Tuesday, June 27, 2006


I managed to do a decent yoga practice for the second day in a row - I'd had a hiatus since we flew in to Delhi, although I actually did a little yoga on the airplane just to unkink my body from all the sitting. It's a nice way to wake up.

I think it has been helping me to practice that even when I'm hungry, I'm a little reluctant to eat, so doing yoga first doesn't seem like as much of a hardship. Unfortunately, the space we have to do yoga is a little small, and also there are some bolt ends sticking out of the concrete wall, so there are some postures I'm reluctant to do there - it would hurt to bang against the end of one of those bolts.

I didn't get a chance to practice on the guitar yesterday. I feel like the act of carrying it here has already been justified by the lesson I had on Saturday night, but a lesson's no good if you don't practice, so I'd better get to it, soon. We've been hearing nonstop Don Henley on the stereo system in the Cafe - I think it's the only CD they have. It's not so bad - it's a pretty good mix CD - but it might be nice to have a change at some point. I'm thinking of burning them another mix CD to play.

It hasn't rained yet today, but it's looking threatening. The rain is a mixed blessing - it washes the streets, which are kind of scary otherwise, and it clears the air, and of course as an Arizonan it's just nice to see. On the downside, though, it's very damp here - things that haven't been wetted still feel wet from the humidity of the air.

There's no point in complaining, though, and I don't feel inclined to anyway - I'm just wondering how our laundry will get done without mildewing. I guess we'll find out. Mostly I'm really enjoying the rest here. I feel a little twinge of guilt from time to time about not seeing His Holiness, because he's teaching just up the hill right now, but I think I really need the rest I've been taking, and we're about to embark on a heavy emptiness teaching, so I'm trying not to feel too lame about it. It really was wonderful to see him on Saturday. On an academic level, you can question whether or not he's as special as they say he is if you haven't met him, but I think if you've met him, even from a distance, any questions about that fade away. He radiates a kind of stern, slightly whimsical kindness that you can feel in your very bones.

I don't know how this journal feels to the reader. It's been fairly exhausting getting to Dharamsala and getting settled in, but this is the first real vacation I've taken in a long time. I'm really enjoying the change of pace. I think not being able to do email 24x7 is a big part of that, and I'm wondering now if there's a way for me to keep that habit when I go home.


It's started raining again. Sharon said I could use the one outlet in the restaurant for my computer, so I'm going to just cocoon here for a while and work on a technical edit of a book for Jinmei-san. He's been waiting for it for an embarrassingly long time, and the deadline is really looming, so this is probably the best way for me to spend my time today. Jinmei-san has done so much to make IPv6 a reality, and to make it actually usable. Unfortunately, using the outlet means I have had to abandon my favorite table.

During the peak of Saturday's storm, you couldn't see the trees on the nearby mountains silhouetted against the sky - the farthest visible tree was only a hundred yards or so up the hill. Today the rain seems gentler, at least so far. I can still easily see the nearest ridge line, and most of the other foothills, although the actual Himalayas are not visible right now. We heard from others that there were hailstones the size of big marbles, but unfortunately I didn't get to see those - perhaps they didn't make it down this far on the hill.


The rain stopped for a while, so Andrea and I went up the hill and had lunch at the *other* Snow Lion restaurant, the one that Chapman had recommended. It is very good. I had vegetarian Gyathuk, as usual. Gya means sea; thuk means noodles. So it's basically noodle soup, with a mildly salty broth and lots of shredded vegetables. It was very good. I also ordered Tibetan Tea, which came when Andrea was almost finished eating. I tried to order it in Tibetan, but I mispronounced all of the consonants, so it took the waiter a while to figure out what I was saying. He corrected my pronunciation; maybe I'll do better next time. The 'ch' sound here is closer to an 'sh' than the equivalent english sound, and it's also heavily aspirated if you want tea.

