Wednesday, January 13, 2010
We drove on 180 cubic bikes, so they are not that heavy if you compare to 500 cubic ones. However, for me; it was heavy enough. But, man, what a feeling to drive around in mountains with the peaks covered in snow. We drove around where we did paragliding and came up to about 3000 meters. We wanted to go to a place that was 3998 meters, but it was recommended not to go further up due to ice on the roads.
I remember when Tore took me on his red bike, we drove only for 100 meters or so, but it was such a rush and I was sure I wanted to have my own bike one day. I think I was about 9 or 10. Today, at the age of 19 (2 years before I am allowed to drive in Norway) I got to drive a heavy motorbike all alone. A dream come true; and it happened in the Himalayas!
It is an incredible way to experience the landscape here, so I definitively recommend it to anyone who likes to drive bikes!
The day after, Aslak and Carl went paragliding. I went up to take off point with them, and, man, the view was amazing. The layers that look like fog on the picture are actually layers of pollution!
We only did a few sessions in a hotel room, but we got to go through DR.ABCD, recovery position, burns, cuts and bleeding, and some scenarios. I must say it was fun because I hadn’t done much first aid since before the summer when we had the last big scenario at school with the first aid team. And then I didn’t get to do as much as I wanted because I had heavy sun burns all over my legs. When I walked it looked like I had shit my pants, to put it gently. These few evening sessions made me remember how much I like doing first aid and it was very refreshing. Also, the trekking crew said it was nice to learn from me as well since I had a completely different style than the doctor. The doctor was very technical and advanced when explaining. I was simple and spoke the common man’s language. At least according to the feedback from the trekking crew I was easy to understand.
Very often you feel useless when doing voluntary work; I remember Pete (my English teacher) also mentioned that at school. So in a way I was prepared for it, but it does not make it any less frustrating. At least when doing social voluntary work you sometimes feel like you disturb the daily routine of the children at times. So the first aid evening sessions came as a fresh breath of air, a real confidence boost where I felt useful again.
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Aslak and Trine went and got a Christmas tree! Quite creative :)
I had Christmas dinner at Nisha’s whilst watching a cricket match between
However, one Christmas had to be the first one away from home. Perhaps it was good to have it in a place where the day is not given any attention, because when I celebrate it next time away from home in a place where it is given attention; that will not feel like such a drastic difference. Imagine if I had celebrated in the
Christmas this year was different, but still a nice evening; a good experience to put in my backpack.
Monday, December 28, 2009
Before Kitty and Eloise were leaving we travelled a bit to see McLeod Ganj (seeing as they had not been there) and the Taj Mahal. In McLeod Ganj we went to see the
The youngest daughter was going to watch New Moon with her friends in the cinema, so we came along as well. The cinema was in this massive shopping mall where only very rich Indian people went. The movie was so, and so, but the whole experience was so surreal. When I think about it I almost can’t believe it was real. It was so posh, and I many of the children running around were so spoiled and rude. For them, the woman who’s house is a piece of plastic and some cardboard does not exist. They see her, but she is no one. I am glad we went though, because it made me experience a completely different side of
The day after we went to
The Taj Mahal was a bit smaller than I expected, but a magnificent piece of art. The whole area is built in symmetry so that it is esthetically beautiful. He even got an extra mosque built, so that there would be one on each side of the Taj Mahal. What makes it even more beautiful is that it is not built to show off wealth or power, but it is an expression of a man’s love to a woman. Everything is in marble, even the flowers which decorates the building. At first I though it was paint, but then I cam up close and saw that is was marble. It is truly worth seeing. We spent about 2 hours and 30 minutes there. If we there was not more to see, we would have spent more time there.
A king in
I am glad we went here as well because it gives a good impression of ancient Indian architecture and design. From before I have seen architecture from the
There were also squirrels there walking around, I got a nice picture of one.
Going Back to Kullu
The buses back to Kullu always stop at this one place where one can eat and use the toilet. I wasn’t hungry, but I thought I should use the toilet since I was going to be on the bus another 12 hours or so. On the table by the toilets I see a familiar back. It was Aslak, the other Norwegian volunteer, sitting with his girlfriend Trine. I knew that she was going to come and visit for Christmas, but it was still a bit fun that I met them there. She is a very sweet girl and we have had a lot of fun here in Kullu. Especially when shopping for material. There is a guy who is closing down his shop, so there is 50% off on all material. I bought so much, so now it is all at Nisha’s. (They are the neighbouring family who work as tailors)
I live in a room next to Aslak’s, it is bigger than the old one, has a bigger kitchen, and a bathroom with a proper toilet and a shower that has hot water!! It is very nice not having to wait for the water to boil and not having to use a bucket when showering.
