourite new activity here is sitting in front of the mountains, colouring his trucks! He started off colouring them and then giving them car washes with a brush from his water colourbook. So then they are ready to be coloured again! I bought him paint so he could have another quiet activity and he began painting the trucks! He can sit for an hour at least, just painting! For an energetic kid who laughs when I saw lets go for a walk (because he wants to run only!) he can manage to focus quite well for long enough for me to cook a meal, take a shower or do yoga. It's really adding to the relaxed feeling I have this trip, in comparison to the chasing I felt I was constantly doing last year.

Oh did I mention the lice? Ya, perfect timing…as I take him for a haircut the day I feel a sore throat coming, only to discover as his hair is parted and thoroughly looked through, that it’s infested. And yes, I have it too. Although neither of us are itchy, I have a feeling weve been carrying it around since Goa. Oops! we’ve now both been treating twice but if you intend to visit us soon after we’ve landed in Montreal, you’ve been warned. This is india and the best advice i’ve been given for treatment was to shave both our heads!

Now that I’m fully recovered, the temperature is comfortable and I see the end of our time here, I’m starting to take Taylor on more adventures. His little Israeli girlfriend is gone and it’s back to mommy/Taylor time in the mountains. We casually walked up towards the shaded rocky path yesterday and ended up all the way at Galu temple…the ambition I had last year before the throat infection of 2018 hit! It’s about 30 minutes uphill, mostly on large rocks until it leads to a road there. It took us an hour and a half, meeting many friends and donkeys along the way and taking several snack/water breaks. The good part about all the new tourists arriving daily, is that there’s always a new
Running up the mountain Running up the mountain Running up the mountain

Copying a guy who ran up past us
friend for Taylor to meet, even on a mountain trail...and I might like the silence but he loves the camaraderie of passing hikers. Was the most fun ive had on that path and he is by far the best trekking partner. He’s the only one ive ever been faster than! And he gets joy out of every step. He ran a little, he picked grass, he stopped to marvel at the white donkey! And at the top we ate lunch with the most spectacular view. Although upon arrival I realized I had left all my money in the purse I used yesterday! There’s nothing to buy on the trail and I didn’t intend for us to make it all the way. Another oops. But typical india…I saw a taxi driver I knew from Dharamkot and he lent me the money for our lunch. We spent about 3 hours eating and exploring up there before making our way down. Taylor was beyond exhausted by the time we reached our rocky path so I carried him down. A man walked past and said “wow, strong women…mamas get the strength!” haha so right. But my hips felt about 80 years old by the time we reached our room and I plopped us down on the bed!

I feel so much more relaxed here than Goa…perhaps the weather just suits me better…but cooking meals, carrying extra toys/clothes and walking uphill everyday, just seems so much more peaceful than racing through that busy street to the beach or chasing taylor on the open sand in the sun. So as always, I am again inspired in this magical place….to spread my passion of yoga, meditation and Ayurveda. Rather than reading during my odd free minutes, I am now searching for ways to reach people in Montreal. My website is under construction (nod to soon-to-be-Mrs.-Berke) and business cards are in the works. Please help me spread the word, to anyone you know who’s looking to deepen their yoga practice, learn meditation or gain knowledge of Ayurveda! I would even love to sit in meditation with children…open them up to the possibility of a few quiet moments in their packed days of study and activities. I hope to be able to sustain our simple life in the future through imparting my knowledge and sharing my gifts with others.

And now…I know all kids come out with wisdom, insight and hilarious tidbits…but Taylor’s the only one I have the privilege of watching grow everyday. So here are a few of his quips:

Taylor often says “when I’m big...” But usually it ends with “I will drive a motorcycle” or “I will be bigger than zaidy”. One night, at bedtime, he surprised me with “when I’m big, I’ll wash the dishes for you. I’ll cook you chai and eggie. I’ll cut up cucumber for you. You’ll like that. And I’ll wash all the dishes” oh man...how does he know that’s something I’ll like??? I’ve never told him I want him to be helping with those things!!! This conversation happened the day after I got a massage and he was curious why the lady massaged me...I guess he was putting it all together! Side note…I tried to get Taylor to nap so I could get a massage. It didn’t work. But it didn’t seem a good enough reason to pass up a massage, so he was awake the whole hour, often standing on a stool...watching and even doing reiki on my head. Only in india would the masseuse think this was adorable rather than irritating!!

