Photo of the Week
Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2007
Photo Title

« Back to Yak Board Archive Site

Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2007


WP_Post Object
(
    [ID] => 55531
    [post_author] => 39
    [post_date] => 2007-11-23 00:00:00
    [post_date_gmt] => 1970-01-01 00:00:00
    [post_content] => 

Dear friends and families,

Sending you all love and "namastes" and merry Thanksgiving wishes from Darjeeling, the "queen of the hill stations!"

We had a WONDERFUL Thankgiving celebration yesterday at our program house! There was some concern that the group might be split up for the day due to a transport strike that threatened the "trekkers'" return to Darjeeling. Thankfully, we set the wheels in motion last minute and, fresh from the trail, the trekkers were swept up into Jeeps and shuttled back to Darjeeling a day early to be back before the strike began (on Thanksgiving). They were total rockstars to endure a 7 hour ride straight after coming off the trail that morning, and we were extra thankful yesterday to have everyone back together to share stories of our week apart.

I accompanied Chris, Rosie, Kelsey, Hannah, Scott, Sara, Taylor, and Marguerita on the village stay in Tumlong which Sara so eloquently described. It was a week we all needed and provided time and space to relax in a beautiful surrounding with such warm and welcoming families. The village of Tumlong is set on a steep, terraced hillside, about a 10 minute walk down many stairs from the road. It lays in the shadow of some majestic craggy peaks recently dusted with snow which glow pink and orange in the sunset. This village, although rural, is much more economically stable than many of the other remote villages we've visited. Sikkim used to be an independent kingdom until recently, and this village definitely showed signs of government support and some encouraging signs of sustainable development. Many of the families' homes were powered by BioGas, harnessed on-site from their animals' dung. The dung was collected each day and put into a vat which led to another vat which led to another that was heated by the sun, sending the methane gas back into the second vat and pushed through a tube connected to the house! Amazing!

We had tons of fun in the village and were also given the privilege of taking part in the bi-yearly re-wrapping of the scared monastery texts. These texts contained the original words of the Buddha and commentary, made hundreds of years ago in Tibet and brought to Sikkim. Unwrapping the mouse-bitten cloth and uncovering the yellowed, tattered pages and carefully re-wrapping the long bundles was a meditative process interrupted by bouts of laughter shared with the monks. It was a real cool experience.

In addition to helping out at the gompa, a 40 minute walk uphill from our houses, we also had daily student-led discussions on development. These discussions were rich in content and inspired some interesting debates on topics ranging from child labor to human rights to community development. With the world as our classroom, these debates held extra weight, seeing the very real effects of world decisions and practices and policies on the actual people.

Finally, we were able to work on a video project which everyone at home should be anxious to see! It was a really fun to get out and laugh a whole lot while filming in the rice paddies and cardamom gardens. Stay tuned!

So, back to the present. Thanksgiving was a wonderful day and we were blessed by a divine feast prepared by Marguerita, Hannah, Rosie, and Sara, with an appetizer by Scott (Turkey Jerky!!!). The cooks slaved away all day and we were rewarded with delicious deviled eggs, mashed potatoes, mac'n'cheese, candied carrots, herbed chicken, stuffing, gravy, green beans with toasted almonds. Bellies full, we still had room for full plates of dessert: spiced rice pudding, fruit salad, and apple crumble!!! It was incredible!!

Having tramped around three countries in three months; having battled being uncomfortable and having put up with strikes and an ever-changing itinerary yet still appreciated golden sunsets and a warm smile despite all the odds (or perhaps just because of them); and having done all that together, we have much to be thankful for this year. Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday, but I try to remember these things each day and bow to all the kindred spirits I've met across the globe who have inspired my search, and appreciate my life circumstances which have allowed me to explore the world in such a way. Thanks to those at home for all the support you've given us while we were over here; we really couldn't do it without you!

Best wishes,

Kristin

[post_title] => Tumlong and Thanks [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => tumlong-and-thanks [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2007-11-23 00:00:00 [post_modified_gmt] => 1970-01-01 00:00:00 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://yakyak.chandigarhsoftware.com/?p=55531 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 196 [name] => Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2007 [slug] => himalayan-studies-semester-fall-2007 [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 196 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 68 [count] => 27 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 31.1 [cat_ID] => 196 [category_count] => 27 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2007 [category_nicename] => himalayan-studies-semester-fall-2007 [category_parent] => 68 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/fall-2007/himalayan-studies-semester-fall-2007/ ) ) [category_links] => Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2007 )

Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2007

View post

Tumlong and Thanks

Kristin,Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2007

Description

Dear friends and families, Sending you all love and "namastes" and merry Thanksgiving wishes from Darjeeling, the "queen of the hill stations!" We had a WONDERFUL Thankgiving celebration yesterday at our program house! There was some concern that the group might be split up for the day due to a transport strike that threatened the […]

Posted On

11/23/07

Author

Kristin

WP_Post Object
(
    [ID] => 55536
    [post_author] => 39
    [post_date] => 2007-11-20 00:00:00
    [post_date_gmt] => 1970-01-01 00:00:00
    [post_content] =>   

I wish there were enough words in the english language to describe the kind of love and emotional outpouring that we continue to encounter on a daily basis here in the Himalayas. As some of you may know, our group opted to split up last week - half of us headed to Yuksom, Sikkim for some hard core trekking, while the rest of us (myself included) stayed in a small rural village in Northern Sikkim, about 30km outside of Gangtok. Life in the village presents its own set of daily challenges, but from my experience those hardships only intensify the emotional capacity of people; in Tumlong they welcomed us into their homes and families with such open and loving hearts that we could do nothing but melt along with them - needless to say the goodbyes we endured this morning were nothing short of heartbreaking. It simply does not get any easier. But although our stay was brief, at least we can say that we have memories to last a lifetime - I speak specifically of the dance parties that were held almost every night in our honor; I don't think I've ever danced or sang so joyfully before, or laughed quite so hard. Even Kelsey's Amala was laughing - so hard in fact that she had tears running down her cheeks. The energy of that place and of those children was infectious, even after dancing to the same song twenty times in a row. (the chorus was the only part in english we could understand and sing: "It's a time to disco... its a time to discooo"). Some other highlights included helping the monks at the village monestary rewrap their ancient texts, white-washing the gompa, focusing our academic attention on some of the issues of development that are oh so important in this era and especially in this part of the world, playing in the rice fields, eating delicious food, and bonding with the cutest kids you've ever seen in your life. I think I speak for everyone in expressing how moved we were by the whole experience... yet another chapter in our saga of moving experiences, and as the end draws near I find myself greatly anticipating the time when I can finally step back and soak up the saga we have created.

