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Published: June 25th 2017
Prayer Flags at Sunset
Another breathtaking moment. And yes, this is also taken from our balcony.
The journey from Srinagar, Kashmir, to Dharamsala was a two day taxi ride which we shared with a couple of Italian women we met. To say it was an exciting journey would be an understatement. We lucked out with a driver who seriously could take a place on the Indiana Five Hundred race team. The first day of travel was a solid nine hours of two lane, winding, mountainous road at ridiculously high altitudes that was constant bumper-to-bumper traffic. And we are not talking mostly tourists, for the majority of traffic was large trucks and army vehicles. He passed them all, but was so smooth that we were not expecting to die at any moment. Either that, or the dance-with-death drop to the bottomless valley below was such a constant that it was pointless to worry about. If it is your time, so be it. Otherwise, chill and enjoy the ride. So we did. Anyway, we made the journey intact and arrived safely in Dharamsala, or more specifically, McLeod Ganj, also known as upper Dharamsala, but most renowned simply as "where the Dalai Lama lives".
Although a major contrast from living on a houseboat on Dal Lake, going from lake
The Dalai's Residence from our Balcony
Like really, how sweet is this? That would be the temple you see on the bottom left.
culture to mountains and from a Muslim to a Buddhist vibe, both were beautiful in their own ways. As we sat one night on our balcony, eating pizza and drinking a beer while overlooking the residence of the Dalai Lama -just a ten minute walk down the hill from us - watching the stars twinkling above us and the lights of lower Dharamsala sparkling across the huge valley scape far below us, we raised a toast and asked ourselves if it gets any better than this?
But then it did, for I discovered soon after a yoga class offered in our hotel that was taught by one of the Dalai Lama's monks - a senior monk who obviously had been practicing for some time. Unfortunately, I only had time to take in two of his classes, but even in that short exposure I learned so much. After a lifetime of practicing yoga myself, taught from a western perspective where the focus is on the asanas, or postures, it was very interesting to take part in a class where the first hour was entirely dedicated to several intense breathing exercises, and the physical asanas included for the last thirty minutes
Dharamsala Valley View
I stopped myself numerous times to just take in this beautiful sight, as it was en route to our guesthouse. Simply breathtaking.
only, almost as an after thought. Furthermore, watching this monk demonstrate the breathing exercises, with enormous vigour and lungs that worked like bellows, was somewhat mind blowing. I know now where my next yoga learning curve lies.
Dharamsala was special in itself, but having the restaurant manager coordinate a little concert performance in his restaurant made our last evening in town that much more memorable. The real credit for this goes to Stan, my loving promotion manager who always introduces me as a famous Canadian musician. With only a one day notice, the audience was small, just a little coffee shop performance for a dozen or so locals and a few guests, but it was great fun and the plan is, when we return again, Raj will organize a large concert which, in my preferred tradition, will raise funds for one of the numerous causes that are evident everywhere here.
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