As we
Made it!!Made it!!Made it!!

Galu temple up in the distance
walk down the street in the evening “mommy, the moon is following us!”

T: “the man in the store wanted to play with me”
Me: “everyone wants to play with you. All the men and women here know you and love you. I hear them calling hi Taylor all day long”
T: “everyone loves you too mommy”

T: “mommy, why do you love me?”
Woh!!!
Me: “because you’re my baby and I will always love you no matter what”
T: “no no mommy, I wanna say something...it’s because I don’t use guns because I’m not a policeman”
Ok so that was always going somewhere I could not expect

Sees a cow running in the street and jumping (she was loose from the pole she is usually tied to) T says: “she’s not jumping over the moon!”

I lay down on the bed after cleaning our room.
T: mommy, what do you need? You need a hug” and then he lies down next to me

“Mommy I like you. You’re a big girl. You teach me things”

“I’m Taylor. That’s my name. I’m a boy” he says one day, to absolutely no one, while we’re walking down the street. As if he’s practicing, although he almost never answers when asked his name!

Getting off the toilet:
T: “mommy I’m done, I don’t need wipes. I’m a big boy. I don’t drink booby anymore” (Our most meaningful conversations happen when Taylor’s on the toilet. Cuz he has to sit still and can’t run off or get distracted)

Aditti called Taylor to come down and play. Me: “go down” T: “you come”, me: “I’m going to stay here” T: “then you’ll be too far from me!”

He fell and said “I want her to hug me” referring to the 8 year old girl he was playing with.

Episode 2 of the coke saga: I order coke at a restaurant. Haven’t had in weeks. T: “I don’t want you to finish it. You’ll get sick” he remembers. Fuck

T: “I don’t like mush. Take it off” mushrooms on the piece of pizza his new friend gave him.

T: “can u paint my donkey?”
Me: “I’m not sure it will work, the colours might not show because the donkey is black”
T: “so I’ll use white paint”
15 minutes later...after focused painting. And
Strong ass mama!! As the T-shirt says!!Strong ass mama!! As the T-shirt says!!Strong ass mama!! As the T-shirt says!!

I might look scrawny, but there’s a bunch of muscle somewhere there!!
the donkey becoming streaked in white and yellow
T: “mommy, why did you say it doesn’t work?”
Me: “because I thought you wouldn’t be able to see it”
T: “but I see it!”
Outwitted again. By a 2 year old

T: “Why did Kathi leave the ocean?” (my friend he met and loved last year and again in Goa)
Me: “cuz it was too hot”
T: “why didn’t she just go for a swim in the ocean?” true dat

Kids don’t need introductions. It’s amazing. No “what’s your name? Where are you from?” This form of identifying that really doesn’t mean anything but we somehow feel the need to know before we engage with people. Kids don’t need it. They just get on with it...playing. One kid asked after an hour, if he was a boy or a girl. She didn’t even know. And didn’t care...until an adult asked her. Just thought that was interesting.

On a hilarious non-Taylor note...a Punjabi (Indian) woman asked if I was a local here in Dharamkot!! Hahaha am I darker than I thought?? Because my son is SUPER white!

Thanks for making it all the way here in the blog and sharing our journey with us.
Namaste


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17th April 2019

Blog
Thank you for being an amazing writer and willing to share, I love reading every word. See you soon. XO
17th April 2019

Wow
Best blog ever.maybe because I am the mama but easy to read.fascinating to hear your insights.amazing!!!!!and to be able to write and Express it all so succinctly was just great. The mom and Taylor info is heartwarming and so what I wanted for you.so happy you feel all that you feel .how lucky you are and how lucky we r that you share all that with us. Thank you. Now when I stop crying I will read it again!!love you
17th April 2019

Trish,It is wonderful to,read about your journey ,not only with your amazing son,but your personal feelings and experiences! You have grown so and certainly seem to have found strength and harmony .I am so,happy for you .hopefullynyou will carry on all,you have learnt and experienced on your journey.I am so anxious to hear more about your plans for returning to Western society! You are certainly turning lemons into lemonade!.i love you! Auntie Karol

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