[post_title] => Time to Disco [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => time-to-disco [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2007-11-20 00:00:00 [post_modified_gmt] => 1970-01-01 00:00:00 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://yakyak.chandigarhsoftware.com/?p=55536 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 196 [name] => Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2007 [slug] => himalayan-studies-semester-fall-2007 [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 196 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 68 [count] => 27 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 31.1 [cat_ID] => 196 [category_count] => 27 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2007 [category_nicename] => himalayan-studies-semester-fall-2007 [category_parent] => 68 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/fall-2007/himalayan-studies-semester-fall-2007/ ) ) [category_links] => Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2007 )

Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2007

View post

Time to Disco

Sara,Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2007

Description

I wish there were enough words in the english language to describe the kind of love and emotional outpouring that we continue to encounter on a daily basis here in the Himalayas. As some of you may know, our group opted to split up last week – half of us headed to Yuksom, Sikkim for […]

Posted On

11/20/07

Author

Sara

WP_Post Object
(
    [ID] => 55540
    [post_author] => 39
    [post_date] => 2007-11-19 00:00:00
    [post_date_gmt] => 1970-01-01 00:00:00
    [post_content] =>   

I had originally thought, after finally having graduated from High School, that my own personal growth and change had reached its limit, for the meantime at least. Instead, I continue to experience as much change, if not even at a more intense and intellectual level. Currently, I have found this to be both a challenging and a good thing.

I recall my mother once saying, "Those four years were some of the best times of my life," in referral to her own High School experience. That statement really hyped up the 'High School experience' that awaited me, as I was an eighth grader at the time. Her words scared me, as I felt the pressure to experience the same satisfaction, when I'd look back on those four years myself.

At eighteen years of age, though, I already look back, and I remember the emotional challenge I had faced during those years: anxiety towards public speaking, especially towards the required senior speech I would have to give, nervousness around authority figures and boys, and difficulty in confronting the truth of an awkward family dynamic. I had dealt with feelings of isolation, and later, self - growth, and thought that graduation had wrapped up the change I had faced by neatly labeling my accomplishment of four years. The word 'graduation' freed me from a lot of things: grades, social discomfort, another class presentation or an analysis essay paper, and a boy who played with my emotions; a situation that just needed time to heal.

But more importantly, I felt the freedom of my newly developed self, feeling that my recently instilled confidence from challenges at school would take me far. And then, I thought about college, overwhelmed by the prospect of another four years of school that lay ahead of me -- I went to the Himalayas instead.

I wanted to receive education in a different form from the one that I've endured since preschool -- one through hands on experience. I traveled to Nepal through a program with eleven other students around my age. We live dispersed across the U.S., and met for the first time at the LAX airport, before venturing off to the other side of the globe, for the next three months of our lives.

And I am here now, in Asia, and life and culture is different from the place I call home. Tan Tibetan faces are painted with red cheeks – a result from the high altitude sun exposure to UV rays. Nepali families paint their houses based on days in the lunar calendar, and repair mud floors with a mixture of cow dung and water.

I sit on mud floors and eat with my hands in a firelit kitchen encompassed with Nepalese babble. I squat, then wipe my ass with my hands too (along with water), since toilet paper is non-existent in these parts. I rip feasting leeches from my bleeding ankles, avoid bed bugs by spraying 'DEET' on my bed sheets, and I have learned that there is more to the land than its world famous beauty.

In the mornings, Sunita, my homestay sister at a farm I volunteered at, offers rice and milk to the gods in tiny gold bowls. I've learned that women here are excused from cooking for four days during their menstrual cycle, and food is served twice from the serving spoon, for fear that one will bear a one-legged child otherwise.

Lastly, I have observed the phrase ‘Thank you’ as rarely to be said in Nepal, as the constant giving in this country would require an over usage, and therefore a lack of meaning to these words of respect.

As a foreigner, I label these cultural traits as ‘different,’ in referring to a comparison to my own American culture. And as an American, I feel the desire for what I have learned is important in America, including self-accomplishment, individuality and success. But in Asia, I’ve experienced a culture with an emphasis for other values – cooperation, servitude, and above all, respect. After completing our rural homestays in Suspa, Nepal, many students voiced surprise at how much the families were willing to give, including a deep respect by serving us enormous amounts of food.

And so, for the past two months I have been immersed into a foreign, Asian culture, one that is quite the opposite of my own. At the same time I have found American culture equally as present in Asia – one that is deeply rooted in the fourteen people I am traveling with. At times, this is difficult.

Last week while in Nepal, at a spiritual power place called ‘Helambu,’ the group reached an emotionally challenging climax. Students’ feelings of dissatisfaction with the group leaders were finally brought to the surface verbally – leading to tears and emotional stress. Consequently, group solutions came about in a new form of group unity – group meetings not including the teacher leaders. Despite an improvement in finding solutions for ourselves, I found the disconnect many of us felt towards the leaders as ironic, knowing that they thought of us constantly, catering to our needs, setting up homestays, and making sure we were comfortable in a foreign place. To say the least, the group lacked unity, and we realized opposing desires had to do with the problem. While some students had not felt enough of a challenge while trekking, others had already physically been pushed to their limits, and so we found ourselves at a stalemate.

Later that week, we were back in Katmandu, the Capital city of Nepal, the fifteen of us facing one another in a reflection circle. One girl sighed before she spoke, “When I think of Helambu,” she said, “I think of the ‘hell’ I felt in Helambu.” She laughed uneasily. I felt the weight of truth in that statement.

I wouldn’t take away my Helambu experience, but I realize that it’s a challenge to participate in a cultural immersion along with a group of Americans around my own age.

