Dharma sista, you ride like a boy na!?

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

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Flag of India  , Karnātaka,
Friday, December 7, 2012

So I offered to come along to help my host Tsering to go grocery shopping the other day. As I jump on and straddle her motorbike like any westerner would, she looks back and starts laughing like crazy; "Yo Dharma sista', you ride like a boy na!?"

This resulting in me having to learn how to ride like a lady with both legs on one side, which is incredibly challenging on a road that has more holes than a swiss cheese while oncoming traffic in both directions scream by at the speed of light. Now try that while balancing two-dozen eggs, huge bag of rice and a ton of vegetables in your lap! Oh and did I mention that we were three people on the motorbike? I also was in charge of her three year old son that kept on falling a sleep (how this is possible, I don't know) sitting in between us on the bike. Ah, the joys of traveling beyond ones comfort zone. Priceless!

Other than that the life in the monastery is quite chill; I wake up prayers by the monks before sunrise, try to get into the one and only toilet that I’m sharing with 8 other people, drink some Tibetan tea and eat home made chapatti for breakfast then head out to the teachings.

On my way trough camp #4 I pass several familiar faces and I feel like a local by now. School girls with braids and painted finger nails (only the left hand as they eat with their right) giggle and say hello, the buffalo herder smiles as I pass and thousands of ruby-red robed monks passes me by, all in overloaded jeeps and buses to a never-ending honking serenade.

By now, the earlier clean and neat main road of Mundgod, has transformed into a ill-smelling-dust cloud with a million plastic bottles scattered around. An aroma of mixed of Tibetan incense, curry, trash and urine is lingering over the street and well beyond. I sweat behind my mouth cover while navigating between cars, tuk-tuks, motorcycles and hordes of people.

I usually arrive just in time for the deep, deeeeeeeeeep (octaves so low they make Berry White sounds like a soprano) chanting starts by the monks. Scary at first but now a familiar sound that I have come to really enjoy! This is followed by more chanting, prayers and finally the arrival of the Dalai Lama himself followed by a full stab of security peeps, camera men and video operators. This is a hi-tec event that can be viewed all over the world as well as on several monitors around the monastery (check out www.dalailama.com if you are interested). The thousands of devotees turn on their radios on their language frequency and an extremely monotone man spits out His Holiness words at an unimaginable speed. I do my best to follow these very advanced teachings as well as to find a comfortable seat during the 5-6 hours of listening. And don’t you dare put as much of a toe on your neighbors neatly marked area as you will get the evil eye your way for sure!

His Holiness guides us trough Bodisattvas, generosity and non-attachment, compassion, to practice patience (especially with your enemies), Bodhicitta, kindness, the importance to share ones wealth, emptiness and so many amazing other topics.

Somewhere inbetween broad-mindedness and logic, the door open and in comes a big group of young monks running with teakettles. Somehow they manage to run trough the crowds and serve tea while everyone is holding out their cups. Truly impressive! Same things happen for lunch and God forbid you happen to be in the way of the running monks unless you want to end up with a bucket of soup all over you. The complimentary soup is serious business you see. If you want some, you have to elbow and arm-wrestle your way trough a crowd that act like they haven't seen food for weeks. It is quite the experience.

Several leg-cramping hours later the deep, deeeeeeeeep voices lets you know that it is time to stand up (thankfully!) and leave with the rest of thousands of people down the ill-smelling now muddy road back home again. This is when I like to have my daily coconut and hang out with my newfound friends and just relax as the crowds moves about and away. We have fabulously interesting conversations about the teachings and well beyond, it is my favorite part of the day; to see then sunset in the warm evening while sipping some chai is a fantastic feeling!

Back in camp #4, beautiful familiar faces greets me and it truly feels like coming home. After an amazing homemade Tibetan dinner and some socializing with the family and monks, I crash on the Tibetan back-breaking bead in the “God-room” (every Tibetan household has a prayer room where they keep an altar, images of His Holiness and other Buddhist icons) and dream of soft cushions and open spaces where I can run free without getting hit by a tuk-tuk or stumbling on some trash.

Out of all the topics His Holiness has discussed so far, I really enjoyed hearing that he thinks he might be reincarnated as a woman because this world need some more Love and Compassion. Now that's a beautiful thought, isn't it?

Peace, Love & Riding like a Lady

Yours truly
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