On a college trip from Lady Shri Ram, we went to Dharmshala which even though did not give me the experience with friends which I expected but I made my own memories there as a result of mostly being by myself.
Dharmshala is the exile for his holiness the Dalai Lama
After an overnight journey in a train in which I did not consume even half the food I had packed (I lawys believe it is better to be extra loaded than be hungry later) and a rickety bus ride later we finally reached our resort where we were welcomed with sharbats.
That same day we were taken to Norbunga Monastery. Outisde we met a lady who was selling beads to make a living with a sign that said she is in need of help. My first buy on the trip was from her; blue crystal beads which were a little expensive than I expected.
We visited here people at work making paintings, sewing and making handicrafts- all to make a living and preserve their Tibetan culture. He biggest painting was one depicting the four stages of Budhha’s life.
Fact #2: It is famously noted that due to the charged positive atmosphere that even dogs do not bark but rest peacefully on their backs in their furry body
We visited the main monastery and it was so silent you could hear a pin drop. However, it was filled with an aura of love and compassion. We sat quietly, a few meditating while a few simply observing the awe striking statue of the majestic statue of the all seeing Buddha!
We went back to our rooms waiting for the next day to go trekking!
With our sports gear on we were tasked with a challenge to climb to the top of the hill in return for which we would be awarded with a scenic beautiful view and a Maggi from Magic View Café. Ypu may ask why trek all the way just for Maggi which we can eat in our homes too>
Fact #3- Maggi in the Magic View Café is made with vegetables and special herbs which is made even more yummy because you eat it after accomplishing a tough act!
Unfortunately, I could only climb for 15 minutes before I was out of breath and felt enclosed. So, leaving all my friends behind I went back down the hills. It was slightly daunting to be stranded alone with only the drives who brought us there in view. So I did the best I could and managed to find a small café. My legs were trembling (I still do not know why) and I was welcomed by a friendly café owner who made me feel welcome and told me to stay calm while he told me to wait while he would bring Maggi and a glass of simmering hot cofffe while I sat (alone) thanking my stars I found a good resting place. On the table next to mine, sat a group of tourists along with a Buddhist monk having a conversation. They instantly took my curiousity as One of the girls was sketching the monk sitting next to her. I asked her what pencils she was using and she told me they were a specific brand of color pencils. Soon, she invited me over to draw me next. I joined the table with my steaming delicious bowl of Maggie with fresh vegetables and herbs.
Fact #4- Do not be afraid of meeting new people (unless they are dangerous)
I asked where they were from and one of them was a Knowledge seeker from Texas while the two girls were from France. As the girl drew my sketch, the monk was narrating his tale of how he crossed the mountains to come to India while many starved on their way there. There was a slight language barrier as the monk was still learning English. I asked him why couldn’t he learn Hindi instead and one of the French girls pointed out that Hindi may not be as common in India while English crosses boundaries. The Texan guy who had a long beard and hair told us about a book that he read which told of an Indian saint who crossed the entire( or parts of ) world just on his feet. In return I told him to read the Palace Of Illusions, which I always do to everyone who asks me for a recommendation and he noted it down attentively. The girls then showed me their drawing which was not exactly accurate but harmless. They then showed me all of their sketches which included all of the people she had encountered on her journey to India including a ferryman. One of her sketches was about her experience with sleep paralysis (which is scary even in France). I thanked them for drawing me and asked the seeker if he had met anyone famous and after first denying it on second thoughts he said, “oh yes the drummer from Red Chillie Peppers!!”
The café owner began to worry where my friends were and wondering how I’ll go back while I now engaged in conversation was totally carefree. My coffee arrived but it was time for them to leave as the monk’s English teacher had come who greeted us with a handshake and upon asking him if they had met the tourists before he said with a smile” Yes, maybe in a previous life.” The Texan wished me luck for studying well and bid adieu, farewell. Fortunately by then a group of girls from my college though unknown to me had returned early and I sat with them. However I later realized they would ditch me because the car was too small for the five of us. I returned to the café where the very friendly café owner greeted me again. I began to wait while I saw outside were living a group of pups. The café owner said he was fed up with them and he was forced to feed them ( all in “good” humour of course!) A British couple came and began to cuddle with the puppies and the café owner told them to take one of them with you to England. He even told me to put one in my bag and take back but I politely declined his offer. Soon I saw a few girls from LSR returning and I shouted at them cheerfully ( again not knowing who they were personally!)
Fat#5: Certain detours are better than following a plan
If I hadn’t been stranded I would never had met such amazing people that too with no friends at all.
Afterwards we were taken to McLeaod Ganj where I shopped spending hefty sums:- show pieces, key chains you name it sir!
It rained while we were there but that is a separate story altogether
On the bus ride back to the hotel I got a little homsesick from all the height but the best part was that the bus driver said one of us could give our memory cards to play songs from our phone on the speakers. One of the girls prodded by her friends and after a lot of insisting agreed to give her memory card up. We all laughed as the first song she played sounded strange from a relatively ancient film called Joddha Akbar. But not to be disheartened and to my surprised a came on a song which I had never given thought to before : Story of My Life by One Direction, I still remember how I instantly cheered up as the song was played and I stared out at the scenic views of Dharmshala. I later congratulated the girl on her taste.
All in all, I recommend everyone to atleast visit Dharmshala once. It will be the trip of a lifetime and the zen state of things will take you over even if your friends leave you behind ;)