I like meeting new people, and through both similarities and differences, I've been slowly able to connect to the people in my travel group. But it’s easy to connect to them through the longing of comforts at home, too. It makes me think about America a lot, and San Francisco; the city I love and left behind, two months ago. I miss familiar foods: Ben and Jerry’s half baked ice cream, ‘Strauss Family Farms’ cream top milk, maple syrup yogurt.

At the same time, I find the Nepali culture that I am immersed in to be incredibly fascinating. The differences in behavior that I notice in Nepal are both interesting and confusing to me. And it has taken time, but I have learned to come to terms with and often laugh at the cultural struggles I face on a daily basis. A most prevalent communicational challenge includes the Nepali and Tibetan ‘head wobble,’ a side to side motion of the head in response to ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions. Interpreting these answers is difficult.

On this trip we have faced our own cultural barrier; the one within our group. We faced a clash between ourselves, while traveling together in a foreign country with a foreign culture. Maybe our group struggle reflected the challenge of assimilation we faced in a foreign land, on a trip that advertised itself as a ‘cultural immersion.’

I had originally thought, that I had set myself up for physical exhaustion, in traveling to Nepal to trek in a country including Mt. Everest within its mountain range. I have found myself emotionally exhausted, instead. I write this reflection two months into the program, with one month left. I look forward to the time ahead of me: so far I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned that despite the differences of cultures in the world, there is similarity too: that everyone wants an honest connection, but varying cultural expression can easily obscure that.

[post_title] => The Social Experiment [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => the-social-experiment [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2007-11-19 00:00:00 [post_modified_gmt] => 1970-01-01 00:00:00 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://yakyak.chandigarhsoftware.com/?p=55540 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 196 [name] => Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2007 [slug] => himalayan-studies-semester-fall-2007 [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 196 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 68 [count] => 27 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 31.1 [cat_ID] => 196 [category_count] => 27 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2007 [category_nicename] => himalayan-studies-semester-fall-2007 [category_parent] => 68 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/fall-2007/himalayan-studies-semester-fall-2007/ ) ) [category_links] => Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2007 )

Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2007

View post

The Social Experiment

K, Volkmann,Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2007

Description

I had originally thought, after finally having graduated from High School, that my own personal growth and change had reached its limit, for the meantime at least. Instead, I continue to experience as much change, if not even at a more intense and intellectual level. Currently, I have found this to be both a challenging […]

Posted On

11/19/07

Author

K, Volkmann

WP_Post Object
(
    [ID] => 55553
    [post_author] => 39
    [post_date] => 2007-11-06 00:00:00
    [post_date_gmt] => 1970-01-01 00:00:00
    [post_content] =>   

I have been volunteering with a local LGBT/HIV AIDS awareness group here in Kathmandu. Knowing nothing about the group besides the fact that they called themselves the Blue Diamond Society and someone named Sunil had agreed to meet me and take me to their building, I hopped into the taxi a bit nervous. Upon arrival I found my self in the company of many smiling faces, eager to hear my story, and what I was up to in Kathmandu. However, I was far more interested to hear their stories. The Blue Diamond Society was founded in 2001 by Sunil and has been working to spread LGBT and HIV awareness across Nepal ever since. Blue Diamond has buildings and employees in 7 different cities in Nepal. I am working with the human rights team. There are two lawyers on the team working with four Blue Diamond employees. On any given day 1-15 cases could be presented to the team. Cases of abuse, verbal slurs, as well as many other tragedies in the queer community of Kathmandu are reported. The team works to write reports and make files to present to the police. The two lawyers working for Blue Diamond have been working on eight particularly disturbing cases, hoping to push them all the way to the supreme court. In addition to the cases, the team along with Sunil have written a proposal for the new constitution of Nepal, as at present there are no laws protecting sexual minorities. Yesterday Blue Diamond held open interviews for seven new positions in their HIV/AIDS awareness group. They were looking for current male sex workers who are interested in telling there stories in hopes to promote awareness of the abuse they face everyday, as well as the reality of STD's in their communities. I found myself in the company of 25 nervous/eager interviewees. Some in drag, some in their more masculine daily attire. All approached me sweetly, some knowing limited english. I deeply enjoyed their flamboyant and bubbly company. It was not until much later that night, back at my home stay when the tragedy of their lives set in. Most men who presented themselves so light and funny were HIV positive, none have escaped some kind of abuse be it physical, verbal or mental. And all are hugely outcast in their society.

This morning I walked into the office to find a beaten transgender woman, who has been working both as a sex worker and a volunteer for Blue Diamond in their HIV clinic. She had been beaten very badly by the police the previous night. She could hardly walk as she got up to make a trip to the hospital with another Blue Diamond employee. She had come to the office to report her case before treatment, and the lawyers are presently sitting behind me attempting to put together a file for her. Apparently she was simply walking

(in her normal nightly drag attire) when the police ran her down and beat her numerous times, she was unable to get herself up so she lay on the street and yelled for help until someone came to her aid. They asked for my camera so pictures of her bruises could be shown in the report. Suman, a friend here, told me that they could only take her to hospitals where the doctors will report that their patients had indeed been beaten by the police, not to mention places that will accept transgender patients.

I am overwhelmed to be in the presence of such strong individuals, it is an act of bravery for most people here to simply step out of their houses in the morning.

If you want more information on the Blue Diamond Society visit www.bds.org.np or google key word blue diamond society.

