Tuesday, June 06, 2006

MacLeodganj Trip: Day 5, Part 1: MacL

Last day - have to see the waterfall at least, so went up to the Shiva Cafe past a cold-spring pool with a group of Tibetan girls swimming in it. Have I mentioned that the fitness levels of these people also means they have bodies to literally die for? Would have walked off the edge of the trail into the river if I'd given into temptation... sigh.
Find the Shiva Cafe, and also find 20 semi-naked men bathing in the rock pool in front of it. What is it about waterfalls which brings out the Mandakini instinct in everyone?

Chuck in favor of, get this, an eating joint named 'No Name Cafe'. Somebody had really gotten frustrated with the effort of coming up with an original name for this one... and there's a lot of creativity floating around. No Name Cafe. Pink and White Hotel. Last Chance Teashop. Green Hotel.
There's a couple of cave-huts filled with chunks of dark shale that visitors have painted on; a neolithic art gallery. And this really gave the sense of the place... silent, empty, sound of the waterfall and the river, a chai-shop, and messages. Anonymous, undated, just words and images, colors and expressions.
Rock philosophy, in more ways than one.
Today's the day, the one that counts. Live it.
I'm not young enough to know everything...
One world at a time
Don't seek to follow in the footsteps of the old; seek what they sought.
You come here for beauty. Don't make it ugly.
and last of all...
Time Stops Here.
On the way back, past the cold spring... the Tibetan girls were gone, and instead there were forty-five boisterously yelling Punjus. Sheesh.

Spent the next few hours soaking up the town while M headed for church. The Net speeds these guys have rocks; it looks like a dial-up but streams like IP-TV. All the netcafes advertise Skype. Haven't seen that level of tech-savvy in Bandra west, even.

Roadside breakfast, and join M at Nick's Italian Kitchen. Too full to eat but I'd have loved to... Italian has always been a major weakness of mine and now has become doubly more so.
There was a small handwritten note stuck on the bulletin board, from an american girl named Katherine. She was heading up to Leh in a few days' time, and wanted some company. Her email was given. Look at everything implicit in that little piece of paper about the life, man - trust levels, tech, freedom, the whole lifestyle of being able to do exactly what you want, whenever you want...
No rules. No schedules. No deadlines. No teammates.
Just you and your wanderlust.

Went to the Dip Tse-Chonling monastery. This is the real thing, the other was too touristy. Far from the town, at the bottom of a killingly steep climb (at least in our condition), a small clean bright building in the middle of complete greenery. No tourists. Just the silence, and the monks. Looked a little like a Shaolin temple; the classic courtyard, the curled roof, the walls.
This monastery is a replica of the original Tse-Chonling monastery near Lhasa that had been destroyed in the Cultural Revolution when the Chinese had invaded Tibet. There are artefacts here that had been carried from the original site and installed here; most poignant being the stones with '1897' on them, the date when the original had been built. There's a Kalachakra mandala on the wall; it represents the Wheel of Time, but is actually more; it is supposed to be Time, encompassing everything. The basic philosophy is oriented around understanding cycles; the planetary cycle, one's own biological cycles, and controlling the energies linking the two that make you, the biological being, at one with the cosmos. (Apologies if I got anything wrong here; please correct me if there's something I missed)

Go to the Chololate Log (finally) after missing it for the last 3 days; little raised covered terrace in the middle of thick foliage, it looks out on the hillside on the quietest part of town. People sitting in ones (at most twos) and quietly reading, having coffee.

Classic Sunday Morning Breakfast scene.

Have our last Tibetan lunch at the Snow Lion - veg kothays - buy up some souvenirs, and head back for Pathankot. It's a somewhat depressing journey; everyone is tired, quiet, the dusk is coming on, and the mountains are falling further and further behind, except for one hauntingly beautiful image of a pair of brilliant white birds keeping pace with our car along the ravine, glowing in the last rays of the sun against the rushing dark brown of water & earth.

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