I’ve been spreading rumors that Joe has gotten too lazy to post pictures. In fact, they don’t upload on the internet connection at work. He is also the best boyfriend ever and I can’t wait to see the pictures he puts up next week in Kuala Lumpur.
It’s not fried rice. It’s intricate. It’s not leftovers + rice and oil. It’s time consuming.
But make it and there will be no leftovers.
For 5 months in India, I scoffed when I saw biriyani on menus— “fried rice? Isn’t that Chinese?”. I tried it once in Kuala Lumpur, and I was served expensive yellow rice. But that is as unfair–and inaccurate– as evaluating Chinese food at “Jade Garden” or wherever else in America.
Part Refugee Camp, Part Disney Land.
McLeod Ganj, the Tibetan enclave up the hill from Dharamsala, is the focal point of the Tibetan community and government in exile. Tibetan culture is on full display all around: there’s a Tibetan library, Tibetan Medical and Astrological Institute, Tibetan Buddhist temples, prayer flags, a Tibetan museum, a whole Tibetan government (from a Department of Health to a Department of Education- and presumably a secretive defense department, given that the CIA funded the Tibetan cause). Most of the stores sell something Tibetan, whether it’s Thangkas or books or momo’s. The cafe’s and restaurants are either Tibetan or western, but with a Tibetan theme and name regardless. And Tibetan monks peruse the streets with the tourists. The area was clean of garbage, well kept and full of interesting things to look at, all around a common theme. Neatly landscaped grounds surrounded the Government in exile’s buildings, which themselves a smart fusion of Tibetan and modern architecture. Contrasting the poverty I saw elsewhere in India, McLeod Ganj seemed well off. In fact, contrasting Dharmsala down the hill, it felt like or whole different world, or at least country (but maybe that is the point?). A little Tibetan Disney Land.
One night I sat in a cafe, listening to a group of young Tibetan guys take turns singing a mix of traditional and political songs, interspersed with a foreigner or two trying the Beatles. Continue reading
Treks: The Dalai Llama and McLeod Ganj’s Tibetan community draw the visitors, not the mountains. But it was the mountains that drew the Tibetans. The town hasn’t gone trek crazy- the shops advertise and sell Tibet, and it was a relief not to see trekking offers everywhere (although they are there if you need them). But the treks are there! McLeod Ganj and the nearby enclaves of Bhagsu and Dharamkot offer plenty of longer and short term trekking.
The walks to Bhagsu and Dharamkot are easy and pleasant, being 2 and 3 km each. You can put them together to make a nice day loop. There is also the Bhagsu waterfall to check out.
Or you can keep going! Past Dharamkot to Triund (about 9 km), where there are some great views and a guesthouse.
I arrived in Delhi fresh from a full night’s sleep on the train and 8 weeks in the Himalayans. The “hotel area” in Delhi is two miles from the Old Delhi train station, so I walked across the street to the metro. And then kept walking! Old Delhi rivals Jerusalem for ‘oldest still functioning city’ in the world. I anticipated it to have the charm to match its years. Besides the Red Fort and interment temples/mosques, gaping garage doors adorned almost every building and either opened to a drab store front or remained closed, leaving corrugated metal doors to repel the streets. Charm didn’t line the streets, but a refreshing indifference did- indifference to time, and to aesthetics. Old Delhi varied from towns preserving “old” sections through (10 year) old cobblestones and traditional scripts (sometimes just meaningless letters) on store fronts. If not charming, Old Delhi argued authenticity and its rough corners- all the way down to roaming dog packs- hinted at why it is still around.
Twice, a pack of dogs perked up and barked after me. Dogs particularly like barking at runners and foreigners. Being both, I have learned that walking away and not showing fear usually attests to “all bark and no bite”.
I walked past a third dog pack. Again, I walked by and watched out of the corner of my eye. And then, the anomaly bit my leg- the dog that did have bite to its bark.
I still have loads of pictures and stories from north India… but Kianna and I have been kept busy in Goa…So here is a music video made nearby in Goa that (almost) aptly describes our lives here: driving around on motorbikes while singing- and occasionally standing up while driving, just from sheer exuberance. And yes, the beach is nearby. There are sometimes uniquely dressed people on the beach, but they are Russian, not Indian. The video did miss out on fish thali, which we eat for lunch everyday!