-Kelsey

[post_title] => Blue Diamond Society [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => blue-diamond-society [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2007-11-06 00:00:00 [post_modified_gmt] => 1970-01-01 00:00:00 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://yakyak.chandigarhsoftware.com/?p=55553 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 196 [name] => Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2007 [slug] => himalayan-studies-semester-fall-2007 [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 196 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 68 [count] => 27 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 31.1 [cat_ID] => 196 [category_count] => 27 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2007 [category_nicename] => himalayan-studies-semester-fall-2007 [category_parent] => 68 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/fall-2007/himalayan-studies-semester-fall-2007/ ) ) [category_links] => Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2007 )

Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2007

View post

Blue Diamond Society

Kelsey Morris,Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2007

Description

I have been volunteering with a local LGBT/HIV AIDS awareness group here in Kathmandu. Knowing nothing about the group besides the fact that they called themselves the Blue Diamond Society and someone named Sunil had agreed to meet me and take me to their building, I hopped into the taxi a bit nervous. Upon arrival […]

Posted On

11/6/07

Author

Kelsey Morris

WP_Post Object
(
    [ID] => 55554
    [post_author] => 39
    [post_date] => 2007-11-04 00:00:00
    [post_date_gmt] => 1970-01-01 00:00:00
    [post_content] =>   

Our trek in Helambhu, and the diverse experiences we had there, was one of the highlights of this trip for me. From our epic 14 hour first day of trekking through rice paddies and lush forests, culminating in our group powering up the last 2 hours UPHILL in the dark, to exploring the secret and recently “opened” cloud valley of Hlakhang, to walking through ancient, twisted rhododendron forests straight out of the Lord of the Rings up to the sacred summit of Ameyanghre, to Halloween in a strangely vacant town under the shadow of great snow peaks, with costumes salvaged from our sparse trekking gear and ghost stories and dancing with the community and witnessing a late night Nyingma death puja (prayer ceremony)…it all blew my mind. The group really learned how to work together, differences catalyzed by long days of walking through some demanding terrain. I was impressed by everyone’s maturity and ability to get up each morning with a fresh attitude and willingness to push our edges in ways we never thought possible.

Snapshots:

We stayed our second night in a Yolmo village, home of our guide and Bryan’s friend, Dorje. We arrived in this village after 14 hours of trekking, demanding to even the most seasoned of trekkers. Dorje’s mother didn’t think twice to cook us a late-night dinner at 10pm (we normally go to sleep at 8pm in the villages!) and we filled our hungry bellies to the rim and then fell into a blissful sleep all cuddled together against the cold in the main puja room. We woke up the next morning and witnessed the towering northern snow peaks of Langtang, which quickly disappeared into the clouds as the day progressed. We had the morning to nurse our blisters, sing songs to the mists, take a walk up the hills, journal or read, and explore the vacant town. Many of Nepal’s villages are plagued by the “brain drain” problem where everyone leaves for the city of Kathmandu, deserting their villages and culture. Life is tough in the mountains, days walking travel away from such important resources as hospitals and schools. We had a great group discussion on poverty and development issues, and everyone raised some incredible poignant points. Then, to celebrate Scott’s birthday, we had an extravagant mountain spa experience in the nearby river! We brought face masks and natural shampoo and foot scrubs, and all cleansed ourselves in the freezing river! Then we warmed back up, eating chocolate and drinking tea with honey in the forest.

The next day we traveled to Hlakhang which is known as a secret valley. What is a secret valley, you ask? Literally, this valley seems to come out of nowhere – we climbed some ordinary looking hill and traversed it’s edge and all or a sudden a deep valley gorged out from the forest void. This is known to be a sacred power place of the area, first explored by the famed yogi, Guru Rinpoche, then forgotten about, then “found” again by a lama about 300 years ago, forgotten about, and then “re-opened” some 15 years ago by Chatrul Rinpoche, a renowned Nyingma lama and meditation master. A Nyingma retreat center was opened on it’s slopes, close to a Naga rock where the Naga snake personalities of the valley originate. We set up camp, sleeping in the open-air foyer of the monastery looking out into the white mists which perfectly silhouette the tall trees rising up from the hill crests. Some of us climbed up to the Guru Rinpoche meditation cave and had a particularly profound experience. We were meditating there just 5 minutes, really settling in, when a great earth tremor rose from the depths of the earth (ok, just between the crust and the mantle) and vibrated through our little cave. We jumped up and were out of there in no time, then caught ourselves just outside and started laughing hysterically and then prostrating to the cave, to Guru Rinpoche, to life, to anything that could witness this marvelous experience! We waited outside for some time, debating if this actually happened or if we were having a collective hallucination, and then went back in to pay respect to the powers of the cave and to give meditation another chance. (I will say, for concerned parents out there, that the cave was quite shallow and we were within 5 feet of the large opening (it was more of a rock cover than a cave), so had there been another quake, we would have had plenty of time to get out!) This second time, no signs came reverberating out of the earth to shake our meditation, and we had a peaceful yet very charged experience. I take this as a great sign…

Halloween was a real treat! We hiked just about 4 hours to a lower village and settled into a small trekkers guest house (we were back on the more traveled trekking route whereas before we had been walking through a trail-less, rugged, remote section of Helambhu). Again, this town seemed to be experiencing the typical brain drain and many of the houses were vacant and few people were wandering the “streets” as we had seen in joyful Suspa, the bustling village we had our rural home stays in. We were fortunate enough to arrange for the local shaman to come speak with us and perform a ritual. Jason, whose ISP is looking at shamanism, was able to try on the shaman’s dress and he performed an incredible dance and chant for us. We were really impressed at his un-self conscious candidness – a true shaman in our midst! Afterwards, everyone ravaged through their packs and found some semblance of a costume to don for Halloween. The creativity in their costume design would have really impressed the judges in that weird reality TV fashion show. We had flower girls, a “frame pack!,” a yak, the weird, tripped out Western tourist from Boudha, some super hero of sorts, a Sadhu (Hindu ascetic holy man), cat woman, the elements of “fire” and “ice,” and a nun/coffin! I’m sure we made quite a scene in the courtyard of our guest house, and the Nepalis seemed to love our bizarre show! After dinner, we told ghost stories and Chris scared each of us by surprising us as the “long-gone-Western-shaman-gone-wrong” from Bryan’s story. Finally, we were invited to observe the community gathering in an eerie barn to mark the occasion of the 1 year anniversary of a lama’s death. We danced in the circle dance and had a grand time with the community. It was an occasion where I caught myself outside myself, realizing how far I was from “home” and how into the experience I was. We ended the evening sitting at the late-night puja going on at the monastery across the path, losing ourselves in the haunting horns and rhythmic drumming and deep chanting.