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Afterwards Kitty, Eloise and Preeti dressed up in traditional Indian mountain style clothes. We got some nice pictures. I didn’t want to because we had already done it at Bashing orphanage, and in Manali they charge money. Not much if you compare it to Norwegian prices, but much for Indian rupees. The price would equal to about 1 kg of potatoes.
Then we walked around in town looking at shops and stuff like that. We had a really big lunch where we ate Punjabi food (food from
Monday, December 14, 2009
The bus is no better than any of the other local buses; it drives really fast and the roads are horrible so you get car sick very easily in India. My mother was as unfortunate as to throw up after about 2 hours and we were to sit on the bus for 8 hours. She told me she was feeling car sick and I had to break it to her that the system here is like this: if you need to throw up you open the window and stick out your head. About 10 minutes went by and then she asked if I could open the window. Leaning over me and out of the window she throws up several times. I couldn’t help but laughing because I found it such a memorable experience. However, when she put her head back inside and I saw how pale she was I stopped. Then she put it out the window again. Fortunately she didn’t get more ill after that.
After a really long bus ride we finally arrive in McLeod Ganj and Alf meets us at the bus stand. The boys met a monk who got us really good seats at a teaching the Dalai Lama was giving because the Russian Buddhist Community had arranged a session as the Dalai Lama could not come to Russia. So we check in at the hotel, go for dinner and then my mother and I go for a short walk as we have been sitting on the bus the whole day.
The next day we get up early to make sure that no one takes our seats at the Dalai Lama teaching. I tell you, if we had not had that monk with us, we wouldn’t be so lucky. Some were acting ridiculously because someone else had taken their seat. The thing is there are no reserved seats, you just put your pillow and leave it there, but if you don’t show up in time, you have a problem. It was very funny as well because many of the ones causing a small scene were Buddhists. Here you have the people of harmony arguing like crazy over a small spot on a carpet.
We sit and wait for a bit, find a good position to sit in and stuff, when it goes quiet. Then a powerful voice, but what must be many men, utters the word OM. And they keep on chanting it until the Dalai Lama has taken his seat. Everyone stretches their head, I search and search, and when everyone has gotten a look at him and sits back in normal position; I see him. I have a clear view straight at him. His first teaching is in English and he talks very much about how in the modern world technologies and political systems have developed in a good way, but what it is lacking is a certain type of compassion. This, however, the modern world has realized and has started looking for it and try to understand it. And one of its focal points when searching for this is in the Buddhist beliefs. The type of compassion is a genuine, selfless compassion. When he was talking he would very often laugh at his own jokes. My mother and I found it very amusing and concluded that he reminded us of Santa Claus, but not the commercialized one, the proper one.
During the afternoon we went to an English Church in McLeod Ganj. It is very special as it is from the colonial times, and the glass in the church window by the altar is actually Belgian. Imagine that! The church is called St. John’s Church in the Wilderness. Quite the catchy name, ey? After that my mother and I had an Ayurvedic massage. This was really nice and soothing. Then, we went to have something to eat before my mother was to take the bus to Delhi as she was going to visit Taj Mahal. It was really nice that she came to visit, we had a great time.
(My mother also got her eyebrows done with a thread)
Next morning, we go to our second teaching where he speaks in Tibetan, but we had bought radios where some of the channels had an interpreter translating for us. This day he talked about Buddhism and how to reach Nirvana. He used many terms from Buddhism that I recognized from the Bhagavad Gita. If we had not studied this piece from Hinduism in philosophy; I would be completely lost.
On the way back we take a taxi since none of us really wants to take the local bus. The boys had eaten some chicken so I decided to try the same one since they didn’t get ill from it. I ordered and I got a different type. I couldn’t finish half of it before I felt sick. In the taxi I managed to hold it for 2 hours and then I threw up. Coming back I wasn’t able to eat anything, so on Friday (2days after) Panki’s wife puts me on this cure where I drank some herbal tea in the morning, and got a special mix together with rice for lunch and dinner. The day after I was perfectly normal again; natural medicine is the best medicine.
But McLeod Ganj is definitively a place worth visiting if you are going to India. You don’t have to stay longer than 3-4 days, but you ought to visit. Here you get to see some of the Tibetan culture, left over from the colonial times, Buddhist community, and Indian community. A wonderful place with a beautiful view.