Thursday, September 25, 2008


The weather's getting better here in McLeod Ganj, but ironically early snow and heavy rain has closed roads further north and south. There's a few more tourists about and a sense of excitement as His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama is to give a series of teachings. There are suedeheaded nuns from Korea filling our hotel and many Westerners seeking the Four Noble Truths and following the Eightfold Path to Nirvana.
There are about 120,000 Tibetan refugees living in India, in settlements like McLeod Ganj. Many have escaped Tibet by crossing the Himalayan passes, usually on foot, to escape detection by the Chinese. Some arrive suffering from frostbite, some are sent back by India. There are many who have escaped after being held as political prisoners, usually for demonstrating vocally but peacefully for an independent Tibet. There are numerous accounts of beatings and torture whilst in captivity. And the Tibetan government-in-exile has been trying for years to negotiate with the Chinese government for some sort of autonomy and cultural freedom. The Dalai Lama has adopted a pragmatic approach. He realises that the Chinese will never surrender their claim to Tibet, but he hopes that by peaceful protest and support from the international community an agreement may be struck with China. But the young Tibetans are tiring of this approach and frustrated by China's arrogant intransigence. Meanwhile the 6 million Tibetans that still live in their country are outnumbered by Han Chinese who have been moved in. It's a process familiar to the Muslim Uighur people in the west of China, but the Tibetans have a higher international profile. Its hard to imagine China giving way.

Our friend James is busy setting up a website for a new business venture - running guided tours in Pakistan and Afghanistan ( The routes and ideas he has sound fine until we switch on the news and hear about the huge bomb at the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad. But James has been in Afghanistan and Pakistan and enjoyed his time there a lot. He looks and sounds sane to us, but who knows? Each evening we meet to seek nirvana in A Taste of India - a great little restaurant with fabulous food. We are eating our way to Enlightenment.
an enlightening chocolate brownie

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