On the second-to-last-day of our trek, we stumbled upon a sacred cave where the Kagyu yogi, Milarepa, meditated. There was a German lama who had completed 9 years of retreat there who introduced us to the cave and told some stories of the place and his experiences there. It was quite an unexpected treat, and we ended up giving him a ride in our bus the next day to Kathmandu. We were able to meditate in the cave for about 20 minutes, and some of us had very rocking experiences. This is what the trip is all about, learning about often abstract Buddhist principles in a very embodied way in the places where they were actually derived.

Hopefully these four snapshots can illustrate to the folks back at home how deep our experience has been. We have been traversing some of the most beautiful, magical, haunting, and penetrating places on the earth, over mountains, across plains, along rivers, knocking about on roads pocketed with deep grooves and raised by exposed rock. This has been quite the semester thus far, and we are looking forward to the adventures to come while also reflecting on the places we’ve been. Soon enough, our time in Nepal will come to a close and we will embark on the next chapter of our journey in the great country of India! Stay tuned for more stories (hopefully our yak numbers will rise soon!)…

[post_title] => The Mists of Helambhu [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => the-mists-of-helambhu [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2007-11-04 00:00:00 [post_modified_gmt] => 1970-01-01 00:00:00 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://yakyak.chandigarhsoftware.com/?p=55554 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 196 [name] => Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2007 [slug] => himalayan-studies-semester-fall-2007 [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 196 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 68 [count] => 27 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 31.1 [cat_ID] => 196 [category_count] => 27 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2007 [category_nicename] => himalayan-studies-semester-fall-2007 [category_parent] => 68 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/fall-2007/himalayan-studies-semester-fall-2007/ ) ) [category_links] => Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2007 )

Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2007

View post

The Mists of Helambhu

Kristin,Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2007

Description

Our trek in Helambhu, and the diverse experiences we had there, was one of the highlights of this trip for me. From our epic 14 hour first day of trekking through rice paddies and lush forests, culminating in our group powering up the last 2 hours UPHILL in the dark, to exploring the secret and […]

Posted On

11/4/07

Author

Kristin

WP_Post Object
(
    [ID] => 55555
    [post_author] => 39
    [post_date] => 2007-11-03 00:00:00
    [post_date_gmt] => 1970-01-01 00:00:00
    [post_content] =>   

Greetings once again from sunny, breezy Katmandu,

When I wrote my last Yak note, I was sitting at an internet cafe in town, and we were about to head off into the hills of Helumbu, 5 hours northeast of Katmandu. Like a dream, our time in Helumbu has passed and here I am once again, sitting in front of a computer with the sounds and smells of the city wafting through the window. Like always, I am feeling a little ambivalent about leaving the rustic, rugged beauty of village and mountain life for the hustle, bustle and traffic of the city. But there's also a certain joy in moving between such different worlds. Perhaps that joy comes from getting to appreciate each of them more when we can contrast it with the other.

All the same, perhaps my conflicting emotions on returning to Katmandu are even more amplified this time by virtue of the fact that our group's time in Helumbu was SO magical and inspiring. This is not to say that Helumbu wasn't challenging -in many ways it was the most challenging segment of our trip so far- but rather that the challenge was balanced with an incredible series of villages, monasteries, caves, mountains, interactions and people that made it very much a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

While students own personal yaks will no doubt speak to the wide variety of challenges and triumphs we encountered during our trek, I will go ahead here and describe a few of the Helumbu highlights. Enjoy.

-Our second and third days in Helumbu were spent at the magical hidden valley of Hlakang, at least two days walk from the nearest road, and in many ways, the most remote place we'll visit during this semester. Hlakang is said to have been "opened" by a Tibetan lama around 300 years ago, before that there are no known human inhabitants there. These days, the only humans hanging out there are the 50 or so Tibetan monks, nuns and yogis who are spending prolonged time in meditation retreat, at least 3 years! At Hlakang, our students slept in the Gompa, the big prayer hall used for ceremonies and rituals, which was a really powerful experience for them. We also had the privelege of meeting with a nun who has completed over 6 years in solitary meditation retreat. Quite a powerful lady! Hlakang is extremely beautiful, with giant fir trees and forest that look like something out of the Jurassic era. Many photos were taken, and we had a good amount of time to just hang out, journal and reflect on some of life's deeper mysteries.

-October 31st was Halloween, and being half way across the world in a remote Yolmo Sherpa village (called Tarkhegang) absolutely did not stop us from celebrating! The students had an improv, impromptu costume party (which included Kelsey dressing up as her backpack and Jason as a monk!) and then we 3 leaders played a small prank involving a scary story and Chris dressing up as a ghost (with long underwear on his head no less!). That evening we had hot chocolate and then went to the town hall where we were invited to join an all night Yolmo ho-down, involving circle dancing, singing and lots of humor. Really, a fantastic day.

-Finally, one can't talk about Helumbu without mentioning the Snow Capped Peaks that loom high over the rolling hills we trek through. On a clear day (of which we had several), one can see these peaks wrapping around several directions, which is hard to convey in words. It's beautiful, breathtaking and hard to believe, even when you're looking at them. Combine these mountains with roaring waterfalls, layers upon layers of rice paddy terraces and old farming villages filled with friendly folks, and you've got a pretty good idea of what Helumbu's all about.

It was such a pleasure -and really a treat- to get to share the Helumbu world I encountered so many years back with the students this past week. They displayed maturity and self-reflection, both of which deepened their experience. Though difficult, I believe that they will look back upon their time in Helumbu as one of growth and learning. We are very proud that each and every one of them completed the trek successfully.

Well, what more to say for now? We arrived back in the capital on November 2nd and will be here until the 10th, when we head east to Darjeeling, Sikkim and India! At the moment, the students are diving into their various ISP projects, including a meditation retreat for five of them. More ISP info on the Yak to come soon! Keep checking back for updates, we're working hard as an entire group to be more proactive in contributing to the Yak board!

