Lost in translation and Starstruck by a Lama!

Trip Start Nov 20, 2012
Trip End Dec 19, 2012

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Flag of India  , Karnātaka,
Sunday, December 2, 2012

The big day finally came around and it was time for His Holiness the Dalai Lama to start his two-week teachings at the Ganden Monastery in Mundgod. The whole town had come together to prepare the town with new fresh paint, paving of roads (although not really finished with that little detail), decorations and about a million Tibetan flags. More people had pored into town and I started to wonder if there would be enough room for all of us on the teaching grounds. I also wondered about the fact that there were no bathrooms. No one seemed to know how many attendees there actually were, I heard anything from 25.000-100.000 and it certainly felt like the ladder number.

Several hours before the teachings begun the road had a bumper to bumper line of cars, tuk-tuks, motorcycles and busses that left a huge cloud of dust around it. Everyone is wearing masks that cover the mouth for just that reason. Chai wallas are selling tea, plastic Buddha’s, mala beads and Tibetan blanket-sellers are yelling out that they have the best price. Monks, beggars and a few foreigners are moving about all in one direction- the monastery. Monkies are howling from the trees that are lining the road and yes, of course there are some Holy Cows in the midst of it all. I try to practice my patience and breath as deep as I can, in my stylish mouth cover with glittery beads.

The line goes on forever and many devotees are turned away as they haven't received the PAP permit (that gives you permission to be on the Monastery grounds). The situation gets heated and there is a lot of yelling and some people end up on the police bus (Didi, my friend is one of them) as their paperwork isn't in order. All this commotion is an interesting paradox to the reason why we are all here- Peace!

I finally get in and realize that most people marked their spot as early as the night before.I end up just outside the main teaching hall on a big balcony. Not the best but not the worst spot either. The temperature is rising and I’m sweating like a pig in the traditional Tibetan dress that my host, Tsering picked out for me this morning. It’s beautiful and made out of thick silk and covers my whole body (thankfully my legs too I might add, as there is absolutely no privacy to shave!). I feel a big awkward in my outfit, lost in translation (literarily) as my radio on which I’m supposed to hear an English translation as the teachings are in Tibetan, doesn’t work very well and I’m bummed that I can’t see the Dalai Lama from where I sit.

After what feels like a lifetime of uncomfortableness and a lot of static in my head phones, I start to notice some security police come my way and I can tell that something is about to happen. My instinct tells me to stand up and head towards the door to the main teaching hall and then it happens; there he is the one and only, His Holiness the Dalai Lama right infront of me looking me straight in the eyes. My knees go week and my eyes tear up. It was such an amazing feeling! Then he head upstairs and leaves the few of us that just happen to be in the right place in the right time stunned. It was pure magic!

Later on I find myself in the incredibly long bathroom line to the only two toilets on that side of the temple. As I get out I see the security police again, pushing me up the wall telling me to step back. And guess what? Yep, there he is again, I am standing face to face with the Dalai Lama! I catch his eyes and he touches me and I feel like a little girl at a rock concert and start to cry. It was WOW, WOW, WOW!!!!  He keeps on walking and I am starstruck once again. What an incredible day, at this point I don’t even care if I understood any of the teachings, my sticky traditional Tibetan dress, the dirt, the crowds or anything for that matter. I am completely blissed out. This day will stay in my heart forever. This was one of those once-in-a-lifetime moments that I will treasure for a lifetime.

India certainly never stops to surprise me, and I can’t wait to see what’s yet to come.

Peace, Love & His Holiness
Yours truly,
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