While Andrea and I were eating, the local spirits came out again for some happy rain action. By the time we were ready to leave, it was raining cats and dogs, and I'd left my poncho down the hill. Andrea, ever-prepared, had hers, so she helped me to get an umbrella. This is the third umbrella we've bought so far. They are incredibly beefy umbrellas, nothing like the crappy ones you get in the 'states - they have to stand up to monsoon. Each rib is a double box, so that the profile looks like a squared-off figure eight. Usually in the 'states the ribs are single, and they're just squashed, not folded, so the profile looks like a letter 'o' that's slightly taller than wide, but still rounded. These hold up okay for a while, but you see Tibetans with the local umbrellas walking around who have obviously had the same umbrella for years, judging by the stains.

The reason we've bought three is that several of our friends came unprepared for the vicissitudes of monsoon. These umbrellas are 180 rupees if you don't haggle, which is about $4.50. The first time I tried the old haggling trick of walking away from the deal, but it didn't work - the Tibetans aren't big on haggling, although they will come down a bit in price if you ask nicely. So I wound up buying the first umbrella up the hill, for the same price, and as I walked down the Tibetan woman I'd tried haggling with gave me a very affectionate "you schmuck" look. I would up buying the second umbrella from her, and she helped Rebecca to find Dr. Yeshe Dunden (His Holiness' doctor) later on in the day when she was closing up for lunch.


I ran into Alistair and Chapman at the Green Hotel Cafe. Alistair was on a quest for wireless. Still no luck getting a cell phone - maybe later today. On the way back down the hill I saw a tall, thin Tibetan monk walking next to a little girl, talking to her in a very kindly way. She seemed to be enjoying the grown-up attention. I don't know how common it is for monks to do babysitting duty here, but I know that in a lot of Tibetan families there will be one or two monks and some other children, so I guess it's probably not surprising.


Back in the Hunted Hill House, I sat around for a while by myself drinking fanta, and then Rebecca walked in to show off her new Tibetan dress. Actually, she was waiting to meet up with some other folks who were heading to Palampur for dinner with the Lamas. I don't know where she's staying tonight - I hope she's okay.

The next person to arrive was Elly, who sat down with me and ordered some food. Shortly thereafter, Ben K. came in and started organizing a bookbinding party. Actually, when it looked like his organization was too chaotic, Sharon swooped down and sorted him out. They made quick work of the probably two hundred copies of the reading, but they talked the whole time they were doing it, so my concentration was completely shot. Elly gave me one of her spring rolls to make up for it. Chunzom also sat down with us and had an aloo parotha and some chai. I don't think she'd eaten all day. Yak butter tea can be deceptively filling, but eventually you need to eat something.

Finally Michael and Nicole invited us to dinner with Camillo, Renee and another friend who I hadn't met before and, consequently, whose name I can't remember. We had a rollicking discussion about the various schools of thought on the topic of emptiness (or suchness, as some schools call it). Camillo caught me treating concepts as if they were self-existent, but I felt like he was falling a little into the extreme of existence with his position as well. We didn't finish the debate, and I'm sure we'll pick it up again later. Michael had his own set of theories, which sounded pretty good.

I've been feeling guilty around Michael because I didn't get around to practicing what he'd taught me yesterday, and hadn't even practiced today. This happens with Lisa-ji as well - sometimes when she comes to teach me, I have to admit to her that I didn't practice all week. Not too often, though. So tonight I played around a bit with it. It's hard. The thing I find hardest is actually the strumming technique he taught me. I had trouble with the calypso technique my father taught me as well. I think I'm rhythmically challenged. Hopefully not irretrievably so. I'm also having a bit of trouble with the hand positions he showed me - I think what he taught me is going to be hard to fully grasp.

I got about 30% of the way through Jinmei-san's document today because of all the distractions. Tomorrow promises to be distraction-tastic as well, but I really need to push through the review before we head out to the teachings in Palampur, so I'm really going to have to put my nose to the grindstone a bit. The good news is that it's actually quite interesting - I'm reviewing Jinmei's implementation of his DHCP client right now, and since I've also implemented a DHCP client, it's interesting to see how our implementations differ. I don't think I would normally have looked so closely at someone else's implementation.

Sleep. Sleep would be good....


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