With Warm Wishes,

~Bryan

[post_title] => Katmandu Days [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => katmandu-days [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2007-11-03 00:00:00 [post_modified_gmt] => 1970-01-01 00:00:00 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://yakyak.chandigarhsoftware.com/?p=55555 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 196 [name] => Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2007 [slug] => himalayan-studies-semester-fall-2007 [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 196 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 68 [count] => 27 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 31.1 [cat_ID] => 196 [category_count] => 27 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2007 [category_nicename] => himalayan-studies-semester-fall-2007 [category_parent] => 68 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/fall-2007/himalayan-studies-semester-fall-2007/ ) ) [category_links] => Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2007 )

Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2007

View post

Katmandu Days

Bryan Newman,Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2007

Description

Greetings once again from sunny, breezy Katmandu, When I wrote my last Yak note, I was sitting at an internet cafe in town, and we were about to head off into the hills of Helumbu, 5 hours northeast of Katmandu. Like a dream, our time in Helumbu has passed and here I am once again, […]

Posted On

11/3/07

Author

Bryan Newman

WP_Post Object
(
    [ID] => 55556
    [post_author] => 39
    [post_date] => 2007-11-03 00:00:00
    [post_date_gmt] => 1970-01-01 00:00:00
    [post_content] =>   

Before i begin, i'd just like to share that by no means should our lack of yak yak postings be taken as an indication of our experiences... if anything, it should give you all a sense of how crazy our travels have been and how difficult its been for us to find the means and also the words to express the multitude of moments and challenges we've faced throughout this program, both internally and externally. In light of all that, its tough to know where to begin: I could post a narration of what we've done day-to-day these past few weeks, or I could post a equally long yet scattered analysis of how i felt walking back through the bustling streets of Boudhanath to my homestay family after a week of remote trekking in Helambu. Yesterday morning I scarfed down two pieces of roti (flat bread) and some chocofun bars for breakfast, and this morning I was served a fried egg, tibetan bread, fresh milk tea, and oatmeal. Each day here is chock-full of new and different experiences, and I really struggle sometimes to process all that's happening both in and around me... needless to say words frequently fail me.

I guess I just wanted to take this opportunity to convey how easy it is to get lost here, but also how profound is it to realize how much I've been affected by this place. I think about how much I've changed since coming here, changed since our first week in Boudha, since going to Tibet, since experiencing the subsistence lifestyles of the Thangmi in Suspa, since walking through rice patties several days walk from the nearest road, since sitting on a painfully bumpy bus for 5 hours yesterday, since just a few moments ago when I was nearly knocked over by a monk doing kora around the stupa. On of the Buddha's teachings we've learned about is called the Three Marks of Existence, the second of which is Anata: things are always in flux, always changing, day to day or second to second. A frequent saying in our group has been the unanswerable question "how am I not myself?" in acknowledgement of this mark of basic human nature. Now I find myself considering this constantly: its truly an invitation to be present and in the moment at all times, however difficult it may be. So in that way I am truly grateful to be here, since I'm not sure the question would have had the same impact had I been in a place of familiarity. So as the stories of our adventures come out over the next few days and weeks, I hope you will all bear with us as we struggle to bring our experiences to this discussion board in a way that does justice to the variety and complexity of each moment here.

On that note, I'll just close with a brief story: talk about disparity of experience! While most of you were handing out candy to the neighborhood kids, the dragons students where learning the traditional dance steps in a small village's one-year death celebration of an elder - quite unexpectedly, we went from quiet observers to active participants! Those present (maybe 50 people) where all gathered in the town gompa, the men forming one half of the large circle and the women on the other; back and forth they sang, the men boisterous and proud, the women coy and knowing. We were welcomed with open arms, and though we probably made quite a mess of things trying to learn the rhythmic steps and keep the circle rotating, there was only laughter and warmth among the other villagers. The one most memorable moment for me that night was when I felt my hands grasped gently but firmly by the young girl in front of me as though insisting that I could and would do the dance properly, and realized as she held me close behind her that without any hesitations I had been accepted by a complete stranger, whose face I didn't even see until we all faced inwards in the circle once more.

With that I'll bow out, and hopefully your thirst for more news and stories will be quenched as we have finally returned to a metropolis area for a decent amount of time (though many of us have already had our schedules filled with service projects, ISP research, and other amazing activities. Rosie, Turner, Scott, and Jason and I will be doing a 3-day meditation retreat in Thamel starting tomorrow...wish us luck!)

peace and love,

-sara

[post_title] => Moments [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => moments-5 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2007-11-03 00:00:00 [post_modified_gmt] => 1970-01-01 00:00:00 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://yakyak.chandigarhsoftware.com/?p=55556 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 196 [name] => Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2007 [slug] => himalayan-studies-semester-fall-2007 [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 196 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 68 [count] => 27 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 31.1 [cat_ID] => 196 [category_count] => 27 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2007 [category_nicename] => himalayan-studies-semester-fall-2007 [category_parent] => 68 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/fall-2007/himalayan-studies-semester-fall-2007/ ) ) [category_links] => Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2007 )

Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2007

View post

Moments

sara,Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2007

Description

Before i begin, i’d just like to share that by no means should our lack of yak yak postings be taken as an indication of our experiences… if anything, it should give you all a sense of how crazy our travels have been and how difficult its been for us to find the means and […]

Posted On

11/3/07

Author

sara

WP_Post Object
(
    [ID] => 55557
    [post_author] => 39
    [post_date] => 2007-11-03 00:00:00
    [post_date_gmt] => 1970-01-01 00:00:00
    [post_content] =>   

So I have yet to write a yak post and we have reached and passed the half way point of this trip. Terrible and I apologize. SO here goes. We have done homestays in Kathmandu, trekked through the desert mountains of Tibet, experienced the Tibetan and Chinese cultures that are competing in Lhasa, stayed with families in the rural village of Suspa (outside KTM) where we observed and participated in subsistence farming and a lack of monetary economy, we have visited gompas on mountain tops and stupas as the center pieces of cities, we have bathed in hot springs surrounded by nude natives/Tibetans who offered to scrub us down (while men tried to get a peak through a hole in the thatch roof!), and we have trekked through the jungles and beautiful rice fields of Nepal staying with local families and eating tremendous amounts of dhaal baat(sp?). We have had lectures on Buddhism sitting under prayer flags on mountain tops and overlooking cremation ceremonies. We have interviewed nuns and monks who have been in retreat on and off for nine years or more. We had the opportunity to hear about the abuse of civil liberties of the people of Nepal from a female Nepali lawyer. We walked across the Tibetan Nepali border. We are learning Nepali and speaking Tibetan. We had a spa day (a much needed hair washing and facial session) in a rocky river on the side of a mountain in the middle of a trek. We watched The Wedding Crashers sitting in each others' laps in a hotel room in Lhasa. We drank fresh cow's (goat?) milk prepared for us by nomads in the jungly hills of Helambu. We played Mafia in resturants and discussed our struggles in circles on the middle of a mountain. Its been challenging and amazing. Ive struggled physically to get to the top of mountains and emotionally to sit with myself for five minutes at a time. Im just beginning to process the people we've met and the cultures we've experienced. One of the greatest highlights for me was our week living with families in Suspa. Watching them get up at 5am to start feeding their animals and work straight through the day to get two large courses of rice and vegetables on the straw mats in the mud floored kitchens for their five children was spectaucular. The love within the family I stayed with was comforting and they embraced me as one of their own. They included me in one of the most important ceremonies they celebrate annually where they press dyed-red rice (tikka) into your forehead and bless you with a long life and hopes for your success (and my return to visit again). They sent me away as a member of their family and feeling incredibly loved. It made me wonder about our need for excessive material possessions and encouraged me to consider how far I am from the food I eat. I watched a goat be slaughtered (while in Suspa) for a wedding ceremony and ran away in tears-shocked and scared. A vegetarian in the works? Perhaps. Ill be able to consider this during the three day meditation retreat that commences tomorrow morning at 5am. Im apprehensive and excited. I dont know what to expect and am trying not to expect anything. We'll see! XO

[post_title] => yakity yak [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => yakity-yak [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2007-11-03 00:00:00 [post_modified_gmt] => 1970-01-01 00:00:00 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://yakyak.chandigarhsoftware.com/?p=55557 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 196 [name] => Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2007 [slug] => himalayan-studies-semester-fall-2007 [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 196 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 68 [count] => 27 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 31.1 [cat_ID] => 196 [category_count] => 27 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2007 [category_nicename] => himalayan-studies-semester-fall-2007 [category_parent] => 68 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/fall-2007/himalayan-studies-semester-fall-2007/ ) ) [category_links] => Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2007 )

Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2007

View post

yakity yak

Rosie Shriver,Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2007

Description

So I have yet to write a yak post and we have reached and passed the half way point of this trip. Terrible and I apologize. SO here goes. We have done homestays in Kathmandu, trekked through the desert mountains of Tibet, experienced the Tibetan and Chinese cultures that are competing in Lhasa, stayed with […]

Posted On

11/3/07

Author

Rosie Shriver

WP_Post Object
(
    [ID] => 55562
    [post_author] => 39
    [post_date] => 2007-10-25 00:00:00
    [post_date_gmt] => 1970-01-01 00:00:00
    [post_content] =>   

greetings him-semester yak yak readers!

in the early evening of october 23rd our well-travelled band of 12 students (down from the original 14, having lost our dear cori and ofer, both having left the program for medical reasons) and 3 instructors returned from a long month away from our surrogate home of kathmandu. following our nearly 3-week journey through central tibet, we had traveled overland by private bus across the lower tibetan plateau until we reached the china-nepal border, a 3 day journey altogether. along the way we stayed in the small, but historically significant town of tingri, both a stop over point for tibetan refugees heading across the himalayas, and the nearest big town to mt. everest. to everyone's delight, we awoke in tingri to clear skies and direct views of everest!! quite a once-in-a-lifetime kind of moment for us all.

after tingri, the "friendship highway" between china and tibet begins to plunge downward, eventually ending up in the jungly no-man's land that defines the border. while crossing an international border with 15 people is not exactly easy, we were able to use the experience as an educational tool to see how such a place really operates. it's a fascinating, chaotic and cross cultural experience! then, for the students to see the difference between the china side and the nepal side so drastically (the border is literally a gateway between two very different worlds) was an amazing thing to see as well. from the border we made a surprise overnite stop at "the last resort," an eco-lodge just 30 minutes south into nepal. the lodge provided a great space to eat some good food, relax and recharge for our next adventure, our rural homestay in suspa. the only unfortunate thing is that to get to the last resort one has to cross a VERY long bridge that connects a 500 ft. deep ravine, rushing water far below. i say unfortunate because, as some of you may know, I am terribly afraid of heights!!

ah, but then onto our homestay in the hills...suspa is a small village of maybe 50 houses scattered across a beautiful hillside valley in southern dolakha district (may be interesting for some of you to consult google maps to see where dolakha is on a map of nepal). suspa, and the villages that surround it, compromise the motherland home of the thami people, a little studied and historically exploited ethnic group of around 30,000 people. the thami are mostly subsistence farmers, though many now live in northeast india in order to make money to make ends meet. this sort of extra income is necessary because, as we found out, due to lack of access to land, most thami families only grow enough food to feed themselves for 4-5 months out of the year.

for all of us (instructors included), suspa was a true highlight of the program so far. for almost all of the students, nothing they had ever experienced in the past could prepare them for how different life is in a traditional nepali farming village. first and foremost, the students were just totally blown away by the kindness and natural generosity of their thami hosts. it was extremely moving for all of us to see that kind of compassion and joy among people eaking out an existence in a very challenging environment.

on top of the day-to-day warmth of the people, we were blessed to be in suspa during dasein, the equivalent (if one could make this comparison) of christmas in nepal. dasein is a 10 day festival in which families all come together (including all the young men who had since left for kathmandu to find work), perform religious ceremonies, and -most noticeably- spend at least one day giving each other "tika," the red powder and rice mixture that is sort of smeared by the oldest family member on the forehead of his/her relatives, children, etc. each of us participated in the festival and each of our families gave us tika as well, which felt very welcoming and pretty fun as well. truly, by the end of our week in suspa, we felt like we had made new, good friends and we were all quite sad to leave the rustic beauty of the hills for the hustle,bustle and smog of the city, despite the fact that kathmandu has EXCELLENT pizza! :)

now we are back in the city, only for three days, though with lots of downtime and rest time built in. today we have an afternoon lecture planned with keith dowman, the preemimenent tibetan buddhist scholar and explorer who lives full-time in nepal these days. we three instructors are SO excited to meet him, and we know the students will find him fascinating as well. the group has been using several of his books as references througout the program.

tomorrow we are heading out of the valley again and out into the countryside, this time with my close friend and trekking guide, dorje sherpa, who is leading our group on a week-long culturally focused trek/exploration through helumbu, a small, mountainous sub-region of sindupalchowk district (again, looking at google maps will give you an idea of where that is). we'll be staying part of the time in dorje's home village, as well as exploring some local monasteries, sacred mountains, caves used by milarepa (the famous 11th century yogi-poet of tibet) and even visiting a remote meditation center where senior monks are in retreat for up to 10 years! helumbu is one of my favorite places on earth, so i'm thrilled to take the group there and share the magic. also, we'll be celebrating scott's b-day during the trek, with the requisite antics planned to make it special.

wow...this is a long update! if you've read this far, i commend you! i for one however need to go eat lunch, so i'll end this writing here, but not without saying once again how proud chris, kristin and i are of each and every student thus far. their intellectual curiosity, sense of wonder (and humour) and adventuresome attitude has been a source of energy and inspiration for us all.

we'll be back in katmandu starting november 2nd, expect more updates then!

with warm regards,

~bryan

[post_title] => back from the hills, back into the hills! [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => back-from-the-hills-back-into-the-hills [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2007-10-25 00:00:00 [post_modified_gmt] => 1970-01-01 00:00:00 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://yakyak.chandigarhsoftware.com/?p=55562 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 196 [name] => Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2007 [slug] => himalayan-studies-semester-fall-2007 [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 196 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 68 [count] => 27 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 31.1 [cat_ID] => 196 [category_count] => 27 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2007 [category_nicename] => himalayan-studies-semester-fall-2007 [category_parent] => 68 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/fall-2007/himalayan-studies-semester-fall-2007/ ) ) [category_links] => Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2007 )

Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2007

View post

back from the hills, back into the hills!

Bryan Newman,Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2007

Description

greetings him-semester yak yak readers! in the early evening of october 23rd our well-travelled band of 12 students (down from the original 14, having lost our dear cori and ofer, both having left the program for medical reasons) and 3 instructors returned from a long month away from our surrogate home of kathmandu. following our […]

Posted On

10/25/07

Author

Bryan Newman

WP_Post Object
(
    [ID] => 55581
    [post_author] => 39
    [post_date] => 2007-10-12 00:00:00
    [post_date_gmt] => 1970-01-01 00:00:00
    [post_content] =>   

Recognizing there's no moment but the present, we still must anticipate the future and inform our yak board followers of the coming steps in our itinerary (where we'll be largely out of touch). Surfing the waves of time, here's what we're floating to next:

Tomorrow, Oct 14: Depart Lhasa, bus to Lhatse. Camp.

Oct 15: Bus to Zhangmo, stay in Guest House close to the Nepal border.

Oct 16: Cross the border back into Nepal (dramatic descent from the dry plateau into the forested middle hills of Nepal), bus to The Last Resort, a fantastic little resort where we'll stay in eco-tents and relax after all the driving!

Oct 17: Drive to Dolakha, the capital of the region Dolakha in Northeastern Nepal; walk to Suspa where we'll begin our rural homestays.

Oct 18-22: Suspa homestays, Dashain festivities, general lessons and relaxation...

Oct 23: Drive back to Kathmandu

The Suspa homestay portion of the program is one of the sections of the program I'm looking forward to most! I stayed in this village last fall on the Semester, and it was a lifechanging experience for myself and all the students. Suspa is a very rural village in the Dolakha region of Nepal, just south of the Everest National Park area. It's in the middle hills with killer views of the snow capped peaks in the distance. We'll be in the village during a very important festival, the most auspicious festival in the Nepalese calendar year: Dashain. It's celebrated by people of all castes for two weeks, culminating in the full moon. It is a festival celebrating all manifestations of Durga, and people worship her with innumerable pujas (prayer ceremonies), offerings, and animal sacrifices.

"Dashain commemorates a great victory of the gods over the wicked demons. One of the victory stories told is the Ramayan, where the lord Ram after a big struggle slaughtered Ravana, the fiendish king of demons. It is said that lord Ram was successful in the battle only when goddess Durga was evoked. The main celebration glorifies the triumph of good over evil and is symbolized by goddess Durga slaying the terrible demon Mahisasur, who terrorised the earth in the guise of a brutal water buffalo. The first nine days signify the nine days of ferrous battle between goddess Durga and the demon Mahisasur. The tenth day is the day when Mahisasur was slain and the last five days symbolise the celebration of the victory with the blessing of the goddess. Dashain is celebrated with great rejoice, and goddess Durga is worshiped throughout the kingdom as the divine mother goddess."

Being in the village during this time is most auspicious as this is the heart of Nepal and where the celebration has the most power and significance. We're very fortunate to have been welcomed into this village once again during such a holy period. Say some prayers for all the animals to be sacrificed - this is definitely the most difficult part of the festival.

We'll be back in touch when we're in Kathmandu on the 23rd!

-Kristin

[post_title] => The "Future" [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => the-future [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2007-10-12 00:00:00 [post_modified_gmt] => 1970-01-01 00:00:00 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://yakyak.chandigarhsoftware.com/?p=55581 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 196 [name] => Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2007 [slug] => himalayan-studies-semester-fall-2007 [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 196 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 68 [count] => 27 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 31.1 [cat_ID] => 196 [category_count] => 27 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2007 [category_nicename] => himalayan-studies-semester-fall-2007 [category_parent] => 68 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/fall-2007/himalayan-studies-semester-fall-2007/ ) ) [category_links] => Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2007 )

Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2007

View post

The “Future”

Kristin,Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2007

Description

Recognizing there’s no moment but the present, we still must anticipate the future and inform our yak board followers of the coming steps in our itinerary (where we’ll be largely out of touch). Surfing the waves of time, here’s what we’re floating to next: Tomorrow, Oct 14: Depart Lhasa, bus to Lhatse. Camp. Oct 15: […]

Posted On

10/12/07

Author

Kristin

1 2 3